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Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents' Association
Serving the community since 1928

Chairman's Notes, November 2000

We are very sad to receive the news of the passing of Clare Read at the age of 93 years. Clare had been a long time member and officer of the Association. A note about her activities will be published in a future Guide.

Environmental Matters

Prince George’s & LESSA Sportgrounds Update

The Association, together with residents of the northern section of Grand Drive, has received from the Council the planning framework for Prince George's Playing Fields. This document, which will provide the guidelines for the future use and development of the land, has been circulated for consultation and comment. It was discussed by members at the October meeting, as the Council officials require any comments by 27 October.

We have a number of comments on the document, since we are anxious to preserve the fields' openness and access to the public and maintain the safety of the vehicle, cycle and pedestrian traffic using the sportsground and its facilities. Andrew Barwick and his team will be responding on behalf of the Association, and our response will be printed in a later issue of the Guide.

Sadly, there seem to be some initial activities on the LESSA ground, following the report last month of the surveyors in Grand Drive. The area around the bungalow has been fenced off, and the goal posts have all been removed. We need to watch this space carefully.

Flooding Issues

The Association are pleased to receive copies of the correspondence between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Merton Council, indicating the ERA's objection to the developments on the site of the St Catherine's School, as it is on a flood plain. When I was writing the October notes last month, the heavy rainfall caused considerable flooding in this area. Now large parts of south-east England and the UK in general are seriously affected by flooding, and the EPA representatives have stated publicly, and in television interviews, that any future developments should not be made on land which is floodplain. In addition, the Meteorological Office have also expressed their view that heavy rainfall will become more commonplace as our climate changes.

However, if these professional statements are to be noted and acted upon, then we need a change in legislation to prevent the local authorities ignoring the EPA and others when making planning recommendations. The Association is now discussing this matter with our representative at the GLA in order to make some progress. This is a crucial matter for us all. Many of you have already received flood warning literature from the EPA.

Apparently now, as Kent and Sussex become submerged, Nick Raynsford, Planning Minister, is reported to be issuing guidelines to local authorities on this matter. It is reported that new homes will be allowed on at-risk sites only in exceptional circumstances and after full planning enquires. Merton Council take note. This may be the first signs of progress and commonsense.

Cattle Arch Improvements ?

David Freeman attended the recent meeting of the Raynes Park and West Barnes Town Centre Working Party on behalf of the Association. From the discussions at this meeting, we now understand that the cycle track section past Boots will be relocated under the Cattle Arch and into Approach Road. We are told this will happen soon, whatever that may mean. Apparently the cycle path from Approach Road will be sited diagonally through the arch to link up with the infamous section along Coombe Lane. This will cross the pedestrian footpath, so watch carefully, although I am also informed that cyclists are expected to dismount before entering the Arch section!

Ray Puddy has also informed us that water sealing was carried out on part of the arch, and the experiment has been a success. It is intended to apply the sealant to the entire arch.

When these changes are made, it will no longer to possible to park cars in the station forecourt area.

Raynes Park Library Site

Apparently the Council conducted a survey in August to gain the opinion of the local residents on proposals for the redevelopment of the library site. Unfortunately, they only received 76 responses to the 6000 leaflets circulated. Why do they always conduct surveys when everyone is away on holiday?

There was a strong preference for our ideas; a good sized community hall, car parking, library facilities with computer and internet facilities and of course, public toilets. The greatest concern at this stage is the possible size of the building. The Council would like a four-storey development, while the residents and the Association too have stated firmly that it can be no more than three storeys high. We understand the Council officials are in discussions with a developer with a planning application expected in February 2001.

The issue of public toilets in the Raynes Park area is a continuing problem. However, one of our members has investigated this matter, while not requiring the facilities ! We now understand that the Raynes Park library staff do hold the key to the indoor toilet, which may be used on request.

K5 Bus - coming soon

George Ferrier has had further discussions with the Bus authorities with regard to the K5 bus, as mentioned in the October Guide. The bus authorities have tried out the new route, and have had no problems in navigating the West Barnes Crossing and the right turn into West Barnes Lane. The new service is due to start on the 11 November.

Controlled parking in Raynes Park area

The Council are giving consideration to the possibility of "residents only" controlled parking around the Raynes Park station area. The details we have seen appear to have overlooked the major issues in this area around Grand Drive and the neighbouring roads. Members have requested at previous meetings the need for some form of controls operating in all the roads from the station to at least Church Walk. David Freeman is following this matter carefully, so please let him know your views.

Association matters

Annual Subscription - proposed increase in March 2001

At the October meeting, the Treasurer discussed the current financial position of the Association as indicated in the October Guide. He recommended to the meeting that a proposal be made at the AGM in March 2001 to raise the subscription to £3. The current subscription of £2 was introduced over a decade ago. The increase was agreed, and members present expressed their views that this still provides excellent value for money.

The Future of the Association - We need your help, urgently

As the months tick by, I am increasingly concerned that we do not seem to have any people coming forward to help in the future running of the Association. Everyone seems prepared to discuss the issues, but not to help the community in taking some responsibility for ensuring progress on matters that affect us all. Yes, we are all busy people, so please can you spare just a little time to help us, which in effect is helping you too.

I have passed the questionnaires received from members to Edwin Cluer, who is producing a note in the Guide on the comments and useful responses. Sadly, we have received only 34 replies, with just 6 offers of any form of help.

Please can I remind you that if you have any problems or comments on local matters, then please come to our meetings and tell us ? We like to hear from you.

And finally !

Thames Water, now under German control, seem to be moving into the construction of inland lakes or assisting in local flooding, or even developing an Olympic pool for "Eddie the eel". For months and months they have been pumping water over Bushey Road from a giant hole in the road near the intersection with Martin Way, with no sign of any progress or an end to road chaos produced by this giant chasm. But a notice on the site states "….We are aware of this water leak and matters are in hand to solve this problem…" But when ? A case of E for effort, could do better.

By the way, how much does it cost to photocopy an A4 page ? At your local newsagent it will be 4p. Well, at the Civic Centre, one of our members found that Merton Council charge £1.30 a page !

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Association will be on Tuesday 14 November at 7.45 p.m. in the Tennis Pavilion, 129 Grand Drive, near the junction of Crossway.

You are all welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you.

Garry Hunt (President and acting Chairman, RP&WBRA)