Travellers at Evans Auto site

Travellers at Evans Auto site

Many residents have contacted me with concerns about the travellers that have moved into the old Evans Auto site in North Cheam.

The site is currently owned by Aldi, not Sutton Council, and was locked. The travellers broke the lock to gain entry and the owners reported the trespass to the police. The police turned up to evict them, however, they claimed squatters rights and the owners have had to go to the High Court to get an eviction order.

The Court has confirmed that:

a) The claim should be issued today (27/04); and
b) The possession hearing will be listed for 10 May.

Once Aldi has obtained the order, they will need to transfer it up to the High Court (so that it can be enforced by Constant & Co). It is expected they will obtain possession during the week commencing 14 May.

Whilst they may be reticent to do so due to the cost, the Police do have powers under section 61(1) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct the trespassers to leave land if any of the following apply:

a) The trespassers have caused damage to the land or property on the land;
b) The trespassers have used threatening, abusing or insulting words or behaviour to the occupier (or the occupier’s family, employees or agents); or
c) There are six or more vehicles on land.

The Police also have powers to direct trespassers to leave in certain situations where there is a suitable caravan site in the local authority area.

They are currently monitoring the site for any evidence of clear law breaking.

I share residents concerns about how long this will take, so I have written to the Borough Commander at Sutton Police to investigate further with a view to potentially removing them earlier, as feedback from residents suggests that some or all of the above has happened.

I will be sure to keep residents updated and encourage them to report any criminal activity to the police on 999 in an emergency or 101 if the need is less urgent.

Ban on Ivory Sales

Ban on Ivory Sales

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that the UK will introduce a ban on ivory sales.

The proposed ban will be the toughest in Europe and amongst the toughest in the world – helping to protect elephants for future generations.

The move follows a consultation which had more than 70,000 responses – with over 88 percent in favour of the ban.

The UK has long been a global leader in the international fight against the illegal ivory trade. But over the last decade, the number of elephants has declined by almost a third and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to the global demand for ivory – showing there is more to do.

As part of our action to tackle the Ivory trade, at a recent European Environment Council, the UK called for EU member states to ban commercial trade in raw ivory – which is already banned in the UK – within the EU as soon as possible.

Following on from the ground breaking conference on the illegal wildlife trade held in London in 2014, the UK will host the fourth international conference on the illegal wildlife trade in October. This will bring global leaders to London to tackle the strategic challenges of the trade.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said: “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations.

“The ban on ivory sales we will bring into law will reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”

This announcement confirms that this Conservative Government will make every effort to halt the heart-breaking decline in Africa’s elephant population in recent years.

We need to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with stronger protections for animal welfare, but also cleaner air, greener spaces and tougher action on plastic waste.

The CEO of Tusk Trust, Charlie Mayhew MBE said: “We are delighted that the Government has listened to our concerns and given the overwhelming public response to their consultation is now moving decisively to introduce tough legislation to ban the trade in ivory in the UK.

“The narrowly defined exemptions are pragmatic. The ban will ensure there is no value for modern day ivory and the tusks of recently poached elephants cannot enter the UK market. We welcome the fact that Ministers are sending such a clear message to the world that the illegal wildlife trade will not be tolerated and every effort will be made to halt the shocking decline in Africa’s elephant population in recent years.”

Sutton schools success in Condition Improvement Fund

Sutton schools success in Condition Improvement Fund

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has announced the outcome of the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) 2018 to 2019.

The core priority of CIF is keeping academy and sixth form college buildings safe and in good working order. Most CIF funding aims to address issues with significant consequences that revenue or Devolved Formula Capital funding cannot meet. These include issues with poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency and health and safety.

CIF also supports a small proportion expansion projects for Ofsted-rated good or outstanding academies and sixth-form colleges that need to expand their existing provision to either increase the number of admissions in the main year of entry or address overcrowding.

CIF received requests for more than £1.5 billion across 4,600 projects in this year’s round. Following their assessment, they have announced £514 million to cover 1,556 projects at 1,299 academies and sixth-form colleges.

This investment forms part of the government’s plan to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.

I am delighted that Sutton schools have benefited from the CIF with Cheam Common Junior Academy, Glenthorne High School and Sutton Grammar School all being successful in their bids to the CIF.

