Thursday, January 31, 2013

Merton will not raise Council Tax for low-income households


London Borough of Merton
31 January 2013

Merton will not raise Council Tax for low-income households

Merton Council announced today that, under its new Council Tax Support Scheme, it will not be raising Council Tax in 2013-14 for 14,000 households across Merton.

The scheme is to benefit households who are currently receiving financial support and comes into effect on 1 April 2013 until 31 March 2014.  It will be reviewed during 2014-15. Any changes arising from the review will be considered as part of the 2015-16 budget process. 

Merton is implementing the new scheme due to government plans for councils to develop and administer their own local Council Tax support schemes from 2013-14. The Government also cut the amount of funding it will give to local authorities for Council Tax support by 10% from 1 April 2013 and by a further 10% from April 2014. This will result in Merton losing approximately £1.4-1.47 million during 2013-14 and £1.2m in 2014-15.

Following the Government's decision to remove the national Council Tax Benefit scheme, the council consulted with residents last year about a new Council Tax scheme. It proposed a new Council Tax Support Scheme that keeps support at the same level as the existing scheme.  Out of the 1,007 responses received, the vast majority wanted Council Tax support in 2013-14 to remain unchanged. Councillors shared this view, voting at a Full Council meeting, in November 2012, for a local scheme that keeps Council Tax support the same as in previous years. 

Merton Council's cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: "We are committed to helping those residents who already receive Council Tax Benefit for the next financial year, unless their circumstances change.

"At a time when many people are facing financial difficulties, we did not think it was right to cut financial support and put up tax for lower income households. Making them pay more tax would have a significant and detrimental impact on their families.

"We want to keep Council Tax low for everyone, and have frozen Council Tax for two years, and this new scheme will mean no Council Tax rise for the 14,000 Merton households who sadly need financial assistance."

For more information, please visit <>  


Notes to editors:
-            Spending Review 2010: <>   

Amanda Idowu
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 3327
07983624691 (out-of-hours) <>

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sport England supports Dundonald application

