Friday, 30 April 2010

Computer Says No to Lib Dem Candidate

It comes to something when your PC starts getting all political.

Mine is clearly trying to tell me something about Liberal Democrat Councillor for Nonusch Ward and prospective Member of Parliament for Croydon North, Gerry Jerome

Worcester Park Ward: Meet The Candidates - Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the local Council elections on 6th May, The Worcester Park Blog profiles the main candidates for Sutton Council's 'Worcester Park Ward' and asks what their top priorities would be if elected.

The Liberal Democrats candidates are (left to right) Jason J Hunter, Jennifer Campbell-Klomps and Stephen Fenwick (pictured with Sutton & Cheam MP Paul Burstow)

Jason J Hunter: Jason is a very proud single father to his beautiful 12 year old daughter and is a long time resident of Worcester Park, having spent many years on Lincoln Road before moving to Balmoral Road when his daughter went to Cheam Common Junior School. 

His daughter now attends Cheam High School and Jason continues to live in the local area. 

His career history includes several years in the International Steel Industry having been Head of Strategic Market Planning for United States Steel European headquarters in Slovakia and Serbia as well as Manager of Commercial Planning for Mittal Steels European operations based in Rotterdam.

Jason is fed up of ‘shouting at the television and newspapers and is standing as a councillor at these elections as he really wants to make a positive difference to the area where he lives. Jason feels that he has the skills and the ability to achieve positive change for Worcester Park and it’s time to give something back.

Jennifer Campbell-Klomps: Jennifer Campbell-Klomps is the daughter of Jamaican parents who immigrated to the UK in the 1950s.  She was a servicewoman in the British Army from 1978-1990 and served in Northern Ireland, England and Germany where she gained experience in communications, planning, organization, liaison and security.

Jennifer lived for 10 years in Germany and worked as an Administration Officer for the Tax and Audit firm Ernst & Young in Dusseldorf and Stuttgart. She eventually moved back to the UK and now lives at The Hamptons in Worcester Park with her husband and two children.

Jennifer was a board member of the Friends of Douglas House a charity organization, where she worked closely with a team organizing fundraising events for her children’s school. She is a member of the school’s Communications Board where she is working on an advertising project as well as taking on the responsibility of running the Parents’ Meeting Room where individuals can congregate and gain contact with each other.

Jennifer recently joined the Sutton Lib Dem Party and she has been impressed by the Party’s positive approach to tolerance, fairness and equality. Jennifer looks forward to the challenges ahead, meeting as many residents as possible and representing their thoughts and views.

Stephen Fenwick: Stephen is the youngest and also the most politically experienced member of the team. Stephen cut his political teeth during his time at Liverpool Hope University when he was elected to the Student Union as Campaigns and Communications Officer.

It was during his studies for a BA (Hons) in History at the University of Teesside that Stephen’s involvement with the Liberal Democrats began.

Elected to the position of Chair of the Liberal Democrat Youth and Student society in 2004, Stephen ran many campaigns on and off campus on a range of issues important to students and the local community. 

Since then, Stephen has worked in the public sector, mainly with the Civil Service. 

Q: Councils are likely to come under increasing financial pressures in the forthcoming term. How would you propose meeting this challenge and ensuring that costs can be cut and savings made without essential services suffering?

A: The Liberal Democrat team for Worcester Park Ward will work with other Liberal Democrat councillors to ensure that we take forward the budget approved by the Council for this financial year.

The budget is properly costed and includes a number of specific areas where costs can be reduced, not only without cuts to existing services for our residents but also providing new facilities as well. 

With the expertise that the new team will bring to the council, we believe that we can continue to improve and provide better services for our residents within budget.

Q: The last couple of years have been very tough ones for Worcester Park's independent traders. What would you seek to do to help small businesses in the area and make sure Worcester Park's high street not only survives but thrives?

A: The Worcester Park ward team is very keen to make Central Road a thriving hub of activity. In order to support our independent traders, we have a plan to attract new businesses that will not take business away from the current traders but complement them and increase ‘foot fall’ to our existing independent shops.

The first phase of this plan is to carry out, at no cost to the traders or council taxpayers, a market research exercise to determine what our residents want to see on the high street. 

This will have a multiple effect on increased spending in existing businesses, lower turnover of shop frontages, less travel for our residents and less traffic volumes out of Worcester Park.

