We do not need to be reminded about the constant rain of the past few weeks, as many parts of this area have been flooded. Many members attended the November meeting to discuss their flooding problems with us and seek a solution. Alas, there is no simple solution as such, since we are now experiencing the effect of the changing climate where global warming will probably produce these periods of intense rainfall every year.
At the meeting, we were shown photographs of a garden of a house in Greenway in October 1990 and a few weeks ago. There was little difference between these pictures, as in both cases the garden was flooded. Residents in Southway have had their gardens flooded too. However, we are aware that the All England Lawn Tennis Club, who now own the land backing onto Southway, have put in new drainage systems for their facilities which are still not coping with the amount of rain we have had recently. A further problem for Southway residents, and probably other members too, is that there are many dormant streams in this area which cross this road and run under some of the houses. The very heavy rain would have activated these streams so that normally dry areas have become flooded. It is a depressing situation in an area which has been covered with residential properties for more than 70 years.
There have been many changes in these past decades:
Some of these changes may be essential for living in the area, but they have increased the run-off and provided further constraints on the drainage systems. We need to remember the area was always prone to flooding: this was the reason for the formation of the Association in 1928 and the move of the then Raynes Park Golf Club to Traps Lane, New Malden.
However, we can do more than just watch and pray:
The water flooding gardens is far from clean, and in many cases is contaminated with sewerage. We have expressed to the Council and our Councillors our concern as to whether the existing drains and sewers can cope with the increased volumes created by an increasing population as well as the changing climate. Furthermore, many of these essential facilities are ageing rapidly, while submerged under our crowded roads which carry more and more traffic, and in particular very heavy lorries for which the roads were not designed. We hope (and pray) that the roads can cope with these loads.
Please come to the Association meetings and discuss your problems, so we can make sure that the relevant officials and organisations are aware of any problems and we can seek suitable solutions. This is not an easy matter, but it does affect us all in one way or another. For your information, the Environmental Agency has set up a Floodline to help people at risk from flooding nationwide. Floodline can be contacted on 0845-9881188.
The Association, through Andrew Barwick, David Freeman and Margaret Pye , have sent to Merton Council our comments, objections and suggestions on the Planning Framework document for Prince George's Playing Fields, as discussed in the November issue of the "Guide". A key part of our comment was concerned with the area of land at the junction of Grand Drive and Bushey Road, which has been used for many years for car parking by residents of Bushey Road who have no other location to use. We have requested this be maintained. We will keep you informed of any progress on this matter.
We do not have any news on the LESSA sportsground development. However, in view of the flooding experienced by a number of members whose gardens back on to this ground, we shall be making sure that any development does provide adequate drainage facilities in an area which is prone to flood now.
David Freeman has provided some information on future Council initiatives which will be of interest to members. The Council is proposing a green garden waste collection scheme, which is hoped will help residents avoid making a car journey to Garth Road and assist those residents who do not have a car. There is no proposal yet to issue containers or bins. There would also be an appointment system with residents calling a "hot line" to make any special arrangements.
The Council are also introducing, on a trial basis, a free vehicle surrender scheme, hoping to avoid old cars being dumped on the highway. The trial scheme will operate for six months, and the owners will have to provide all the legal registration documents for the vehicle. Furthermore, the Council will ensure garages and traders do not abuse the scheme. As if they would! However, the removal of a vehicle from private land would require a £50 payment to the Council.
George Ferrier has informed the Associated that the K5 bus is now in operation. The timetable is published in this issue of the Guide. The bus authorities have changed their mind with regard to navigating the West Barnes Crossing, and now find it impossible to turn right safely into West Barnes Lane. The route has been changed, with a left turn at the crossing, so you can now have a longer tour of the area.
The first discussions on possible controlled parking in the area have already created a lot of discussion from members at the November meeting, and in correspondence too. There is nothing more to report yet. However, we will make sure that there is space for short term parking at the Station for meeting and leaving passengers.
You will be aware of the continuing problems created by the similar names of these neighbouring roads and the lack of understanding of the location of recently developed Meadowsweet Close, which continues to cause problems for residents. We discussed this matter at the October meeting, and the Council Department concerned were informed through Councillor Dysart. We have now learnt that Allison Broome of Merton Council does not consider it to be a problem, since she has not received enough complaints! Well really!
It was pointed out at a recent Association meeting that many London street maps still omit Meadowsweet Close, and this is also true (at the time of writing) of one of the main online maps. Multimap can find Meadowsweet Close already, just south of Westway, but the only Meadowsweet Close in London known to Streetmap is in E16. Even Multimap doesn't actually label Meadowsweet Close on their standard-scale map of the area.
Members have expressed their concern about the never-ending problem of graffiti around the area. Garages, walls, shop fronts and railways stations are just some of the places that have been disfigured. At the November meeting, several people said that they were embarrassed to invite their friends to such a dirty and ugly area. P.C. Gary Sexton and the local police officers have arrested some of the offenders, but this is a continuing problem. Some of the neighbouring Boroughs, for example Sutton, Kingston and Elmbridge, have set up anti-graffiti programmes to try to eliminate this problem from their area. So far we have not seen any similar initiative from Merton.
Wake up Merton, the Borough is looking very shabby. Councillors Dysart and Lewis-Lavender have agreed to follow up our complaint and get some action. We shall be watching carefully.
The time has come to make a final decision. I stated at the November meeting that the Association has not received any response from members to assist in running the organisation, in spite of the requests made by Jill Truman as Chairman and myself over nearly three years.
Consequently, at the meeting on the 9 January 2001, we will discuss the formal arrangements to close the Association, if we have still not received any offers of help. Yes, the Association, like so many organisations today, will then cease to exist since everyone wants it but nobody wishes to head it. In the meantime, I am seeking the formal professional advice on the legal procedures necessary.
So there is just two months to save the Association. I look forward to hearing from you if you can help in any way.
I have just obtained a copy of this excellent booklet, which is based on the exhibition held at the New Malden Evangelical Church, Seaforth Avenue, in August 2000. The document provides a history with illustrations of the local area from the medieval estates to the present day. I found it fascinating, and I encourage you to obtain a copy. It costs only £2 from the Motspur Park Library or £2.50 from Peter Hopkins, 57 Templecombe Way, Morden, Surrey SM4 4JF.
Congratulations to Gilli Lewis-Lavender on her election as the new Councillor for the West Barnes Ward. We are used to Gilli's active participation in our meetings, and we look forward to working with her. We are very grateful to Councillors Ian Dysart and Margaret Brierley who regularly attend at our meetings and always offer copious help at a time when we still lack a secretary.
We are very sorry to be losing our "beat officer", P.C. Gary Sexton. He has been promoted to Sergeant, and moves in a few weeks to the West End Division, to be located in Kensington. Do say hello to him when you next go to Harrods! We thank Gary for his excellent work in the community and for working so closely with the Association during his time in Merton. We wish him every success for the future.
The next meeting of the Association is on Tuesday 12 December at 7.45 p.m., in the clubhouse of the Raynes Park Residents' Lawn Tennis Club at 129, Grand Drive (opposite Oakway - see map).
You are all welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you.Garry Hunt (President and acting Chairman, RP&WBRA)