The London Borough of Sutton became a part of Greater London in the mid-1960’s – previously being a part of Surrey. As this area was firmly controlled by rightwing Local Councils for decades, many of the middle class local people demanded that they keep the designator ‘Surrey’ on their postal addresses – an irrational demand that was automatically supported by the ‘new’ and highly rightwing ‘London Borough of Sutton & Cheam Council’. The majority of working class people in the borough readily welcomed Sutton becoming a part of London, as this meant better rights for ordinary people. Since that time, however, and regardless of the elected councillors, Sutton Council has steadfastly pursued a rigid rightwing path. An example of this can be seen in how the occupants of a street in the Belmont area, petitioned the council demanding the ‘barring’ of people with disabilities parking in their street using the ‘Blue Badge’. Sutton Council immediately agreed to this and a letter was sent out to all Blue Badge holders informing them of this undemocratic and illegal lose of rights.
In the 1960’s, Sutton Council confirmed, through the pages of the local press, that people had the right to walk their dogs in the lanes that run behind rows of houses – originally designed as a means to access garages built in the back gardens. This meant that ‘anyone’ could walk along these paths even if they did not live in the houses immediately adjacent. The key area of conflict involved those walking their dogs along these paths, clashing with those who owned the houses the paths served. The dog walkers were generally accused of allowing their dogs to foul the area without clearing it up, and the dog walkers complained that even when they picked-up – the house owners made malicious complaints. It was even argued that these lanes were ‘private’ property with access to the general public, and that as a consequence, dog fouling laws did not apply. Sutton Council was slightly wrong-footed by this revelation, but eventually issued revised dog fouling laws that were stated as being applicable to ‘all’ public areas.
However, this did not solve the issue of dog walkers lawfully accessing these lanes who did not live in the adjacent houses. As Sutton Council always supported the middle class property owners, it spent considerable resources trying to legally contradict their previous edict allowing dog walkers into these areas. Eventually, Sutton Council came-up with the idea that everyone living in the adjacent houses had to form a committee that ‘democratically’ decided to ‘jointly’ close-off the ‘entrance’ and ‘exit’ of each lane, with each household paying a specific sum towards paying for gates, fences and keys. The home-owners of these areas were guaranteed immediate ‘planning’ permission to carry-out this work. As each home-owner had a key, only those living in the two rows of houses either side of each lane could gain access (even walking a dog), but this has not reduced the amount of anti-dog walker sentiment throughout the Sutton streets. Home-owners often ‘harass’ dog walkers by insisting that ‘urine’ is cleaned-up! Of course, this is not a legal requirement, but this episode does demonstrate that the only ‘shit’ that needs clearing-up in the borough, is that emanating from Sutton Council itself, which has never represented the ordinary people.