Chairman's Annual Report 2016/2017

In reviewing the events of the past year, I have to begin on a very sad note. 

In May Jan Bailey, who had been our Joint Secretary and Minutes Secretary for some 30 years, died very suddenly in her garden. This was totally unexpected, since she was always so full of energy, lively, and extrovert. She knew everything that was happening in our area about planning issues, traffic schemes, and flooding, drains and watercourses, and, if she didn’t know, she knew who to contact to find out. We miss her immensely. 

Jan also ensured that the developers of the land at Meadowsweet Ditch maintained the free flow of water, and many times cleared it herself to prevent flooding on the properties in Grand Drive. We thank David Rush for taking over from Jan in this essential work. 

Jan loved trees, and her partner, Gordie, had the excellent idea of planting a tree in her memory in the grounds of our Pavilion in Grand Drive. We published last month the photos of the team who braved the cold to plant it in February. It is a flowering bird cherry. We will be holding a tea party in the spring when the tree will be formally dedicated, and we hope that many of our volunteers will be able to come and join us. 

We should also remember tonight our members Jim White, who was an Area Co-ordinator and Road Steward for almost 50 years, and Margaret Pye who worked on environmental matters with Jan, and was a regular contributor to our meetings, whose funeral was today. 

I am very grateful to Jill Truman who took over as our sole Secretary. In addition, she continues to edit The Guide which goes from strength to strength, and is still published 12 times a year.  Her dedication and commitment to the Residents’ Association goes back very many years, and demands all our thanks and congratulations.  

She was at that time also our Advertising Manager, itself a demanding role, but I want to thank Dick Coleman for taking over that responsibility, and for joining our committee.  He has been very active and imaginative in helping us find new advertisers, as well as retaining the old ones, which is vital if we are to keep The Guide paying for itself, and so keeping our subscriptions to the lowest possible level. 

To replace Jan as Minutes Secretary we were fortunate to find the ideal person in Clare Townsend, who has thrown herself into the task with great enthusiasm and has brought fresh ideas to our meetings. I would like to thank her for coming forward and for her contributions. 

Her husband, John Townsend, continues as our Treasurer, and manages our finances with great aplomb and good humour, as well as huge attention to detail.  He will be able to tell us later that we are doing really well financially, despite having taken on the massive demands for a small Association of the building and running of the Pavilion social centre for local residents. I should also like to thank Brian Lewis-Lavender for continuing to audit our accounts. 

Distributing The Guide each month to our members is itself a major undertaking. Andrew Barwick has been our Distribution Manager for many years, ably assisted by Dick Coleman and George Holder, and I want to thank them for all the hours of work they put into this.  But they and we are dependent on all our Area-Co-Ordinators and Road Stewards, many of whom have delivered The Guide for years. We were very pleased to be able to hold a thank you party for them all, both in the summer during the celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday, and at our Christmas Party. This was our best ever, thanks to the initiatives of Clare and John Townsend.   

We also communicate with a wider public through our website, which grows in importance every year, with an ever-increasing number of enquiries coming in that way. It is kept up to date in content by Jerry Cuthbert and our webmaster is Charles Briscoe-Smith. We would like to thank them both. 

A large part of the work of the Association continues to be focused on matters of planning and traffic.  We continue to rely heavily on the day to day expertise of David Freeman, Jerry Cuthbert, and Rachel Skinner, and I want to thank them for all the time and energy they bring to this work. We simply could not cope without them. 

In the past year they have advised us, among other things, on the issues arising from the CrossRail2 proposals.  These will entail over the next few years major changes in this area, including the three stations of Raynes Park, Motspur Park and Wimbledon. We believe that it is likely that Raynes Park station will be moved along the track towards Wimbledon. The proposals may well suggest the closure of the West Barnes and Motspur Park level crossings to allow for the greater frequency of trains. Obviously, this would cause even greater traffic congestion, and probably standstill for much of the day unless alternative provisions are made.  The expectation is that more detailed proposals for this area will be put out for further consultation later this year, and we will ensure that we are well represented at whatever public meetings are called so that we can put our point of view. 

We have made detailed objections this year to the Council’s proposed introduction of fortnightly rubbish collections and the compulsory use of wheelie bins; and made representations on the plans for a greater housing density on the Atkinson Morley site on Copse Hill, which will bring even more traffic to that area. 

We have objected strongly to the introduction of a “diesel levy” of an extra £90 this April on residents with diesel cars living in Parking Controlled Zones, which will increase to £150 over three years and raise Merton an extra £861,000.  This gives no opportunity for people to have time to change their cars, which may, in fact, do little mileage. 

We have also presented detailed objections to the initial proposals of the Boundary Commission to divide up the Parliamentary seat of Wimbledon, which would mean that the London Borough of Merton had no less than 5 MP’s to represent them. 

We also commented strongly that the Council needed to make further provision for the ever-increasing cost of social care for the elderly and the disabled. 

But it is fair to say that the major day to day work of the Association is now focused on the Pavilion in Grand Drive, which has been an enormous success since it was re-furbished and opened.  It is a success both in terms of the number of groups now using it, which include yoga and faith meetings, as well as children’s and family parties, and the satisfaction of those users.  It is also a success in the growing income it is bringing into the Association funds. 

Foremost among these groups is the Pavilion Social Club which was founded in March 2014, and meets every Thursday afternoon with 30 - 40 people attending every week.  It has had some excellent speakers, including the Trading Standards Officer, legal advice on setting up Powers of Attorney, how to keep fit, and manicure and pedicure demonstrations. It also organises some outside visits, and has raised over £150 for charity.  Its success is due to the driving commitment and energy of its two founding organisers, Andrea Hannan and Jill Truman, who create an enveloping warmth and excitement for all. 

The Pavilion itself is managed by a small group of people who look after the building and its grounds, take the bookings, and open and close the building. The Chair of this group is Jerry Cuthbert, and all of the members of this group deserve a mention and our huge thanks tonight. They are David Freeman, John Townsend, Linda Fitch, Moira Deveson, Howard Phillips, and Tina and Chris Lorimer. 

We continue to play a full part in the wider meetings of the Raynes Park Association and of the Raynes Park Forum, and I would like to thank our representatives on these bodies, Jerry Cuthbert and Jill Truman for their contribution to these community discussions. 

I should also mention the valuable help given by all our local councillors, but particularly those from the West Barnes Ward, who attend all our committee meetings.  

Next year it looks likely that we will be busy not only with sending out our views on the CrossRail 2 proposals, but also on the plans for local hospital provision in this area, about which we are hearing at this meeting. 

The next calendar year will be 2018. As we were founded as an Association in 1928 we will be 90 years old. We will have to think of some way of celebrating this long tradition of service to the local community.    

John Elvidge , 5th April 2017

 

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