Chairman's Blog - February 2014


Residents will remember that there was extensive public discussion and concern as to the possible closing of accident and emergency services at St Helier Hospital, as well as the maternity unit there. This was being proposed as part of the  general review of NHS services across south west London and Surrey. 

The suggestions were being made by health professionals in order to improve the quality of the services provided at the major hospitals. The intention was to focus the expertise of specialists at a smaller number of centres. 

There was widespread criticism of the plans, given the difficulty for people in Merton to get to St George’s Hospital or to Croydon or elsewhere in an emergency, and the increasingly high birth rate in this area. 

One of the seven groups involved in the review has now pulled out of it, and the other clinical commissioning groups, including that in Merton, have been dissolved.  They accept that the business case put forward for the proposed mergers is no longer valid. 

While this is welcome news for people in our area, the groups say that the problems of providing quality services within the NHS will not go away, and a further announcement as to future proposals will be made in February. 

While it must be right that specialist consultant teams cannot be put into every hospital, we hope that the future proposals do take full account of the transport difficulties in reaching other hospitals, and the wish of our residents to retain the full range of services at St Helier.


For very many years the Residents’ Association had, as an associated social activity, a thriving horticultural society. This organised flower and vegetable shows, and outings to gardens and to the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley.  The recent sad death of John Hughes, who ran the Society, has meant that at the moment the Society is in abeyance. Are there any volunteers out there who would like to take this on again? We feel that it’s too valuable to lose. We have a volunteer who would be happy to organise the annual visit to Wisley, so very many thanks to her. But is there anyone who would like to help with the rest? 


We expect there soon to be a formal planning application for 250 flats in the Rainbow Estate. This is the business estate accessible under the railway arch on the Grand Drive side of the station. We have consistently opposed any re-designation of this site from employment to housing.

We believe that it is a very good site for small and medium businesses, but that it has been allowed to run down in recent years, probably since there is more money to be made from putting housing there. 

We feel strongly that local people need local employment, and that there is no good case for building yet further flats and houses in Raynes Park, when Merton has already met its housing quota. The site used to employ 130 people. 

The site is totally unsuitable for housing, being landlocked, and having only the single access road. This reaches Grand Drive at a difficult corner, where there is a lot of pedestrian movement to and from the station. The site is also surrounded by two railway lines, with noisy movement from the trains.  

We fear that the Council, which seems to be obsessed with building more flats everywhere, may grant permission for some housing. It has agreed a planning brief allowing for the construction of 200 flats, even though the problems associated with this have not been at all recognised. 

There is a deficiency of open space in the area, and there will be further pressure on the already overloaded schools and medical facilities.


The Guardian reports that work has started on a new 86 bed Travelodge hotel in Raynes Park, at the junction of Coombe Lane and Amity Grove, which is set to create 70 jobs. It’s their second in Merton and is costing £6.9 m. 


Next to Motspur Park station is an office building in good condition, but no longer used for this purpose. It’s called Abbott Court. There’s an application before the Council to re-locate a state school there, Blossom House School, which is currently in Wimbledon. You can read the details of the proposal in David Freeman’s new article here.

 Meanwhile there’s no news yet as to where the proposed Park Community “Free”  School will go, although there’s a strong rumour that it will be on a former sports grounds just across the boundary in Kingston.

 If either proposal goes ahead, local residents can expect yet more cars from both directions trying to cross the level crossing in the rare moments it’s up.        


Despite the terrible floods all over the country, we seem to have escaped. This is despite the lakes appearing on Prince George’s Playing Fields and the Raynes Park Playing Fields. If this is wrong, and there is a problem locally, please let us know.  

John Elvidge  


Our thanks to committee member, Jan Bailey, and her invaluable knowledge our our local watercourses, including those underground. She has passed on her extensive knowledge to the Council, whose records were lacking in this area. She has even put in hard labour herself in clearing out the Meadowsweet ditch. All this has surely helped avoid problems this winter. - Ed.

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