Chairman's Blog - April 2018

HOUSEBUILDING TARGETS IN MERTON

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set new annual housebuilding targets for Merton, which are one of the largest increases in London. He expects the number of new homes to be built every year in the borough to increase from 411 to 1,328,  i.e. 13,280 over the next ten years. 65 per cent of these will need to be “affordable”. 

He states that London needs to build 66,000 new homes every year to meet the growing need.

Merton Council’s local plan wants more land to be released for new housing, with more blocks of flats, and increased density.

In my view, we have done more than our fair share in this area in the last ten years to increase the number of homes.  We have had major developments of flats on the site of St Catherine’s School off Grand Drive. Further down Grand Drive  more flats and townhouses were built on the former sports fields of LESSA and Sun Alliance.  More flats were built in the Waitrose development in the heart of Raynes Park.

These hundreds of new dwellings were built with minimal contributions by the developers to the cost of the infrastructure necessary to serve these new residents, despite the increased demand on future population growth,  on the health service, schooling, and road traffic. 

 More were due to be built on the Rainbow Industrial site next to Raynes Park station, but this area now appears to be earmarked as a necessary part of the CrossRail II proposals.

While everyone can agree on the need for more starter homes for younger people, what is depressing is that all the emphasis from the authorities is on building on green areas ( which is much easier and more profitable for the developers)  and not in identifying and using the many brownfield sites that exist everywhere. Nor is any housing authority putting emphasis on converting vacant properties over shops, or turning redundant shops into housing.

 STREET CLEANING

A resident of Cannon Hill Lane complained to me that her road has not been swept, she believes, since Veolia took over the contract of street cleaning and rubbish collection last April. She also pointed to a large pile of rubbish on the verge which has not been removed despite complaints from her to the Council, and complaints by the local councillors.  Everywhere one sees uncollected litter and rubbish bins that are overflowing.

It is for the Council to specify to the contractors the frequency with which they must sweep the streets, and empty the bins, and to ensure that this happens. It is clear that they have failed to do so. 

The Council’s present intention is to move in October this year from weekly to fortnightly collections of landfill rubbish and recycling. The problem of littering will be bound to get even worse. 

 Residents can themselves help by ensuring that items in the recycling bins are weighted down with bottles or heavier items, so that they cannot blow into the street.

AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Association is being held at Raynes Park Library on Wednesday 11th April starting at 7.30. Do come along and have your say on the area and how you think we can help improve it. 

We will also have the opportunity to hear from Ruth Whitehead on the work of the Paddock Horticultural Society, on the edge of Cannon Hill Common, which is one of the great success stories in the Borough.

There’s also the chance to chat over a glass or two of wine, and some nibbles. Do come along. You will be made very welcome. 

John Elvidge 

Chairman's Blog - December 2017

ALL ENGLAND CLUB SPORTS GROUND IN GRAND DRIVE

We have received late notice of a public consultation at the end of November and in early December about the proposed expansion of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Grand Drive. This is the sports ground bounded by Southway, Elm Walk, and Cannon Hill Lane.

It has a large indoor tennis court, changing rooms, as well as many outdoor courts.  Members of the Committee were invited to see the facilities in the summer, and they have been built to the highest possible standards. The grounds are used by the Club for the tennis and fitness training of local children, as part of their community outreach programme, and all local schools are invited to send pupils. On the Saturday we were there, it was full of children of all ages, with enthusiastic coaches.

The Club now wants to expand the facilities, which may include building a further indoor court, and will probably need planning permission to do so.  There were objections from residents to the present indoor court. We hope that the Club will hold a further public consultation in the New Year, but this time with an extended notice period.

WIMBLEDON POLICE STATION

The Mayor of London’s policing and crime office announced on November 1st that Wimbledon Police Station, on Queen’s Road, is to close.   This is despite the representations made by all local politicians that the station is needed, particularly because of the high profile of the Wimbledon fortnight and the night time economy, which brings anti-social problems, in the town centre. The 24/7 front counter will instead be Mitcham police station.

Sadiq Khan confirmed that more than half of London’s 73 remaining police stations are to close, with many of the buildings sold off to help raise £165 million.  The sale of the station in Wimbledon could raise up to £10 million and save a further £500,000 in running costs.  This may take two years to happen.

The Merton Police Borough Commander has promised to keep residents informed about proposals also to merge police teams in the boroughs of Merton, Wandworth, Richmond, and Kingston into one large south west borough commander unit. The intention is to increase the number of neighbourhood police based at ward level “hubs”.  There will be more focus on reporting crimes over the phone and online.    

WHY CHANGE THE CLOCKS?

Once again the clocks have gone back an hour, and it is dark by mid-afternoon.  Why is it that Parliament, which seems, at the moment, to have little to do in legislative terms, can’t do what the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has wanted for years, and see the clocks moved permanently forward during the winter. It is accepted that more people are killed and injured on the roads during the dark evenings than would be in the dark mornings. There would also be considerable savings in energy costs. It would make the most of the shorter daylight hours.

The reason for not legislating is always said to be that the Scots would not support it. But they now have their own Parliament and could easily opt out if they wanted to.

Season’s greetings and a happy Christmas to one and all.

 

John Elvidge

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