Chairman's Blog - January 2013

You may remember that last year there was a proposal to build a new primary school in this area. This fell through since it was not granted funding through the government’s schemes for free schools.  These plans have been resurrected by a consortium of Christian churches in response to the lack of school places in the areas of Raynes Park, Motspur Park, and this side of New Malden. The local Guardian reports that the consortium is led by the Chapel Street Community Schools Trust, which is based in Crown Lane, Morden, and is supported by the YMCA, Raynes Park Community Church, and Roehampton University, as well as by the Doxa Deo group which made the unsuccessful bid last year. It is intended that the focus will be on music, and that there will be lots of parental involvement.
There is an undoubted need for more primary school places in this side of Merton, given the local baby boom.
The proposed school will only be granted funding if it teaches the national curriculum. The proposers promise that although the ethos of the school will be shaped by Christian values, children of all faiths or none will be welcomed.
No site has yet been identified, and it may well have to be over the borough boundary in Kingston.  There will undoubtedly be planning constraints to be overcome.
The Association has not taken any official view on the proposal, which has to be worked up very soon to meet the government’s timetable for funding to open in September 2014. But the Chancellor set more money aside in his Autumn Statement for new ‘free’ schools, so it might well have a chance of coming to fruition.
Residents will have noticed that the Nelson Hospital is now boarded up, in order to begin the development of the site. Residents in Manor Gardens behind the site lost their planning battle to object to the building of a 51 bed retirement home by McCarthy and Stone. The car park next to the Nelson is to be sold and the proceeds used to fund the conversion of the Hospital itself into a local care centre.
The GP’s practices in Cannon Hill Lane and Church Lane are due to move there on completion, and there will be other new facilities. The proposals are part of the NHS south west London Better Health Closer to Home initiative.
Meanwhile, the consultation on the wider proposals for St. Helier Hospital has been postponed indefinitely. Having had excellent treatment there myself recently, I can only hope that it will continue to provide the range of major services, including Accident and Emergency, and Maternity, that cannot easily be reached in alternative hospitals by local residents.
It only remains for me to wish all of you everything good that you’d like for you and yours in this New Year of 2013.
John Elvidge

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