Article Index

Having your say

It is important that residents have a chance to contribute their views, but we want to go further, so residents are clear on who holds local power, where they derive their authority from, whose interests they exercise it on behalf of, to whom are they are accountable and how can they be replaced if people disagree with those in power. We also want the Council to be the best Council in the entire country at promoting all forms of democracy: representative, associational, workplace, sortitive, participatory and monitory

Labour will:

  1. Consult residents over seeking to become a “Co-operative Council” under the terms set out for other Councils who are part of the Co-operative Council’s movement.
  2. Develop a Young People's Community Plan, linked to the Council’s own Community Plan, in consultation with young people
  3. Broaden the library card to provide a local 'freedom card' that will entitle residents to access Council services like libraries, leisure centres and environmental services as well as discounts from the Council and other local organisations.
  4. Investigate extension of Community Centre facilities to meet the needs of new and emerging communities.
  5. Support more use of ‘Community rights’ including a safeguarding ‘community right to acquire’ designation for St Helier Hospital if it is ever proposed to dispose of the site and also protecting much loved local pubs, which can instead be developed more as local community hubs. We will apply the Social Value Act to protect sites too.
  6. Encourage some neighbourhood watch groups to double up as residents’ associations to improve local coverage.
  7. Encourage local volunteering through publicity and annual awards events hosted by the borough Mayor.
  8. Make it clear to the local voluntary sector it has full independence to hold the Council to account. Grant funding from the Council should not prevent the voluntary sector being critical of the Council when it needs to be. This does not seem to be allowed under the Lib Dems rules.
  9. Develop "Street Watch" coordinators across the borough (as Croydon already have) to act as the Environmental and Street Scene equivalent of Neighbourhood Watch. 400 such reps could cover the entire borough each covering 200 homes.
  10. Agree on long-term funding for Sutton Women's Centre and to restore a Sutton Trade Union Resource Centre to strengthen local Labour rights - in particular, those of the increasing number of freelancers and self-employed who increasingly need more protection from online “Platform Corporations”.
  11. Build a much more comprehensive local advice service to support well-being, tackle debt and promote community resilience;
  12. Increase funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to restore services at St Helier.
  13. Support community groups that encourage tolerance and respect for all communities in the borough and promote community cohesion.
  14. Promote public engagement in decision-making: for example, through service co-production similar to health “expert patient schemes”.
  15. Make it easier and quicker to find the relevant part of the Council website. We will also add a whole range of online democratic tools to the website to help the local community to participate better as well as creating a range of online forums for the public to discuss issues with the Council.
  16. Campaign locally to seek the repeal of the Lobbying Act which impacts on the ability of civil society groups to campaign.
  17. Review Town-Twinning to make it more relevant to a more connected planet where engagement and sharing best practice with poorer communities can be more easily done online.
  18. Develop well-being indicators for the borough, with a full online dashboard for any resident to see, covering measures of wellness, civil-society engagement, inequality, cost of living, employment and wage rates.
  19. Review the Council’s scrutiny role to ensure it can be used more effectively to get the public to scrutinize Council decisions as well as scrutinize external providers of service.
  20. Retain the existing six Local Committee structure and bring back community representatives on the main Council Committees. We will make sure the Local Committees and their local community know they have the right to establish a legally independent “urban parish” or “town council” for their area
  21. Ensure Local Committees have wider powers with a devolved local "Ward Initiatives" budget with some resources allocated to Councillors to suggest local improvements. We will also allow Local Committee’s to contribute to the planning process and convene local community assemblies to involve and train up local community groups. We believe it is important to have an “asset-based community development” approach to public engagement, which strengthens local institutions, enriches social networks and builds social capital. That is why strengthening and making the most of the skills of community groups and local institutions is vital.
  22. Task Local Committees to either deliver one or more Neighbourhood Plans covering their whole area over the next four years. It is ridiculous the Council has been so slow on this bearing in mind legislation has been in place for 6 years. They would work with local people and local groups to decide whether each Plan should cover all or part of the area they cover.
  23. Strengthen local media by inviting all hyperlocal bloggers as well as existing local mainstream media outlets to regular media briefings, plus an annual local media conference so they can network and develop a wider local media service between them all
  24. Increase public participation through an annual “Meet your neighbour day” with lots of supported local events as well as use of engagement tools such as a large online citizen’s panel, citizen’s assemblies, citizen’s juries which can assist with long-term planning plus participatory budgeting.
  25. Convene a twice-yearly “Sutton Assembly” of community groups and work with it and other forms of engagement listed above to develop a “Sutton People’s Charter” setting out community rights and responsibilities.
  26. Establish a Sutton Disability Parliament to be fully consulted on all Council issues.
  27. Bring back a designated “speakers corner” like Hyde Park, Nottingham, Lichfield and Worthing Councils have.
  28. In view of allegations made in recent years over probity of Councillors and the Council, agree to pass a Council motion to become the first Council in the entire country to become an exemplar of 'purdah' for any set date elections. This will mean Council campaigns are restricted unless there is all-party agreement for them. Instead of bringing in ‘purdah’ just 6 weeks before an election, the Council will extend those rules and guidance to 4 months before an election date. In doing so we hope to rebuild trust with some in the community who have been sceptical of some recent actions of the Council 
  29. Run a high-profile Council electoral registration campaign each year. As the largest political party in the borough we also think political parties have a key role here to engage with the public on this as well.
  30. If a Ward boundary review is required, support new wards that reflect natural communities and could vary in size from 1, 2 or 3 Councillors.