Thursday, February 04, 2010

Merton Full Council Meeting

Apart from the David Williams comment reported in my previous posting, the full Council meeting last night was one of the most successful for the Labour Party since 2006. We were successful in getting our parking motion passed in council which criticised the council's rise in parking charges last year for parking permits and visitor day permits. The Merton Park Residents', whose amendment we accepted and former Tory Councillor Angela Caldara supported our motion, and we won 31-28. This is an issue we'll be continuing to push in the run up to the election.

On the Tory Environment motion, we also managed to pass by 28-27 a Labour amendment to their motion. The amendment itself was proposed by former leader, Cllr Andrew Judge who pioneered the Merton Rule during his time as leader of the council.

Unfortunately, we lost the wheelie bin motion as the residents failed to support us on this issue. This is despite widespread support for our policy throughout the borough which has been shown through surveys conducted by the Council when Labour controlled and also by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh. The Tories have refused to introduce them despite the clear evidence which shows how they would improve street cleanliness, stop bags being riped open by foxes which is a particular problem in my area, and also reduce litter. They have refused to consult on the issue of wheelie bins which is systematic of how they conduct consulation in Merton, certainly not 'Putting You First' which is the council strapline(and also from the last Tory manifesto). In boroughs where they have been introduced, it has made a real difference, and many of those boroughs have a higher recycling rate than Merton. This will be a Labour pledge in the forthcoming Merton election.

The council also passed unanimously a motion on the Holocaust Memorial Day. Having attended the service last Sunday at St Mary's Church Hall in Merton Park, it was a particular moving service as it was addressed by a Holocaust survivor. It is something we should never forgot along with other more recent genocides including Darfur, Rwanda and Bosnia and it is right the we commemorate it each year.

A petition was also submitted supporting the Waitrose proposal for a supermarket at the old B&Q site in Wimbledon. A few months ago, the leader David Williams and local councillor said "the views of residents don't matter" in opposing the proposal. On the Labour side we believe people's views do count and that a Waitrose would be a great bonus for Wimbledon, along with creating jobs in a site that is currently direlect. They are also just the type of business we should be encouraging and having one in Wimbledon would be a real bonus.

Sick and tired of hearing about poor old Mitcham

Not my words but the comments of Cllr David Williams, Tory Leader of Merton Council at last night's Council meeting in response to a motion criticizing the response of the council to the recent bad weather and the level of street gritting in the Mitcham area. Even by David Williams standards this was a remarkable comment, he has made a number of gaffes over the past four years, but this one takes some beating.

Nearly all Labour Councillors were amazed that he could say something so crass about the area. I am a Mitcham councillor, I am proud to represent Mitcham, and I will also defend the area against any Tory attacks. The attitude of the Tory administration towards Mitcham in the last four years has been shown in the collapse of any regeneration proposals; the debacle of the Christmas lights this year which attracted widespread ridicule in the press; and also the concern that many residents have about the way they see Mitcham as an area in terms of resources. In Pollards Hill, we saw first-hand with the travellers issue just last summer how the council effectively encouraged a traveller encampment on Mitcham Common.

Now Cllr Williams maybe "sick and tired of hearing about poor old Mitcham", but many residents are certainly sick and tired of his Tory administration, which we'll be reminding voters of over the next three months. Still when you've only had one Conservative Councillor elected in the Mitcham area over the last twenty years, it's not surprising that the leader holds these views as the both him and his Tory colleagues(though less gaffe prone than him!) have no real understanding of the area at all given that only one of their councillors out of 29 lives in Mitcham and even she is quitting at the election.