Chairman's Annual Report 2014-15

This year has, as ever, been a busy one for the Association. 

It has been the first full year of operation for our own Residents’ Pavilion, and I want to begin by thanking everyone involved in its conversion, and in its continuing success. 

The work to turn the tennis pavilion into a warm and welcoming centre is now complete.  We could not have done this without the expertise and enthusiasm of the Chairman of the Management Group, Jerry Cuthbert. He also continues the time consuming task of managing the site on a day to day basis. The Association owes him a great debt of gratitude.  He has been ably assisted in this work by David Freeman and I also want to thank him for this. 

We were able to make the centre fully usable for less able people with £9000 from the Lottery Grant. This was secured for us by Christine Rowe.  While she has now left the committee to pursue other interests, I want to acknowledge her great contribution in obtaining this vital extra money. 

I want to thank Linda Fitch, as well as David, for their work in transforming the overgrown grounds into a pleasant garden, and in maintaining them. 

Overseeing the complex accounting for this project has been our Treasurer, John Townsend.  He has set up a separate account for the Pavilion so that we can ensure that it pays its way and is not a drain on the general resources of the Association.

I am delighted to be able to say that the Pavilion is meeting its costs and, even at this early stage, has come into surplus. 

The bookings for the Pavilion continue to be buoyant and I want to thank the Pavilion Management team for their work in showing people over the building, taking the bookings, and for opening and closing the pavilion on the day. It is heavily booked as weekends as a venue for family parties. 

I must single out among the regular bookings the Social Club run for our own residents. This takes place every Thursday for two hours in the afternoon, and has been a tremendous success. It clearly is enjoyed and valued by everyone who attends. This is due to the warmth and enthusiasm of its co-hosts, Jill Truman and Andrea Hannan, and I congratulate them. 

All this has been in addition to the usual work of the Association is trying to preserve the benefits of living in this area. 

The range of work we cover can seen be seen from the detailed and valuable notes set out in the Guide each month by our joint secretaries, Jill Truman and Jan Bailey.  I want to thank them both for the enormous amount of hard work they put in to keep abreast of what is happening in our area, and for alerting us of matters that we need to comment on and, if necessary, oppose. 

One successful example of this is that, with others, we managed to persuade the Post Office to retain full counter facilities in the centre of Raynes Park. 

Planning issues continue to take up a lot of our time. The focus of attention for this coming year is going to be the proposed redevelopment of the Rainbow Estate off Grand Drive, which is the subject of two current planning applications. We have set out our objections at length in responses to these, and I want to thank Jerry Cuthbert and David Freeman for the excellent and expert way they have done so. 

To summarise, we oppose any housing on this site, which is designed for light industrial and business use. It continues to be needed as such to provide essential local employment. The site is land locked, and is simply unsuitable for housing. This area has more than met its quota for housing, with all the new developments up Grand Drive.  All the schools and surgeries in this area are overflowing, and the developers want to add to the numbers of people living in our community, so as to enhance their own profits, without providing any of the infrastructure needed. 

What we need in Raynes Park are facilities to drop off and pick people up at the station, and the proposed schemes cannot provide for this. 

Where a development enhances the community, we support it. We welcome the proposal to build a new library in West Barnes, paid for by residential accommodation, as was the case in the successful redevelopment of the Raynes Park Library. 

We also welcome the proposal to bring CrossRail 2 to this area, with proposed stops at Motspur Park and Raynes Park. This will enable much easier access for our residents across London. 

Our planning team is highly experienced, and their contribution to our work is invaluable. They are David Freeman, Jerry Cuthbert, Pamela Robinson, and Jan Bailey. Jan is also an expert on our water courses and drains. Rachel Skinner is professionally engaged in transport matters, and gives freely of her time on issues such as parking, vehicular access to developments, and Cross Rail 2. We thank them all. 

Communicating what we do, and getting feedback from our members, is vital. We remain, by far, the largest Residents’ Association in Merton, so this is a major task.   We use both traditional and new means to do so. The Guide has been published since 1928, and Jill Truman is carrying on the long tradition of continuously improving it, as our Editor. 

To get it to our members each month requires the dedicated service of a team of area co-ordinators and road stewards, all voluntary members. They do a sterling job, and we can’t thank them enough. 

They are all organised by our distribution manager Andrew Barwick and his deputy, Dick Coleman, to whom thanks. 

The Guide is virtually self funding through the advertisements that it carries. Our advertising manager for the last few years has been Linda Fitch, and I want to thank her for taking on this post and for carrying it through so effectively. She now wants to step down from this role, and we are looking to find someone to carry it on. We welcome any volunteers for this essential task. Linda has agreed to brief anyone fully on the job.   

We are also modern in our methods of communication, through our web site, which is increasingly well used.   Thanks continue to be due to our Web Master, Charles Briscoe-Smith, for his technical skill, and to Rachel Skinner and Jerry Cuthbert for keeping the content up to date. 

Our finances continue to be buoyant, and it is extraordinary that we have been able to fund the conversion of the Pavilion while retaining enough funds for everyday and emergency use. John Townsend, whose report will be next, continues to manage these with great aplomb, secure us the best available rates of interest, and has a fine eye to detail. We thank him. I also want to thank our Honorary Auditor, Brian Lewis-Lavender. 

Brian has now been elected as a Councillor for West Barnes Ward, together with Gilli, his wife, and Mary-Jane Jeanes.  All three of them are assiduous in their attendance at our Committee meetings, and in following issues that our residents raise. 

We continue to be represented at meetings of the Raynes Park Forum and the Raynes Park Association, which covers the town centre. I would thank Pamela Robinson, Jan Bailey, and Jerry Cuthbert for attending on our behalf, and for their reports back. 

Of course, we cover also the areas of Coombe Lane, and of Shannon Corner, and we thank Jill Truman and Peter Connellan for keeping us appraised of issues in these areas. We hold an Open Meeting each year in Motspur Park to make it easier for residents there to meet us. 

Finally, I would repeat my pleas from last year. We are very busy and do an awful lot. But we can always do with fresh blood at all levels. None of us is getting any younger.  We would welcome any new assistance, in any capacity. Just get in touch. Thank you.     

John Elvidge


18 March 2015 

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