Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Key

Six months ago a local initiative was launched in Worcester Park to encourage local people to shop in the local high street (that's basically Central Road to you and me). The Worcester Park Key has made such a positive difference that they are doing a special Christmas version.

Raj Jain, the owner of Preview Menswear in Central Road who has spearheaded this campaign told the blog:
"The first edition had such a positive response that we have had a Christmas Edition printed. The public have saved thousands of pounds through this scheme, with very positive feed back. New traders have also signed up."
There is now also a website: which will give details of offers with some being exclusive to the website and Worcester Park Key is also on Facebook and Twitter. The new key is now available (as of yesterday) from shops displaying the key logo.

It's great to see some initiatives working and actually making a difference to local traders. If you already have a Worcester Park Key, grab a copy of the new booklet for the latest bargains and offers. If not - there's no need to miss out - grab yourself a copy and have a look at all the things available. Who knows, you might get a surprise when you realise what Worcester Park has to offer...

Need More Space?

Anyone, (like me) who was in the Stone Place car park at around 11:30 this morning will be well aware that it was busier than a millipede's podiatrist. I'm surprised I didn't see more fights break out as people who had been crawling around the car park for ages tried to out manoeuvre each other into spaces, even as the previous shopper was still in the process of leaving.

So imagine my incongruity when I spotted the above vehicle parked in the 'Iceland section'. At Mrs WP's request I have obscured the number plate. I think you know who you are though...

A Legion Of Fayres

When Christmas Fayres come, they come in Legions. And today this is particularly true, being that the Royal British Legion is playing host to their Christmas Fayre from 11am this morning.

This actual Fayre is being put on by the RBL Women's section and promises to be a fun and festive a-fayre (see what I did there...) with gift stalls, books, jigsaw puzzles, cakes, bric-a-brac, gift-wrappings and two raffles including a tombola Christmas Hamper prize.

The doors will be thrown open to the public at 11am and all money raised will be going to the good works supported by the Legion.

The women's section is an entirely separate entity to the overall Legion membership. Women who are members of the Legion are not automatically part of the Women's section.

Doreen, the chair of the Women's Section told the blog that although they are classed as a small club, they have been very lucky and done very well, often winning cups at county level for various things including fundraising. One year (around 10 years ago) they won several cups at national level. These were presented to Doreen by Princess Anne who is the President of the national Women's Section. It used to be the Queen Mother.

So go along and support this quietly wonderful institution and the past and present servicemen and their families whose lives are ultimately improved by the RBL.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Doris Venner Christmas Fair

The next cab of the Christmas fair rank is the Doris Venner Pre-School Christmas Fair. This one is on tomorrow (Saturday 22nd November) from 11 until 2. It will cost you a smallish silver coin (or 50 very small copper ones) to get in if you happen to be of the adult persuasion. However those not in this category may enter without payment.

This is being billed as:
"A fun-filled event for all the family, with a host of activities. Browse the festive stalls, try your luck on the tombola, enter the raffle and be in with a chance of winning some great prizes. Children will be able to meet Santa and have their photo taken with him in his grotto." 
So if you can't put off the Christmas spirit any longer (or you just want to check whether Father Christmas managed to finish putting on his gloves), get in the festive spirit at the Doris Venner Pre-School (The Manor Drive, KT4 7LG) Christmas Fair tomorrow.

(Also for those who have asked, this year's Christmas Late Night will be on the 12th of December.)

Christmas In The (F)Air

Well here we are in the final third of November and we have managed to hold off mentioning Christmas too loudly until now. However with Christmas fairs looming ominously in School diaries and other celebratory events charging towards us, it is probably time to break the silence and offer up a few signposts to local yule themed festivities.

The first on my list is the Dorchester Primary School's Christmas Fair which is taking place next Friday (28th November) straight after school from 3pm until 6pm.

There is actually another one on tomorrow (to be posted about next) but I must admit that I am somewhat obliged to give a bit of favourable treatment to the Dorchester one, not only because WP Junior is now a proud pupil there, but Mrs WP has embraced the school Mum spirit and having joined FODS (that's Friends of Dorchester School), is helping out with the organising (and the baking of rather a large number of cakes for the cake stall.) She also helped design this rather splendid poster - so as you can see, I'd better not procrastinate any further in getting the word out...

