Mitcham Community Forum 17 October 2018

Venue: Age UK Merton, 277 London Rd, Mitcham CR4 3NT

No. Item
1. Welcome and Introductions


The meeting was held at Age UK Merton, and chaired by Councillor David Chung. 15 residents attended, as well as three other Councillors, and officers of the council and its partners. The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

2. Police Update

Sgt Andy Ball


Sergeant Andy Ball from Mitcham Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) provided an update on local policing issues.

There has been an ongoing issue with dogs where owners are unable to control their dogs and they present a danger to others. The team has issues warrants and seized four dogs. The team initially writes to owners but if the problems is not resolved they may go to court and seek seizure. The police deal with situations where there are criminal offences whereas lost dogs and other issues are dealt with by Merton Council.

Working with Merton Council they have closed two brothels and a third is being considered. Drug warrants have also been served and the SNT will look at any intelligence provided by residents.

Youth engagement work has been a priority, including a PSCO in Pollards Hill using football training sessions to engage young people. The team also involved a groups of cadets in clearing a resident’s garden after they had been targeted by rogue traders.

There has been a problem group of Travellers responsible for a considerable amount of fly-tipping. The team has been working to seize vehicles by working with Merton Council. A vehicle was seized at an encampment in September and a £700 fine had to be paid before it was released. A resident asked if these actions could be better publicised and Sgt Bull they do this on social media but can’t guarantee press coverage.

Other residents asked about gangs in the area. Sgt Ball said there generally small groups of known young people involved in activity and most incidents are problems between those groups. The increased use of large knifes has been a recent trend and has increased the fear of these groups. Merton remains one of London’s safest boroughs and although Mitcham has more issues that other parts of Merton it is still much lower that other parts of the capital. SNTs are involved in visiting schools and youth centres to discourage involvement in gangs but most of the policing is done by specialist teams. SNTs also support colleagues in pursuing warrants against individuals to disrupt the gangs.

Asked about cycling on pavements and citizen’s arrests Sgt Ball explained there are Any Person Arrest powers but they do not recommend residents putting themselves in that position. It would be better to call contact the police. Cycling on the pavement would not be a high priority unless serious danger is posed. If serious incidents are happening regularly in the same place, then contact the teams and they can look into taking actions.

The future of Mitcham Police Station was also discussed. Sgt Ball said that the station is currently open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday whilst Wimbledon Station is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The plan is to move the services from Wimbledon to Mitcham but there is no timetable for this and still lots of debate about the changes. Reporting crime out of hours can be done by 999 in an emergency, 101 or online if not urgent or by email to the SNT.

3. Merton Health and Care Plan  PDF 684 KB

Abbas Mirza, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group


Abbas Mirza, spoke about the Merton Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans and the conversations they have been having with residents. A presentation is available in Appendix 1.

Abbas said the role of the CCG is to improve health and well-being, reduce health inequalities, and ensure equal access to quality services. Every year the CCG produces new plans and speaks to residents about services. Since August they have been speaking with community groups across Merton. They are facing a number of challenges including:

•              We know patients have to wait longer than they would expect to, to access some services

•              The NHS is facing unprecedented financial challenges

•              The quality of some of our services are variable

•              Not all of our NHS buildings are in the best condition and need repairs

•              Having good access psychological therapies remains a challenge

•              There is expected growth in our population which will put pressure on services now and in the future

•              There is an increasing demand for new treatments and therapies

The CCG has three priorities areas:

Start Well – Integrated support for children and families; Emotional wellbeing and mental health

Live Well – Wellbeing and long term conditions; Mental health and wellbeing

Age Well – Complex health and care needs

Abbas asked residents for feedback on local services. Residents asked about the future of primary care in Mitcham. Abbas said there was no news on funding for the redevelopment of the Wilson, that there would be a review of local services once the Wilson was complete and operating on a similar model to the Nelson but no decisions have been made any particular facilities. A number of residents complained about waits for GP appointments at local surgeries and Abbas said he would raise these with colleagues. Abbas explained the role of the GP Hub at Wide Way Medical practice, patients can be referred by their GP or through 111.

4. Leader of the Council

Councillor Stephen Alambritis will provide and update and take questions

Councillor Stephen Alambritis provided an update and responded to questions. Finances across local government remain stretched and Merton was no exception. The latest Medium Term Financial Strategy shows that there is a budget gap of £19m from 2019/20 to 2022/23. This would be met through a mix of savings and income generation. Much of the cost pressures relate to Adult Social Care where the Council has a statutory duty to provide for some of the most vulnerable people in Merton. The Council has invested an additional £9m in Adult Social Care to help meet these challenges.

Children’s services where the Council is a corporate parent to 135 children and young people are also a high priority. The recent Ofsted inspection found that the Council was good with outstanding features and one of the top ten authorities in England.

Working in partnership with other boroughs has also helped reduce costs. Merton leads a legal services partnership on behalf of four other boroughs; shares regulatory services like licensing across three boroughs and has even let out three floors in the Civic Centre to colleagues in the NHS. Renting out parks has also brought in additional revenue but can cause residents concern which the council is sensitive to.

The new dementia friendly library in Colliers Wood was recently short-listed for the 2018 Library of the Year award. Wimbledon Arts Space is booked up until 25 November and will have a ministerial visit on 11 October.

The Council has created an additional 4400 extra primary school places since 2010 by extending 23 schools and a new secondary school, Harris Wimbledon, has opened in the former adult education site at Whately Avenue. The school will then move to a new building on High Path in South Wimbledon for the 2020 intake and is already oversubscribed. There are now 15 outstanding schools in Merton, including the most recently Harris Morden, a school which had previously rated as inadequate. The Council’s School Improvement Team continues to work across the borough to support schools. In last year’s GCSE results Merton had the highest scores for the Progress 8 school which measures progress from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4.

