First up, the Conservative Party candidates.
Eric Allen: A Borough resident for the past 24 years, Eric says he is really concerned about the lack of business judgement in running the Borough, as reflected in so many wasteful projects. He wants to use his commercial experience to encourage local businesses to grow and create employment. He is passionately committed to appropriate planning, affordable parking and effective policing. The costs of projects like the £8.5million Sutton Life Centre and the £3m spent on repaving Sutton High Street worry him as a local taxpayer.
Richard Butt: Richard has lived in the Borough with his family for 16 years. As a retired Chartered Surveyor and the current Councillor for the adjoining ward of Worcester Park, he has served on various planning committees, making him well qualified to deal with the Queen Vic eyesore and the Cheam Baths fiasco. Richard feels that Nonsuch has been betrayed by weak and ineffectual representation. His promise? This will change!
Alan Plant: A semi-retired mechanical engineer technician, he and his family have lived in Nonsuch for 32 years. His priorities are to cut wasteful spending, eliminate antisocial behaviour so that it does not affect our quality of life, and return to common sense values. Above all, he aims to remove Nonsuch from the status of “The Forgotten Ward”. If elected, he promises that residents will be genuinely listened to and properly represented.
Q. As you seek re-election, what are your proudest achievements as Councillor over the course of your term in office?
A. Richard Butt has stood up for Worcester Park, putting it back on the map. With colleagues, Richard was able to bring the full force of the planning committee to the Hamptons debate. Richard was proud to play a part in the Conservative’s ‘freeze the tax’ campaign which led to a begrudging acceptance that Council Tax needn’t increase year-on-year.
Q: Councils are likely to come under increasing financial pressures in the forthcoming term. How would you propose meeting this challenge and ensuring that costs can be cut and savings made without essential services suffering?
We are aiming to freeze council tax for the next four years, whilst maintaining and improving frontline services.
Money has been diverted from adult social services and schools maintenance budgets to help pay for the £8.5million Sutton Life Centre. The U-turn on the £35 per bag green garden waste collection cost taxpayers £800,000, the equivalent of 1% extra on council tax.
Residents cannot afford to live under a Liberal Democrat council anymore.
We will not indulge in pet projects and consult people before the big decisions are taken. Reorganising the council’s structure to reduce duplication of effort and sharing services between other councils and public bodies will free up more resources for frontline services.
Q: The last couple of years have been very tough ones for Worcester Park's independent traders. What would you seek to do to help small businesses in the area and make sure Worcester Park's high street not only survives but thrives?
A: There is insufficient short term parking which needs to be addressed urgently. Sutton Conservatives have promised to make ‘stop and shop’ parking easier and more affordable. A Conservative Government will enable us to be flexible with business rates and offer attractive deals to bring new businesses into the area.
Seeing through the resequencing of the traffic lights along Central Road will reduce queuing, help improve the air quality and bring people back to the area. North Cheam and Worcester Park need to be brought back to their rightful place as key secondary shopping centres.
Q: Availability of primary and secondary school places is a key concern for local parents. What should be done to ensure a fairer system for children in Worcester Park?
There is no land readily available to build a new school so we need to bring a fresh eye to providing sufficient places. In the meantime, we can provide a fairer system without contravening the ‘Greenwich Judgement’ by working with schools to amend their catchment areas.
There is no reason why schools need to simply draw a circle around their school. They are allowed to take in particular roads and neighbourhoods.
All they are restricted from doing is using the Borough boundary as an artificial catchment line. Redesigning their criteria on irregular shapes will enable more Sutton Children to get into Sutton Schools.
Q: Aside from the above, what are your top priorities for Worcester Park?
We do not want to be wringing our hands about Victoria House in four years time. Instead we want to have worked with the private sector to have found a permanent solution and started to see the results.
Similarly Cheam Baths remains under threat with only a promise that a leisure centre will be built somewhere nearby. Without a site identified, there is a likelihood that the replacement will be both expensive and remote.
Finally the area needs to attract a fair share of attention and investment. Not everything revolves around Sutton High Street.
Whilst £3m is spent on replacing paving there, road surfaces in Worcester Park continue to crumble away.