Reporting Back - February 2020
Welcome to my latest community email, with news on South West Railway, St Helier Hospital and Wimbledon Police Station

Below are just some of the things I have been doing locally and in Parliament recently.

Investing in St Helier Hospital
Last year the Government announced a £500m investment in the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, which is on top of the £33.9 billion extra annual funding for the NHS the Government will deliver.

This is an unprecedented investment and is great news for patients and NHS staff locally.

The money will allow the much-needed refurbishment of St Helier Hospital to continue and build on the £100m investment we have already had committed. Those who have visited St Helier Hospital will know that the hospital building is outdated which makes it harder for the staff to do their jobs effectively.

The refurbishment will mean less money and time needs to be spent on repairs and will mean that ambulances will not need to transport patients from the back of St Helier to the front because the lifts are too small for modern hospital beds.

Under the new proposals to build a new hospital, 85% of services would stay at Epsom and St Helier hospitals in refurbished buildings, with both hospitals running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with urgent treatment centres at each hospital. Despite much scaremongering this confirms that St Helier Hospital is safe.

Six core major services, for the most unwell patients, those who need more specialist care, and births in hospital, would be moved together to one site in new state-of-the-art buildings. This would mean that specialist doctors, nurses and clinical staff would be able to work together to provide round-the-clock specialist care. The proposals are for this to be based at Sutton.

Some have suggested that Sutton is too far away for these services for those who use St Helier Hospital. The services at Sutton would be those for which patients usually arrive by ambulance, and in my view, the priority must be to ensure patients get the best care from the best staff providing the full range of critical care services in one location.

I have already raised the need for a bespoke bus service to the new Sutton Hospital if the plans go ahead with the Chief Executive, to cover the Cannon Hill and Morden areas. I am confident that this will be provided.

Unfortunately, I note Merton Labour Party are calling this exercise a vanity project. An unprecedented £500m investment into local hospitals, bringing much needed improvements to outdated buildings and providing better services, is not a vanity project.

The consultation runs until 1st April, and I encourage you to look at the plans and have your say by visiting
Wimbledon Police Station
As soon as I was re-elected in December, I wrote to the Mayor of London to reconsider his plans to close Wimbledon Police Station given the Government’s plans to recruit an extra 1,300 police officers in London.

The Mayor has confirmed he is reviewing his estates strategy in the light of this, but no decisions have been made. Wimbledon Police Station is therefore still under threat.

I would encourage you to write to the Mayor to make the point that:

  • The extra police officers will need somewhere to operate from.
  • Our Police Station is very well located near the Town Centre, which has a huge night-time economy and a large transport hub which needs policing.
  • Emergency response vehicles are currently based at Wimbledon and will need to remain there to cover Wimbledon and parts of Wandsworth.

The Mayor can be contacted on or by post at Sadiq Khan, City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2AA. 

I also met with Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar on Monday 13th January to discuss policing priorities locally, and the Police Station. She told me there was no new information, but the fact that there are more police officers coming to the Met, and the need to have emergency response vehicles based at Wimbledon Police Station, means that there are operational pressures to keep it open.

I impressed upon Chief Superintendent Benatar how vital it is that Wimbledon retains its police station.

We also discussed local policing priorities, and I raised a number of examples of burglaries and thefts from cars locally. Please always be vigilant and avoid leaving valuables on display in your car.
Crossrail 2
I asked the Department of Transport about the status of the Crossrail 2 project. The Minister replied as follows:

“The Government recognises that  Crossrail 2  could provide a crucial solution to address capacity issues on London’s rail and tube networks, while also improving connectivity across London and the  South East . I am keen to see a realistic and achievable 50% funding proposal from London regarding Crossrail 2. Officials continue to work with TfL on this funding proposal and the next steps for the project.”

There remains no indication of when, or if, a revised route proposal will be finalised for consultation.

However, as and when it does I shall let you know and organise a further opportunity to quiz the Crossrail 2 team.
South Western Railway
One reason many people choose to live in Wimbledon is the excellent transport links. However, they do not always deliver the service local people deserve.

I recently met with South Western Railway’s new CEO, Mark Hopwood and I expressed my concern that all too often there are delays and that local residents need a frequent and reliable service.

