As a Liberal Democrat, Jayne believes that the work of politicians should be open and transparent. Jayne's blog explores some of the work she is engaged with on behalf of the residents of Wallington South.
Visit Jayne's blog here: https://jaynemccoysblog.wordpress.com/
What is Sutton Council delivering for you?
All the work the council does and the decisions it makes are in the public domain and largely accessible through its website. However, as this is often embedded in committee reports and paperwork, you need to know what you are looking for or put in an freedom of information (FOI) request.
So in an attempt to make it simpler, Jayne will write a series of posts setting out current activities in the areas covered by her committee portfolio.
I will start with HOUSING
Sutton is building council houses for the first time for many years
Previously the government took money away from Sutton to pay for housing in other places. When the rules were changed we immediately took the opportunity to start building again. We now have planning permission to start building 93 new homes across three sites.
New build for Fellowes Road
Council housing protected for Sutton residents
You need to have lived in Sutton for at least two years to be eligible for council housing in the borough.
Council tenancies for Life
When councils were given the freedom to do away with tenancies for life we consulted with tenants and abided by their wish to retain lifetime tenancies. Unfortunately the Housing & Planning Bill recently passed by Parliament no longer allows us to do this so new tenancies granted will not be for life.
Improving existing council homes
The council has spent £140 million over the past 4 years improving people’s council properties. This has included installing new kitchens and bathrooms, new windows and doors, and major renovation projects like Balaam House and Chaucer House. Many of these measures will improve the energy efficiency of these properties resulting in lower heating bills.
Increasing the number of houses for purchase and rent
The council has been encouraging developers to build new homes in Sutton. We have done this by marketing Sutton and by having positive working relationships with developers. This has enabled us to ensure family houses are built as well as one and two bedrooms flats, and that developers make contributions to improve the area around their development. We have also worked hard to get a good amount of affordable homes delivered as part of private developments.
The work on delivering a new Local Plan means our planning polices will direct housing development to suitable locations and demand high quality, sustainable design that works well with the area.
The regeneration of the Durand Estate is now in its third phase with a total of over 700 homes (250 net additional homes) due to be provided under the Partnership working with Affinity Sutton, Rydons and the residents. The area has been transformed and renamed The Lavenders.
Setting up a council owned housing development company to deliver homes
Called Sutton Living Ltd this company means the council can buy empty properties and rent them out, build new homes for sale or rent, or partner with house builders or social housing providers to help deliver additional housing. As the council knows what type of housing residents need in the borough it can use Sutton Living to deliver the right type of housing, and keep prices affordable. It also has a policy of ensuring new properties, whether to rent or sell, are offered to Sutton residents first. It also enabled the council to get extra help from the London Mayor through becoming a Housing Zone. Any profits generated will either be reinvested in delivering more housing or given back to the council to spend on services for residents.
New specialist housing
This year the council opened Dymond House, a new facility especially to house people with Dementia, as well as people with learning disabilities and a reablement centre.
In Cheam Elizabeth House was rebuilt to provide high quality sheltered housing for older people replacing the outdated original building which had no lifts and communal bathrooms.
And it was not long ago that bespoke-designed housing was built for people with learning disabilities to enable them to live more independently outside of institutions following the closure of Orchard Hill.
Helping people into the private rented sector
The council works with good landlords to encourage them to offer quality accommodation to residents. The council can help with deposits and housing allowance transfers.
The council also takes a hard line against landlords that break the regulations they must abide by and put tenants at risk. We have had a number of successful prosecutions against such landlords.
Lobbying Government on behalf of Sutton residents
We responded to consultations on the Housing & Planning Bill highlighting that it would make finding local affordable housing even harder, cause council tenants to face insecurity and eviction and reduce the amount of social housing available and deter social housing being built.