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

Chairman's Notes, May 2004

Councillor Margaret Brierly

We congratulate Councillor Margaret Brierly, who will be elected as the next Mayor of Merton at the ceremony on 19th May. Margaret has been a Raynes Park ward councillor for many years, and has always been an enormous help to the Association, as well as to anyone who has a local problem. This election is a signal honour to her personally, since it is only the second time since Labour took over power in Merton in 1990 that they have chosen someone who is not a member of their own party. We wish her all the best for her year in office, which previous mayors have described as both exhilirating and exhausting.

Response to Merton Open Spaces Strategy

The council are in the process of drafting the Merton Open Spaces Strategy (MOSS). Although this sounds a very dry subject, it will be an absolutely vital planning document which will govern the way Raynes Park and West Barnes look in future years.

Bob Simpson has drafted a very detailed response on behalf of the Association, with the help of David Freeman, and our thanks are due to them. A full copy of our response is available for anybody who wants to know the details, but briefly what we have said is that we are particularly concerned at the potential loss of outdoor sports provision for our local community, for Merton as a whole, and for the people of south-west London generally who come into the borough to use our sports fields.

In our area, we have in mind not only the LESSA and Royal and Sun Alliance grounds, but also Prince George's playing field. There will be an increasing need for more sports pitches in Merton, given projected increases in the active population and participation rates, and there need to be more pitches rather than fewer, given that many existing pitches have poor drainage. We know from enquiries that we have received that there is already an unmet demand for sporting pitches, both from sports clubs and from educational establishments.

Unless the council robustly defends the need for private as well as public pitches in the MOSS report, there will be little to stop developers buying up a sports ground, closing it down as a sporting provision, and then claiming that there is no public demand for it so that they can build housing. Sites should not be excluded from consideration simply because they do not currently have secured public access.

The borough already has an adequate supply of so-called "brownfield" sites, that is sites which have already been built on for other purposes and which could be used instead for housing. We believe there should be a presumption written in as a primary planning objective in favour of the protection and enhancement of all existing open space and outdoor sports provision, both public and privatem, throughout the borough, whether currently used or not.

We expect the council's officers to consider all the responses over the next few months, and to present a further report in the late summer. We hope that this response will be in the form of a final draft so that we and our council representatives can make further comments before it becomes part of the council's adopted borough plan.

Land in Cannon Hill Lane

The owner of the land at the rear of 274-324 Cannon Hill Lane has appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court to answer charges relating to alleged breaches of the regulations in respect of protected trees. He is due back in the same court on 19th May, when we understand that he has to make an election as to whether he wishes to be tried by the magistrates or by a jury at the Crown Court. A number of residents have given statements to the council who are prosecuting him, and intend to give evidence. As the matter is sub judice, we can say no more at the moment.

Mobile phone mast

There have been a good number of objections to the installation of a mobile phone mast on the Rainbow Estate, and we have added our objections, given the proximity of homes and schools.

The Duke of Cambridge pub

We understand that this pub at Shannon Corner is going to be closed and turned into a fast-food restaurant, with drive-through facilities as well. Champion Timber is also taking the opportunity to improve its car parking.

Annual General Meeting

We had a very well-attended AGM, with over sixty people present who all enjoyed the wine and food provided by Jill and Simon Truman afterwards. Thank you all for attending. The AGM successfully closed our 75th anniversary year, and we are now embarked on our 76th.

My review of the last year was printed in last month's "Guide", and you can read about our finances in this month's in the report from our treasurer, John Cock. Our finances continue in very good shape. However, it is the time of year when subscriptions are due! We have continued to set these at £2.50 for the year, which must be about the biggest bargain in London. We hope you agree and continue your membership which stands at over 2000 local residents. Our road stewards will be calling to collect your subs soon.

John Elvidge