Q: Availability of primary and secondary school places is a key concern for local parents. What should be done to ensure a fairer system for children in Worcester Park?
A: School places at both primary and secondary level are a key priority for the Sutton Liberal Democrats and we are committed to campaigning for fairer access to Sutton schools for Sutton children, providing 200 new classroom places for primary school children across the Borough and rebuilding Stanley Park High and 5 other schools.

Your Worcester Park Lib Dem team will campaign to ensure that this additional capacity from the overall borough improvements is allocated to Worcester Park children.

As part of this process, we will ensure that Worcester Park parents are informed of meetings and consultations at council level that they can attend to ensure that their voices are heard.

Q: Aside from the above, what are your top priorities for Worcester Park?
A: Aside from rejuvenating the high street and improving accessibility to schools, one of our other key target areas is to improve the traffic flow and reduce the usage of ‘rat-runs’ down our residential streets.

There are both shorter term and longer term projects that we will be consulting on with our residents who can tell us which are the most effective. One idea is to open up another route to the A3 from the end of Green Lane towards Mostpur Park and Raynes Park. 

We will also continue to pressure Transport for London to continue to invest in the Scoot traffic light programme to extend this in both directions from the current 4 sets of lights to improve traffic flows.

A resident consultation is currently taking place on parking issues in Worcester Park and we will campaign hard to ensure that our residents’ voices are listened to.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Criminals Flea - Help Collar Them

Not a good week for crime in Worcester Park - not only did we have a cash in transit robbery at Barclays Bank, but pet shop 'Pets Place' was burgled earlier this week.

Blog sources tell me that the thieves made off with flea drops and collars.

The pets (and Oscar) were untouched and unharmed in the ordeal.

Worcester Park Ward: Meet The Candidates - Conservative Party

Ahead of the local Council elections on 6th May, The Worcester Park Blog profiles the main candidates for Sutton Council's 'Worcester Park Ward' and asks what their top priorities would be if elected.

The Conservative Party candidates for the three seats in Worcester Park Ward are (left to right) Stuart Gordon-Bullock, Marie Grant and Alan Swinton.

Councillor Stuart Gordon-Bullock: Prior to retirement, Stuart was an adviser to several central European Governments and continues his work as an occupational health and safety consultant.

Stuart has been Chairman of the Sutton Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee as well as the Joint Committee with Surrey and Merton.

He has held the Health Trusts to account, earning praise from GPs and Lib Dem councillors. Following his report into hospital acquired infections there was a reduction in infection rates.

Marie Grant: A local resident for the past 25 years, whose children went to Sutton state schools, Marie has always been active in the community. One such example is working with Sutton Voluntary Centre. Prior to her retirement, she was an Executive Director in the NHS. She continues to work part-time as a healthcare consultant.

Marie’s priorities are to ease the traffic misery in Worcester Park and to promote the development of a new secondary school to serve local residents.

Alan Swinton: Alan has lived in the Borough since 1970, where he and his wife have raised their three children. He has been involved in voluntary work and fund raising for local charities and good causes.

Alan wanted to enter politics so that he could help people, having experienced the same range of problems that all residents face when dealing with the services that Sutton Council provides.

Q. As you seek re-election, what are your proudest achievements as Councillor over the course of your term in office?

A. Ensuring that the voices of Worcester Park residents were clearly heard in the Hamptons planning appeal. Stuart was pleased to play his part in getting the £35 per bag green garden waste charge reversed.

This unpopular extra tax and the £800,000 cost of the u-turn could have been avoided if the Liberal Democrats had spoken to residents first.

Q. Councils are likely to come under increasing financial pressures in the forthcoming term. How would you propose meeting this challenge and ensuring that costs can be cut and savings made without essential services suffering?

A: The Conservative Group proposed a council tax cut of 1.75% this year. In doing so, we sought to improve services rather than cut them including offering financial incentives to reward residents to recycle and a more customer-focused planning service.

We were amazed to see the amount the Council spends on outside consultants and agency staff. Savings need to translate into reduced budgets rather than ‘unavoidable growth’ as we are told each year.

Q: The last couple of years have been very tough ones for Worcester Park's independent traders. What would you seek to do to help small businesses in the area and make sure Worcester Park's high street not only survives but thrives?

