A Message from the Leader of Sutton Council, Cllr. Ruth Dombey & Get your tickets for Sadiq Khan’s Question Time when he comes to Carshalton!

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Dear Hamish,

Lots going on at the moment. Here are just a few things that I hope you’ll find interesting:

Preventing homelessness

Sadly homelessness is a growing problem across the country. While here in Sutton it’s not as bad as some inner cities, the problem is growing and we need to do what we can to help people in difficulty and in particular to help prevent them becoming homeless in the first place.

So Sutton, Kingston and Merton councils have joined together to radically rethink homelessness prevention and together we have managed to obtain £1 million in government funding to help families avoid crisis and prevent them becoming homeless.

Only 28 out of 122 bids to central government were successful and we will be developing a range of innovative, pro-active approaches that will radically reshape the way we tackle homelessness. We will be working together with the voluntary sector, in particular, the charity SPEAR and the aim is to work closely with families at risk of homelessness so fewer people will need to be housed in temporary accommodation.

This is an enormous opportunity to provide tangible, sustainable support to people to prevent them becoming homeless and to help them stay in their own homes.

Tackling London’s air quality

The Mayor of London has announced funding for six innovative “Neighbourhoods of the Future” across London which will combine new green technology to improve London’s air quality. The Beddington Industrial Area will be one of these 6 neighbourhoods and electric vans and trucks will be loaned to local businesses to reduce pollution and encourage businesses to adopt greener business methods.

Ask Sadiq a question

And finally – if you’re fed up with the appalling train service, if you think Sutton should get better and more frequent public transport, if you’re worried about air quality, if you think the Mayor of London should spend more on policing – and you’d like to ask the Mayor of London a question, then I’ve got good news for you.

Sadiq Kahn is coming to the Borough for People’s Question Time. We think this is the first time it has happened since the Mayoralty and the Greater London Authority were first set up in 2000. Tickets are free but numbers are limited so sign up soon. It will be held at the Westcroft Leisure Centre in Carshalton at 7pm on Thursday 2nd March. You can get your tickets here.

That’s all for now. Thank you to everyone who has replied with positive comments about these emails – I really appreciate it. And if you think there are issues (good and bad) that it would be helpful to address and provide information, do let me know.

Best wishes,

Ruth

Cllr Ruth Dombey
Leader of Sutton Council

£1 million ‘trailblazer’ grant for Sutton, Kingston and Merton councils to radically rethink homeless prevention

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Sutton, Kingston and Merton and councils have teamed up to secure £1 million in government funding to help households avoid crisis and prevent people from becoming homeless.

The three local authorities have applied under a new government scheme to become ‘homelessness prevention trailblazers’, committing to go further and faster with housing reform and to support more people to avoid a homelessness crisis.

Interest in the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) scheme was high, with only 28 out of a 122 bids successful. Sutton, Kingston and Merton collectively bid for a total of £1,004,790 to develop a range of new, innovative approaches that will radically reshape the way homeless prevention is delivered in partnership with the voluntary sector.

Central to the bid’s success is the backing of homeless charity SPEAR, who will provide early interventions across all three boroughs.

Councillor Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Homelessness affects individuals and families in communities across the country. In Sutton we are taking a proactive approach to help tackle this issue. This Trailblazers funding from the DCLG will help us work more closely with households at risk of homelessness. This will result in fewer families needing housing in expensive, imperfect, temporary accommodation. I look forward to working with our partners in Kingston and Merton to help address homelessness across our region.”

Councillor Cathy Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Kingston Council, said:

“This is a significant amount of funding coming our way from central government. It presents us with an enormous opportunity to deliver better outcomes for homeless people in our boroughs. The funding requires us to think and work differently, and to be more proactive in preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. The circumstances that result in a person becoming homeless vary widely. Faced with a housing crisis, locally and nationally, we cannot afford to miss opportunities to help people stay in their homes.”

Merton Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Housing, Councillor Martin Whelton, said:

“The Homelessness Reduction Bill means all councils will have to make changes in this area. Homelessness is a highly complex issue and we welcome the funding to help us look at ways in which we can help prevent people from becoming homeless if they are at risk of losing their home. As trailblazers, we can be instrumental in the way homelessness prevention is delivered in the future, across England.”

