Leader’s update for residents

I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas – whatever you’re doing, and however you’re celebrating. This is a special time of year, and I hope you are all able to enjoy it with family and friends.

For many, these winter months have been bleak as residents struggle with the rising cost of living but, together with our partners across the community, we are doing everything we can to help those most in need this festive season and beyond.

Our Merton Together campaign supports the borough by connecting residents in need of help with the right support and this year we have added lots of money-saving ideas, plus details of free events to make this one a very merry low cost Christmas. Follow our social media channels to find out more.

The council has a dedicated £2million fund to support residents with the cost of living crisis and has, so far, awarded more than £1million of this – mostly to voluntary organisations and community groups providing specialist support, including food, debt advice and information on measures to make homes more energy efficient.

We’ve also funded an additional £60 cash payment to every household on council tax support – more than 10,000 families on the lowest incomes in Merton; we’ve also supported more than 1,000 residents at our cost-of-living support events across the borough to help with bills, finances and housing.

During the Christmas break, our holiday activities and food programme is providing plenty of free festive fun at holiday clubs for children who receive free school meals during term time. 

There is also a warm welcome in our libraries, all seven of which are part of the borough’s network of warm spaces, providing a range of activities to get involved in or just somewhere to enjoy a good read.

While you’re out and about over the holidays, you can support your local businesses, many of which are small independent traders, by downloading the Merton Local app. Many businesses on the app are offering exclusive deals and discounts – perfect for a bit of last minute Christmas shopping. Our local high streets have come into their own during the pandemic as more of us shop locally and we are developing plans to help improve shopfronts on some high street parades. We are also working on a new plan for the regeneration of Morden town centre – a key location at the start of the Northern Line.

Merton is a place that more people want to call home and next year the first council-led home-building programme in 40 years will begin, with the aim of building 400 affordable and sustainable new homes by 2026. This ambitious target is set to be completed the year after a new contract begins for recycling and rubbish and street cleaning services across the borough. More than 2,500 of you responded to our consultation this year about what the new service should provide and early next year we will be deciding how to proceed, following our decision not to extend the current contract with Veolia when it runs out in 2025.

In early 2023, we will also publish detailed plans for investment into our key borough-wide priorities – generating civic pride and creating a more sustainable future for Merton – beginning with the installation of 500 new on-street electric vehicle charging points. This investment will also include the refurbishment of facilities to make Merton a borough of sport, including the new Multi-Use Games Arena at Haydons Road Recreation Ground.

So, in a variety of ways, we are planning a very active start to 2023 and I will keep you updated as all these plans progress next year.