What is Merton Council for? Neither the Labour administration nor the Conservative opposition seem to have an answer to this simple question. But we do: Lib Dems believe our Council exists to take those decisions - sometimes small, sometimes tough - that can make our daily lives better.
We want the Council to be the best it can be, so it can do the best it can do for local people. But up until now the Council, under the same Labour adminsitration and with the same timid Conservative opposition that it’s had for the past decade, has been unwilling to change or to try new ideas.
We think Merton Council, and local people, need a fresh start.
So today Lib Dem councillors will be putting forward amendments to the Council’s annual budget to change the way that the Council works for the better. Here’s our three point plan:
Merton Council is currently accepting comments on a planning application to redevelop the former site of Ridgway Stables. The planned redevelopment will see retail and office space installed at the front of the site, with a smaller riding school to be retained at the rear of the site.
Since the eviction of Ridgway Stables in September 2017 local Lib Dems have supported community campaigners calling for an accessible and affordable riding school to be maintained at the site. While the landlord has committed to reopening a riding school, they have refused to give a guarantee that the new riding school will retain Ridgway Stables’ historic focus on accessibility for young people, especially those from less privileged backgrounds.
We are calling on the landlord to guarantee that the new stables will prioritise affordability and accessibility for young people, and to outline during the planning process the ways in which they will promote affordability and accessibility.
You can find the application in full and add any comments you have online at this link. The deadline for comments is Sunday 2 February 2020.
Last night (22 Jan 2020), Labour and Conservative councillors lined up to block further consideration of a proposal for a new charitable fund to pump extra cash into local schools.
A special Council meeting considered a Liberal Democrat ‘call-in’ over the Cabinet’s decision not to further explore a plan that would have invited voluntary donations from those owning the most expensive properties in the borough to help mitigate recent cuts to school budgets.
The plan was first proposed by local Liberal Democrat councillors in March 2019. The Liberal Democrats’ proposal was based on similar schemes currently being implemented by a number of councils, including Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Richmond.
Comments submitted by councillors Eloise Bailey, Hina Bokhari and Carl Quilliam:
Re: planning application 19/P2387
Tesco Site, 265 Burlington Road New Malden Surrey KT3 4NE
19/P2387 DEMOLITION OF THE EXISTING BUILDINGS AND ERECTION OF TWO BLOCKS OF DEVELOPMENT RANGING IN HEIGHT BETWEEN SEVEN AND 15 STOREYS AND COMPRISING 456 NEW HOMES, OF WHICH 114 WILL BE ONE BEDS, 290 WILL BE TWO BEDS AND 52 WILL BE THREE BEDS. 499SQM OF B1(A) OFFICE SPACE WILL BE ACCOMMODATED AT GROUND FLOOR LEVEL ALONG WITH 220 CAR PARKING SPACES, 830 CYCLE PARKING SPACES, A REALIGNED JUNCTION ONTO BURLINGTON ROAD, HARD AND SOFT LANDSCAPING AND ASSOCIATED RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES. THE APPLICATION ALSO INCLUDES MINOR CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT AND CONFIGURATION OF THE RETAINED TESCO CAR PARK
We are writing as councillors for West Barnes Ward in connection with the above Planning Application. In addition, we would like to express an interest in speaking at the PAC on this application.
A number of concerns have been raised about the application that we feel should be addressed before any approval is given: the height of the proposed blocks, the affordable housing element, parking, transport and road access, flooding concerns, and the use of any section 106 agreement or CIL contribution.
Further to Merton Council's announcement: "New parking charges for a new decade set to reduce pollution in Merton."
Speaking in response to the above announcement, Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Anthony Fairclough said: "None of the evidence presented by the Council supports their claims that the proposals will actually improve air quality.
"The scheme looks like it’s purely about raising revenue, mainly targeted at people who live in areas that don’t tend to elect Labour councillors – Wimbledon and Raynes Park – where the new charges will be highest.
"Instead we want them to look seriously at schemes where the worst polluting vehicles pay more, where support is given to help people change to greener vehicles, and where other positive action is also taken to improve air quality.
"Furthermore, in August the Council's plans were knocked back by a cross-party committee of councillors due to a failure to follow proper equalities procedures. It was identified that there had been a failure to consult with groups representing people with disabilities, pregnant women and those who’ve just given birth, and those on low incomes - over the potentially disproportionate impact of the plans on these groups. Sadly, despite this Labour Council bosses are still pushing on."
Local Lib Dem Paul Kohler is running to be the next MP for Wimbledon.
This election is Wimbledon’s chance to stop Brexit and address the real issues facing our country.
Paul Kohler saved Wimbledon Police Station when others said it was impossible. Now he wants to stop Brexit, and tackle the issues that caused it.
Recent polling by Deltapoll and featured in the Observer shows that Wimbledon is a two horse race between the Conservative candidate and local Lib Dem Paul Kohler. Labour are way back in third place and cannot win here.
There is only one candidate in Wimbledon who will commit to stopping Brexit and backing Remain in all circumstances.
The Green Party has chosen to step aside in Wimbledon as part of an agreement in which Paul Kohler was designated by the cross-party Unite to Remain group as the remain champion in Wimbledon.
