Chairman's Blog - August 2015


We reported last month that major works were to be carried out to replace the gas pipes along Grand Drive, right down from Heath Drive to the lights at Bushey Road, and then from those lights to Raynes Park station. This would necessitate one way traffic routing in the whole of this area. 

The work was scheduled for July and would have caused wide spread traffic chaos, for which no warning had been given. 

It turned out that the gas engineers are well behind schedule, perhaps because of the difficulties of water seepage in this area. 

The work will still take place, and confusingly the websites stated that the work was being re-scheduled for September, although this date was not agreed or finalised. 

The latest information from Merton Council (that had to be prised out of Merton Council by our Joint Secretary, Jan Bailey) is that it will now be done in two sections. 

The first work is to replace the gas mains between Bushey Road and Approach Road.  This will result in one way working from August 10. Traffic coming under the railway will be diverted along Kingston Road and then onto Bushey Road where it can turn left up Grand Drive.  This work is due for completion before the end of the summer holidays. 

Work on Grand Drive itself has been postponed till next year in order to seek wider consultation and better planning of the diversionary routes. 

We repeat our hope that before the work is finally scheduled, there be wide consultation as to where the traffic will go, and that adequate warning signs and traffic diversions are put in placefor miles around, not least from the A3. 


The All England Lawn Tennis Club was granted planning permission in December 2014 to build new tennis courts, covered by an air dome, on the Raynes Park Playing Fields, which they own. These are needed for their Junior Tennis Initiative, which gives the chance to pupils in Merton and Wandsworth to learn to play tennis. The JTI is currently held at Church Road, SW19, and a move is necessary so that a roof can be put on Court 1 at the Championships, which will take the next four years to build. 

The sports ground are surrounded by Cannon Hill Lane, Elm Walk, Southway, and Grand Drive. 

The Club has now informed local residents that the work will start immediately and that the main construction should be completed by December. Construction of the new car park and landscaping will then continue until March 2016. The working period will be from 8 am until 6 pm Monday to Friday and until 1 pm (if required) on Saturday. 


We understand that the branch of Barclays in the centre of Raynes Park is due to close on 25September.  We regard this as a serious blow to the economic viability of this growing local centre. Although we will protest to Barclays about this, there seems little that we can effectively do to prevent it, since it is line with their policy, as with other high street banks, of closing local branches, and forcing people into on-line banking. 

The nearest alternative Barclays branch is in the centre of Wimbledon. Even this major branch has reduced the number of counters to one, and instead forces customers to use machines for deposits and withdrawals, or else makes you wait until a “customer adviser” is free. Of course, the system is so frustrating and time consuming to use that the bank has to employ people to help customers use the machines. 

All this has nothing to do with customer service, but everything to do with reducing staffing costs and maximising profit. 


No decision has yet been made on the future use of the site currently occupied by the Whatley Avenue Adult Training Centre. It appears that the site is too small for the proposed new secondary school, which is needed to cater for the extra 2000 secondary school spaces caused by the rising birth rate. We hope that any decision made will not affect the Joseph Hood Primary School, adjacent to the Centre, and which is itself oversubscribed. 

The need for extra spaces is particularly acute in the Wimbledon area. 

The council has been in talks with the charity, the Harris Federation, to provide a new state funded school somewhere in Merton, in addition to the academies that it already runs in the borough. The government’s Education and Funding Agency is responsible for finding the site for the new school.  


John Elvidge

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