Thursday, 23 June 2016

Leave It Out

The Worcester Park blog has decided to come out for... Leave! Okay, probably most of you knew I was on the leave side but hey if the national papers can come out for one side or the other, why shouldn't the blog o' KT4?

As the polls open in very short time I thought I'd jot down a few points to back up my position before the voting gets going. Firstly to refute a few Remain myths:

  • Remain say that leaving the EU will cause untold economic tragedy to the UK. If that is the case how is it that Canada, Japan, Australia and numerous others countries around the world that are not part of the EU are doing just fine? Also Markus Kerber, the head of BDI, or federation of German industries, has said it would be "very, very foolish" to impose tariffs on UK goods if Britain votes to leave the EU. This is the central plank of the Remain argument and it has crumbled under the pragmatic realisation that EU countries value their free trade with the UK.
  • Remain say that Turkey is not about to join the EU. Why then did Turkey's President Erdoğan say that "David Cameron was our chief supporter" and express shock that Mr Cameron had said on the Andrew Marr show that "There is no prospect of Turkey joining the EU in decades." So who is Mr Cameron telling the truth to? The people of Turkry or the people of the UK? Hint - he refused to say that he'd veto Turkey's accession. It is Government policy to bring Turkey into the EU and the UK is spending money on this very task. If it wasn't the case, these things would stop.When Turkey joins, the area in which any person can come to live and work in the UK will border Iraq and Syria. I don't consider this to be a secure and safe enough situation.
  • Remain say we should stay in the EU and reform it from the inside. (Please note even the remain side accept the EU is in desperate need of reform.) Yesterday however Jean Claude Juncker took the unusual step of saying that: "The British policymakers and British voters have to know that there will be no kind of any renegotiation. We have concluded a deal with the Prime Minister, he got the maximum he could receive and we gave the maximum we could give." So basically there are no more concessions the UK can ever have from the EU. That means by definition that we cannot reform it any further by staying in. The EU needs reforming, but it needs a bigger shock that Britain staying in to do it - and according to Mr Juncker, out means out, and the EU is so determined not to be reformed that even that won't lead to reforming the unedifying monolith of the EU.


Now just a few points about the case for leaving...

  • We get British sovereignty back. This for me is the biggest issue. When you include directives and regulations, over half of British law is dictated to us by the EU. The commissioners handing down these laws are unelected and unaccountable to us - the people affected by those laws. That is not democracy, not British and not acceptable and we must take control of our country again.
  • We get back control of our own borders, meaning that we can turn anyone away if we feel they may be of disadvantage (i.e. want to cause harm) to the UK. The important point being if WE (as in Great Britain) think they may be a disadvantage - not if the EU thinks so or not.
  • We can trade more freely with the rest of the world on terms that are bilaterally advantageous, without having to worry if those terms are good for 27 other countries as well.
  • We can open our country up to the world using an Australian style points system to decide who can come to Britain. This means people can come on merit from anywhere and that just being from one of 27 particular countries doesn't give someone a free pass if they can't get in on merit. There will still be immigration, but we will be in control of it.
  • The 88% of businesses that don't export to the EU won't have to abide by cumbersome (and often ludicrous) EU regulations. They will only need to adhere to British standards and the standards of any countries they may be exporting to.
  • We can continue to work with the countries in the EU on a variety of issues including Security, Science and Research, the Arts and Trade. We don't require to sign away our sovereignty to do these things. (We already do them with non-EU countries - proving that it is possible). We can also increase our work with non-EU countries in these areas.
  • We can breath new life into the Commonwealth.


Of course which ever side wins, the other side's predictions of doom will never be fully tested. I sometimes wonder if that is why the people at the top of the remain side are fighting so hard. Because they know their dire predictions are so wrong that they will look like fools if we leave and actually, we do rather well for ourselves.

On past form over the centuries, there is no reason Britain, the 5th largest economy in the world can't do very well without the EU. In fact if the EU were responsible for British economic success, wouldn't surely all EU countries be experiencing it?

If we Leave though, we will still see the rest of the EU continue moving in the wrong direction. There will be more political integration, Turkey will eventually join up and there will be an EU army. We might however have given the other European peoples the impetus to start getting their countries out too. Several other countries are already showing signs that their people want referendums too.

If this happens the EU may be forced to change against its own will or face the prospect of falling apart. If the later then perhaps a far better version can be put in it's place; an actual democratic version, that doesn't try to take countries' individual sovereignty from them. Either way Leaving is the only hope for achieving real change in the EU - and certainly the only hope for Britain.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Worcester Park Residents' Association Celebrates 20 Years

June is always a big month for Summer fairs and activities with many happening on the same day as each other. From experience when organising these things it is almost impossible to find a day that ticks every box including the "doesn't clash with any other activities" box.

