Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sutton Council at it again

You talkin' to me?? YOU TALKIN' TO ME?

Mrs Brinkster reported last night that De Niro's Pizza was shut and has a big sign saying that it's going to be opening under new management. Undoubtedly inspired by the Huntsmans Midas Touch transformation they'll be aiming to corner the market for Italian food at the top end of Central Road, as opposed to the bottom (La Mama) or the middle (Cafe Picollo, Pizza Express, Papa Johns).
De Niro's Pizza, mid-left, on Central Road, Worcester Park in 2006

Now for those Worcester Parkians in the Epsom & Ewell or Kingston council parts please excuse me while I rave incoherently about Sutton Council and mop up the blood spilled from the repeated concussion of my head against my desk. Just when I thought that they'd exhausted themselves in the money-wasting stakes with the horrendously conceived Sutton Life Centre they've managed to top it with, as the local Guardian reports, "Multimillion pound plans for a green Sutton High Street unveiled"
As we've seen with a variety of Sutton Council proposals they enter into a "consultancy" exercise worthy of the Vogons in "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" where they'll put up a turgid and uninteresting document (116 pages in this case) and when nobody can be bothered to read it and write in to object they assume that apathy is the same as enthusiasm. If you want to see the plans for yourself you have to go either to Sutton or Carshalton as they won't be visiting any other council-tax paying location in the borough.

For the sake of brevity I'll not go through all of my objections but will instead highlight point 9.12 which, to my mind, illustrates the gap between ideal and reality:
"Sutton town centre is served well by public transport services. There is direct rail access to London Victoria, London Bridge, Croydon, Epsom and Wimbledon."
Now I don't know about you but if I want to go shopping, and by that I mean proper browse-around-the-shops-have-lunch-and-make-a-go-of-it shopping, I'll go to Kingston. If we don't fancy the crowds we might vary that with Epsom or Wimbledon and if we have a particular need we'll head over to the Purley Way in Croydon but rarely, if ever, will we think of going to Sutton any more. If I was at London Bridge or Victoria I wouldn't be thinking to myself that a trip to Sutton was going to be a retail revelation and if I was at Croydon, Epsom or Wimbledon I'd just walk straight out of the station and go shopping there instead. Now that Woolworths and Gamleys have gone from Sutton there's precious little to bribe the little Brinksters with so as far as they're concerned it's akin to a desert wasteland in the "fun" stakes, which does not a good shopping trip make. For me the the only useful thing that Sutton has which the others don't is a Computer Exchange (CEX) which comes in handy sometimes but I can nip up to the Tottenham Court Road branch from work instead.

And if you read to page 72 of 116 in the consultation document you'll find how they propose to integrate trams into Sutton Centre, namely by sodding up the existing traffic arrangements. Trams around the one-way system? That'd be interesting.

Quite why the Council think that Sutton residents are going to welcome this is beyond me when even the chairman of the Sutton Environment Network has called it "wrong-headed" and coming from a corporate environment that has a honed and toned PR department this stuff wouldn't even have cut it in the 90s (or earlier) and isn't what they should be spending our Council Tax on (the outsourced PR, the outsourced research or the actual proposal).

For me one of the best things about the Guardian article was the first comment at the bottom, which I'll reproduce here as I love it:
"sfocata, Sutton says... 11:46pm Tue 21 Apr 09
So let's see... the Village Quarter is the scummy bit and the Exchange Quarter is, er... the shops. Then the Civic Quarter is the bit around the Civic Centre, and the Station Quarter is (I'm getting the hang of this now) the bit around the station! Just how much of these multi-millions was spent on this ludicrous branding exercise? Why not give each quarter its own unique swirl logo as well? Who's going to be first to submit an FOI to find out just how much has been wasted on all this "quarter" nonsense? It's a high street in a suburb, for God's sake! Make it green with proper policies, not with a rebrand worthy of Pseud's Corner."

Sutton Guardian

Sutton Life Centre - The 'anti' Group on Facebook

Sutton Council - Sutton Town Centre Area Action Plan


Adrian Short said...

Interesting stuff. Your point about putting up long, dull consultation documents and then taking apathy as approval is well made.

So, will you be making a formal response to the consultation or is this it?

The Brinkster said...

I've heard the "Well x number of people haven't objected" line enough times now from councillors to be very untrusting of their statistical methodologies!

It'll be formal, but my problem is trying to be brief and succinct when there are enough sweeping statements in the 116 pages to get very, very upset about.

Worcester Park said...

I think we need to form a Committee.

The Brinkster said...

There'll have to be biscuits! Then we'll have to have a pre-committee to decide what the biscuits should be for the proper committee, release a consultancy paper on what biscuits people think we should have and then, when nobody bothers to write in, choose what we like and say that nobody objected.

Wahoo!! Gravy train here we come!