Firstly a reminder that there is no Association meeting in August. Normal relations will be resumed on 11th September.
Hopefully, this will be the last time I shall need to refer to this for quite a while. As a result of a round of meetings between the Street Management Sub-Committee and the Scrutiny Panel, the Council decided to drop the proposals for a CPZ in Raynes Park. The Council presumably concluded that, in the light of considerable opposition to the Scheme, a lengthy period of inactivity would be desirable. It would be unwise to assume that there will never be a CPZ in Raynes Park, but it is certainly off the agenda for at least a couple of years and probably much longer. Many will be relieved by this, but some will feel disappointment. There are a few roads in and close to the 'Apostles' area where there is an acute parking problem mainly caused by commuters. The Council bowed to the wishes of the majority, and we can only extend sympathy to those who are left with a problem.
In preparation for the 'Age of Transfer' proposals, the Council's Planning Sub-Committee approved a single-storey temporary classroom for Hatfeild First School on 16th May, and on 20th June approved similar structures for St John Fisher and the Sacred Heart Schools. Because all three sites are within the Beverly Brook flood plain, approval was accompanied by conditions that these structures have under-floor voids to allow for the free flow of flood water should that ever happen.
The planning applications for the main extensions at all three schools - which in relative terms are quite large - may be considered by the Planning Committee in July or August.
I have been trying to avoid this subject, but somebody insisted it went on the agenda for the June meeting. This no doubt prompted our Secretary, Debbie Coady, to go into print herself last month. Needless to say, we did not come up with a long-term solution, but nor has anybody else. The work of 'graffers' - as I believe they are called - is, in legal terms, criminal damage and clearly to most people is an eyesore. I say - to most people - but it would appear that some art students have a different perspective !
Merton Council, through their Environment and Safety Forum, came up with the idea of a mass removal scheme called GROG - Get Rid of Graffiti. In conjunction with the Police, and some others, a bid for funding was made, but sadly the request was not successful. The idea would have been that a team of people drawn from young offenders, or the community services, would have been pulled together to remove the graffiti from strategic places. One Merton group, the Wimbledon Park Heritage Group, has had some success,it seems, by getting volunteers together (with paint supplied by the Council) to paint over the graffiti. However, the key to this is to act quickly, in the theory that if the graffers see their paintwork removed within 24 hours, they will come to the conclusion it was a waste of time and not do it again. Such a scheme would need careful planning, and presumably a network of observers. Certainly worth trying if the organisation and determination is there. If any members of the Association would like to build up a GROG team, come along to one of our meetings or contact your local Ward Councillor. If you see graffiti vandals actually AT WORK you can report this by calling the Police on 020-8947 1212.
There now seems to be clear evidence that the possible joint use of the Greyhound Stadium in Plough Lane, with the Greyhound Association, has fallen through on grounds of "prohibitive costs" and "operational barriers", i.e. the problem of both bodies wanting to use the facility on the same day. The Chairman of WFC, Charles Koppel, is reported to have accepted that Merton will not be the future home of the Club. In the meantime, WFC continue to refer to plans to develop a training facility on Prince George's, although no detailed plans or costings have been put together. We still await a clear indication from the Council as to when the Planning Framework setting out options for the future use of the Prince George's site will be given approval.
It has now become clear that Wimbledon Football Club would like what their agents describe as an "enabling development" (i.e. housing) on part of Prince George's, in order to "facilitate" (i.e. provide the capital to pay for) their training academy ! This is an outrageous suggestion. The guidance from Central Government, including the most recent Planning Policy Guidance Notes, makes it clear that such a proposal is totally unacceptable. This is a devious attempt to find a way round the guiding principles of the Unitary Development Plan. We trust it will be seen as such by Merton Council and by the Inspector undertaking the UDP Public Local Inquiry.
I last reported on this in the June "Guide". Since then, it appears that Michael Shanly Homes have been reconsidering the internal layout for the new building. Without any warning, or notification to this Association, two modified options were put on display at the Library, along with scope for the public to provide their own alternative plan. We sent our own alternative internal design to the proposed builder last April, and have now submitted a slightly modified version - a copy of which appears in this month's "Guide". We believe this is a better design both for the library users and the staff, and should not add greatly to the costs, if at all. The Planning Application may be considered by the Committee in September, and it is hoped that the builder will be on site in Spring next year. Watch this space.
And can I offer an apology to the Area Co-ordinators for overlooking them in the June Guide. These are the 'middlemen' and women who distribute the bulk supplies of the Guide to the Road Stewards. They and Malcolm Day are a vital part of the team, and we are grateful to them all.David J. Freeman