The council elections on 3 May 2018 saw the Liberal Democrats hold London Borough of Sutton with a majority of 12 seats . Of the fifty-four seats available, the Liberal Democrats won thirty-three, the Conservatives eighteen, and Independent candidates took three seats . The full results for Sutton, ward-by-ward, are available at Sutton Elections , or as a document (pdf) from Sutton Council .
Thirty-three councillors were re-elected, along with twenty-one new councillors – eighteen for the first time, and three who had been councillors in Sutton previously (but not during 2014 and 2018). Table 1 shows the class of 2018 by Local Committee and Ward.
Our congratulations to all the newly elected councillors, and we look forward to getting to know you, engaging and working with you, to help deliver on Healthy Streets and active travel in our borough over the next four years.
In this article we profile the changes that took place, in terms of elected Sutton councillors, in the four years prior to the May 2018 council elections. In other words, from the beginning of the 2014-2018 term to the start of the 2018-2022 term. In the context of cycling (and walking) advocacy, this was the period from Space for Cycling to My Liveable London (the latter in partnership with Sutton Living Streets). We highlight some of the contributions that councillors, past and present, made to help set the foundations that will ultimately make Sutton a more cycle-friendly, people-friendly, place.
It is important to recognise, as part of this review, that borough councils in London provide the majority of day-to-day services for their local residents, including education, housing, social services, environmental services, local planning and many arts and leisure services. In contrast, the Mayor of London sets an overall vision for London. The Mayor has a duty to develop strategies on air quality, bio-diversity, culture and tourism, economic development, transport, waste and spatial development .
In representing their ward, and the people who live in it, all of our councillors have to work hard to balance the needs and interests of their local area, their residents, their voters, local businesses, their political party (if they belong to one) and the council. Balancing the different roles of being a councillor makes a considerable demand on their time, and there is little doubt that all councillors contribute greatly, in one way or another, to the benefit of the community they represent.
As democratically elected local representatives, councillors have a unique and privileged position. Their decisions can make a real difference to people’s lives, and these decisions (usually taken in partnership with borough council officers) can have an impact that lasts for many years to come.
The London Boroughs Political Almanac, from London Councils, provides a useful overview of councillor numbers, and party representation, for each London borough for every year since 1964 . For the London Borough of Sutton the overall profile, from 2014 to 2017 (with 2018 added), is as shown in Table 2.
At the beginning of the 2014-2018 term
At the beginning of the 2014-2018 term, following the elections on 22 May 2014, there were forty-five Liberal Democrats and nine Conservatives councillors representing Sutton, see Table 3.
During the 2014-2018 term
During the 2014-2018 term there were two deaths, one suspension, and two resignations.
Regretfully, two councillors died during their term of office. Cllr. Colin Hall, Deputy Leader of the Council, (Liberal Democrat, Wallington South), on 30 March 2015 (Tributes paid to Councillor Colin Hall), and Cllr. Adrian Davey (Liberal Democrat, Stonecot) on 24 November 2017 (A tribute to Councillor Adrian Davey). See Table 5.
Following the death of Cllr. Colin Hall, a by-election was held in Wallington South on 11 June 2015, and Cllr. Steve Cook was duly elected as Liberal Democrat councillor to represent the Wallington South ward (Steve Cook elected as councillor of Wallington South).
In the case of Cllr. Adrian Davey, a by-election was not held (presumably due to the proximity of the May 2018 elections), and so the position for a third councillor in the Stonecot ward remained vacant for a little over five months.
Although neither Cllr. Colin Hall nor Cllr. Adrian Davey directly gave their support for the specific Space for Cycling ‘ask’ in their wards, it was clear that both councillors embraced the cycling and walking vibe.
Cllr. Colin Hall, a trustee with Living Streets, met with Get Sutton Cycling to discuss the way forward for cycling advocacy in November 2014 following the low support for Space for Cycling in the borough.
In May 2014, Cllr. Adrian Davey came along to see our small ride to Cheam depart from Sutton town centre. Eighteen months later, at the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting in November 2015, Adrian entered into the discussion leading up the approval of the borough’s Cycling Strategy (see Cycling Strategy receives approval!). On that occasion, Adrian said that he thought that the Cycling Strategy was an exciting piece of work, and that although there was someway to go it was a journey that we should all look forward to taking. At the Cheam North and Worcester Park Local Committee held the following month, December 2015, Adrian gave his support to the ‘Proposed Cycle Facilities on the Transport for London Road Network’ report that came out of our Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’, and set the report in the context of the Cycling Strategy.
….. and then the suspension, and two resignations, see Table 6.
In April 2015, Cllr. Nick Mattey (Beddington North) was suspended from the Sutton Liberal Democrat Group (Press statement on Nick Mattey and the ERF). Nick remained as an Independent councillor, joining the Green Party in April 2016 (Incinerator rebel councillor joins Greens in Sutton). He subsequently decided not to renew his Green Party membership (Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas attempts to suspend Sutton councillor Nick Mattey from party over critical tweet). Nick stood as an Independent candidate for Beddington North in May 2018, and was re-elected
Cllr. Graham Whitham (Cheam) resigned from the Conservative party in April 2015 (Conservative councillor resigns and backs Paul Burstow). From that point on, Graham sat as an Independent councillor. Graham did not stand for re-election in May 2018.