A: We want to continue to work with Terry Dobbs and the Worcester Park Traders’ Association to get their voices heard in Sutton’s Civic Offices.

All new Council policies need to be assessed for their impact on businesses as well as residents. We also need a marketing strategy to get a greater choice of shops in the area.

Getting Central Road moving will help bring back people who avoid the choking congestion and choose to shop elsewhere.

Q: Availability of primary and secondary school places is a key concern for local parents. What should be done to ensure a fairer system for children in Worcester Park?

A: We need a new Secondary school in the west of the Borough to stop children having to go so far across town and out of Borough. We need to work to expand good primary schools to provide adequate places.

Q: Aside from the above, what are your top priorities for Worcester Park?

A: Ensuring that local traffic issues are properly tackled and attracting inward investment into the area.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Community Noticeboard Defaced

Worcester Park's community noticeboard has been defaced, with the word 'MOSQUE?' scrawled across across it.

The vandalism comes in the wake of growing controversy over possible plans for a mosque to be built in the derelict 'Bank Chambers' building on Green Lane.

The plans were revealed by this blog in March and the story was later picked up by the Sutton Guardian newspaper.

Blog readers have reported that homes in some areas of Worcester Park have had photocopies of the Sutton Guardian's article posted through their door - an article in which the paper failed to point out that the group which purchased the site have denied that they are planning to turn the building into a mosque.

Barclays Bank - Cash In Transit Robbery

In the latest of a succession of cash-in-transit robberies in Worcester Park, thieves struck as a security van arrived at Barclays Bank on Central Road just before 1 o'clock this afternoon.

The thieves are understood to have escaped on foot with a cash box.

Barclays Bank Robbery

Police are in attendance at Barclays Bank on Central Road after an apparent robbery at the bank at lunchtime.

Did anyone witness anything?

Nonsuch Ward: Meet The Candidates - Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the local Council elections on 6th May, The Worcester Park Blog profiles the main candidates for Sutton Council's 'Nonsuch Ward' and asks what their top priorities would be if elected.

The three Liberal Democrat Councillors for Nonsuch Ward are seeking re-election:

Kirsty Jerome: Kirsty has lived in Worcester Park for 23 years and was elected as councillor for Nonsuch in 2006. She chairs the committee for Children and Young People where most recently she has been working to make school admissions fairer.

Other roles include being a governor at Scola and volunteer citizen advocate for someone with learning difficulties. Her working career has been in retail management and later in accountancy and payroll. She is married to Gerry and they have 3 children.

Kirsty’s reasons for standing for election are “I got married here, raised my kids here and want to keep Worcester Park and Nonsuch ward a great place to live.”

Roger Roberts: Roger has lived in Worcester Park for 38 years and has served as a councillor for Nonsuch Ward (previously Worcester Park South) since 1986.

He chairs the committee which scrutinises the decisions made by council’s Executive committee. He is a governor of Cheam High and Nonsuch Primary.

Roger is married with 2 grown-up children. His children attended local schools and enjoyed taking part in community activities. Roger, never one to stand by, helped out with the parents group at the scouts for a number of years. Roger worked for many years as a manager for BT.

Roger seeks to be re-elected as he wants "to continue the good work done by the Liberal Democrats in the borough and in the ward over the years".

Gerry Jerome: Gerry had served for 8 years as a Councillor on Sutton Council before winning the Nonsuch ward by-election last July.

He is a successful IT consultant who has worked in the public and private sectors as well as owning his own business.

During his time on the council he has served on committees for planning , social services and education and is an experienced ward councillor. A father of three, he and Kirsty have lived in Worcester Park for 23 years.

Gerry seeks re-election so he can use his knowledge of the council and his broad work experience to benefit the residents of Nonsuch and the borough.

Q: As you seek re-election, what are your proudest achievements as Councillor over the course of your term in office?

A: Locally we have all worked with individual residents to resolve a range of difficulties from finding a doctor, to helping people with more sensitive problems and it is often these that bring the greatest reward.

Generally there have been problems associated with parks around antisocial behaviour and criminal damage that we have addressed.

In Fairlands Park we, as the local councillors, supported residents by working with the police to get adequate fencing, moving the play area and getting one set of gates locked from dawn to dusk. These changes, alongside the strong support of the local Safer Neighbourhood Police Team, have made a vast improvement to residents’ quality of life.

