Chairman's Blog, August 2011

Garden waste or bulk waste collection 

I have finally prized out of the Council, using a request under the Freedom of Information Act, an answer to my unanswered question as to the relative costs of the savings in stopping the garden waste collection service vital to so many elderly people in our area without cars, compared with the cost of introducing the new “free” bulk waste collection. 

As I supposed all along, despite the Council saying that they had to stop the garden waste collection service to save money - because of government reductions in rate support grant - the costs of the new bulk waste service are going to be much the same.  There will be no reduction in costs.

What the Council has not explained at all is why a new service has been introduced, which is going to be used by more affluent people likely to have access to cars, when a service much valued by those in this area who have large gardens and whose age profile is older, has been taken away entirely.

The Council was not intending to have any garden waste service, until the public outcry forced them to backtrack and to introduce a paid-for service.  This service is fortnightly throughout the year, and this means that it won’t cope with the sheer volume of material to be collected in the growing season, and yet will be mainly redundant  in the winter months.

The paid-for garden waste service offers collections for large volumes of waste with a wheelie bin, which many residents can’t house or manhandle. My strong suspicion is that the Council still wants to introduce these for all residents, and that this is a back door route to achieving it.


Officers’ response to issues on Cannon Hill Common

In June, we reported at length about the disgraceful scenes last month when 100 cars were parked on Cannon Hill Common while a local church enjoyed a picnic and barbecue.  This could only happen in the first place since, despite repeated requests, the Council failed to block off vehicular access to the Common. Cars have been regularly coming onto the Common and parking in the turning circle next to the site of the former pavilion ever since it was burned down.  This was happening at all hours of day and night.  The Council has now promised, belatedly, to block off this access, and has sent us a scheme of the proposed barrier. Why did it take an incident like this and a huge outcry from the residents before the Council officers took any action?

The other issue that arises out of this incident is that the activities of the local church, which was given permission under a signed agreement to have the picnic (but not any barbecues or car parking), was not controlled on the day by Council officers. There was no enforcement of the conditions.

Surely the Council should have asked for a fee to include the full costs of monitoring the event, as happens in any other organised public event. Surely the promoters should have been asked for a deposit, retained to pay for the damage done to the Common. Why has the church not been asked for damages since the event, to pay for the costs of the damage caused?

Why is it that Council officers - many of whom at the higher levels are paid as much as or more that the Cabinet - are so commercially incompetent, and so unresponsive to the needs and wishes of local residents.

A further example of this is that nothing has yet been done to resolve the vexed issue of fishing on Cannon Hill Common, despite the public meeting held two months ago, and literally years of failing to act.



Members of the Committee held what we hope is a useful discussion with the Site Manager and the Technical Adviser of Bellways who are building the houses and flats on the former LESSA site in Grand Drive.

There were many issues to discuss, concerning the construction work, what was being included, their compliance with the planning conditions, and the long- term use of the sporting provisions.  We are sending them confirmation of what we believe was agreed so that there can be no room for doubt in the future. We intend to publish this when they have seen it and commented on it, in the next edition of the Guide, and also place it on the Web. Among other matters we discussed the proposed users of the sports ground, the fencing needed, and the need for a perimeter fence.   

The building continues apace, and we understand that the flats, which are largely to be used for tenants of a housing association, will be ready for occupation as early as the end of August.  Access to these will be secured, while work continues on the private housing, and the building of the sports facilities, the playground and the amenity area. 

Bellways agreed that we would be able to go round the site with them before the flats are occupied, so that we can point out residents’ concerns in detail.



New sports field

The much needed new sports field for the Raynes Park High School, and the Sacred Heart and West

Wimbledon Primary Schools has been formally opened by the Mayor, Cllr Gilli Lewis-Lavender, who made the “first dig”.   The ground was given to the local authority as part of the planning condition for the houses and flats being built on the Sun Alliance site off Fairway, but the cost of the pavilion and getting the ground into condition has only been met by a hugely impressive fundraising operation, from institutions and individuals, led by Ian Newman, the Head teacher of Raynes Park High. This has raised the astonishing sum of £1.5 million in 5 years. It should be ready for use by the spring of next year.  It is the realisation of a dream for him, and a major achievement with which to mark his well deserved retirement.


John Elvidge

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