Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Merton Council meeting motions

The Council meeting next week sees four motions on the agenda. The agenda contains two motion from the Tories, one is on St Helier and another on the Merton rule. Likewise the Labour group has put down two motions, one referring to the recent remarks of David Williams unfortunate use of language when he stated in The Post of 16th August that the users of All Saints were "holding council taxpayers to ransom," and calls on Councillor Williams to withdraw his remarks.The remarks have causes a furore in the local papers with many letters criticising the remarks from users of the centre, indeed a letter called on him to resign(and it was not from a person with a Labour party link)

The other Labour group motion refers to All Saints Day centre which is under threat of closure from the Tory Council.

Councillors Jeremy Bruce, Krystal Miller and Jonathan Warne
“Merton Council are shocked that the NHS Better Healthcare Closer to
Home programme is not commissioning further work on new build options
for a general hospital and that previously announced plans for a critical care
hospital have been abandoned.

The Council is also disappointed to note that St Helier may become nothing
more than a glorified local care hospital, albeit with Accident & Emergency
Services and Women’s and Children’s Services bolted on. This falls far
short of the expectations raised by the Government’s initial proposals and

represents a watered down future for St Helier.
Final decisions on hospital provision lie solely with the Department of Health
but, mindful of the Council’s role in reducing health inequalities across the
Borough, it resolves to advise the new Secretary of State for Health to
intervene with the Sutton & Merton Primary Care Trust and NHS London to
ensure that the right way forward for a modern health service includes:

1. St Helier Hospital. There is no further dilution at the services
provided at St Helier Hospital and that future provision should include,
as a minimum, a Local Care Hospital on the site.

2. Wilson Hospital. That the proposal for a Local Care Hospital
providing a whole range of services - including intermediate care
beds - is welcomed, as is the opportunity to support commissioning
with the PCT, which would benefit our residents in
areas where health inequalities are most significant.

3. Nelson Hospital. Plans for two local GP surgeries to join together on
site as part of a Local Care Hospital are welcomed, as is the
opportunity to provide a range of community services, outpatient and
mental health services, which would save many residents from the
need to travel to one of the larger hospitals

Motion 2 – Councillors David Williams, Samantha George and Debbie
“This Council notes recent reports suggesting that the ‘Merton Rule’, which
is named after the borough, is under threat from the government. It
expresses its concern that, as a result of intense lobbying from the House
Builders Federation, the new draft planning policy statement due to be
published shortly by the Department for Communities and Local
Government could pose a danger to the future of the Rule.
This Council pays tribute to the hard work and dedication of officers and
Members, both past and present, in contributing to the success of the
‘Merton Rule’. It is particularly pleased to note that the ‘Rule’, which requires
any new (commercial use) buildings to reduce carbon emissions by 10%
through the use of renewable energy sources, has:
 been one of the major drivers of renewable energy technologies in
 won Merton Council several national awards as well as widespread
plaudits since the policy was developed in 2003;
 been backed by many environmental and planning bodies, including
the Royal Town Planning Institute which presented Merton with the
Silver Jubilee Cup - its highest award – in February 2007;
 now been adopted or considered for adoption by 150 local authorities
across the country; and
 received support in the past from the Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper
MP, who called for all local authorities to adopt Merton's approach in
This Council takes particular note both of the government’s own Stern
Report which identified planning as one of the key methods of tackling
climate change, and of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ view that
councils can play a huge role in driving innovation. As such, this Council
urges the government to continue allowing councils to implement renewable
energy policy at a local level, whilst also noting that:
 scrapping the ‘Merton Rule’ would mean local authorities lost their
ability to influence developments at an early stage by working with
developers on the most appropriate type of renewable energy in the
pre-planning stage, and would be detrimental to the government's
goal of reducing carbon emissions from buildings
 replacement of the ‘Rule’ with a standard policy may deprive local
authorities, in locations where land value is high, of the chance to
obtain a greater environmental benefit for the community
This Council believes it is essential that local planning authorities should be
permitted to retain autonomy, both in determining the cost of planning
obligations and standards that they impose on local development, and the
balance to be struck between these and other objectives, and it calls on the
government to renew its previous support for the Merton Rule.”

Motion 3 (LABOUR MOTION) – Councillors Mark Allison, Dennis Pearce and Zenia
“That this Council regrets Councillor David Williams' unfortunate use of
language when he stated in The Post of 16th August that the users of All
Saints were "holding council taxpayers to ransom," and calls on Councillor
Williams to withdraw his remarks.”

Motion 4 (LABOUR MOTION) – Councillors Sheila Knight, Dennis Pearce and Zenia
“That this Council confirms its commitment to continue to provide the All
Saints Day Centre and the range of facilities that are available for people
with physical disabilities.
We also welcome the commitment to providing a Centre for Independent
Living but would point out that this is something to be provided in addition to
the Day Centre, as it would not in any way replace the Day Centre’s facilities
of physiotherapy, activities, the opportunity to get out of the house and meet
people, a break for Carers, and the trips out that people who use All Saints


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