He acknowledged this and I am pleased to hear that they are training up to 100 new drivers and we will see new, and in some cases, longer trains.

I have also agreed to be a Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for South Western Railway. We will hold SWR and Network Rail to account for their performance and plans for the future.
At our first meeting we agreed five objectives for the network:

  • Capacity: Timetable, frequency, capacity, journey time, train and bus connections and service availability. Objective: adequate rail capacity that meets demand.
  • Future: Investment, strategy, industry structure, Route Study, franchise sustainability, franchise mapping and infrastructure enhancements. Objective: future investment and organisation delivers the service that constituents require and expect.
  • Passenger Service: Comfort, provision of information, accessibility, station services provision, WiFi provision, recompense, refreshments, quality of train refurbishment. Objective: passenger experience meets expectations.
  • Performance: Operating performance, service delivery, train service contingencies and resources. Objective: reliable and punctual train services delivered for passengers.
  • Value: Taxpayer value for money, delivery of franchise obligations, Network Rail use of its Government funding. Objective: achieving value for money for passenger and taxpayer.

While SWR have not yet failed to meet their financial commitments, as a precautionary measure, the Department for Transport are preparing suitable contingency measures. Such measures could include a new short-term contract with SWR, with tightly defined performance requirements; or transferring the operation to the Operator of Last Resort, a public sector operator wholly owned by the Department. 

This will not impact on the Railway’s day-to-day operations. The business will continue to operate as usual with no material impact on SWR services or staff.

However, whilst SWR is the face of the service to many, the real villain is Network Rail. Mark Hopwood confirmed that over 70% of delays that we experience in Wimbledon are the fault of the nationalised infrastructure company.

This unacceptable level of performance has persisted for too long and the Government must act to enforce performance standards or take immediate action to reform Network Rail.

If Network Rail were to deliver better standards of track improvements and signalling, Wimbledon would see a better service and SWR could be financially viable.

I have urged the Secretary of State for Transport to take action, not just against the symptom of the problems, but against the real cause of delays.
South Wimbledon Track Noise
I often raise complaints on behalf of residents living above the Northern line in South Wimbledon about the levels of noise. 

In late February 2020 TfL will carry out rail grinding at South Wimbledon, which reduces rail roughness, and which I hope will reduce the disturbance that some local residents have experienced. Following this, TfL will take noise measurements at local properties, to assess the impact of these works.
Wimbledon Chase Station Development
Recently I discussed the proposed redevelopment at Wimbledon Chase Station with the developers and their agents. The key issues are accessibility and the height of the proposed building. Along with many local people, I am concerned that the redevelopment will not have improved access. The developer has asserted that the cost of a Network Rail compliant scheme could make the development unviable and Network Rail has stated there is not the demand.

I believe this would be a huge missed opportunity not to make Wimbledon Chase step free and I will be pursuing this.

A number of residents have also told me that they approve development on this site in principle, but that they are opposed to the design, height and look of this scheme. I raised these issues with the developer and told them that nine storeys on this site is too high. They have stated that the development could be a lower height if the local council were flexible about the need for dual aspect in the flats and flexible about ground floor usage. I also urged the developer to reconsider the design and the materials that will be used on the exterior of the development.
Heathrow Airport Expansion
I have met Heathrow representatives to raise local concerns about the proposed new flight paths, pollution, and the new runway.

I understand that as a result of the Civil Aviation Authority’s action there will be a further consultation in the second quarter of the year, but I am led to understand its contents will not affect Wimbledon residents.
I shall continue to keep you informed and let you know if action is required. 
AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon is on the verge of returning to Plough Lane. The new stadium is scheduled for completion this autumn. But there is a funding shortfall for the final construction contract, due to be signed in February 2020. 

The Dons Trust, (the mutual organisation which owns AFC Wimbledon) has launched a bond which enables people to lend them money to finance the construction. There is much more information at

With these Bonds, you can achieve a financial return while loaning money to AFC Wimbledon and the Dons Trust to get the stadium completed in time for the 2020-21 season and preserve the fan-owned status of the club. 

This scheme's initial target is to raise at least £5m towards the £11m total funding still required. 
Promoted by David Jones on behalf of Stephen Hammond MP, both of 3 Summerstown, London, SW17 0BQ