Sabah Halli
London Borough of Merton
9th Floor, Merton Civic Centre
London Road
15 January 2013
Our Ref:   L/MR/2012/28545/S
Dear Sabah Halli,
App Ref:
Dundonald Recreation Ground, Dundonald Road, London, SW19 3QH
Expansion and refurbishment of dundonald primary school comprising refurbishment of existing main school building, erection of part first floor part two storey extension to existing detached rear annexe building (to be partly sited on dundonald recreation ground) and containing three new classrooms, new main hall, new studio, kitchen, library, toilets and associated stores in addition to new public changing room facilities, toilets, pavilion hall, kitchen and associated storage, and proposed works to dundonald recreation ground comprising of demolition of existing pavilion and shed buildings, loss of existing bowling green, creation of new multi-use games area (muga), new tennis courts, new childrens public playground, outdoor gym, nature garden and new associated footpaths, planting, and seating
Thank you for consulting Sport England on the above application.
It is understood that the site forms part of, or constitutes a playing field as defined in The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 (Statutory Instrument 2010 No. 2184), in that it is on land that has been used as a playing field within the last five years, and the field encompasses at least one playing pitch of 0.2 ha or more, or that it is on land that is allocated for the use as a playing field in a development plan or in proposals for such a plan or its alteration or replacement.
Sport England has therefore considered the application in the light of its playing fields policy. The aim of this policy is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of quality pitches to satisfy the current and estimated future demand for pitch sports within the area. The policy seeks to protect all parts of the playing field from development and not just those which, for the time being, are laid out as pitches. The policy states that:
“Sport England will oppose the granting of planning permission for any development which would lead to the loss of, or would prejudice the use of, all or any part of a playing field, or land last used as a playing field or allocated for use as a playing field in an adopted or draft deposit local plan, unless, in the judgement of Sport England, one of the specific circumstances applies.”
Reason: Development which would lead to the loss of all or part of a playing field, or which would prejudice its use, should not normally be permitted because it would permanently reduce the opportunities for participation in sporting activities.  Government planning policy and the policies of Sport England have recognised the importance of such activities to the social and economic well-being of the country.
Following the submission of the planning application, Sport England has been in discussion with Merton Council and local sports user groups (namely Dundonald Rec Tennis Club and Wandsgas Bowls Club). Furthermore, Sport England met with the applicant, Dundonald Rec Tennis Club and Wandsgas Bowls Club and Merton Council on 26 October 2012. Subsequent to this, further information was provided in relation to local need for bowling within the vicinity of the site and a draft Community Use Agreement was subsequently developed for the proposed pavilion and MUGA, which has now been submitted as part of the planning application.
The planning application involves the expansion of Dundonald Primary School, including erecting a part first floor part two storey extension to the existing rear annexe building, including new public changing room facilities, toilets, pavilion hall, kitchen and associated storage, and the creation of a new multi use games area (MUGA). The MUGA shall comprise three tennis courts. The proposed works would also comprise the demolition of the existing pavilion, MUGA, and bowling green. The existing MUGA comprises two tennis courts.
The proposed development would be sited on an existing pavilion, MUGA, and a bowling green, to the south east of the existing Dundonald Primary School building. Sport England considers that Exception E5 of its playing fields policy would be the most applicable to the proposal, which states:
The proposed development is for an indoor or outdoor sports facility, the provision of which would be of sufficient benefit to the development of sport as to outweigh the detriment caused by the loss of the sports facilities.
I have considered the information provided in support of the planning application and make the following assessment of how the proposed development would relate to exception E5:
Sports Development Benefits
The key potential sports development benefits of the proposed MUGA and changing pavilion are considered to be as follows:
§  The MUGA (providing three tennis courts) would replace the existing MUGA (providing two tennis courts). This would be built to modern standards and would be superior in quantity and quality to the existing MUGA that it would replace on the site in terms of a surface that is sufficient for use in all weathers
§  The MUGA would be suitable for a number of sports including netball, football, tennis, basketball and mini-tennis
§  The new changing facilities would be superior in quality to the changing facilities that are currently on the site
§  Opportunities for community use of the MUGA and changing pavilion on the site would be expected to be maintained and improved due to the improved quantity and quality of facilities that would be on offer. A draft Community Use Agreement (dated 11 January 2013) has been developed and submitted as part of the planning application in order to ensure that community/school use is specified and delivered in practice
§  The facilities would therefore encourage increased participation levels
Impact on Sports Facilities
The existing MUGA is shared by the community and school at all times. However, a draft Community Use agreement (dated 11 January 2013) has been developed and submitted as part of the planning application in order to ensure that community/school use is specified and delivered in practice.
Although the existing pavilion would be lost, it would be replaced by the proposed pavilion and the use of this facility would be secured by the Community Use Agreement (dated 11 January 2013).
Although the existing bowling green would be lost, it has been confirmed by the applicant, in writing, that the existing members of Wandsgas Bowls Club can be accommodated by the nearby Merton Park Bowling Club (John Innes Park, Mostyn Road, Merton Park).
The existing adjacent playing field would be unaffected by the proposed development and therefore existing playing pitch provision would be maintained.
On the basis of the above assessment, Sport England considers that the potential sports development benefits that the new MUGA and pavilion would offer would outweigh the detriment caused by the impact on existing sports facilities.
I therefore consider that the proposal meets exception E5 of Sport England’s playing fields policy. This being the case, Sport England does not wish to raise an objection to this application, subject to a suitable Section 106 Agreement, or other legal mechanism being delivered and signed, which secures the detail of the draft Community Use Agreement (dated 11 January 2013) which was submitted as part of the planning application.
Should your Authority be minded to approve the application without an acceptable section 106 agreement or other legal mechanism in place, then Sport England would wish to maintain/lodge a statutory objection to this application and in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, and the DCLG letter of 10 March 2011, the application should be referred to the National Unit for Land Acquisition and Disposal at the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Sport England would recommend that the detailed design of the pavilion and MUGA accords with Sport England’s relevant design guidance in order to ensure that the facilities are fit for purpose and of an appropriate quality. The guidance is available to view on Sport England’s website at (Comparative Sizes of Sports Pitches and Courts 2011), (MUGAs) and (Pavilions and Clubhouses).
The absence of an objection to this application in the context of the Town and Country Planning Acts, does not in any way commit Sport England’s or any National Governing Body of Sport’s support for any related application for grants funding.
If this application is to be presented to a Planning Committee, we would like to be notified in advance of the publication of any committee agendas, report(s) and committee date(s). We would be grateful if you would advise us of the outcome of the application by sending us a copy of the decision notice. 
If you would like any further information or advice please contact the undersigned at the address below.
Yours sincerely
Dale Greetham