This Saturday sees the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Worcester Park Resident's Association.

The WPRA was first formed in 1996 to fight the Somerfields supermarket being built where Waitrose now is in Stone Place. Whilst the WPRA didn't manage to get the development stopped, they certainly forced some conditions into the application. These included the building of a new Library (moved from across Windsor Road) with several computers for public use; a public meeting room on the first floor reached by a stair lift; a public toilet; limits on hours of deliveries to the supermarket for the benefit of nearby residents and also the free 2-hour parking which we continue to enjoy for the remaining car parking spaces today.

Many community groups don't last nearly as long as this and ones that do often end up a mere shadow of their former selves. The WPRA has however gone from strength to strength and will be celebrating this astonishing milestone at Worcester Park Library next Saturday 25th June from 2-4pm.

I will be there to help celebrate in my role as Chair of the organisation and I would invite everyone to come along and celebrate both the past and the future of the WPRA with us. There will be food and wine to enjoy (thanks to Waitrose for some sponsorship), a history of Worcester Park display focusing on the last 20 years and lots of good company!


Dorchester Primary and Green Lane School Summer Fairs

It just so happens that Dorchester Primary School (in Dorchester Road) and Green Lane Primary (in... well... Green Lane) are having their Summer Fair on the same day. Sadly I will not be able to attend these amasing events due to the aforementioned one. Watch this space however for more information...


Dorcester Primary School Summer Fair

Busy weekend - Part 2...

As I mentioned in the previous post, Dorchester Primary School (in Dorchester Road) are having their Summer Fair also on this Saturday 25th June.

This year it is promising to be a much more extravagant affair than last year. It is being organised by Tracey, the new chair of the Friends Of Dorchester School (FODS) - who happens to be the Mum of one of WP Junior's class mates. Although she did say:
 "I haven't really done much, it's all down to my amazing committee".
She went on to add that:
"This years Summer Fair is set to be the best yet for Dorchester Primary School, in Worcester Park. With an excited and energised PTA team who have put absolutely everything into making this a fantastic family day out for the local community.

The fair opens at 12pm & is packed full with entertainment from Dorchester School Choir, Stagecoach, Musicians, Martial Arts, Magic, crafting activities, bouncy castles, loads of activities for the kids, refreshments & a raffle with prizes to knock your socks off (although with the forecast set for sunshine you may not be wearing any), with the days events wrapping up at 3pm."
I am sad that I will not be able to attend this event and see the wonderful work that so many have put in, as well as supporting WP Junior's school this time around. And so I would urge - with great urgency, anyone with any connection to the school, anyone nearby or just with any inclination to visit a school fair to go along and support the school and have a great day out into the bargain.

As it happens Green Lane Primary School are also having their Country fair on the same day...


Green Lane Primary Country Fair

Busy Weekend Part 3...

To top off your celebratory Saturday, Green Lane Primary are having their Country Fair this Saturday 25th June. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity to take the kids along and enjoy a country themed event complete with farm animals.

If last year's Green Lane Summer Fair is anything to go by - it should be a great event.

With careful diary adjustments I'm sure you can make it along to this wonderful event as well as the WPRA 20th Anniversary and also the Dorchester Primary School Summer Fair.

It's certainly not going to be a boring Saturday...













Saturday, 18 June 2016

Mark Of A Good Bike


I have recently noticed the police bike marking tent appearing outside the police office with increased frequency. The reason for this, I found out is that they have adopted a new policy of focusing hard on an area for a while before moving onto the next. The advantage of this is someone without their bike seeing them there can be told they'll be there 'next Saturday' rather than getting them to put a date in their diary four months in advance. It seems to be working as the Police there last Saturday told me they'd been very busy.

In case you didn't know, the whole idea is to get your bike marked with a unique registration number that is put into a police database. If your bike is then ever stolen and recovered by the police they can a) get it back to you, and b) prove that it was stolen - making it less attractive for criminals to steal in the first place.

The next bike marking sessions in Central Road will be:

  • 25th June (Next Saturday)
  • 20th July (Wednesday), and
  • 17th September (Saturday).

All sessions will be from 2-5pm.

So just like this local Dad did for his daughter, get along and get your bike marked.


