London Borough of Merton
Learn more about London Borough of Merton
|London Borough of Merton|
Shown within Greater London
| Ranked 324th|
— Total (2005 est.)
| Ranked 71st (of 354)|
5,177 / km²
|Ethnicity|| 75.0% White|
11.1% South Asian
|Leadership||Cllr David Williams|
|Mayor||Cllr Geraldine Stanford|
|Executive||Conservative (council NOC)|
|MPs|| Stephen Hammond |
| London Assembly|
| Merton and Wandsworth|
|Coat of Arms|
The borough was formed in 1965 by the merger of the former area of the Municipal Borough of Mitcham, the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon and the Merton and Morden Urban District, all formerly within Surrey. The main commercial centres in Merton are Wimbledon, Mitcham and Morden, of which Wimbledon is the largest. Other smaller centres include Raynes Park, Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park and Pollards Hill.
The borough derives its name from the historic parish of Merton which was centred on the area now known as South Wimbledon. In a borough with a broad socio-economic range between generally affluent Wimbledon and less affluent Mitcham, the name was seen as a compromise.
 Parts of Merton
The Borough includes the following areas:
- Bushey Mead
- Colliers Wood
- Copse Hill
- Cottenham Park
- Lower Morden
- Merton Park
- Morden Park
- Motspur Park
- Phipps Bridge
- Pollards Hill
- Raynes Park
- South Wimbledon
- West Barnes
- Wimbledon Park
 History of the Borough
In 1236 Henry III met his Barons at the priory to agree the Statutes of Merton, an important foundation of modern English Common Law. The king also brought Queen Eleanor to be crowned at the priory in the same year. Henry VI, the only king of England to be crowned outside of Westminster Abbey in the last 1,000 years, held his coronation ceremony at Merton Priory in 1437. Among those educated at the priory were Thomas Becket and Nicholas Brakespeare, who was the only ever English Pope. Adrian IV (Brakespeare) was the pope who granted the English king Henry II the lordship of Ireland in 1155. Also educated there were Walter de Merton, a future Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Rochester. He is also famous for being the founder of Merton College at Oxford University in 1264. The priory by the river was dismantled in 1538 as part of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and only a few remnants survive off Merantun Way.
The area soon passed from the hands of royalty into those of successful tradesmen. Industry expanded on the banks of the Wandle, whose fast-flowing waters provided ideal power for the milling process. Flour, snuff, copper, iron, leather and dye works all flourished on the river at points like Mitcham Bridge and Phipps Bridge. By 1750, Merton Abbey and Mitcham had become the main centres of calico cloth printing in England. Increased industrial output in the Wandle Valley led to the construction of the world's first public railway, the horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway, which opened in 1803.
In 1881, William Morris opened a factory at Merton Abbey producing high quality goods: printed and woven fabrics, stained glass, furnishings, tapestry and carpets. Morris is famous as a founder of the Arts and Craft Movement, which rejected the mass-produced workmanship of the industrial age. His company continued trading until 1940.
Abbey Mills was also the base for Arthur Liberty, another eminent Victorian and founder of the famous Liberty's shops. The Liberty works produced thousands of yards of hand printed silks that made Liberty a household name.
Nelson moved into Merton Place House off Merton High Street in 1801. He loved his country home in Merton, and wrote in his diary as he departed for the Trafalgar campaign: "At half past ten I drove from dear, dear Merton where I left all I hold dear in this world to go and serve my king and country". The highly respected sailor remained in Merton until his death in 1805 at the hands of Napoleon's fleet during the battle of Trafalgar. Admiral Lord Nelson and his family worshipped at the 12th Century St Mary's Church in Merton Park.
London's gentry began to populate Merton soon after the railway reached the borough. Shops such as Elys in 1876 opened to cater for the tastes of the new suburban residents. In 1868 the All England Croquet Club was founded in Worple Road. Its name was changed in 1877 to the now world-famous All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, and it later moved to Church Road. Merton expanded as London grew to become the largest city in the world.
