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Interview: Councillor Mary Burstow from Sutton Council

Fri 24th July 2015, 12:42 pm

Councillor Mary Burstow tells Sitematch London about developments in the London Borough of Sutton, where she works.

Which projects are you most proud of being involved in?

Enhancements to Cheam Park and Nonsuch Park: lots of small improvements, which collectively have made a big difference. Also, the big emphasis on volunteer involvment and working with local people.

What three developments or enhancements would most benefit the borough?

A tramlink. Improved infrasture for cyclists, making Quietways [new cycling routes devised by the council] much more obvious. A cycle track running from Sutton to Epsom – there is the space and the rights of way to do it, just not the money, especially on the Surrey side.

Pulling down Victoria House in North Cheam and putting up decent blocks of flats with good design. We also need more investment in the look of the shopping parade in that area.

What was your first impression of the borough when you started out working there?

When I first moved to Sutton 25 years ago, I thought it was boring. By 10pm it was dead!

What makes developers good partners?

A willingness to work with local councillors and listen to local people.

Being prepared to make adjustments to the plans to take on board the concerns of reisdents.

A desire to put in buildings which will be a real asset to the community and something which everyone can be proud of, even if there are growing pains at the very begining.

Which three developments outside the borough do you most admire and why?

Birmingham City Centre. Sutton lacks any decent major artworks, which we could have civic pride in. I was very struck on a recent visit to Birmingham, by how civic pride and confidence screamed from every building. I loved the works of art: strong confident and beautiful. Reigate Park: just gorgeous! I want Cheam and Nonsuch Park to be even better.

Trafalgar Square – because thinking outside the box works. It takes guts to go for a change in traffic layout like that, but the benefits have been enourmous. In the case of all three, the needs of pedestrians have trumped those of cars, which makes them so good. I did not realise that connection, until I had chosen them all!!

What things have surprised you about working in the borough?

How good the schools are and how hard-working staff are at Sutton Council. A real love of the borough shines through.

When people find out you work in the borough, what are the most common things they ask?

Where is it? Never heard of it!

If you could change one thing about working in the borough, what would it be?

Better cycling infrastructure. Streets in which children can safely play, with no cars.

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