Friday, 17 June 2016

Tomorrow's Events


Tomorrow sees not one but two big outdoor events (hope the rain holds off). The first one is the Hamptons' Midsummer Fiesta (starting at 11am) which I wrote about a few days ago. Starting only an hour later (at midday) is the Cuddington Residents' Association Big Day Out at Shadbolt Park on Salisbury Road

The Big Day Out which seems to have become rather well known for it's Dog Show also boasts Cream Teas, Live Music and a Beer Tent as well as all the other things you'd expect at such a large and long running event (over 70 years apparently).

So weather willing (or not) go along and support your local community at the Hamptons Midsummer Fiesta or Shadbolt Parks' Big Day Out or preferably both!


Big Wet Worcester Park


Unless they were living in a cardboard box under the stairs, it's doubtful anyone will have missed the downpour this evening, just in time for rush hour.

Less than a month after the last great flood which saw a car floating under the railway bridge on the other side of Sutton in Wallington (and when in fact the road under the bridge here was closed for a time), Worcester Park was subject to yet more flooding.

One car did get stuck and a few of us joined in to help push the car up out of the main body of water.

Questions have been raised about why the roads have been able to flood so easily. It has been suggested that drains are not being adequately cleaned however the blog understand that most drains are cleaned regularly. Apparently with sudden large floods like this, all the litter carried away with the sudden surge of water blocks them up, causing the flash floods.

Unfortunately Central Road/Malden Road wasn't the only area effected. Browning Avenue was also flooded between Washington Road and Caldbeck Avenue.

This hadn't just flooded the road but had also flooded homes on the north side of the road. For them this was also the second time in a month they had been flooded.

The fire brigade was there mainly to help people who needed to get out of their homes. They had also cordoned off the road however it had dropped to a point where is was safe enough to drive through and local residents were helping cars get through.

I asked one local girl how deep it was and, being in wellington boots, she promptly waded straight in to show me.

A little later a second fire engine arrived, although this one looked to be more of a supplies truck. By then the water in the road at least, had subsided substantially. I hope the flooded homes were not effected too badly.

I was also interested to see how much the flood plain (flood alleviation scheme) in Green Lane had filled up. This was designed to take any overflow from the Beverley Brook to stop the houses further down from flooding (although there have still been problems reported there since).

The Beverley was in full flow and the flood plain was clearly soaked but not yet flooded - which is really exactly what is supposed to happen - so it's doing its job properly there. Perhaps we need something to help in Browning avenue too.

Update (an hour or so later)

A blog reader has emailed me with the following information:
"Another factor with this flood and the one in Wallington is that when these bridges were put over the roads in the mid 19th century they only had to make the embankment high enough to let a fully loaded haywain under the bridge. Come the early 20th Century and taller vehicles they had to lower the roads under the bridges by about a metre, so naturally they are the point likely to flood. Also the drains in the UK are designed to deal with what was the typical rainfall. In Singapore where I was born and spent my early years, the drain gutters are a metre wide feeding into much larger pipes (or so I was told by my Godfather who was Clerk of Works for the Island), to cope with the 5 o'clock thunderstorm, which makes a British one look like a light shower. But with global warming perhaps all that infrastructure will need uprating."
This all makes sense and brings to mind something Cllr Richard Marston (who was also at the scene) mentioned in that a few decades ago there was far less room under the bridge and only single decker busses and special low double decker ones could get under. The road was lowered to allow the additional taller traffic.

Update (18th June)

I've had an email from Cllr Marston to say he has reported the flooding problems encountered yesterday at the station, Hazelmere Gardens and Browning Avenue.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A Good Debate


Last Saturday St Mary's Church in The Avenue was packed nearly to standing room only to hear the latest local EU debate. Local Conservative MP and one of the high echelon Leave Campaigners, Chris Grayling, took on Liberal Democrat MP and arch Europhile Tom Brake.

Chris Grayling spoke for a good 10 minutes followed by Tom Brake and then a roving microphone was used to take questions from the audience - some loaded one way or the other and some genuinely looking for clarification on an issue.

Many answers on both sides were met with loud applause. As usual with these debates, the hour and a half was not nearly long enough to probe all the issues properly but it certainly did inform people about things. At the start around a third of the audience indicated with a show of hands that they were still undecided about which way to vote. At the end at least half of those indicated they had made up their minds based on this debate. The question was not asked of them which way they had decided so I would be interested dear reader, if you were one of the people who came to a decision based on this event, what conclusion you drew and why.

Both made their points well. I felt that Chris Grayling was the stronger speaker and gained the loudest applause - although I am prepared to accept this might be wishful thinking (see section below) - and would like to hear from other people who were there to confirm or deny this!

