Chairman's Blog - November 2013

We reported earlier this year that the centre of Raynes Park was one of the leading secondary shopping areas in the whole of the UK, with just 2% of vacant retail sites. It will only remain that way if something is done urgently by the Council to provide for short term parking for those who wish to use the shops, the new medical centre, and the other businesses there.

It seems obvious to everyone but the Council officials that what is needed to prevent any commuter parking, but to allow metered parking of up to an hour, or an hour and a half at most, during those hours when the shops and offices are open, from 8 am to 6.30 pm. The costs of the metered parking should be affordable and not extortionate. Outside these hours parking should be free.

The council seems to think that parking is an asset to derive easy income from, and also that everyone should as a matter of policy use public transport. But this is totally unrealistic in this day and age, as motorists will simply go elsewhere to a shopping "mall" or a supermarket. That's why town centres are dying.

It is impossible at the moment to understand where and for how long you can park and the applicable rates. I write as one who fell foul a few years back of the parking restrictions, and had to pay a fine for not paying a meter when I thought there was free parking.

Our members, members of the Raynes Park Association, and Councillors have all tried to get the simple message through to the powers that be that people will only stop to shop if they can do so easily. Otherwise they will go elsewhere. Why do they make it so difficult to do the obvious?

We also reported earlier this year that the Government has given approval in principle for a free school in the Motspur Park, Raynes Park, New Malden area for a "free" primary school. This is needed to cope with the large rise in the number of pre- and school age children in our area. The school would be run and managed by a local charity, the Chapel Street Community Schools Trust, and would have 60 places in the reception class each year from September 2014. This would, in the end, provide an extra 420 primary school places. The highly respected partners in the Trust include the University of Roehampton, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, the Doxa Deo Church, and King's College School.
When we had our open meeting in June in the West Barnes library, we thought that the favoured choice of site for the School would be the unused office buildings next to Motspur Park station. Now there are rumours that the preferred site in the former BBC ground in Motspur Park. Clearly the school cannot open until a site has been approved by the planners.

We plan to start the next phase of converting the former Tennis Pavilion at 129 Grand Drive into a Residents' Pavilion open to all. We have received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to improve access and will be installing a ramp and other improvements to make the building accessible for disabled people.

We are encouraged that so soon after the opening of the Pavilion bookings continue to grow for all sorts of social and family activities. Please contact our bookings manager here, where you'll find all the further details about hiring it. We have very competitive rates for our Association's members.

John Elvidge

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