Chairman's Blog - October 2012

Residents around Cannon Hill Common were appalled to find last month that caravans and cars had been parked on Cannon Hill Common near the Lake, and that fly tipping had already occurred.  The Travellers were able to get onto the Common from Cannon Hill Lane since there was nothing to prevent them getting over the kerb. The locked gate, of course, only prevents access along the road.
Our former President Garry Hunt pointed out that he had warned of this possibility over a year ago and suggested that tree trunks be placed along the road to prevent this happening.  This was following the unauthorised use of the same land for car parking for a picnic by members of a local Korean Church.
Following urgent requests by the Friends of Cannon Hill Common, local residents, Councillors, and us, we were pleased to see that the Council officers took immediate action to remove the vehicles, and that the tree trunks are now in place.  We hope that this will be enough to stop any repetition.
Cannon Hill must be unique in London as being a council owned park that is unfenced. (It is not actually a designated Common). We hope that it will long remain unfenced, and that this is the last time that any incursion like this happens.
We congratulate our local MP on his appointment in the re-shuffle as a Minister at the Department of Transport.  We hope that in this capacity, he will be able to scotch the proposed plan to axe the cross London Thameslink service which I commented on last month.  You can see his views in opposition to this idea from the letter that he wrote to me just before his appointment. We intend to do our best to see that he doesn’t have to change his mind owing to Treasury considerations. You can see our correspondence in the letters section.
He may be able to influence also the decision on where to site extra airport capacity in London. It seems that the business case for a London hub is well made out, and that there needs to be either a third runway at Heathrow or a new airport near the Thames in Kent or Essex. We have no view as an Association about this, but my strongly held personal view, which will, I suspect, be shared by many others, is that a new airport on the Kent marshes is the obvious solution.
We are lucky at the moment in this area that we are not on the direct flight path either into or out of Heathrow, nor do planes usually have to bank above us.  We are therefore blissfully spared from airport noise either by day or night. If there is a third runway at Heathrow, all this could change.
All planes coming into London from the east fly along the Thames to Heathrow. It seems blindingly obvious that the best place for an airport would be somewhere in the Kent marshes. There are two worked up and costed proposals to do so on land that is otherwise unattractive. It would help the need for further housing in the south east, and prevent the nibbling away of the green belt.  If the Olympic stadium can be planned and built in six years, with superb rail links, to Stratford International from St. Pancras, I can’t see why a decision can’t be made now. I’m with Boris Johnson and Justine Greening on this one!
As an area which has suffered in recent years from overbuilding of housing, we view with some alarm the idea that planning restraints should be eased for three years to help kick start the economy by building yet more houses and flats.   We will comment further when we see exactly what the Government is proposing.
I commented last month on the fact that cyclists, particularly in Raynes Park, did not dismount but cycled instead through the arches, and on the pavement to avoid the build-up of traffic at the Grand Drive lights, paying no regard to pedestrians. I have had further correspondence from an irate resident in Grand Drive. She points out that cycling on the footway is in direct contravention of the 1835 Highways Act.  This makes no exception for children, but, of course, children under 10 are below the age of criminal responsibility. In September 2009 the Department of Transport issued a police liaison newsletter drawing attention to the £30 fixed penalty notice that should be used for dangerous cyclists over the age of 17.
I repeat that no one can reasonably object, given the dangerous state of our roads, to cyclists using the pavement to avoid danger. But they have to do slowly and with proper regard to pedestrians. If they don’t then the police should enforce the law and hand out penalty notices. Cyclists who jump the lights, or cycle without lights at night, should be similarly penalised.
Thank you
Finally a big ‘Thank you’ on his retirement, to Chris Boa, of West Barnes Lane.  We very much appreciate his tireless effort over many years as one of our trusty Road representatives, and wish him all the very best for the future.
John Elvidge

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