I learned two very interesting pieces of information that came from the debate, both from Mr Grayling: First, a question was asked about how long it would take to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world. Rather than the 'many years' scenario that has been doing the rounds, it seems the model for this is Czechoslovakia when it split into two countries, Czech republic and Slovakia back in 1993. Each country registered with the WTO that they would continue to honour and be bound by any treaties that had existed between Czechoslovakia and other nations - and they just carried on as before. They were then free to negotiate separate treaties as and when required. So Britain will be able to continue trading with the rest of the world on the same terms as if we were still part of the EU until we negotiate new treaties as an when we choose. Interestingly, why has nobody pointed out that during the seven year negotiation of the Canada/EU trade deal (and others), trade has still been carrying on between them just fine?

Secondly, a question asked if the French could send all the refugees in the Calais 'Jungle' straight to Britain if we left the EU. The answer was no, for two reasons:
1. Britain can fine any carrier (in this case ferry or train) heavily for every illegal immigrant they bring in. The current system stops them at the Channel before they leave France. If that system were to stop, the carriers would have no choice but to do passport checks on every passenger before leaving France.
2. The current arrangement is a bilateral agreement between France and the UK as two individual nations and has nothing to do with the EU. It has advantages for both countries and there would be no reason to abandon it.

Mr Grayling was also keen to emphasise that the EU becoming a single superstate is inevitable. It is already accepted in the EU that an area with a single currency and a single central bank can't work with 28 separate governments and sets of laws. He likened the situation to Birmingham having a different retirement age to London. Plans are already drawn up for further political integration, a major point being that all the laws and regulations made by this entity will be designed to favour the currency used by most of the peoples, the Euro, and that being out of the Euro, but still effected by laws designed to favour it, would be a major disadvantage over time.

Mr Brake argued the pro-stay side of the debate using all the normal pro EU arguments about being at the table and economic risks but in my view didn't bring anything new to the debate. However as I have a rather strong viewpoint on this (see next section) I may be downplaying Mr Brake's contribution. Please add your comments if you feel there was anything particularly ground breaking that Mr Brake said.


My Position

As I have made clear before, I am very much on leave side of the argument. In fact if you get a leaflet in Worcester Park urging you to vote leave, there is a small chance I may have put it through your door. My main issue with the EU is the lack of accountability. The EU hands laws down to Britain that we cannot reject, and more importantly, we cannot vote out those who are dictating them to us. Only the unelected EU Commissioners can proposed these laws and the MEPs we do vote for are powerless to block them. They best they can do is hold them up a bit. 

I am concerned that there is a cleared path between where we are now and a situation where the law makers can make self serving and punitive laws to a point where people can be imprisoned or worse for daring to stand up to them. Whilst I am not saying the EU is certain to take this path, history shows where such a path exists, the temptation to follow it eventually becomes too great not to. It is of concern that such a path had been deliberately created.

Democracy has natural checks and balances to stop things like this occurring. When you take that check away from the system (as in the EU) surely the system will naturally tend towards an oppressive system.

Dictatorships often start out as quasi-benevolent and become more despotic over time. We are in the early stages with the EU, being told about all the benefits of membership and finding that the rules we have no redress over might be a bit annoying but not desperately burdensome. Once we have sealed the right of the EU to make laws for Britain, there will be nothing we can do to refuse literally any law the EU Commissioners feel like dictating to us. (Mr Cameron's 'renegotiation' can still be overturned.) If those laws start to sting a bit we will wish we had taken the opportunity to get out while we could, but by then it would be too late, and our children and grandchildren would have to suffer whatever the EU deems appropriate for them without influence or redress.

We do have one last chance to do something about this. As with all difficult decisions there are gains and losses on both sides. What price-tag do you put on British sovereignty and democracy? We are a strong and great country. We have lead the world many times in many fields and can do so again - if we believe in Britain.

And whilst others try to focus the debate on uncontrolled immigration from the likes of Turkey, the economy, NHS, an EU army or whether a law on the shape of bananas is a good idea, I believe when historians look back at this moment in decades and even centuries to come, it will be through the lens of democracy. And whatever we choose now will be seen as how a free people chose their path at the democracy crossroads. Don't leave them wondering as to how we gave up something so precious for something so fleeting. Vote to Leave The EU.


Something Better

It is surely telling that the age group who have seen the world both with and without the EU are considered the ones most likely to vote out.

The EU luckily is a very different thing to Europe. Mrs WP is Italian and I love visiting Europe. I love the differences between the different peoples and cultures as well as the breathtaking landscapes and also the sense of walking through history in many parts.

