Merton Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Training Room, Vestry Hall, 336 London Rd, Mitcham CR4 3UD

Contact: Consultation and Community Engagement Team 

No. Item


Welcome and Introductions

Cllr Aidan Mundy


The meeting was held at Vestry Hall and via Zoom and chaired by Councillor Aidan Mundy. 35 residents and six councillors attended with three residents on Zoom and with 208 additional views on YouTube. The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained how the meeting would work.


Mitcham Town Centre


Paul McGarry, Head of Regeneration, gave an update on the Town Centre following the news that Morrisons would be closing in March. Losing a major brand would be a blow to any town centre, but the Council understands this was a commercial decision for Morrisons. The land is owned by Centrica and managed on their behalf by LaSalle. The Council has met with LaSalle, and they confirmed they are developing plans to redevelop the site. In the meantime, LaSalle are working to market the site for an interim user, including pop-ups and temporary usage until any redevelopment can begin. Any future news or plans will be shared with residents and councillors. The Council wants LaSalle to conduct pre-application engagement with residents and local businesses before they submit any planning application. It is likely to be six months before an application is submitted with a decision possibly by the end of year. Paul confirmed that the Council owns lease to car park on a long-term basis, with more than 25 years remaining.


Paul’s team has spoken to other retailers in the town centre and has been told that Poundland, Boots and Lloyd are all staying, but they have not heard back from Superdrug yet. LaSalle is looking to improve the frontage of all the units it owns.


The Council is progressing other plans to help the town centre including recruitment of a Town Centre manager for Mitcham and commissioning market operator. The Town Centre Manager will create a link between businesses and council and help manage issues in the town centre. They will also work with the Location Board that brings together the Police and the Council to deal with anti-social behaviour. The market operator will be tasked with encouraging more stall holders and wider variety of products, as well as organising events for the market. Paul said that he wanted to hold a workshop to capture ideas from community in Mitcham about the future of the town centre.


A resident said they were concerned that would be fewer people coming to the centre if Morrisons closed. Paul said he understood that concern so is working with landowner to find another retailer to use the space. Another resident said that Morrisons is an important hub for community not just for shopping so would like it to be replaced with a similar supermarket. Paul agreed that Morrisons was at the heart of the community and the landowner is marketing the site to other potential retailers including food.


A resident asked if Merton Council had spoken with other councils about other options. Paul said that where we don’t own the building, we have no control of how it is marketed or who moves in but can market the council owned spaces to make Mitcham more vibrant. A resident asked if there had been any feedback from Morrisons on why they moved out and what could be done to encourage another retailer. Paul said Morrisons wrote to Merton to say it was mainly about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Future waste collection and street cleaning services pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Cllr Natash Irons


Cllr Natasha Irons, Cabinet Member for Local Environment, Green Spaces and Climate Change, gave a presentation on the future of waste collection, recycling and street cleaning services. The presentation is attached to this report.


Cllr Irons said there were several problems with the way the current contract worked. As a result, Cabinet decided in October to end the contract with Veolia in 2025. The Council then held a consultation with residents and received more than 2500 responses. The consultation showed that that satisfaction with waste collection dropped in 2019 but has improved since. Merton has the seventh highest recycling rate in London, so this element of the service is working well. In contrast satisfaction with Street cleaning has not recovered, and Merton issued Veolia with an improvement notice in 2022.


Resident’s biggest concerns were street litter, fly-tipping and over-flowing street bins. There were also concerns about the arrangements for collection from flats, a residents felt that they were not being helped to recycle by the system. Residents were happy with Garth Road and the new booking system. Those residents who used the bulky and garden waste services were satisfied but there were concerns about the cost putting people off from using the service. Neighbourhood Recycling Centres can be fly-tipping hotspots. Residents felt there was a clear need to tackle fly-tipping, and satisfaction was especially low in South Wimbledon.


Cllr Irons said that the Council considered all the available options for service delivery, namely contracting, bringing in-house, setting up an arm’s length company, and setting up a Joint Venture with providers. All of the options were tested against the same criteria and the evaluation concluded that contracting out waste, but bringing-in house street cleaning would offer the best solution.


For both services the Council will look to have a more prescriptive specification and work has begun to build those specifications with a view to going out to the market in April. In the meantime, the Council will also pilot a programme of bringing Garth Road to local communities in order to help residents recycle larger items.


A resident said that Merton Council used to have street cleaning mission statement, and that street cleaners currently pick up litter but don’t sweep the road. Cllr Irons said she agreed with the mission statement approach and expects to have street sweeping following waste collections. By bringing street cleaning back in-house the Council have more control. Whilst mechanical sweepers can access most areas there is a need to get the standard back up in other areas.