A summary of successful bids can be found online at www.gov.uk

Local Citizens’ Help and Advice

www.suttonalps.org.uk

020 8254 2616

Citizens Advice Sutton is the lead agency for Advice Link Partnership Sutton (ALPS). ALPs is a partnership of local Not for Profit organisations providing free, confidential, independent and impartial advice for people who live or work in the London Borough of Sutton. You can contact Citizens Advice Sutton, Sutton Carers Centre and Age UK in the following ways:

Alps Web site – www.suttonalps.org.uk  –No email address is needed as we can call you back.

By Telephone call 020 8254 2616   between   9.00 and 5.00 Monday to Friday. Sutton Library & Heritage Service provides local community information from this number Monday – Friday from 9.30 – 5.00 pm.

The ALPS number also provides access to the following national organisations:

  • Samaritans
  • Citizens Advice Consumer Service
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline
  • Age UK Advice line
  • Carers Direct Helpline 

Citizens Advice Sutton, Sutton Carers Centre and Age UK Sutton are established registered local charities who have served the people of Sutton for many years providing free, confidential, independent and impartial advice on issues such as welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment and social care issues. 

Services from Citizens Advice Sutton

Citizens Advice Sutton holds the Advice Quality Standard for Advice. Our services are provided by both paid staff and volunteers.

Citizens Advice Sutton also provides various specialist services:

Pension Wise

Pension wise is a new, free, impartial and confidential guidance service from Government, to help people understand their pension choices. If you are aged 50 or over and have a Defined Contribution pension you are eligible for a face to face appointment. You can book an appointment by visiting www.pensionwise.gov.uk/ or telephone 0800 138 3944 

Debt Advice

The Capitalise team at Citizens Advice Sutton provides advice on all aspects of your debt and money issues. We are part of the Capitalise partnership and funded by the Money Advice Service.

We can help you to budget, maximise your income and provide you with all the options available to you to deal with your debts. We also have approved debt relief order intermediaries within the bureau to process debt relief orders (DROs).

We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 617761

You can contact us on either online www.suttonalps.org.uk

 or telephone 020 8405 3552   Monday- Friday   9:00am – 5:00pm.

 You can also directly access debt advice from debt hotline located in the Jubilee Health Centre.

Specialist housing advice

The housing solicitor at Citizens Advice Sutton can assist clients entitled to legal aid with certain housing issues including possession, disrepair, homelessness, anti-social behaviour and eviction  To book an appointment please call us on 020 8405 3552 between   9.00 and 5.00   Monday to Friday or submit an enquiry via our website www.suttonalps.org.uk

Carers Centre – outreach sessions

Citizens Advice Sutton offers appointments at Sutton Carers Centre ,on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9am & 5pm at 12-14 Benhill Avenue, Sutton SM1 4DA · To book an appointment call the Carers Centre on 020 8296 5611or call 020 8254 2616   .

Sutton Mental Health Foundation (SMHF) – outreach session

Citizens Advice Sutton provides advice at Sutton Mental Foundation on Thursdays for people experiencing mental distress. SMHF is at 63 Downs Road Belmont, Sutton SM2 5NR  and Cheam Resource Centre, 671 London Rd, North Cheam SM3 9DL. To book an appointment to see a Citizens Advice Sutton adviser at SMHF telephone 020 8770 0172. 

Direct into advice line (DiAL)

DiAL is funded by the big lottery to provide priority access to telephone advice for those in urgent need or those with difficulty accessing advice services. You can get immediate, direct telephone advice from Citizens Advice Sutton, Age UK Sutton and Refugee and Migrant Network Sutton by asking staff to connect you at Homestart, Children’s Centres, Sutton Mental Health foundation and the Womens Centre. It operates Monday to Friday between 10.00 am to 12.30 pm and 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm.

Royal Association for the Deaf (RAD)

RAD provides a drop in service and appointments on Mondays between 10am and 4pm at Citizens Advice Sutton, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA. An RAD adviser provides BSL advice on benefits, employment, debt, form filling and understanding correspondence. Text 07749965727 to book an appointment or call 0845 688 2525. Email advice@royaldeaf.org.uk.

