48.4% White British
2.2% White Irish
0.1% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
14.2% Other White
1.3% White & Black Caribbean
0.6% White & Black African
1.4% White & Asian
1.3% Other Mixed
7.9% Other Asian
5.2% Black African
4.1% Black Caribbean
1.1% Other Black
The borough was formed under the London Government Act 1963 in 1965 by the merger 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 Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon, of which Wimbledon is the largest. Other smaller centres include Raynes Park, Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park and Pollards Hill. The borough is the host of the Wimbledon tournament, one of tennis's Grand Slam competitions.
The borough derives its name from the historic parish of Merton which was centred on the area now known as South Wimbledon. Merton was chosen as an acceptable compromise, following a dispute between Wimbledon and Mitcham over the new borough's name. The local authority is Merton London Borough Council.
The May 2014 local government elections saw the Labour Party win an overall majority, following the gain of seven seats from the Conservative Party, and one from UKIP. This followed four years as a minority administration. The current council has a Labour majority of 12 and its composition is:
At the Annual Council Meeting, a ceremonial mayor is elected to serve for a year. At the same time, it elects a deputy mayor to serve alongside the mayor. Since 1978, each Mayor must also be an elected councillor. Cllr Brenda Fraser who is a Labour councillor and represents Longthornton ward is currently the Mayor of the London Borough of Merton with Stan Anderson, councillor from Lower Morden ward, as her deputy.
A lot of filming for former ITV police drama The Bill took place in Merton, particularly in the districts of Mitcham and Colliers Wood. The set of Sun Hill police station was also located in the Borough.
The main local newspaper in Merton is the Wimbledon Guardian with two editions, Wimbledon along with Mitcham and Morden. This newspaper was founded in 1977 by a former Conservative councillor on Merton Council, but since then the paper has been sold on and it is now widely published in different editions across South London. The main difference between the papers is the front page. The Wimbledon Post is another local newspaper published weekly. Both newspapers are available free, though there is a charge if bought from a newsagent. They are published each Thursday.
Merton is served by a wide range of National Rail stations across the borough, as well as the southern tip of London Underground's Northern line and the District line on the Wimbledon branch. The borough is also served by several London Tramlink stops from Wimbledon, that goes to Croydon, New Addington, Elmers End and Beckenham. It is the only London Borough which has tube, rail and tram services.
London Underground stations
National Rail stations
In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: driving a car or van, 19.2% of all residents aged 16-74; underground, metro, light rail, tram, 13.0%; train, 13.0%; bus, minibus or coach, 7.5%; on foot, 5.0%; work mainly at or from home, 3.4%; bicycle, 2.4%.
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 (Mitcham, Eastfields and Pollards Hill. This excludes the incredibly tall, however). 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 Mitcham town centre and the St Helier Estate are ranked highest for crime within Merton with the wards containing the commercial shopping centres of Colliers Wood and Wimbledon also featuring high in the ranking.
The constituency area of Wimbledon is an affluent area of London with a high proportion of city workers, while Mitcham and Morden is relatively deprived by comparison, which explains the geographical split of political representation of the borough at both national and local elections.
Merton currently operates a Police Cadet scheme under the Metropolitan Police Service.
Each year The Championships, Wimbledon, better known as simply Wimbledon, one of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments (along with the US, French and Australian Opens) is held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Church Road Wimbledon. The event takes place over a fortnight at the end of June and beginning of July and is the largest annual sporting event to take place in the United Kingdom with over 200,000 visitors during the Wimbledon fortnight.
The borough gained a football team in 1889 when Wimbledon Old Centrals were founded, and were soon a member of the local football leagues. The club later adopted the title Wimbledon FC and moved into a new stadium at Plough Lane in 1912, where it would spend the next 79 years. As the 20th century wore on, the club enjoyed considerable success in non league football. The club was elected to the Football League in 1977 and enjoyed a great run of success when began in 1983 with the Fourth Division title, and saw them reach the First Division in 1986 - a mere nine years after joining the Football League. They quickly established themselves in the highest division of English football, and as clear underdogs, pulled off a shock win in the 1988 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, England's most successful and dominant club side in Europe during that era. They were founder members of the FA Premier League in 1992 and survived at that level until 2000, before relocating to Milton Keynes, some 70 miles away in Buckinghamshire, in a controversial move in 2003, being rebranded as Milton Keynes Dons in 2004. The club had left its Plough Lane stadium in 1991 to ground-share with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with numerous plans to build a new stadium in a number of different locations (including back in London and even in Dublin or Cardiff) being considered over the following decade before the club's owners chose Milton Keynes as their destination.
However, a new Wimbledon club - AFC Wimbledon - was formed to represent the local area in 2002 by fans of the original club after the move to Milton Keynes was given the go-ahead. The new Wimbledon club's progress was rapid, and after just nine years in existence they won promotion to the Football League in 2011. The club currently plays at Kingsmeadow Stadium, the home of Kingstonian F.C., but its long-term target is to build a new stadium in the London Borough of Merton.
The borough also has five non-League football clubs: Colliers Wood United F.C. who play at Wibbandune Sports Ground; Raynes Park Vale F.C. who play at Prince George's Fields; Tooting & Mitcham United F.C. who play at Imperial Fields, Morden; and Merton Forest F.C who also play at Prince George's Fields.
In 2003, the largest mosque in western Europe was opened in Morden. The Baitul Futuh mosque can accommodate 10,000 people and was built at a cost of £5.5 million entirely donated voluntarily by the Ahmadiyya Community. The mosque has been voted in the top 50 in the world by Spectator magazine. It is also acting as the centre for the 'Loyalty, Freedom and Peace' campaign in order to improve the integration of Muslims and non Muslims alike.
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