In Cuddington we supported the formation of the Friends of Cuddington Rec. This park was allocated money from the “Public Realm” budget for new fencing and gates which have smartened up the entrances and along with action from the Safer Neighbourhood Team have seen a reduction in the antisocial behaviour problems.

We campaigned to get Central Road moving through linking the traffic lights and this has finally been done. We are now monitoring the effect of the linking of the traffic lights to see if it is working. We will continue to seek measures to improve the traffic flow further.

We also are still campaigning to sort out the parking bays at North Cheam and we are assured by Transport for London that a proper consultation will take place after the purdah period of the election.

One Liberal Democrat council decision that has made a real difference is the setting up of the Local Committees and the allocation of a “Public Realm” budget to each.

Our Local Committee covers Nonsuch, Worcester Park and Stonecot wards. It is open to the public and addresses local issues. Over the last two years the local councillors, other local group representatives and any members of the public that have attended have been able to discuss and suggest proposals for local spending of this money.

It has been used to fund things like the new Christmas lights for Worcester Park, the flowers and troughs on the high street, new fencing in Cuddington Rec and completion of the Rosa Smith playground.

We really would like to see even more people attending this meeting and getting involved in local decision making as this is something that as Lib Dems we are passionate about.

Q: Councils are likely to come under increasing financial pressures in the forthcoming term. How would you propose meeting this challenge and ensuring that costs can be cut and savings made without essential services suffering?

As a Liberal Democrat council our twin priorities are to protect vital services, particularly those needed by the elderly and more vulnerable members of our community and to keep council tax as low as possible for residents.

We are allocated a considerably lower level of government grant than most other London Boroughs. Only 39% of Sutton’s spending requirements is met by government grant whereas in Hammersmith and Fulham it is 63%.

Sutton spends £747 per head of population , significantly less that the average for London as a whole of £924 and for Outer London of £823.

Despite this as a borough we have delivered value for money over the years by making efficiency savings and introducing new ways of working designed to deliver the services at a lower cost.

We would continue look for innovative ways to deliver services eg through such measures as partnership working “eg working with the local health authority, police teams and the voluntary sector and working in groups with nearby authorities to supply services more cheaply.

Q: The last couple of years have been very tough ones for Worcester Park's independent traders. What would you seek to do to help small businesses in the area and make sure Worcester Park's high street not only survives but thrives?

All small businesses are finding times tougher and we recognise this.

Worcester Park has had some funding allocated in conjunction with Kingston to regenerate the area around the station including the high street and this has recently been consulted on. We are awaiting the outcome of that consultation and look forward to the improvements.

The Public Realm funding that the council allocated to the Local Committee was used in part to improve Central Road. - e.g. new seating , the flower troughs and hanging baskets and the Christmas lights.

The council ensured that free car parking in Waitrose car park continues to be available for shoppers.

If re-elected we would look for ways to make Central Road and North Cheam attractive places to shop and encourage our residents to use the local shops as this is the only way that they will survive.

Q:.Availability of primary and secondary school places is a key concern for local parents. What should be done to ensure a fairer system for children in Worcester Park?

Primary school places are being created across Sutton.The birth rate locally has risen very sharply in the last few years after a long period where it was dropping.

Locally the schools are being consulted on expansion plans to cope with the increased numbers of children expected to need a primary school place. These plans should ensure that the schools are able to cope with the increase in demand.

Secondary school places in Worcester Park continue to be a challenge. The Lib Dems have made a manifesto pledge to campaign for fairer access to local secondary school places.

Surprisingly, there are more secondary school places in Sutton than there are children, however, the effect of many out of borough children gaining places in some of our secondary schools puts tremendous pressure on the remaining secondary school places.

Nine out of fourteen of our secondary schools can set their own admission arrangements without taking into consideration the needs of the borough which makes place planning very difficult.

We have recently re-examined the complex arrangements governing what schools may do and intend to work with secondary schools in the borough to set targets to increase the percentage of local children admitted and campaign to make the system fairer overall.

In the longer term we intend to work more closely with our adjoining boroughs to address this shared problem.

Q: Aside from the above, what are your top priorities for Worcester Park?