Trams came to Mitcham and Wimbledon in 1906 and 1907 respectively. Motorbuses picked up their first passengers from Raynes Park and dropped them off at Liverpool Street in 1914. The London Underground reached Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon and Morden by 1926. These transport improvements turned Morden from a small farming community of 1,000 in 1900 into a residential suburb of 12,618 within thirty years.
World War II caused considerable damage to Merton. Housing was in great demand in the post-war era and new estates were constructed at Phipps Bridge, Pollards Hill and High Path in Wimbledon. Recovery from the war was painfully slow and food shortages did not end completely until 1956. Redevelopment schemes were remarkably successful and the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 marked the beginning of a new era.
Affluence had settled in by 1965, when the creation of the new borough provided impetus for more growth. Five new town centres emerged to form the Merton we know today: Colliers Wood, Mitcham, Morden, Raynes Park and Wimbledon. They are all primarily residential areas, each with their own commercial and shopping centres. People are entertained by theatres, cinemas, greyhound racing, football teams, the international tennis tournament, and cricket played on the world's oldest cricket green at Mitcham.
Source of History of the Borough, London Borough of Merton website: http://www.merton.gov.uk/leisure/history/makingmerton.htm
 Political background of the Council
The May 2006 local government elections saw the Labour Party lose control of the council for the first time since 1990. Prior to 1990 the Council had been predominately Conservative controlled with only one period of Labour control between 1971 and 1974. The current council is under no overall control and its composition is:
- Conservatives: 30
- Labour: 27
- Merton Park Residents: 3
The political split of council wards between parties parallels almost exactly the division of the borough between its two parliamentary constituencies. The eastern and southeastern wards in the Mitcham and Morden constituency held by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh are respresented by Labour councillors. The northern and western wards in the Wimbledon constituency held by Conservative MP Stephen Hammond are represented by Conservative councillors, together with the three Merton Park Residents councillors.
Only in the south western ward of Lower Morden which is part of the Labour held Mitcham and Morden parliamentary constituency but is represented by Conservative councillors is there a difference between the political affiliation of councillors and MP.
At the Annual General meeting on 24th May, Cllr David Williams was elected leader and formed a minority Conservative administration. Cllr Geraldine Stanford of the Labour party was elected mayor of the London Borough of Merton. The following have served as leaders of Merton Council since its formation:
- 1965-71 Cllr Vincent Talbot (Conservative)
- 1971-74 Cllr Dennis Hempstead (Labour)
- 1974-75 Cllr Vincent Talbot (Conservative)
- 1975-80 Cllr Allan Jones (Conservative)
- 1980-88 Cllr Harry Cowd (Conservative)
- 1988-90 Cllr John Elvidge (Conservative)
- 1990-91 Cllr Geoff Smith (Labour)
- 1991-97 Cllr Tony Colman (Labour)
- 1997-99 Cllr Mike Brunt (Labour)
- 1999-2000 Cllr Philip Jones (Labour)
- 2000-01 Cllr Peter Holt (Labour)
- 2001-06 Cllr Andrew Judge (Labour)
- 2006- Cllr David Williams (Conservative)
 Key Facts
In 2001, the census recorded that 25% of the population of the borough was from an ethnic minority. The highest ethnic populations were recorded in wards in the east of the borough. The percentage of population from ethnic minorities is predicted to rise across the borough within the next decade.
According to the council's comparative assessment of wards made in 2004, the most deprived wards within the borough were in the south and east where unemployment rates, educational attainment and the quality of health were worst. The most affluent wards were in the north and west of the borough.
Comparative crime rates appear to be unrelated to the deprivation ranking of wards. The wards containing the Wimbledon and Mitcham town centres are ranked highest for crime within Merton with the wards containing the smaller commercial centres of Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon also featuring high in the ranking.
By London and national measures, deprivation and recorded crime are low.
Merton currently operates a Police Cadet scheme under the Metropolitain Police Service.
 External links
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