In June 2016, Cllr. Alan Salter (Carshalton Central) resigned from the Liberal Democrats over financial allegations. A by-election was held on 28 July 2016 (Carshalton Central by-election to take place on Thursday 28 July), and Chris Williams (Liberal Democrat) was elected for the Carshalton Central ward (Chris Williams elected as councillor for Carshalton Central).
Cllr. Nick Mattey, Cllr. Graham Whitham and Cllr. Alan Salter did not give their support for the Space for Cycling ‘ask’ in their wards.
However, Cllr. Nick Mattey did subsequently make it known, verbally, that he would support the ‘ward ask’ for Beddington North. Nick was only one of two councillors to reply to an open letter sent to all councillors in May 2016 (Cycling towards 2018), and only one of nine councillors to comment on our Air pollution in Sutton video (Air pollution video – what happened next? (part 1). So our thanks to Nick for that.
In November 2015, Cllr. Graham Whitham had endorsed proposals to implement a 20 mph speed limit in Cheam village (including the A232), and engage with TfL to consider upgrades to the cycle paths on the A217 (see ‘Further support for A217 cycle path upgrades’).
At the end of the 2014-2018 term
As a result of the circumstances that took place between 2014 and 2018, there was a change to the line-up by the end of the four-year term. Fifty-three councillors in office, of whom forty-three were Liberal Democrats, eight Conservatives, and one Independent, plus one vacancy as shown in Table 7.
Of the fifty-three councillors in post at the end of the 2014-2018 term, ten made the decision not to seek re-election in 2018.
Standing down in 2018
Of the fifty-three councillors in post at the last months of the 2014-2018 term, ten made the decision not to seek re-election in 2018.
As highlighted in Table 8, those standing down in 2018 were: Cllr. Hamish Pollock (Carshalton Central, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Graham Whitham (Cheam, Independent); Cllr. Daniel Sangster (Nonsuch, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Doug Hunt (St Helier, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Callum Morton (The Wrythe, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Margaret Court (Wandle Valley, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Jason Reynolds (Wandle Valley, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Arthur Hookway (Worcester Park, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Richard Marston (Worcester Park, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Paul Wingfield (Worcester Park, Liberal Democrat).
None of the ten councillors standing down in May 2018 had supported the Space for Cycling ‘ask’ for their ward in 2014. However, some of those not wishing to seek re-election had either corresponded with us, or had shown some interest in cycling, at some stage during the four-year period.
Cllr. Richard Marston had attended a Get Sutton Cycling meeting in December 2014, and clearly had an interest in cycling. In his blog post ‘Traffic Congestion in Worcester Park’ (November 2015) Richard notes: “Unless we change our transport habits the number of vehicles trying to use Central Road will only increase. Consider walking or cycling for all or part of your journey, it can be quicker and if you keep off the main roads it will be healthier”. In April 2015, following the publication of ‘And then there were ten!’ (highlighting the low support for Space for Cycling amongst councillors), Richard got in touch to say that he personally supported cycling and cycling projects in his ward, but felt that, as a councillor, he must remain unbiased and consider all views. Of course, if you asked people in Worcester Park for their views on congestion and air quality along Central Road, many would probably say they would like to see the former reduced and the latter improved. We thank Richard for showing some interest in the Space for Cycling project, wish him well for the future, and hope he keeps in touch.
In September 2014, we wrote to Wandle Valley councillors to let them know about parked vehicles blocking access to a cycle path in their ward (Peterborough Road cycle path). One of the three Wandle Valley councillors, Cllr. Jason Reynolds, replied promptly “We will look into this matter and report back to you shortly”. Nothing has been heard since and, as far as we know, the issue remains. It is difficult not to be critical about this, but at least the councillor replied.
Cllr. Hamish Pollock acknowledged our ‘Air pollution in Sutton’ email in November 2017.
Cllr. Paul Wingfield replied to our ‘Air pollution in Sutton’ email in November 2017.
Cllr. Vincent Gallighan (Sutton Central, Liberal Democrat) stood down in Sutton Central, but went on to seek re-election, in Wandle Valley (where he was re-elected). Vincent had not shown support for the Space for Cycling ‘ask’ in his ward.
Candidates in 2018
214 people put themselves forward for election to the 54 seats across the 18 wards in the London Borough of Sutton in May 2018. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties fielded fifty-four candidates each (in the case of Labour, technically fifty-one Labour and three Labour and Co-operative Party), UKIP twenty-eight candidates, Green eighteen candidates, Independent four candidates, and the Christian Peoples Alliance and National Front one candidate each.
Of the 214 candidates seeking election, 43 were incumbent councillors. Sutton councillors wishing to stand for re-election in 2018 are shown in Table 9.