A: As Lib Dems our manifesto pledge for Sutton is to make our borough Safer , Fairer and Greener.

In Worcester Park and Nonsuch we will do this by continuing to work with the Safer Neighbourhood team in tackling antisocial behaviour by working to provide more activities and places for young people to go.

And to continue to encourage people to get involved in local decision making.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Nonsuch Ward: Meet The Candidates - Conservative Party

Ahead of the local Council elections on 6th May, The Worcester Park Blog profiles the main candidates for Sutton Council's 'Nonsuch Ward' and asks what their top priorities would be if elected.

First up, the Conservative Party candidates.

Eric Allen: A Borough resident for the past 24 years, Eric says he is really concerned about the lack of business judgement in running the Borough, as reflected in so many wasteful projects. He wants to use his commercial experience to encourage local businesses to grow and create employment. He is passionately committed to appropriate planning, affordable parking and effective policing. The costs of projects like the £8.5million Sutton Life Centre and the £3m spent on repaving Sutton High Street worry him as a local taxpayer.

Richard Butt: Richard has lived in the Borough with his family for 16 years. As a retired Chartered Surveyor and the current Councillor for the adjoining ward of Worcester Park, he has served on various planning committees, making him well qualified to deal with the Queen Vic eyesore and the Cheam Baths fiasco. Richard feels that Nonsuch has been betrayed by weak and ineffectual representation. His promise? This will change!

Alan Plant: A semi-retired mechanical engineer technician, he and his family have lived in Nonsuch for 32 years. His priorities are to cut wasteful spending, eliminate antisocial behaviour so that it does not affect our quality of life, and return to common sense values. Above all, he aims to remove Nonsuch from the status of “The Forgotten Ward”. If elected, he promises that residents will be genuinely listened to and properly represented.

Q. As you seek re-election, what are your proudest achievements as Councillor over the course of your term in office?

A. Richard Butt has stood up for Worcester Park, putting it back on the map. With colleagues, Richard was able to bring the full force of the planning committee to the Hamptons debate. Richard was proud to play a part in the Conservative’s ‘freeze the tax’ campaign which led to a begrudging acceptance that Council Tax needn’t increase year-on-year.

Q: Councils are likely to come under increasing financial pressures in the forthcoming term. How would you propose meeting this challenge and ensuring that costs can be cut and savings made without essential services suffering?

We are aiming to freeze council tax for the next four years, whilst maintaining and improving frontline services.

Money has been diverted from adult social services and schools maintenance budgets to help pay for the £8.5million Sutton Life Centre. The U-turn on the £35 per bag green garden waste collection cost taxpayers £800,000, the equivalent of 1% extra on council tax.

Residents cannot afford to live under a Liberal Democrat council anymore.

We will not indulge in pet projects and consult people before the big decisions are taken. Reorganising the council’s structure to reduce duplication of effort and sharing services between other councils and public bodies will free up more resources for frontline services.

Q: The last couple of years have been very tough ones for Worcester Park's independent traders. What would you seek to do to help small businesses in the area and make sure Worcester Park's high street not only survives but thrives?

A: There is insufficient short term parking which needs to be addressed urgently. Sutton Conservatives have promised to make ‘stop and shop’ parking easier and more affordable. A Conservative Government will enable us to be flexible with business rates and offer attractive deals to bring new businesses into the area.

Seeing through the resequencing of the traffic lights along Central Road will reduce queuing, help improve the air quality and bring people back to the area. North Cheam and Worcester Park need to be brought back to their rightful place as key secondary shopping centres.

Q: Availability of primary and secondary school places is a key concern for local parents. What should be done to ensure a fairer system for children in Worcester Park?

There is no land readily available to build a new school so we need to bring a fresh eye to providing sufficient places. In the meantime, we can provide a fairer system without contravening the ‘Greenwich Judgement’ by working with schools to amend their catchment areas.

There is no reason why schools need to simply draw a circle around their school. They are allowed to take in particular roads and neighbourhoods.

All they are restricted from doing is using the Borough boundary as an artificial catchment line. Redesigning their criteria on irregular shapes will enable more Sutton Children to get into Sutton Schools.

Q: Aside from the above, what are your top priorities for Worcester Park?

We do not want to be wringing our hands about Victoria House in four years time. Instead we want to have worked with the private sector to have found a permanent solution and started to see the results.

