Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Council objecting to the two development plans by Barratts for the LESSA ground. I understand that the Council were inundated with letters of objection, which shows the strength of feeling in this area.
Councillor Spacey attended our last meeting and provided members with helpful comments and details of the current status of the two applications. It seems that while one of the plans is likely to be rejected by the Officers as an over-development, this does allow Barratts to submit another version with less development. He reminded members that the practice is now for the local authority to "assume a planning scheme is acceptable and then examine the objections to the plan". This seems the reverse of common sense. The Council allows one speaker for the proposers and one from the objectors to the proposal, to a maximum of three, at each Planning discussion. If the applicants choose only one speaker, then we can have only one speaker too.
The Government now seem to be taking some action on flooding, as reported recently in the Daily Telegraph on Wed 7th February 2001, when they issued a warning to developers not to build new homes on high-risk flood plains. Nick Raynsford, the Planning Minister, announced new policy guidance after calls for action from the Commons environment select committee. The main changes meant that local authorities and builders must look at lower risk sites first. There is nowhere possible in this area !
I mentioned in the last issue that Martin Mitchell is coordinating a photographic history of flooding in this area. The areas that continue to be flooded are extensive and we have records now over many years. Please contact Martin if you have any suitable material for these records, and he will return your photographs after use.
We are still waiting for details of the proposed outline development document which will be available for organisations wishing to make use of this land. The other item of news is from Wimbledon F.C., where it would seem that their statements in the press about moving to Milton Keynes may have been a smokescreen to try to develop more local interest in their activities. In the local newspaper, the Independent, it is announced that Charles Koppel is now the Chairman of the Club. While he is quoted as saying that he has ruled out any immediate return for the club to Merton, Koppel has also said "…Plans to find a home are proceeding. We have looked at a site in Raynes Park, but the costs for a 30,000 seater stadium in an urban environment are astronomical. But with a site that large, we also have to consider the views of residents which haven't always been positive. Anyone can say they support a move back home, it is now up to people to do something about it." What does this mean ? Andrew Barwick and his team are watching carefully.
David Freeman has informed the Association of the next step in the "public consultation" for the proposed Controlled Parking for Raynes Park. Hopefully everyone affected was informed of the exhibition at the Raynes Park Methodist Church from 22nd-24th February, and also returned the questionnaire to the Council by the 1st March with their views on the schedule. Unfortunately, the dates of these Council activities have made it impossible for us to inform you through the Guide, although the topic was discussed at the Association's February meeting.
Members living in Taunton, Camberley and Somerset Avenues do have major problems both with commuter parking and with people using the nearby sportsgound and not parking in these grounds. This is unacceptable, and we are discussing this matter with the local Councillors to see the changes that can be made for the benefit of the residents. The Zone has been extended to include a fringe area, defined as Church Walk, Rectory Close and Fairway. However, one of the major issues that need consideration is the charge to be made for visitor parking, which does seem unacceptable, as we already pay a great deal for services in this Borough.
Residents in Bushey Road have expressed concern about the sudden and unannounced appearance of a notice banning parking on the land at the junction of Bushey Road and Grand Drive. The notice has been placed there by Wimbledon F.C., who have stated that any cars parking in this are will be clamped and charged £85 for the removal of the "Denver Boot." These residents have parked there for years, as they do not have anywhere else they may use. They are unable to park outside their own homes as it is a major road. The Council have also placed concrete bollards along this strip of Bushey Road to prevent vehicles parking on the pavement too.
We understand the notices are intended to clear all the cars so that a new fence can be erected. It is a pity Wimbledon F.C. did not first discuss this matter with the residents before taking this heavy-handed action. If they are really going to take responsibility for this area of land, perhaps they could remove the rubbish and abandoned cars first.
Neil Isaacs, Waste Services Manager from the Environmental Services Department of the Council, attended the February meeting to answer members' questions on the street cleaning issues in our area. This was a very useful meeting and we appreciate the opportunity to meet with him so that together we can make some positive developments to improve the state of our streets, as Neil and his new team settle into their roles.
Members were concerned to discover that, currently, there is only one vehicle available to clean the drains. What happens when it breaks down ? Street cleaning is currently carried out every two weeks, but moves are in progress to change this to a weekly service. Also, as members suggested, the streets should be cleaned after the refuse is collected rather than before. The skip scheme was considered a great success and everyone wanted it reinstated. If every resident took the responsibility, as far as possible, to clean litter dropped outside their own property, our roads would look a great deal tidier.
Members felt that the disappearance of litter bins did not help. We suggested that the Council should consider the sponsorship of bins around the area, and we as an Association would be interested in participating in such as scheme.
Everyone agreed that much was still be done, and we are grateful to Neil Isaacs for making the time to discuss these matters with us, which we hope will lead to improvements in the cleanliness of the streets of Raynes Park and West Barnes.
I am delighted to announce that the Association will have a new full team to lead us through the next year and beyond. The details will be revealed at the A.G.M., so do come along and meet our new, young and talented team. I have spent many months searching for this team, and it has slowly come together over the past three months. Only at the beginning of February did the full team take shape. We now have a lot of new faces, with these young, dynamic people each taking full responsibility for their own position and making use of the modern technology which the Association requires in the 21st Century. The pace of modern life is such that by electronic means letters can be produced and replies received within 24 hours, whereas thirty years ago it could take weeks.
I hasten to add that we are always looking for dynamic new people who feel they have a part to play on our Committee, and also those people who prefer to take a quieter background role as valuable Road Stewards.
I am getting a lot of e-mails from new residents who have found us via our website. It certainly works. So if you or your neighbours have just moved into the area, please contact us and come to our meetings. We are always pleased to hear from you if you wish to maintain the quality of life and the amenities of this area.
The Guide seems to be read by people far and wide and well beyond these two Wards. While our daughters in Esher and Ruislip are avid readers, I know that one member sends her copy to Ireland. So where is our most distant reader ? We look forward to hearing from you.
The next meeting of the Association is on Tuesday 13th March 2001 at the Tennis Pavilion, 129 Grand Drive, starting at 7.45 p.m. We will be able to discuss the local issues.
Also the Annual General Meeting on Monday 26th March at the Raynes Park Library, Approach Road, starting at 8pm. Please come along and meet the new Association team.
We look forward to seeing you at these meetings.Garry Hunt (President and acting Chairman, RP&WBRA)