Welcome to my latest community email, with news on Wimbledon Police Station, Brexit, Merton Hall, Motspur Park Post Office and more.
Below are just some of the things I have been doing locally and in Parliament since my last email.
- Local Court Provision - met the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice to discuss.
- Merton Hall - met with the Secretary of State for Local Government to highlight the Labour Council's plans to demolish the hall.
- Crossrail 2 - tabled a Written Question on its proress.
- St Helier Hospital - had a catch up with Daniel Elkeles, the hospital's Chief Executive.
- Coombe Shopping Parade - visited the shops to discuss the Council’s parking changes.
- Ricards Lodge - visited the school to meet with teachers and students.
- Brexit - asked the Secretary of State for Justice about mutual recognition of standards and qualifications post Brexit.
Save Wimbledon Police Station
On Wednesday 7th February, Merton Conservative councillors put forward a credible plan to save Wimbledon police station from closure at a Council meeting of all local councillors. Labour and Lib Dem councillors refused to back the plan.
The plan is for Merton Council to buy the police station site from City Hall and then lease it back to the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC). This could be funded from Merton Council’s capital programme underspend (£11million in the current year) and the council has £92 million of usable reserves.
Since first announcing our plan, the financial case for the police station closure is unravelling. The Labour Mayor’s whole closure project is likely to cost more in the long run than the supposed short term savings. There is now likely to be a far smaller annual cost saving than expected but a long list of new costs appear not to have been factored in to the Mayor’s ‘costs savings analysis’.
The European Free Trade Association
On Wednesday 7th February I held a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on the European Free Trade Association.
It is abundantly clear that no Brexit ‘model’ will satisfy all sections of the British public and a no deal scenario would be catastrophic. But re-joining EFTA would fulfil the result of the referendum, satisfy a large proportion of the British public and go a long way towards healing divisions. EFTA is neither a universal panacea nor does it have all the benefits of membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, but Britain’s negotiating position and its economic position post-Brexit would be improved by re-joining EFTA.
Joining EFTA would:
- Provide the option for EEA membership to give the maximum certainty to citizens and businesses.
- Give us the benefit of the Free Trade Agreements EFTA has signed with 38 countries.
- Demonstrate to the world that the United Kingdom is not leaving Europe as we leave the EU and highlight our commitment to global free trade.
- Be simpler to negotiate than a fully bespoke arrangement, being a largely tested off the shelf model with institutions the EU trusts.
Improving our High Streets
At the last election, one of my key pledges was to ensure that improvements to our high streets and town centres are sympathetic to the wishes of residents.
Crossrail 2, the Council’s Wimbledon Masterplan and the proposed Morden Regeneration should be an opportunity to achieve this, but these are facing significant delays, despite numerous attempts to get them moving by me and Conservative councillors. We have also seen local high streets such as Cannon Hill Lane, Haydons Road and South Wimbledon neglected during the Labour Council’s 8 years in power.
Transport for London and the Department for Transport have announced the start of an Independent Affordability Review to examine ways of making the scheme more affordable.
The review will submit an interim report to the DfT and TfL this summer, outlining options as to how the project could be made more affordable. A more detailed final report will be submitted at a later date in light of the recommendations made in the interim report.
You can read more about this review here: http://crossrail2.co.uk/news/major-new-review-brings-crossrail-2-closer/
Save Merton Hall
For months now residents and residents groups have been fighting Labour Merton Council’s plans to partially demolish Merton Hall on Kingston Road to make way for a pentecostal church. This is part of a freehold swap to move the Elim Pentecostal Church from the High Path Estate to make room for a new secondary school.
Thanks to the work of local residents, Merton Hall has been listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’. This gives a local group the chance to buy the hall and keep it in community use. Despite this, Labour Merton Council are pressing ahead with demolition and transfer to Elim.
I recently met with the Secretary of State for Local Government to raise this issue, and to ask what options there are. I look forward to hearing back from him.
Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators Election
The result of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators election has been announced, with Peter Hirsch, Sarah-Jane Holden, Diane Neil Mills, David Hince and Shirley Gillbe elected.
Congratulations to those who were elected and I wish them well in their important work overseeing the management of the Commons over the next three years.
My team recently met with the Friends of Wimbledon Park for a wide ranging discussion covering the management and upkeep of the Park.
Many good ideas were put forward, such as working to ensure the Wimbledon Park Road entrance is less muddy and the Revelstoke Road entrance is more appealing with murals produced by local primary schools being one option.
Of particular concern was water pollution in the lake, which is damaging fish stocks. I will be working closely with Justine Greening, MP for Putney, and the Friends of Wimbledon Park on this.
Large numbers of people are continuing to get in touch with me to report litter problems. We are rightly proud of our area, and are frustrated when Labour Merton Council cannot provide a simple service like emptying bins on time and sweeping the streets. Their decision to stop weekly street cleaning and the weekly bin collection are making a mess of our community.
Merton Conservatives and I are campaigning to improve this situation by reintroducing weekly street cleaning, protecting the weekly bin collection and increasing mobile CCTV to crack down on fly tipping. If elected to run the Council in May, Merton Conservatives will retain the weekly bin collection and reduce the size and number of Labour’s new wheelie bins. You can support our campaign at www.muckymerton.com
To do our bit, we have arranged a community litter pick on Saturday 17th March at 10.30am starting at the car park of Haydons Road Rec. All equipment will be provided, so please do join us.
Heathrow Airport Consultation
Heathrow Airport have launched the first part of their consultation on expansion and their plans for the future. Please note this is separate from the Government’s own consultations.
This consultation relates to the physical changes on the ground needed to build a new North West runway and operate an expanded airport. The second consultation will relate to potential principles Heathrow could apply when designing the new airspace required for an expanded airport. At this stage, they are not consulting on future flight path options.
I would encourage all Wimbledon residents with an interest to take part in the consultation, which runs until 28th March. You can respond to the consultation, or find out more, here: https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/respond-to-the-consultation/
Motspur Park Post Office
The owner of Ecklee on West Barnes Lane has sadly decided to stop offering Post Office services.
However, I am working closely with Cllrs Brian and Gilli Lewis-Lavender to investigate alternative providers for the Post Office.
Brian and Gilli have met with Merton Council’s Head of Library Services to raise the potential of the Library hosting some Post Office services. We have also heard that another shop in Motspur Park Village has applied to take up Post Office services – which is great news.
We are now working hard to ensure there is a minimal transition period between providers.