Sutton Uplift

Sutton’s Primary Care Mental Health Service, Sutton Uplift, hold a Wellbeing Drop in Clinic in the Sutton bureau every Monday between 9-5pm.  The Wellbeing Navigators will be able to offer information, and advice around wellbeing and practical issues that may be impacting on people’s daily lives, including offering ongoing short term one to one sessions if needed. Sutton Uplift aims “to help people to connect and access activities and resources to meet their physical, social and emotional needs.  Our team are experienced in supporting people with their Wellbeing, either professionally or through lived experience.” Contact them on 0800 032 1411 or 020 3513 4044, lines are open 9am to 6pm. Website http://www.suttonuplift.co.uk/.

Sutton Council prosecutes landlord for operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation

Sutton Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord for operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation on Sutton High Street and for failing to comply with regulations concerned with managing the property to keep tenants safe.

The defendant, TLK Properties and Investments Ltd, received fines totalling £4,450 for offences under the Housing Act 2004, along with a contribution to prosecution costs of £3,500, and a Victim Surcharge of £120, making a total of £8,070.

In November 2014 the council’s Environmental Health team visited the premises at 234-236 High Street following complaints about the amount of rubbish at the rear of the building. An inspection inside the premises revealed that the original offices had been converted into residential accommodation as a house in multiple occupation and rented out to 21 people.

Further investigation identified a leaking roof that had caused the kitchen ceiling to collapse damaging a tenant’s belongings and a broken shower in one of the bathrooms left five tenants without hot water for more than two months.

The main front-door lock was broken and had not been repaired, which meant anyone could gain access into the property, as one tenant discovered when coming home late one night to find a rough sleeper in the entrance hallway. The tenants’ security and safety were further compromised as the stairway lights did not work.

The electrical supply was not fit for purpose as it was designed for use in an office not living accommodation.

Council officers were also very concerned by the lack of appropriate smoke alarms to give warning of fire. The fire-fighting equipment that had been supplied had not been serviced for more than four years.

It is a legal requirement that anyone owning or managing a house in multiple occupation that is three or more storeys high and occupied by five or more people living as more than one household must apply for a mandatory licence under the Housing Act 2004. TLK Properties and Investments Ltd had not applied for a licence and on conviction were fined £2,500.

The disrepair and management issues were also offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006 and TLK Properties and Investments Ltd were found guilty of six of the seven offences they were charged with, receiving fines of £1,950. They were also ordered to pay the council’s costs and a Victim Surcharge of £120. It is also possible for the tenants to reclaim from the landlord some of their rent paid during the time they lived at the property.

Cllr Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing, Environment and Business Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Sutton Council encourages borough landlords to provide a good standard of affordable accommodation to their tenants. We will take steps to protect residents’ health and safety where necessary, especially where legislation is ignored. TLK Property and Investments Ltd has appealed against the conviction and the case will be referred to the High Court.

Happy New Year from Jill, Alan and Hamish – Sutton Council’s web site for “Report It”

https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200447/report_it

 

Report it

Rubbish & recycling

Sutton Council launches its low-carbon energy company for South London

 The Felnex development, artist's impression.

A Computer Generated Image of how the Felnex development will look.

Sutton Council is launching its own energy supply company that will use waste heat to provide low-carbon energy to thousands of homes and businesses across south London.

The  is calling on developers in Sutton, Merton and Croydon to join the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) which has the potential to provide sustainable heating and hot water to 19,000 homes at no greater cost than a conventional boiler.

Energy generated by the new Energy Recovery Facility and from the existing landfill in Beddington will provide low-carbon heating through a network of pipes that will serve developments, eliminating the need for households and businesses to have boilers. The project also has the potential to harness energy from other businesses, which is currently wasted.

Sutton is already in negotiations to sign up its first partner to join the network. Barratt Homes are developer for the Felnex site in Beddington, Sutton, which will contain 725 homes and a supermarket, both of which will be connected to the SDEN. That will save 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions with future phases expected to increase this to over 5,000 tonnes.