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Last Bit Posponed

The Appeal against the Green Lane Mosque has again been adjourned however the end is now in clear sight.

Today's proceedings finished at around 1:45pm after it emerged that both the appellant's legal representation and key planning consultant had both resigned the previous day. This left the appellant's group with no experienced advocate so one of the other members of the team stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately no one was able to locate a spare copy of 'Planning Law For Beginners' but to give him his due he gave it his best shot.

The upshot of this is that we were able to quickly get through the rest of the proceedings up until the final summing up from both sides. As the new representative had previously not known he was going to be doing the summing up, or even quite what was required, the inspector adjourned the case so this chap could bone up on the requirements and get his speech together.

The remainder of the case, the summing up from both sides, will now be heard on Friday 12th December at 10am. The venue is still to be decided but it may possibly be either one of the halls at Christ Church with St Philip (Cheam Common Road) or Maple Lodge in the Hamptons.

This will be followed at around 12:45 pm by a formal site visit, not only of the site itself but also the various car parking areas and other relevant places that may have a bearing on the case. This is being done on a Friday around lunchtime so the inspector can see exactly what the traffic is like in the area during the time that would be Friday prayers, when the Mosque would be at full capacity. It is likely to be a long walk all around the area and take a couple of hours.

The group who have spoken against the application have been invited to send one representative to accompany the inspector during this long site visit and I am flattered that the group have asked me to do it.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Mosque Appeal Resumes On Wednesday

The wheels of planning justice turn slowly, particularly here in Worcester Park. As many readers are aware the Mosque planning appeal for Green Lane resumes this Wednesday (19th November) for what may be the penultimate chapter of this one volume of the current series. Or if the pattern of  past experience is to be repeated, one more chapter.

This is of course the applicant's appeal against the Council's decisions (both of them) not to allow the building at 2-4 Green Lane to become a Place of Worship due to the extreme traffic and parking problems that regularly blight the lives of those living anywhere near by.

Readers will undoubtedly recall the collective sense of relief when both the first and second applications were rejected. And then the sense of disappointment when after nearly 8000 signatures and hundreds of individual letters were received by the council begging them to turn down the application, that the applicant didn't consider the feelings of the local community for one moment but instead decided to turn it into a game of 'try to beat the system' using whatever legal means necessary.

This attitude did rather set them apart from the Ismaili Community who wished to turn the old Worcester Park Tavern into an Ismaili Community Centre but chose not to proceed when after extensive local consultation at their own cost, they found the community was not in favour of the development.

There is also clear evidence of the building currently being used for residential purposes. These two photographs (click to enlarge) were taken one evening in August. The 'bathroom window' clearly visible here is usually boarded up but was on view again one afternoon only a few weeks ago. People have told me stories of vans delivering beds and other residential furniture and I have myself seen people entering and leaving wearing a backpack.

Now it could be argued that this is the 'live in security' and as the place does have permission for office use, it could be argued that this is all it is being used for. However the picture built up over time, collaborated by others suggests to me that there are serious grounds for a council investigation into the matter.

I have been corrected on a point here. I had asked why this is not being investigated. However Cllr Hookway has written to me to say he
"Personally ordered planning inspecting enforcement officers to investigate these claims after being tipped off by the police several months ago. Disappointingly they found no evidence on site to substantiate this."
I hadn't been aware of this and do find myself wondering how the investigation was carried out. Apologies to councillors concerned.

However I digress. The appeal resumes on Wednesday at the usual address: Sutton Salvation Army, 45 Benhill Avenue, Sutton SM1 4DD, starting at 9:30 am on both Wednesday and Thursday. If you are free, please go along to help ensure the Government Inspectorate sees that the people of Worcester Park do care about their community and do not want Central Road and Green Lane in particular even more congested.

For more details, please see the notice below...

