An Open Letter To Boris Johnson

Funding from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund for riot affected areas

Dear Boris

This month marks a year since the terrible riots that hit various parts of London, including unfortunately the Colliers Wood area of Merton. My Conservative colleagues and I were therefore delighted back in January when you announced that Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon had been allocated a total of £3.7million of funding from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund.

Along with our local Assembly Member, Richard Tracey, Conservative councillors had consistently been lobbying for much needed funds to help regenerate this part of the borough. We are therefore extremely grateful that you have recognised what a real difference this investment could potentially make to local residents and businesses.

As you will be well aware, there has been some recent comment in the press about why a significant amount of the money you have allocated to boroughs to help rebuild those areas which suffered during last summer's riots hasn’t yet been spent. I therefore wanted to draw your attention to the situation here in Merton where we are seeing considerable slippage on the part of the Labour-run council in delivering the investment needed on the ground. I understand that due to their sluggish performance thus far, a deadline has now had to be imposed by the GLA for the borough to provide credible plans for how they will spend the money.

Obviously this is of considerable concern, not only to me and my Conservative colleagues but also to residents, community groups and businesses in the South Wimbledon/Colliers Wood area. They are eager to start to see the results of this investment and quite rightly wish to be involved in how the money is spent in their neighbourhood. As yet however no public consultation has taken place on the administration’s plans despite Full Council resolving earlier this year in a council motion to listen to the views of local communities and businesses when developing these detailed rejuvenation plans for South Wimbledon and Colliers Wood.

Yet more worrying is the fact that just last month the Labour administration successfully pushed through changes to the Council’s Capital Programme.

These included re-profiling £1,480,000 of the Colliers Wood Regeneration Fund money previously included in the current year’s Capital Programme so that this investment is now delayed until the 2013/14 Capital Programme (incidentally this has also happened with part of the Outer London Fund money you allocated to Mitcham). I am concerned that the apparent delay of this significant capital expenditure in the areas for which it was intended is a political decision by the Labour administration here in Merton. I am sure you would agree such actions would be unacceptable given the terms under which this funding was allocated.

I would therefore ask you to do everything in your power to exert pressure on Merton’s Labour-run council to ensure this money is not employed as a political football but is used in a timely fashion for its intended purpose, namely to assist local residents and businesses with the regeneration of their local area. Thank you for giving your consideration to the points raised above. As ever, if I can be of assistance on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Councillor Debbie Shears
Leader Merton Conservative Group

September 7, 2012

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Merton Conservative Leader, Councillor Debbie Shears