The council is setting up the SDEN to help reduce the borough’s carbon footprint as the UK’s first One Planet Borough – a status which means the council has made series of environmental commitments.

It will also invest profits back into public services to benefit Sutton residents, for example they could be used in measures to reduce fuel poverty.

The plans are backed by the Government and the Greater London Authority. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has also cited SDEN as a leading example of best practice.

Cllr Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Sutton has long been committed to environmental sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. We are now pushing the boundaries further by setting up the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network. The SDEN will offer developers in South London a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels for the provision of heat and hot water. There are lots of potential benefits including lower construction costs, lower green taxes, better resilience, no ongoing plant maintenance and increased lettable floor space. For Sutton, the SDEN will help to reduce our carbon footprint and any profits we make will be invested back into public services for our residents and businesses. At a time when our council budgets are being severely cut by the Government, it is projects like the SDEN can help local authorities to bring in much needed revenue while also creating a low-carbon borough.”

James Dunne, Operations Director at Barratt Homes, said: 

“The SDEN offers developers the chance to connect to a low-carbon energy supply when building new homes. Barratt already has a proven record in district heating. It is straightforward to build the infrastructure, significantly reduces emissions and it counters the rising price of fossil fuels over the long term. We are looking forward to working with the SDEN to supply our 725 home development in Sutton with low-carbon energy.”

How SDEN works

The council will be laying a network of highly insulated steel pipes to deliver hot water to our customers.

The amount of heat energy taken from our network is controlled by users – exactly the same as a heating or hot water system fed from a boiler located in a building.

Inside the property, the method used to deliver heating can remain the same, such as radiators and underfloor heating

Benefits can include:

  • Reduction in construction costs
  • Increased lettable floor area in developments due to reduced plant space
  • Enables developers to meet planning regulations more easily and cheaply
  • Reduced exposure to green/carbon taxes and levies
  • Avoids ongoing heating plant maintenance, servicing and replacement
  • Better resilience than conventional heat supplies
  • Participation in a scheme that will deliver significant carbon savings to South London
  • Profits can be reinvested in public services in Sutton

Developers interested in finding out more about the network should call Sutton Council on 020 8770 5918  or email opportunitysutton@sutton.gov.uk

 

Caroline Pidgeon is opposing Housing Association Sell-Off

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Lib Dems on the GLA
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Lib Dems on the GLA

Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem GLA member reports:

At City Hall, we are leading the campaign to stop the Conservative Government’s plans to see affordable homes sold off. Both council and housing association homes would be lost under forced sales and right to buy plans.

Every housing association home sold in London will require a public subsidy of over £100,000 and the Institute of Fiscal Studies puts the national price tag at almost £12 billion pounds over the next five years. This is money that could instead be used to build new affordable homes.

To make matters even worse, London local authorities are to be forced to sell up to a third of their existing social housing properties as they become vacant to pay for this crazy plan, denying local residents access to much needed council homes.

Only two months ago the London Mayor highlighted that housing associations are private organisations and forcing through right to buy would involve massive subsidies.   Now he has become a loyal Tory MP his priority seems to be defending his Government’s unfunded aspirations.

I am determined that we must lead the campaign against this backwards step. London of all places needs more affordable housing. The Mayor’s number one housing priority should be delivering more affordable homes, not defending ill thought out plans from Conservative central office. You can see the motion that we proposed at City Hall here.

Sutton achieves Housing Zone status

The Mayor of London has approved Sutton Council’s bid to be one of London’s 20 new Housing Zones. The status is another boost for the council as it aims to stimulate housebuilding in Sutton. It is in addition to the council’s own house-building company which will build new housing for the first time since 1989.

The Sutton One Housing Zone, which incorporates Sutton Town Centre and Hackbridge, has identified 12 key sites for residential development – seven in the town centre and five in Hackbridge. Eight of these sites have been identified as priorities and will deliver more than 1,600 new homes, around a quarter of which will be affordable housing, with smaller one- and two-bedroom units in Sutton Town Centre and family housing on some of the development sites in Hackbridge.

