August 2014


Dear friend,

Hello again, and welcome back to more on the latest news and events here in Mitcham and Morden. 

It’s been a bumper summer, so there’s plenty to include this month, including news of loads of fun things happening in the area, from football to splashing around in a park. I’ve also got news on beating the
litter louts, an update on a favourite old pub, and some information about what I’m doing to get the police to do a better job in Mitcham, among many other things.

Fantastic new water play area opened 

As it’s summer, I really ought to start off with news of an amazing new water play area that’s just opened opposite Figges Marsh, which was opened as part of Love Parks Week. It’s a great place to take the younger ones for a cheap day out or a picnic! With dozens of fountains and interactive features, there’s loads of ways to keep the children occupied – and having fun – throughout the summer holidays. If you’ve not visited yet, you really should pop along!

Our local parks are always popular at this time of year, so it’s also good to see that Colliers Wood Rec has again been awarded a ‘Green Flag’, the national award for the best public and community parks and green
spaces. The award, which is granted by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy is given to the best parks and green spaces across the country, and is national recognition for all the staff and volunteers who make our parks a great place for everyone to enjoy.

Tackling the scourge of litter louts

But of course, if you do have a day out in one of our parks, remember to take everything home with you – and I do mean everything, nothing annoys local residents more than people who litter! 

Every survey I carry out puts litter near the top of the list of people’s concerns, so I welcome the news that the Council have started to employ a dedicated enforcement team whose job is to deter people from
dropping litter on our streets. And not just that, now that an initial grace period has come to an end, they now have the power to give anyone they see littering a £75 on the spot fine. The team has only just started its work, but let’s hope they make a difference. If you see them out and about please let me know what
you think of their work.

I am also arranging a walkabout next month with the top man in Merton’s environment team, Chris Lee, next month. The idea is to explore hotspots where rubbish, fly-tipping or litter causes particular problems. If
you want to nominate a location for him to look at, please email me and we’ll get it looked at. In the mean time, the Council runs an ‘intelligence led’ cleaning service, so if there is a problem area please let them know. You can ring 020 8274 4902 or use their brand new smartphone app, which is called Love
Clean Streets. 

Getting the police to deliver a better service in Mitcham

You may remember that last month I was about to hold a public meeting about crime, anti-social behaviour, drinking and even drug taking in Mitcham. Well, thank you to the 250 people who came along to let the
local police know what the problems are, and to ask for solutions. 

The Borough Commander for Merton, Stuart McLeod, very kindly agreed to attend and I can’t fault him for listening. Everyone knows how difficult it is for him at the moment, as the amount he is getting to run our
police service is being cut. We have lost more than 40 Police Constables and nearly half our PCSOs since 2010, and Merton’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams of 6 dedicated officers in each of our 20 neighbourhoods have been replaced by teams working in 3 sectors. This has resulted in problems in Mitcham because even
though 52% of Merton’s crime takes place in Mitcham, resources are split evenly across the three sectors. 

However, it’s all very good to listen. What Mitcham needs is more action, and unsurprisingly, Mitcham residents are very frustrated with the police. For over a decade we successfully campaigned for more and more police on to the streets, but it feels like those gains are now being reversed. However, thanks to the public meeting, I’m told that the number of officers in Mitcham town centre has increased. We all now need to stay alert to ensure this isn’t just a temporary reaction.

I also wanted to update you on other work I’ve been doing in Mitcham since the meeting. One of the town centre’s biggest problems is the growth in betting shops and the behaviour of some of the people attracted to them. At the meeting, I promised to organise a gathering of all the betting shop companies (Betfred, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, William Hill) along with the Association of British Bookmakers to discuss the behaviour of their customers in the town centre. Hopefully they will keep to their commitment to take more
responsibility for this, and I will keep you informed about progress.

Help for your small businesses

If you’re interested in setting up a small business, or already run one and want some extra help, I’ve been contacted by Merton Council’s regeneration team and the microfinance charity Fredericks Foundation
about an initiative that might help. The London Community Foundation are also involved, with the programme focusing on a combination of finance and mentoring support.

Fredericks is holding a ‘readiness for finance’ workshop on Tuesday 9 September at Vestry Hall in Mitcham. The courses start at 9.30 or 2pm, and experts and entrepreneurs will offer a free half-day specialist course
that will help with completing a business plan and applying for financial assistance. Places are limited to only 15 people, and you’ll need to be ready to prepare an application for finance and have already made a start on your business plan. For more information on the application process, please visit the Fredericks Foundation website.

A “Mitcham Summit” 

One of the questions I am often asked by Mitcham residents is why the town centre is struggling, and what can be done to get it back on track. Times are tough and people aren’t spending as much in the shops as
before. However, although some of our better shops have left, to be replaced by bookmakers and charity shops, we all want Mitcham to be an attractive place that might appeal to shoppers and retailers in the future.

That’s why I’ve called a “Mitcham Summit” where all the groups with an interest in making Mitcham better can get together to deliver the kind of town centre we all want. It’s taking place on Thursday 18 September
and I have invited all the relevant public bodies, like Merton Council, TfL, the NHS and the police, as well as all the large local businesses with an interest in the town centre like Asda, Morrisons and Lidl. 

Merton Council has already launched a regeneration programme in Mitcham, installed CCTV and persuaded the police to introduce dispersal zone to tackle anti-social behaviour. Now it’s important that everyone with a stake in the future of Mitcham works together to make the town centre more appealing, so please let me know what you want the summit’s priorities to be.

Restoring the Burn Bullock to its former glories

One of the most depressing sites in Mitcham and Morden at the moment is the Burn Bullock pub. A listed building, his used to be such a fantastic place to go, overlooking our wonderful historic Cricket Green, the
world’s oldest cricket ground. The pub was once a mecca for cricket lovers the world over – apparently, the Australian Test Match squad even used to stay there.

Sadly, the building is now in disrepair, and Merton Council has issued several environmental enforcement orders on the owners, so I have arranged a site meeting there at 10am on Friday 12 September. Please join us if you’ve got any comments, or email me any questions. I have also invited the owner of the site, Mr Baig of Phoenix Properties, as well as Chris Lee from Merton Council. Let’s see if a bit of people power can put pressure on the owners to look after this historic site properly.

Mitcham Little League openings for managers and players – and a scheme to boost your employability by playing football!

At last! Football is back! My team, AFC Wimbledon, has started the season well – and I wanted to let you know about a couple of great football initiatives that might be good for you too.

Firstly, Mitcham Little League is starting again soon, and is looking for players, particularly from school years 7 and 8 for boys. They’re also on the look out for managers, so if you are an undiscovered Jose Mourinho and want to give something back to our young football players, why not give them a call. If you’re interested, please email Daryl Ann. His other contact details are here.

Meanwhile, if you are a football lover and are looking for work, you might be interested in the Traineeship Academy run by the Street League organisation. 

This is a 10 week course combining Employability and football. It operates part-time on Mondays to Thursdays, and participants will get 3 employment-related qualifications, and get support finding employment or training, as well as playing football every day!  The next South London Academy starts on 22
September in Beckenham. If you are interested in the course, or just fancy playing football, you can also attend free football sessions. Email Daniel Cheshire to find out more.

Well, on that positive note, I’ll stop here! Thanks for all you do to make Mitcham and Morden such a strong community – and remember if there’s anything you want included in next month’s email please get in touch – you can email me at siobhain@mmlp.org.uk.

My best wishes,