The former Green Party candidate for Wimbledon, Sonja Timpson, has endorsed Paul’s campaign:
With Wimbledon set to be a key battleground at this election a number of tactical voting groups are recommending a vote for Paul Kohler and the Lib Dems as the best chance of beating the Conservatives and ensuring that Wimbledon has a Remain MP.
Among the groups recommending a vote for Paul are:
Best for Britain
Wimbledon is currently a two horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and local Lib Dem Paul Kohler. Only Paul can beat the Conservatives here and ensure that Wimbledon has an MP who will stop Brexit.
Want to help Paul Kohler win in Wimbledon on 12 December? Join his campaign today.
The former Labour Councillor for Cannon Hill, Mark Kenny, has announced that he has defected to the Lib Dems and endorsed Paul Kohler’s campaign to be the next MP for Wimbledon.
Mr Kenny resigned as a Labour councillor in May this year. In the by-election held to choose his successor the Lib Dems won an historic victory, with local champion Jenifer Gould overtaking both the Conservatives and Labour to win.
Mr Kenny cited the Lib Dems’ unequivocally anti-Brexit stance and Paul Kohler’s reputation as a hard-working and effective local champion as key factors in his decision.
“Having seen Paul at work as a Merton councillor I know he will be a fine MP for Wimbledon working for the benefit of us all”, said Mark Kenny. “His spearheading of the successful campaign to keep Wimbledon police station open displayed many of his qualities: his hard work and attention to detail, his persistence and his determination not to give up.
“I have the utmost respect for him as a person of honesty and integrity and fully endorse his campaign to become our Liberal Democrat MP.”
“I know it isn’t easy to turn your back on your old party, but at this election we are seeing huge numbers of former Labour and Conservative voters coming over to the Lib Dems - not just because we are the only Remain party standing in Wimbledon, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's most pressing problems”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “I want to thank Mark for his brave decision and his generous endorsement.
“Recent polling shows that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can beat Boris Johnson’s Conservatives here in Wimbledon - Labour are simply too far behind.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. I hope more people will follow Mark’s example and back me so that Wimbledon can have the strong pro-EU, anti-Brexit voice in Parliament it deserves.”
Mark Kenny’s endorsement comes on the back of Paul Kohler’s selection by cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain as the official ‘Remain Alliance’ candidate in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the local Green Party stood aside in Wimbledon, while the former Green Party candidate Sonja Timpson has given her backing to Mr Kohler.
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position”, said Sonja Timpson.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.”
Want to help Paul Kohler win in Wimbledon on 12 December? Join his campaign today.
The first specific poll of voters in Wimbledon shows a two horse race here, with the Conservatives holding the slimmest of leads over local Lib Dem, Paul Kohler.
It shows that 38% of Wimbledon residents said they would vote Conservative, with 36% currently intending to vote Lib Dem. The Labour Party are trailing in third place.
The poll was conducted by Deltapoll and paid for by non-party aligned individuals to provide objective data for the constituency.
“This poll reflects everything we’ve been hearing on the doorstep”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “Former Labour and Conservative voters are coming over to the Lib Dems in droves - not just because we're the largest anti Brexit party, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's' most pressing problems.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. Wimbledon deserves an MP who will stand up for the rights of EU citizens and fight for Britain’s place in the EU.
Local Lib Dems have welcomed the decision of the Green Party to stand aside at this election.
The cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain, will endorse the Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler as the champion for anti-Brexit voters in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the Green Party will not field its own candidate.
The announcement spells trouble for Wimbledon’s incumbent Conservative MP Stephen Hammond. Recent projections by the Best for Britain group predict a tight race in Wimbledon between the Liberal Democrats, who are pledging to ‘Stop Brexit’, and the pro-Brexit Conservatives.
Speaking following the announcement, Cllr Paul Kohler said:
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and address the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency.
“Wimbledon’s current MP voted for Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal and has repeatedly refused to give his constituents, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, an opportunity to have the final say.
“As the official Remain Alliance candidate in Wimbledon I am best placed to beat him and ensure Wimbledon has a Remainer MP that it deserves.
“I am grateful to the Merton Greens for standing aside in this election”, Cllr Kohler added. “We share a determination to end the catastrophe of Brexit and a strong commitment to protecting our precious planet from the damage being done by climate change, and with the support of local people I can win Wimbledon and stop Brexit.”
Sonja Timpson, the Green Party’s former candidate for Wimbledon, said:
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.
“Merton Green Party is a growing force and we have worked hard over recent years to promote affordable housing, to highlight the problems with outsourcing and to tackle the ongoing litter problem in the borough. Our members are active in a number of local environmental groups and we played a key role in persuading the council to pass a cross-party motion to declare a Climate Emergency. We trust that Paul Kohler will look at prioritising some of these issues as Wimbledon’s Member of Parliament.”
Liberal Democrat candidates Sarah Olney, Munira Wilson, Ed Davey and Paul Kohler are writing to the South Western Railway and the RMT rail union to demand that they stop the planned strikes immediately.
Members of the RMT will walk out for 27 days throughout December, causing chaos to commuters, to businesses and to people travelling for Christmas.