There a number of important regeneration projects underway. Clarion Housing is investing £1billion in improving three estates, that will result in better quality homes and no loss of social housing. The More Morden regeneration is back on track, with a new local plan being developed in 2018, and a development partner being appointed to begin works on improving the public domain in 2021. The new £13m Morden Leisure Centre is due to open later in the autumn with a six-lane pool, diving pool, café and gym. The old leisure centre will then be demolished and returned to park land. On Plough Lane work is progressing on the new football stadium for AFC Wimbledon. The club will hopefully move in for the 2020/21 season. There will also be 600 new homes, at least 30% of which will be affordable. There is also a new draft Masterplan for Wimbledon Town Centre and residents are encouraged to give their views on it.

The use of Landfill needs to stop and the new rubbish and recycling service that began on 1 October should help increase the amount of household rubbish is recycled to over 45%. The new system should also save £1.6m in the first year, £2million a year thereafter and reduce litter on the street. The street cleaning performance of Veolia has not been good enough, and we are sorry for that. In 2017/18 we deducted 10% of the contract value and will do again this year if necessary. In response to questions about the new scheme Cllr Alambritis said that this was a four borough contract and was similar to many other schemes across the country. Veolia have allocated more resources and if more resources are needed for the contract management this will be looked at.

Cllr Alambritis thanked all those who volunteered in Merton. Volunteers are an essential part of life in Merton and he was pleased that the Cabinet had just agreed to continue to support the voluntary sector through a new Strategic Partner Funding Programme.

In response to questions Cllr Alambritis said that the South London Partnership had a mandate to look at more shared services across councils but these have to fit the needs of the borough.

Cllr Alambritis also clarified that for those households who had received wheelie bins but had been reassessed and would not be keeping them the council would remove the bins as soon as possible. The same collection scheme in Sutton and Kingston had increased recycling to over 50%, and landfill across the four boroughs would be further reduced by the use of the new Energy Recovery Facility at Beddington.

Cllr Alambritis agreed with residents that Veolia’s performance on street cleaning has not been good enough and the council is applying pressure to get improvements and once the new collection system is bedded in we expect to see improvement. Deductions have been made from the contract and this will continue if necessary.

A residents asked about a planning application for the La Sporta site on Church Road. Cllr Alambritis agreed to look into this.

A resident asked about the costs and the air pollution issues at the site of the new Harris Academy. Cllr Alambritis said the project would cost the council £6m but would bring an additional £35m from other sources including the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The Council has an Air Quality Action Plan and is working with the Mayor London to address air quality. The Planning Applications Committee will look at all the evidence including Air Quality when it makes its decision. There is a big push to move all cars over to electric by 2040 and Merton is supporting this with new charging points across the borough.

5. Canons Heritage Project  PDF 2 MB

Alison Plant, Project Manager


Alison Plant, Project Manager, gave a presentation on the Heritage Lottery Fund Project at the Canons. The presentation can be seen in appendix 2.

Alison highlighted the opening up of a new East/West route that will provide access to the walled garden. Alison also mentioned some of the activities planned for the next four years and the many opportunities to get involved and volunteer. Will Hardy will be hosting workshops to look at the design of the new play area.

A resident asked if the restored running track would be the original 400 yards or changed to the modern 400m. Alison said this would depend largely on the planned usage and work would not begin until sufficient funding had been secured. Alison also said that the Dovecote would be restored but doves would not be encouraged to return and that adult education would return to the building, making use of the flexible space in the basement. The Heritage Centre would not be moving back from Morden. Alison said there were no plans for new staff to be recruited. A resident asked about a skip that has been left on site and Alison said she would check with the hire company. UPDATE: the skip hire company said they didn’t have a record of it on hire but they should be removing it on 24 October.

6. Open forum


Cricket Green School would be hosting an archaeological did on 25 October from 2.30-4pm which residents were encouraged to join. Cllr Alambritis confirmed that Merton Council was committed to maintaining cricket on the Cricket Green and would work with local partners to support their campaign.

A resident raised concern about illegal activity at 55-61 Manor Road (Tyre shop). The response from the Development Control team was that the files have been passed to a prosecution officer who will look at it fully in the next 2 weeks. In the next month they will visit the site and prepare the new witness statement to prosecute.

A resident had asked by email about Mitcham Town Centre Planting. James Geeson from Future Merton had responded to say that we lost 4 trees and all the shrubs in the islands, due to the extreme summer conditions. The shrubs have since been removed and replaced with grass, and we will remove the dead trees and plant new ones before Christmas.

7. Date of next meeting

Wednesday 27 February 2019, venue to be confirmed.


Councillor Chung thanked residents for attending and closed the meeting.

The next meeting is on Wednesday 27 February at 7.15pm, in Pollards Hill Library

Filmed by Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage Twitter: @MitchamCrktGrn

Community Forum meetings are for anyone with an interest in the local area. They are chaired by local councillors. Issues raised are referred to the responsible organisation to follow up and report back on how problems are resolved.

The current chair of the Mitcham Community Forum is Councillor David Chung.

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About Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage

Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage is the civic society for Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and its environs. They take an active interest in the future of the area and membership is open to all. They get involved in a wide range of activity and work with other local groups and the London Borough of Merton. They care for our local heritage, support community involvement and encourage people to make use of the area for recreation and leisure. Twitter: @MitchamCrktGrn
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