Reflections on 12 years as Leader of Sutton Council

16 May 2024

It has been an honour to be the Leader of Sutton Council over the last twelve years and I have so many wonderful memories of the residents, communities, organisations and staff that I have got to know along the way who make our borough such a wonderful place to live. 

Sutton has changed in lots of ways over this time. However, what hasn’t changed is the welcoming and inclusive place that Sutton is, where our communities come together in times of celebration and in times of need. This was evident during the pandemic when we saw first hand our communities, partners and organisations work together to keep us all as safe as possible. We looked out for our friends and neighbours and provided support to all those in our borough who needed it. I am so proud of our partners’ and the Council’s work in Sutton through those extraordinary times and I want to thank everyone who stepped up and went that extra mile to ensure we were able to continue to provide our vital services and to support families and businesses who were struggling.

Sutton has a proud history of welcoming people from across the country and across the world and, more recently, has provided refuge to those fleeing war, conflict and persecution from Ukraine, Hong Kong and Afghanistan. Welcoming these new families to Sutton and helping them make their home here and contribute to our borough has been another personal highlight for me. 

In Sutton we are ambitious for our residents and our borough and this can be seen in all of the exciting changes happening with our regeneration plans in our main town centre which are now starting to open and will provide new opportunities for everyone living in the borough. If you haven’t been to Sutton High Street recently, please come and take a look at the new Oru Sutton development in the old BHS store. The new Throwley Yard arts and entertainment centre will also be opening soon in the former Chicago’s nightclub site. These projects are just the start of our plans to breathe new life into our main town centre for all Sutton residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy. We have been successful in securing £14m of external funding to support our regeneration plans to meet the needs of our changing high street and borough, as well as provide much needed housing, including hundreds of new council homes and public transport improvements.

The development of the ground-breaking London Cancer Hub in Belmont will create the world’s leading centre for cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise in our borough and will put Sutton on the world map. Next door we've also built the award-winning Harris Academy Sutton, a school built to the highest environmental standards and specialising in science, technology, engineering and maths to create the next generation of scientists and researchers from our local young people. This, alongside the creation of 13,000 jobs and space for new businesses at the London Cancer Hub, will bring significant benefits to our borough and South London.

So we have exciting plans for the future that I am truly proud to have started for our residents and our next generations. But I know it is the everyday services that most of our residents rely on. As a council, and unlike many other boroughs, we continue to provide much-needed support to our most vulnerable residents through hundreds of different services from our Admiral Nurses to Meals on Wheels, to our family hubs. We have extended our library opening hours, opened a children’s home for very vulnerable young people, planted thousands of trees and bulbs, provided incentives for local businesses to be more environmentally aware and we are about to announce a new waste collection and street cleaning contract to make our streets cleaner and improve our recycling rates. This is all in the face of severe financial challenges that all councils are experiencing.

Sutton is a great place to live, work and raise a family and as I hand over to a new leader and a new leadership team from next week, I know I can trust them to take forward our vision for Sutton and for our residents and businesses to benefit from all these services and changes. I will continue to play my part as a local ward councillor and support the new team as they continue to work in the best interests of everyone living and working in our borough.

Leader of the Council,
Councillor Ruth Dombey