Chairman's Report for 2013/2014


This year has been a remarkable one in the history of the Association. It has seen the fulfilment of our long held dream to have a meeting place of our own. We have used the opportunity created by the vacation of the tennis club from the pavilion in Grand Drive to create a warm and comfortable venue, which can be used for a variety of social events and parties. 

We were able to celebrate its opening by inviting all our hard working area co-ordinators and road stewards to a tea and Bucks Fizz party in September, and over 60 people came. I would like to repeat the thanks I gave to them all then, since they are our backbone, and we could not exist without them.  

I am glad to be able to report that the bookings for the Residents’ Pavilion are strong and increasing, and that, as the Treasurer will report, it is paying its way. There are discounted rates for members of the Association, and we hope that it will become a vibrant and essential venue for all kinds of local events. 

The management group who lead and the success of the project is down to run it, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They have worked tirelessly. Foremost among them is Jerry Cuthbert who has organised and overseen the complex building work necessary to bring the pavilion up to modern standards. Then I must mention David Freeman for his day to day management of the site. We did the work in two phases, and the second phase was to make the building suitable for access for disabled people. We were only able to afford this since Christine Rowe used her expertise to obtain a large grant for us from the Lottery Fund. Our Treasurer, John Townsend, made sure that we remained within budget, and devised an accounting system that shows clearly the capital and running costs. Linda Fitch has taken on the role of overseeing the garden improvement and maintenance. Finally, and very much not least, Clary Hughes who took on the exacting job of bookings manager. 

We thank them all very much for turning the dream into a reality. 

All this has been on top of the usual work the Association has been undertaking ever since 1928. 

There has been one signal success. We successfully opposed, with others, the two proposals by the All England Lawn Tennis Club to build housing on the Raynes Park Playing Fields, off Grand Drive. The Club has decided, instead, to bring its junior tennis academy to the ground, and to create 6 new tennis courts there. Although 3 of these will be covered, the impact on the residents will be far less than any kind of housing development. 

There remain planning problems for the future. We continue to oppose the building of any housing on the Rainbow Industrial Estate next to Raynes Park Station. The site is landlocked, has railway lines on two sides, and has only the one access.  It continues to be needed to provide local employment. However, the Council has already drawn up a planning brief that allows for some 250 dwellings, so all we can is to try and bring this number down by pointing to the access problems and the lack of any realistic funding for the extra schools and health care facilities that these new residents will need. 

The 12 year planning saga on the LESSA site is not yet complete, since there is still no conclusion as to who will be taking over the sports field, which the Inspector stated should be used principally for junior sports. We constantly remind the planning department to keep up the pressure on the developers to bring this about. 

The saga of parking in Raynes Park town centre is also long running and won’t now be resolved until the autumn. We have repeatedly pressed for clarity in the parking controls levied, and a scheme that keeps out commuters while allowing a period of free parking sufficient to allow people to do essential things like getting to the post office, or to the chemist or the new health centre. 

We continue to press for the retention of a post office in the Centre, particularly as we were promised that this would be maintained when the very useful one in Coombe Lane was closed. 

We are currently seeking from the Council the long promised review of the traffic calming measures in Grand Drive. We are urging the police to do more to monitor the problem of vehicles speeding through the rat runs in rush hours and to bring a few prosecutions.  There is no point in having 20 or 30 mph limits if they are never enforced. 

I would like to thank our planning and transport experts for their constant vigilance on our behalf. These are David Freeman, Rachel Skinner, Jan Bailey, Pamela Robinson, and Jerry Cuthbert. 

We continue to make what representations we can to make sure that all vital services are maintained at St Helier Hospital, given the difficulty in getting from this area to St George’s, Kingston, Epsom or Croydon. 

As ever, Jill Truman and Jan Bailey have continued to be key members of our team, as our joint secretaries. Jill is also the Editor of the Guide, which goes from strength to strength, and she keeps a close eye on what is happening in the Coombe Lane area.

Jan is not only our minutes secretary, but knows who to contact about anything. Despite the very heavy rain over the winter, we have suffered no serious flooding, which must be at least in part to her expertise as to local rivers and drains, and her continuing to press the authorities to maintain them properly. 

I would like to thank also Andrew Barwick, who is our distribution manager, and who organised our party last September, and Dick Coleman, his deputy. They have also been of great assistance, together with our Web Master Charles Briscoe-Smith, and Jerry Cuthbert and Rachel Skinner who are keeping our web site up to date.  Peter Connellan continues to keep us up to date on events around Shannon Corner. 

The financing for the Guide comes largely from advertising, and Linda Fitch has continued to act as our Advertising Manager, and we thank her for this. 

John Townsend is our Treasurer and his job entails keeping control over a myriad of separate transactions.  He does this in exemplary fashion. We also thank our Honorary Auditor, Brian Lewis-Lavender. 

Our area covers the three Council wards of Raynes Park, West Barnes, and Cannon Hill. All 9 of our Councillors have helped us over the year, and we wish them well. 

Finally, I would emphasise that, like all voluntary organisations, we need a constant inflow of fresh blood, talent, and enthusiasm, if we are to continue to our 100th anniversary in 2028.   If anyone can help, either tonight or reading this later, we would be delighted to welcome you on board. Just get in touch here 

John Elvidge, Chairman 

26 March 2014



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