The class of 2014-2018 after the May 2018 elections
Of the forty-three councillors from the class of 2014-2018 who had wished to seek re-election in May 2018, thirty-three were re-elected as shown in Table 10.
Ten lost their seat, as highlighted in Table 11.
The ten councillors who lost their seat in May 2018 were Cllr. Pat Ali (Beddington North, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Nighat Piracah (Beddington North, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Neil Garratt (Beddington South, Conservative); Cllr. Mary Burstow (Cheam, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Samantha Bourne (Nonsuch, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Richard Broadbent (Nonsuch, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Nick Emmerson (Stonecot, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Miguel Javelot (Stonecot, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Wendy Mathys (Sutton West, Liberal Democrat); Cllr. Simon Wales (Sutton West, Liberal Democrat).
Of the ten councillors who were not re-elected in 2018, only two, Cllr. Neil Garratt (Deputy Leader of the Sutton Conservative group) and Cllr. Simon Wales (Deputy Leader of the Sutton Liberal Democrats), had shown their support for the Space for Cycling ‘ask’ in their ward in 2014. Indeed, Neil’s ward (Beddington South) was the only ward in Sutton where all three of the 2014 councillors had supported the ‘ward ask’ (the others being Cllr. Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr. Ed Joyce (Liberal Democrat)).
There is no doubt that Cllr. Neil Garratt helped take the conversation forward during his four years as councillor for Beddington South. Neil did this through engagement, open debate and timely questions to the Council. Many of the cycling-related questions that Neil asked, and the responses that he has received, have been published on the Get Sutton Cycling website. We consider Neil to be the council’s unofficial Cycling Champion (Cllr. Abellan being the official Cycling Champion), and look forward to the relationship continuing in the future. (We also look forward to meeting with Cllr. David Hicks (Belmont, Conservative) and Cllr. Patrick McManus (Belmont, Conservative). David, who is the new Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, indicated an interest in active travel and healthy streets at election hustings held by the Sutton Civic Society in April 2018). Patrick is the spokesperson for transport within the Conservative group).
Although eight of the councillors who were not re-elected in May 2018 had not shown their support for Space for Cycling, some of them had engaged with cycling in other ways over the last four years. In November 2015, Cllr. Pat Ali attended a cycle tour of Beddington Village. Cllr. Mary Burstow regularly engaged with Get Sutton Cycling, and most recently asked full council in November 2017 ‘What steps has Sutton taken in the last four years to make cycling in Sutton easier?’.
Welcome the class of 2018
We welcome the new, and returning, councillors across the eighteen wards of the borough in May 2018. Congratulations to you all!
We look forward to getting to know our new councillors and having conversations around Liveable Neighbourhoods, Quietways, Healthy Streets and active travel.
We know that making Sutton an even better borough in which to live and work has to be at the forefront of all your endeavours (whatever you political allegiance). So let’s get together, to ensure it is a place where everyone is healthy and happy and where life is good. Let’s get together and deliver the low traffic neighbourhoods, the cycle superhighways and the Quietways, for the benefit of everyone.
All that is needed is your ambition and your aspiration. The Council Leader, Cllr. Ruth Dombey, has given her commitment to ensure that any bid submitted by Sutton for Liveable Neighbourhood funding will be of high-quality. The Leader of the Opposition, Cllr. Tim Crowley, has given his support to Streets for People (Sustrans 2018).
So our thanks to both Ruth and Tim. It is evident that we are off to a very good start.
A final thought
Of the councillors elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, one has shown support for two active travel related initiatives. To be fair, only two councillors could be in the running for this accolade because only two councillors, the contenders for the position of Council Leader, Cllr. Ruth Dombey (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr. Tim Crowley (Conservative), had the opportunity to support the 2018 My Liveable London pledge and the 2018 Streets for People pledge in addition to the 2014 Space for Cycling ‘ward ask’ – other councillors could only support Space for Cycling ‘ward ask’. Nevertheless, on the basis of being the only Sutton councillor to support two initiatives (in this case, Space for Cycling and Streets for People), Tim would receive the gold medal. Ruth supported My Liveable London, but was not fully able to commit to Space for Cycling in her ward. However, when taking into account the fact that the Sutton Conservatives did not provide a response to our pre-election question asking them how they would help the Mayor of London deliver his target of 80% of all Londoners’ trips by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041, the gold medal should probably go to Ruth because the Sutton Liberal Democrat party did respond.
The real winner though, given the general cross-party consensus for Healthy Streets in Sutton, is of course all of us. Ultimately, the success of delivery is largely dependent on the class of 2018.
If there are any errors or omissions in the text, we would very much welcome feedback.
The images in this article formed part of a presentation given by borough co-ordinator Charles Martin at the Get Sutton Cycling meeting on 6 June 2018.
 Samantha Bourne received the same number of votes as James McDermott-Hill for the third seat in the Nonsuch ward. To decide the winner, a coin was tossed to determine who would draw the lot first.