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Empty Plate

It has been rather sad to see Kingfish, looking ready to open its doors with tables all set for dinner, knowing no one would ever eat from them again. Over the last several weeks the plates and condiments have slowly acquired a thin layer of dust and tellingly the little flower decorations on each table have all wilted and died as the water in the vases has dried up with no one to care for them.

The landmark shop had been sitting in this museum like state since the beginning of September when it was unexpectedly (at least for us) repossessed by the owners of the premises.

Yet the inevitable alternative, which is perhaps even a bit sadder, came about last Monday as the shop was entered and cleared out, leaving no doubt whatsoever that Kingfish will not rise again.

And as a telegram from the awful pun department asks: "Does this bring us closure now?"...


Last Sunday (9th November) Worcester Park did the memory of our fallen soldiers proud. In the hundredth year since the outbreak on WWI it was only right that people make an extra special effort to commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that today we can live the life we choose in a country where we have that choice. It was good to see so many people rise to that challenge. Here is a selection of photographs and some video from the day.

This picture at the end, a large framed limited edition print, complete with the four rather special signatures including the SS Canberra Captain Scott-Masson’s (who was born in Carshalton Beeches) and that of Major-General Sir Jeremy Moore who took the Argentine surrender leading to the end of the Falkland's war, was donated and auctioned to raise money for the poppy appeal. You can see the second half of the auction here end of the auction here to find out what it went for...

Incidental the code name for the operation depicted was 'Operation Sutton'.

Many people enjoyed a drink and a bite afterwards in the Royal British Legion which was open to everyone for the day. It was good to see so many people taking part.

Goodbye And Good Luck Charlotte and Ian

On Sunday the 19th October, an era came to an end in Worcester Park. Charlotte Elvey The Vicar at Christ Church with St Philip conducted her final service before her retirement.

Charlotte first arrived in Worcester Park in 1998 and found a church very different to the one we know now. She shared her first 10 years of ministry with Barrie Tabraham until his retirement in 2008. Barry wrote of her*:
"I shall never forget the feeling of relief (and the relief I saw on her face) when, having met in Worcester Park for just a short while, we discovered we were not only theologically, liturgically and ecclesiologically compatible (which is quite something for a Methodist and an Anglican) - but that we could become good friends too. 
And that is exactly what happened. I had the great good fortune of working with someone whose gifts, graces and sensitivities were different but entirely complimentary to mine."
The gap left by Barry was then successfully filled by Paul Timmis who wrote:
"Over the six years that followed that [first] meeting, I can honestly say that it has been a privilege to work with Charlotte. That she 'gets' ecumenism better than anyone else I have had the pleasure of working with and has made working with her effortless. I cannot remember having one disagreement - or even a tense moment - with her in all that time. Charlotte has, in my experience, always been open to and has embraced the insights of others."
Many people have commented on Charlotte's wonderful dedication, naturally caring nature, ability to connect with people and numerous other qualities she brought to her ministry at Worcester Park.

Looking back to her first days, Charlotte herself said:
"I could feel a regard, a sense of expectation and purposeful listening, that I'd never known before in other churches. When the new Bishop of Southwark visited the area and asked a group from our church, 'Well, do you think of yourselves as Anglicans or Methodists?' there was a heart-beat's pause; and then they all answered together, 'We're Christians. And at the same time both traditions were respected and enjoyed in worship and spirituality, as they continue to be. I knew very soon that I wanted to stay here until I retired and see what happened."
Worcester Park will also miss Ian Elvey (pictured left here), Charlotte's husband who has been at the forefront of Worcester Park happenings for many years. As well as making a great contribution to the church, Ian was chair of the Worcester Park Residents' Association for several years and led the charge against too much high density housing being built in the local area, fighting the additional planned flats between Lavender Avenue and Cheam Common Road and the further expansion of the Hamptons.

Ian and Charlotte will be moving away to new surroundings to hopefully enjoy a long and happy retirement together. The blog would like to wish them both well.

Good luck and may God bless you both.

*(The blog has shamelessly lifted quotes from the Church's magazine, Grapevine. Please pick one up from Christ Church with St Philip in Cheam Common Road for even more tributes.)