A resident said they liked the Garth Road on the road idea and suggested the Council could use the Gasworks site. They also said the council usually responds quickly to reports of fly-tips. Cllr Irons said it is helpful for residents to report fly-tips and litter via Fix My Street as it allows officers to map reports.



A resident asked about problems on Portland Road and Cllr Irons she said she was aware of the problem which is a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Future Engagement in Merton pdf icon PDF 87 KB


Kris Witherington, Engagement and Consultation Manager at Merton Council, gave a presentation on proposals to improve resident engagement across Merton. The presentation is attached to this report.


Kris said that the changes were focused on the work of the corporate engagement team rather than work done by many services with specific audiences and service users. The team had learnt a lot from changing approaches during COVID and from the feedback from residents on the Community Forums in 2022. They had identified three areas where improvements needed to be made and how this would be resourced through increased capacity.


The first area was face-to-face engagement, including the Community Forums. Kris said the current approach was not working as well as it should be, and instead the plan is to hold two events in each area per year. One would be a large-scale question-time event involving local services leaders, including the Leader of the Council, and the second would be more of a workshop format for residents to work together rather than a presentation and question approach. The Engagement team would also support local arrangements, working with local groups and councillors ensuring that solutions are right for each area rather than a one-size fits all approach.


The second area to improve is engagement with Civic Society, meaning resident groups, both formal organisations and informal arrangements like WhatsApp groups. The Engagement will look to map what work is taking place, offer a point of contact, provide an e-newsletter and host and annual event that brings these groups together.


The third area was the way residents can engage with the council digitally. Currently the Council has an online consultation hub and design tool for online survey but there are new tools available like mapping, discussion boards and an online resident’s panel.


These changes will be sorted by recruiting a new Events Officer post to manage the meetings, a Community Development Officer to work with the Civic Society and a Engagement Officer to work on digital engagement and support departmental consultations.


A resident asked about the idea of a panel and how this would be representative. Kris explained that Panels are usually randomly recruited and then weighted based on the demographics of the borough. 


Cllr Mundy asked how people heard about the meeting, and residents said it was through a mix of word-of-mouth and contact from Merton Council. A resident asked about using non-digital communications and Cllr Mundy says this is complex and it is important to spread the word.


Cllr Mundy asked for residents to register their interest if they would like to be involved in local arrangements for a community forum. Residents who were unable to sign up on the night can do so by completing the form.


Open forum

If you would like to raise an item under the Open Forum please email ahead of the meeting.


A number of residents wanted to speak about the planning application for the Mitcham Gasworks. Cllr Mundy said best way is to take part in the consultation but happy to hear from residents to help inform in the developer. Cllr Mundy, who is also Chair of the Planning Committee, and other and other Councillors cannot prejudge the application.


Residents expressed a number of views on the planning application that included:

  • It is not an appropriate site for tower blocks and the application is too tall. This will overshadow the Common.
  • There should be a maximum of five stories
  • Properties are too small and will be too high density. The plan exceeds the capacity for the site set out in the Local Plan.
  • The design is poor and square blocks are unattractive
  • The design is out of character for Mitcham
  • There are too many single aspect homes in the plans
  • Developers pictures are misleading
  • Massive problems with infrastructure like traffic, parking issues on Bond Road and the impact on schools, hospitals and GPs
  • There is a similar issue with plans in Streatham Vale
  • Thames Water report said the developer wouldn’t be able to provide water supply 
  • No parking provision is not thought through
  • Flooding issues on London Road and Cricket Green Road would be made worse. 
  • Scheme like this wouldn’t be accepted in Wimbledon


In addition, a resident said they wrote to Merton Council last August and got a response from Cllr Judge.


A resident asked who will be housed on site and Cllr Mundy said that usually Merton Council would have an arrangement with a Registered Provider to place people form the Council waiting list. A resident said they had been on the housing list for 26 years.

A resident asked what is classed is affordable housing and Cllr Mundy said that national rules set out definitions for affordable rent and ownership including shared ownership to be included but it depends on a viability assessment. Cllr Mundy also explained that any conditions placed on schemes are enforced by Council and that due to the size of the development the plans could be considered by the Mayor of London.


A resident asked about submitting the petition they had collected, and Cllr Mundy said this could be sent to the Planning Officer to be considered as part of the application.


A resident asked what Merton Council’s response to the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone was. A statement can be found on the Council website.


A resident said that the Barclays building was now eyesore and wanted an update. This would be provided at a future meeting.


A resident asked about lighting in the car park by Morrisons and Cllr Johnston said the first floor lighting fixed.


Cllr Mundy said the government was holding a consultation on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill reforms to national planning policy until 2 March.


Councillor Mundy agreed to write, as Chair of the Mitcham forum and Planning Committee Chair, to the applicant to highlight  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Date of next meeting

Thursday 5 October venue TBC


To be confirmed