One of things that stemmed from the work I did in saving Sutton library was that I came to appreciate the importance of the town having a community space where people can come together. Over the last few years, our town centre has been decimated, with shops closing and retailers moving out. People have fewer and fewer reasons to come into the town centre. It needs redeveloping.
The key thing about any future redevelopment is that it must make Sutton an attractive destination. The library should be a key part of development, as a part of a wider community centre, along with a café, space for the arts, meeting rooms and community rooms. Other things can develop around that, including retail. I want to see small independent shops where people can spend time browsing, places where they can go to have a bite to eat, places where they can look at art and other cultural exhibitions. I want open, green, outdoor spaces in the town centre, and places people can meet and relax. I want to see the town centre transformed into a vibrant heart of the local community and the centre of the town should be connected through to the park. We need to give people a reason to come into the town. That is my vision for Sutton.
That vision is supported by the Lib Dems’ national policy to abolish business rates, and to move to a land value tax paid by the land owners rather than by the business. Whilst some of the cost would be passed on, such a system would have a massive impact in supporting retailers and small shops.