The Borough of Merton was formed in 1965 when Mitcham, Morden, Merton and Wimbledon merged. Covering about 14.7 square miles of southwest London, it is a cosmopolitan, modern and vibrant community, a popular place with a lot to offer residents and workers alike. A recent census showed that some 204,565 people live here. The population is growing, expected to reach some 223,000 by 2020. About a third of our residents come from black and minority ethnic communities.
We’re also an important place for employment. Merton is home to 7,500 successful businesses providing more than 70,000 jobs. A key challenge for us over the coming years is protecting the Borough’s economy through recession, and positioning Merton to make the most of economic recovery.
The borough is famous for Nelson, the Wombles, the Wimbledon tennis championships and the Mitcham carnival. The main town centres are Colliers Wood, Mitcham, Morden, Raynes Park and Wimbledon. They are all dynamic areas with well-developed characters of their own. There is a wide range of quality housing from starter flats to large family homes, and prices are often very affordable. We have some excellent schools in the borough and work extremely hard to make them even better. We have 44 Primary schools with a nursery class attached to each, eight Secondary schools, and three special schools.
It is a great place to spend free time: historic buildings, markets, museums, parks, theatres and shopping centres all jostle for attention. We have a greyhound stadium, golf courses, leisure centres and a sailing club. There are the large expanses of the famous Wimbledon and Mitcham commons, as well as smaller nature reserves and parks. Seven hundred hectares of open space account for more than 18% of Merton’s total area, nearly double the London average. The urban river Wandle makes its progress north through the borough to the Thames. It once attracted the likes of Arthur Liberty (the founder of Liberty) and William Morris (a genius designer) to work on its banks.
Merton has a rich mix of ethnicity, culture, and languages. However there are extremes of poverty and wealth in the borough – some wards are in the top 5% most affluent in the country, whilst some are in the top 15% most income-deprived. This inequality between different parts of Merton is a key theme to our strategies and service delivery. Just under a quarter of the population is over the age of 55. About 13% have a disability. Merton is one of the most religiously diverse boroughs in London, and Morden is home to the largest mosque in Western Europe.
The council is a forward-looking organisation and the Government has recognised our ability to change. Our main offices are in the towering Civic Centre in Morden – where the Northern Line begins its journey north. The borough is a constantly evolving force in the landscape of Greater London, and works hard to achieve its vision and ambition.
The London Borough of Merton is split into twenty electoral areas called wards, with three councillors each.