I look forward to us continuing to work closely with other European countries in the many areas where it is mutually advantageous: trade, science, security, arts, etc. We worked together in all these areas before the EU existed and will still do afterwards. A centralised unaccountable government of Europe is however not to our or indeed anyone's advantage. The people of Europe are too civilised, too intelligent, too good to be controlled in this way. I can't speak for the rest of Europe but at least I can put my X in a box to help save Britain from it.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Happy Birthday Your Majesty


Last weekend there was a serious sense of Royal celebration around the place. It was of course The Queens official 90th Birthday. Several local shops had fitting displays in their windows including this wonderful Queen's Head of coins artwork by Lauren Clement-Delbos. This was part of the display in the QEF shop - 'QEF' appropriately standing for the Queen Elizabeth Trust.

The St. Raphael's Hospice Shop also had a big Royal display as did the new Second Hand Land shop towards the top of road on the right.

It's looked as if Centrals Bar and Lounge was getting into the Royal spirit of things a bit too but that may have just been so something to do with the football...

To top it all off there was a terrific street party in Ruskin Drive on Sunday with the road closed off and many local people out enjoying the day (top picture). Thanks to all those who were kind enough to ask me to sit down and have a drink with them. I wish I had had more time join you all properly...

So impressed was everyone with the efforts made that the Red Arrows made a fly past on Saturday, possibly to express Her Majesty's gratitude to the lovely people of Worcester Park for all their hard work and support... I didn't get a photo of it but the Brinkster did - you can see his photo in this tweet here...

Here is a selection of a few other photos from the weekend...

Ruskin Drive street party complete with Bouncy Castle

The many tents, tables and local residents enjoying the fun.

The QEF window

St Raphael's Window

Her Majesty waves from the window in Second Hand Land. (Not sure who it was being cheered along The Mall at the time).

Centrals getting into the flag waving spirit too - It might just be about the football here but it's all good. Get in...


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hamptons Fiesta

It's back again! After an amazing inaugural event last year, the Hamptons Midsummer Fiesta is firing up once again and will be Spreading good cheer from Mayflower Park though to all parts of KT4 next Saturday (18th June).


At this point I will hand over Mike Freter, Chair of the Hamptons Estate Company (which runs the Hamptons) who has supplied an excellent description of the day:

A sunny Saturday in June. A shimmer in the trees. A slight cooling breeze.

Just imagine the excited babble of children’s voices echoing off the bouncy castle. The calypso melodies of a steel band floating across the Park. The shrieks of joy from the fun fair rides. The plish of the float hitting the water on the fishing lake. The soft thunk of ball against racquet in the training sessions on the tennis courts. The sizzle of the world-famous Hamptons Hot Dog on the grill. The satisfying ‘plink’ of ice falling into a full glass of refreshing Pimms.

Just some of the wonderful sounds to be heard at the Hamptons Midsummer Fiesta on Saturday 18th June.

The day centres around the 5km adult fun run and the 1.3m children’s run – to enter go to funrun@hamptonsgym.co.uk

There’s a plethora of entertainment in the kids funarama from balloon modelling to face painting. There’s all the fun of the fair with rides, bungee jumping, skittle alleys, test your strength and candy floss. There’s sports coaching for tennis, football and the martial arts. There’s the testing ping-pong challenge. There’s fishing on the lakes and a guided tour of the Wetlands. There’s a pop-up market featuring local businesses from jewellery to cakes to language coaching. There’s massage if you feel in need of it. There’s advice on bike maintenance. There’s a magnificent fire engine. There’s an art and photography exhibition by local Hamptons residents, plus a history in photographs of the last hundred years of Worcester Park. There’s a luxury raffle with fantastic prizes and a bottle tombola. There’s wonderful live music with that steel band and maybe the appearance of a local boy band. Plus, a fabulous food court including the creamiest ice creams and, of course, the scrumptious and justifiably world-famous Hamptons’ Hot Dog.

All this and the glorious Hampton’s grounds to enjoy from the wildflower meadow to the hidden allées.

It’s a fabulous fun day for all the family.

So make a note of the date. Saturday 18th June from 11am to 4pm. Mayflower Park in the Hamptons is at the end of Green Lane. If you come by car please park in the area outside Green Lane School.

There is, though, a serious side to the day. Each year we collect for a local charity. This year it is The Royal Marsden Children’s Unit for kids with cancer. As well as all the profits from the day going to the The Royal Marsden we have teamed up with Waitrose Worcester Park and their ‘Community Matters’ scheme for June will feature The Royal Marsden. So please make sure you put your green tokens in the right box!

I'm sure it will once again be a wonderful event. See you there!