Chairman's Annual Report 2018/19

During this past year we rightly celebrated our 90th Anniversary since our foundation in 1928. 

The highlight of the year was the very successful dinner we organised at The Taste restaurant in Merton College, when some 50 members and guests - including the Mayor of Merton -, enjoyed the food and service of the students, and the memorable home spun cabaret, performed by John and Clare Townsend, Jill Truman, and Tom Deveson. 

This was followed by the 90th Anniversary edition of the Guide published in December.  This bumper edition was superbly put together by our Editor, Jill Truman, and contained many interesting articles about the history of this area, and the work done by the Association during these many years. As we said then, we are not resting on our laurels, but, now in our 91st year, are looking forward to our Centenary. 

As ever, our continued existence depends on the work of many people. Foremost among these are our Area Co-ordinators and Road Stewards, who go out in all weathers to deliver the Guide, which is one of the major ways in which we have always communicated with the members. We thank all of them for their service to the community.  We held a summer party for them at the Pavilion during Wimbledon fortnight, and a party in the run up to Christmas, and we intend to repeat these during the coming months. 

The day to day work of the Association depends on the members of the Committee, all of them volunteers; and does not end with attendance at meetings.  We often exchange detailed communications by e-mail over urgent issues.  They each deserve a mention and our personal thanks for their time and dedication. 

I have mentioned Jill, who is recorded in the minutes as holding her first office back in 1968 and has been active ever since. She doubles up not only as the Editor of the Guide, but as our tireless Secretary.  Clare is our Joint Secretary and Minutes Secretary, and John our Treasurer. They are a real power couple and make an enormous contribution to the smooth running of the Association. We are lucky to have them! 

Andrew Barwick has served as our Distribution Manager for well over 10 years, knows all our volunteers personally; finds new ones when one retires, and, together with his assistant Rosemary Wright is vital to the continued operation of the way we run.

George Holder continues to look after the postal members.  Dick Coleman is our highly enthusiastic Advertising Manager, and has managed to stabilise our revenue, which largely defrays the costs of producing the Guide.

David Freeman has continued, as he has done for many years, to provide the essential planning expertise we need; and. Michael Marks, as a member of a somewhat younger generation, has brought a wealth of new ideas to our working, as to how we communicate, and what we need to do to be able to change with the times in providing for the needs of our residents. 

We also thank Charles Briscoe-Smith, our webmaster, for providing the expertise for running and keeping up to date our own website, which is now increasingly used as a source for those coming into the area, and those already here. 

This is kept up to date on a regular basis by Jerry Cuthbert, who adds this to his many roles, and who is the Chair of the Group that manages the highly successful Residents’ Pavilion, the bookings in which are now almost at full capacity. 

I would also like to thank the rest of the Pavilion Management Group for their work in ensuring that the Pavilion is always as good as we can make it, and open to users and in a fit condition to be let. They are David Freeman, John Townsend, Linda Fitch, Moira Deveson, Howard Phillips, and Tina and Chris Lorimer. 

One of the major users of the Pavilion is the Pavilion Social Club which meets most Thursday afternoons, has many members, and has a range of interesting speakers, theatre visits, and tours. It was founded in March 2014 and has been run enthusiastically since by Jill Truman and Andrea Hannan. It was deeply upsetting to learn of the unexpected death of Andrea just before Christmas, and St Saviour’s Church was packed for her funeral. 

I would also mention that we are members of umbrella organisations that cover our area, namely the Raynes Park Association and the Raynes Park Forum.  Our representatives are Jerry Cuthbert, Jill Truman, David Freeman, and Michael Marks. 

John Townsend will be presenting our accounts for approval when I sit down, and we thank Brian Lewis-Lavender for continuing to audit them. 

We were sad when Pamela Robinson, a long - standing Committee member, and a talented artist who designed the front cover of the Guide, died last year.  We have planted a flowering May tree in her memory behind the Pavilion, and we will be unveiling a plaque in the presence of her family during the summer. 

What have we been doing this year?

A major source of concern to residents was the closure of Grand Drive, due to gas pipe works, which necessitated one -way traffic for some months. We monitored this carefully and kept in close touch with Southern Gas Networks to ensure that the signage was clear, and that adequate warning notices were in place from far enough away to make a difference. Traffic conditions were undoubtedly chaotic, but we played our part in mitigating this so far as we could. 

The Council introduced the wheelie bin system, and reduced weekly collections, to the dismay of many residents. We received a large number of individual complaints, which we have routed to the Council officers, and the Councillors. 

A major planning application is expected along the Burlington Road, on the old Bradbury Wilkinson site, and next to Tesco’s. We have held a pre-planning meeting with the developers and will be consulting fully with residents when the formal application is made. 

The pre-planning proposals are for a very large number of flats, some of them affordable, in tower blocks up to 14 stories high. We have already made the point strongly to the developers that this height and density is out of keeping with the area and expressed concerns about the lack of community health and school provision, and parking. 

Another issue of major concern is the proposed new flight paths for the Heathrow runway extension. It seems clear that if this is allowed to go ahead, it will mean that the number of flights into and out of Heathrow will increase enormously, and that many of these will have to be routed over this area, which is currently used only for occasional stacking. We have added our formal objection to these proposals. 

We are currently objecting to the wholly excessive increase in parking charges proposed by the Council to parking fees and parking permits. These are said to be meant to allay problems with particulates, but we believe that they are simply a way of increasing revenue at our expense. 

We await any further proposals on CrossRail 2, but this seems increasingly unlikely to happen any time soon.  We have also dealt with a range of other issues. These include the new Harris secondary school which for a year is based at Whatley Avenue, builders churning up grass verges, and how to prevent travellers coming onto Cannon Hill Common. 

We would like to run more social events, as the Association used to do.  So, we would be delighted if some younger people could come forward to help, with these or in any other way. 

John Elvidge - 3rd April 2019

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