Opening Brookways School

Opening Brookways School

I was delighted to open a brand new specialist school to support children and young people who are on the autism spectrum.

Brookways School is the latest to be opened by Kedleston Group, providing education and support for boys and girls who may have complex needs. The school is based in North Cheam and has opened its doors following a successful registration inspection by Ofsted.

The independent specialist school offers places to children aged between seven and 16 with autism, including Asperger’s Syndrome, higher functioning autism, social emotional and mental health issues, ADHD and other challenges. The school supports young people for whom other education environments have not been able to meet their needs.

Head Teacher Melanie Whitfield is an experienced ASC practitioner and her vision for Brookways is for it to provide a vibrant learning space where up to 40 children can receive the educational and additional support they need to help them achieve their full potential. Additional therapeutic support such as including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy will be available “in-house”.

Melanie and a number of her key team members previously worked within the specialist autism provision of sister school Leaways, also operated by Kedleston Group, and helped the school achieve an Outstanding judgement from Ofsted.

She said: “We are very lucky here at Brookways. We have a really experienced team who have worked extensively with young people on the autism spectrum and their families to create educational environments and plans which suit the individual needs of the child.

“Before opening Brookways, we worked with our architects and building teams to ensure the environment here at the school was built in a bespoke way, creating learning spaces which are calm and welcoming and which take into account the sensory and other needs of the children learning here.

“The school environment should be enabling for young people with consideration on colour, lighting and other elements. Brookways offers all of these including muted colour schemes, specialist lighting, individual work stations and visual communication.

“Classes here at Brookways are small and the curriculum, broadly following the National Curriculum, is tailored to individual needs and interests, but with a focus on supporting children to achieve meaningful qualifications and learning skills to support life outside of school and to move into further education and work. Social and communication skills are embedded in the curriculum with timetabled lessons focusing on social skills, turn taking, listening and responding.

“We’re thrilled the school has been registered and that we are able to support young people and their families.”

It was a pleasure to see the new facilities that will be so vital to children who are on the autistic spectrum and thank you especially to Ben who showed me around.

Deposit Return Scheme

Deposit Return Scheme

A deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting our land and seas will be introduced subject to consultation later this year.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.

The consultation will look at the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates. We hope to talk to the devolved administrations about the scope for working together on this important issue.

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany. A deposit return scheme sees consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.

This is often done through a network of ‘reverse vending machines’, where you insert your plastic or glass bottle or can and the machine returns your money. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.

This announcement is the latest move in the government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbead ban hailed as one of the world’s strongest bans and the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 9 billion fewer bags distributed. It also follows the recent call for evidence by HM Treasury on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics, so that all relevant findings can be fed into the proposals.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.

“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

The amount of waste polluting our land and seas remains a great source of frustration for residents all over Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park. It’s one of the biggest issues that’s raised with me when residents get in touch.

We are working to leave our planet in a better state for the next generation, with cleaner air, greener spaces, stronger protections for animal welfare and tougher action on plastic waste.

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card

I am supporting the Rail Delivery Group’s initiative, on behalf of Britain’s train companies, to raise awareness about a travel discount card that helps lower the cost of finding work.

The Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card is available to eligible people in England, Wales and Scotland who have been out of work for 12 weeks or longer. It offers jobseekers a 50% discount on train fares as they travel to interviews, to the Jobcentre or to and from training, for up to three months at a time.

Nationally, between March 2017 and March 2018, 518,822 discounted journeys were made by jobseekers, with 2270 jobseekers having taken advantage of the discount card’s benefits in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park.

It is great to see the train companies and Jobcentre Plus working together to give jobseekers a helping hand. The cost of travel can sometimes be a barrier to getting to interviews and training, however it is initiatives like these that are making the difference in getting people into work. I will continue to support the Rail Delivery Group in raising awareness for this scheme.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Getting more people into work is part of our long‐term plan to change and improve. The partnership railway is committed to spreading economic prosperity across the country. Over half a million discounted journeys were made in the last year but we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible to discounted journeys, in all parts of the country, know about the discounts available.”

To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card you will need to visit your local Jobcentre Plus office.