Housing Zones are a collaborative effort between the Greater London Authority (GLA), the Government and London boroughs to streamline approval processes and speed up development in target areas where it has previously been held back, locking up valuable brownfield land when it could be used to meet London’s growing need for housing.  Housing Zone designation means Sutton will receive £175,000 of grant funding for pump-priming work to pre-develop the priority sites in preparation for the construction of new housing, including around 400 affordable homes.

The Sutton One Housing Zone area incorporates key development sites from just south of Sutton railway station and through into the town centre and northwards to the North Sutton gas-holder site. The area continues over to the Hackbridge area of the borough as this includes several development sites that complement the housing growth in the town centre area.

Cllr Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“We are doing everything we can to stimulate housebuilding in Sutton, particularly much-needed family housing. We have already set up our own housing development company to build council and private housing, and now our successful bid for Housing Zone status will create even more opportunities. Housing Zone designation will bolster the level of confidence by landowners and potential developers in our commitment to bring several opportunity sites forward for development. Sutton is one of 18 out of 20 promised Housing Zones across London that have been announced by the GLA, bringing the total number of homes to be created to just under 51,000, of which nearly one third will be affordable.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“We have worked very hard to reach our goal of 50,000 homes, and we’ve done it with two more Housing Zones to go. This scheme has proven extremely popular with boroughs, who have clearly been looking for just that extra bit of assistance in revving up their housebuilding to answer clear demand from Londoners. I could not be more pleased at the progress of this innovative scheme and the real outcomes it has delivered for our city.”

Caroline Pidgeon: “Time to tackle London’s housing crisis”

Time to tackle London’s housing crisis.

Yesterday the Liberal Democrat Group on the London Assembly presented our alternative budget, calling on the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to get a grip on London’s growing housing crisis.

With over 700,000 people currently languishing on housing waiting lists, inner London properties out of reach for first time buyers, and workers leaving London due to unaffordable rents, London’s housing market needs fixing if London is to retain its competitive edge on the international stage.

Yesterday we set out how the Mayor could fund a large scale home-building initiative to double the number of affordable homes being delivered in our city – a first step to providing homes for all Londoners.

Will you sign my petition calling on Boris to take responsibility and use the powers at his disposal to start tackling London’s housing crisis?

Caroline Pidgeon

Leader, London Assembly Liberal Democrats

PS Our budget amendment also sets out ways to tackle air pollution, reverse the recent fare hike on off peak travel for people in Outer London, and our plans to expand the cycle hire scheme

Sutton Council creates own housing company

Picture from BBC News…..

Previous Sutton Council housing project

Council houses are to be built in Sutton for the first time since 1989 after the council agreed a pioneering new strategy.

In a bid to create more affordable housing for families, promote economic growth and investment in the borough, Sutton Council is to set up its own house building company with an aim to build council homes.

The plan was revealed at a meeting of the council’s strategy and resources committee last week.

Councillor Ruth Dombey, leader of Sutton Council, said: “This is one of the most exciting reports to come before this committee in a long time. The last time we built housing was in 1989. We don’t need lots more expensive studio flats – we need family homes. This is a highly exciting opportunity. It gives us the chance to provide the sort of housing our residents need. Housing is key to reducing inequalities and making sure everyone has equal opportunities in life.”

Sutton Council will be one of the first authorities in the country to set up its own housing company when the plans go ahead.

The council is also planning to set up so-called ‘housing zones’ – a project set up by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Housing zones are local authority-run areas designed to accommodate a minimum of 1,000 homes in order to qualify for funding from the GLA.

The council is looking at using sites in Sutton town centre and Hackbridge to constitute a housing zone.

The plans met approval from both Liberal Democrat and Conservative Councillors at the meeting, although councillors did stress the importance of making sure the buildings are of good quality.

Cllr Simon Wales said: “I am sure there will be safeguards as to the quality of these houses, we just need to make sure this happens. It is ironic that some councils are being criticised by government ministers for not spending their right to buy sales income quickly enough, when successive governments have stolen this money from housing by freezing the right to buy sales income!”

Councillors also asked if Sutton Housing Partnership would be managing the homes, as it does with Sutton’s current housing stock and were told that no decision had been made on who will manage the homes.