There have been some significant things going on this month, which I would like to keep you informed about.
Black History Month
Throughout October, we are celebrating Black History Month. Our libraries have a series of exciting events, showcasing how a number of inspirational people have shaped our borough’s history. Pupils at Ricards Lodge School created a mural called From Here We Saw What Happened, which tells the stories of the contribution black people have made, from pre-Tudor times to the present day.
Council to exit waste contract in 2025
This week, we took the decision not to extend our contract for waste collection and street cleaning.
Street cleanliness and bin collections are a top priority for everyone in Merton, which is why it is vital that they meet the expectations of our residents.
Although the cleanliness of our streets has improved a lot since February, the contract has generally not met the standards we want, so as we reach the renewal point, we have opted to find a new solution to street cleaning, bin and recycling collections. That means we have two years – during which time no services will change – to commission a new service – and starting this week, we are asking for your views on what that service should look like.
It’s really important that we hear what you think, and to do that we’ll be running a consultation for the next six weeks – including a short, online survey. You can find out more at merton.gov.uk/wasteservice
Merton sets ambitious target to build 400 homes
Our environment is an important factor for residents’ quality of life. I am proud to live in Merton and I want more people to be able to make their homes here. We have set an ambitious target to build 400 affordable new homes in the borough on council-owned land by 2026. At our meeting on Monday, we decided not to put up four former Merantun sites in Mitcham for private sale and, instead use these for the first 93 homes, which will either be built by the council or by a housing association. This has the added benefit that the four sites already have planning permission. We have already started to put together a list of further locations for the other 300 homes and are mapping out how we will get them built.
We are also tackling the poor conditions that some tenants in the privately rented sector are currently living in. On Monday, the Cabinet agreed to launch consultations about setting up selective and additional licensing schemes, which would require landlords who rent out properties with multiple tenancies to comply with a set of guidelines to ensure that tenants have a decent home in exchange for their rent payments.
Cost of living
The cost of living is at the forefront of all our minds as autumn arrives and the council is doing all it can to support residents who are facing tough choices. As a large employer in the borough, where many of our staff live as well as work, the council is taking steps towards gaining accreditation for the council as a Living Wage Employer.
Merton was one of the first councils to declare a cost of living emergency in the summer, when we launched a £2million cost of living support fund for residents who will be hardest hit by rising prices and to help fund some of the voluntary groups who support them, for example Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge and providing two more debt support advisors for two years for Citizens Advice Merton. We will be extending the voucher scheme for pupils who receive free school meals to use over the half term holiday later this month. At the end of that week, we will be holding our fifth event, in partnership with community organisations to support people with the cost of living. This will be held in Pollards Hill Library on Saturday 29 October between 10.30am – 1.30pm. where residents will be able to find out more about the support available and be connected with a range of organisations which can help them and their families during the coming months.For more information, visit: merton.gov.uk/costofliving
Remember, remember to buy your tickets for one of our fireworks displays, which are some of the most popular in London. The fireworks will be choreographed to music during the two displays per night, which will be held on Friday 4 November in Wimbledon Park and on Saturday 5 November in Morden Park. The earlier show is aimed at young children and families, followed by a later one for adults. All four of our fireworks displays sold out last year, so buy your tickets early on our website: merton.gov.uk/fireworks