Sutton Liberal Democrats are expected to extend their long hold on the borough council when residents take to the polls on Thursday May 3.
The party have held the seat since 1990, but the Conservatives are quietly confident of reducing the current 34-seat deficit.
With taxes, crime and education all pressing issues in the borough, all parties will be looking to make significant gains in the polls.
Sutton has a population of around 202,200, and the ethnicity is 70.9% white British.
From the council’s creation in 1964 until 1986, the Conservative Party held control of the council and there was no overall control between 1986-1990, when the Lib Dems took control.
Sutton is made up of 18 wards with three councillors each.
Labour last held a seat in the borough when they won three spots in the 2002 election.
The Lib Dems have held control of Sutton since 1990, and the May 2014 election saw them take 45 of 54 seats, with the Conservative party taking the other 11. Two seats are now controlled by independent candidates.
Councillor Ruth Dombey won her Sutton North seat in 2002 and has served as council leader since May 2012.
Interesting wards include Worcester and Nonsuch; in both wards the Lib Dems gained a seat from the Conservatives in the 2014 election, and 2018 will see the Conservatives eager to gain back some of their old territory.
In January 2016, Beddington North Councillor Nick Mattey was expelled from the Liberal Democrats for voicing his opposition to a proposed incinerator in the ward, he has since held his seat as an independent councillor.
Cheam also has one independent councillor and Stonecot has one casual vacancy – all three wards are possible candidates for the Conservatives to gain some territory.
There is continued pressure on the council’s budget due to reductions in government funding, with the borough losing 40% of government funding between 2010 and 2019.
So far, the council has saved £83m since 2010, and need to make a further £19m before 2021 in order to meet their £102m savings target.
Taxes are therefore set to rise in Sutton for 2018/19 to try and compensate for the losses.
Between December 2016 and December 2017 burglary was reduced by 11% in Sutton making it one of the safest boroughs in London.
A merger is proposed between Sutton, Bromley and Croydon police, a move many feel would put this good work at risk. The Lib Dem council are currently campaigning against the merger.
Sutton is also known for its strong schooling system – in July 2016, Stanley Park High School was named the Best Secondary School in the country, and Limes College named the best alternative provision school by the Times Educational Supplement (TES).
However, some pupils are being taught in temporary facilities at present.
The Conservative manifesto declares it will ‘plan for and deliver enough school places for every child in Sutton’ while the Lib Dem manifesto states it is ‘expanding and building new schools to meet growing pupil numbers’.
WHAT THEY SAID
Councillor Dombey said: “I am delighted to report that we have fully implemented our 2014 Manifesto, delivering for local residents.
“Our new manifesto shows that we remain ambitious for Sutton as a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
South West Londoner will be providing live updates and all the latest news and reactions from all 11 counts across the area on May 3. Visit our website or Twitter for live coverage throughout the night.
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