Pensioners bring civic pride back to Merton

Older people aim to bring civic pride back to Merton by becoming the eyes and ears on Merton’s streets in the council’s new streetleader scheme which launched this week.

Merton’s Best Value Review, Opportunities for Older People, revealed the top priorities of the over 55’s, who make up a quarter of Merton’s population, were civic pride and the desire for a clean and well maintained environment.

Merton has responded by becoming the first UK council to specifically target this age group to become streetleaders, and help the authority fight environmental crime, such as flytipping and litter louts.

The scheme works by enlisting active over 55 residents to become streetleaders who represent their area and encourage them to report any threats to the local environment such as abandoned cars or graffiti, direct by freephone to a Merton council officer.

The council has drummed up the support of over 55 community group, Friends of St Hellier (FISH) to take part in the three month pilot scheme until June. If the scheme is successful the council will roll the scheme out across the rest of the borough.

Head of Policy and Scrutiny Diane Bailey said: ‘Our research showed older people value civic pride more than other age group in the borough. We saw this as an opportunity and wanted to channel their enthusiasm into taking an active role to help improve Merton.

‘The council has many targets in place to make Merton a safe, clean and green borough. However the council cannot monitor every street all the time. Our vision is to make Merton a great place to live, work and learn. We can’t do that on our own and welcome the support of our community.’