Similarly Cheam Baths remains under threat with only a promise that a leisure centre will be built somewhere nearby. Without a site identified, there is a likelihood that the replacement will be both expensive and remote.

Finally the area needs to attract a fair share of attention and investment. Not everything revolves around Sutton High Street.

Whilst £3m is spent on replacing paving there, road surfaces in Worcester Park continue to crumble away.

Monday, 26 April 2010

On A Roll!

It seems that Scouting has come on a bit since my days of pitching tents in soggy fields and learning to tie various forms of knots. 1st Old Malden Scout unit have sent me this piece of news:

"Six members of 1st Old Malden’s Titan Explorer Scout Unit were awarded with the prize of an afternoon of zorbing in the Surrey countryside.
The award went to members of Titan’s blue division, who scored the highest number of points across the term for activities including football, rifle shooting, crafts, and the legendary Titan Olympics.
Zorbing is an activity wher the participant is strapped inside an inflatable ball and rolled down a hill. The Explorers have wanted to give this a try for some time, and were lucky enough to have two rides each – one strapped into a harness and one hydro-ride which can be compared to riding in a washing machine!
There were a lot of screams, a lot of soaked clothes, and a lot of smiles all round.
Explorer scout Sophie Humphrey 15, said “It was great fun… wet, awesome and funny!”"

Candid Date

'Churches Together in Sutton & Cheam' have organised a meeting to 'Hear the Candidates' - your chance to question the candidates contesting the Parliamentary constituency of Sutton & Cheam.

The candidates will be answering your questions at St Nicholas Church, St Nicholas Way, Sutton this Friday (30th April) at 7.00pm.

Cock Up & Cover Up

It's now just over a month since I blogged about the strange case of the confusing height warning signs on and around the railway bridge in Worcester Park (which put the height of the bridge at anywhere between 15ft 6 inches and 16 ft, depending on which sign you believed) and just over a month since I contacted Sutton Council's press office and asked them for comment on the whole sorry mess.

To date, Sutton Council have not even replied to me on the matter - they obviously did get my e-mail though within days of the blog post being published workmen had been dispatched to cover the erroneous signs with black plastic bags - which was a result, of sorts.

However it took one of my blog readers to alert me to the fact that this had been done, as to date I still have not had a reply from Sutton Council.

So just as they are fond of doing to me when my Council Tax is due, I have sent Sutton Council a little reminder.

I doubt that these road signs are cheap - and as we are all feeling the pinch and watching every penny I have also asked them to let me know how much of  my money (and your money) has been wasted on this comedy of schoolboy errors.

Sutton Council obviously does listen - now I just have to get them to speak!

Friday, 23 April 2010

A Vision Of Worcester Park

For all the stick it takes and despite the planning furore in recent years, I don't think many would doubt that The Hamptons and Mayflower Park are a striking and aesthetically pleasing addition to the Worcester Park landscape.

Shimi Dahan, who was project landscape architect for Phase 1 of the Hamptons and Mayflower Park has been in touch with me having stumbled across the blog:

"It’s fascinating to see current photos and witness the rivalry between the Worcester Park and Hamptons residents and the attachment both groups have developed towards the park."

Shimi's portfolio website has some of the early design ideas for the project - you can check them out and have a virtual tour of The Hamptons and Mayflower Park as they were originally envisaged at (select the portfolio page and scroll half-way down list of projects).

I wonder what Shimi would make of a real-life walk through the completed development?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Not To Be Taken Liberally

Aunt Doris has e-mailed me to recount her visit from a canvassing local politician. I suspect someone may have slipped something into her tea - either way, her account is not to be taken liberally...

"I’ve had a visit from a nice Liberal Democrat representative.

Apparently, he wanted to fix an appointment to deliver his literature. I asked why he couldn’t just use my letterbox, like Labour and the Conservatives?

But he insisted it was absolutely necessary. He said he wanted to book More than Lofts to remove my front door, thereby allowing access to my door mat, place the Lib Dem literature on my doormat, then call out More Than Lofts again to replace my front door.

I again repeated that I didn’t see why any of that was necessary, noting that if he wanted, he could turn his literature sideways, to get it through the letterbox.

But he then said they’ve got a wealth of experience at that kind of thing, so I should agree with him. I even pushed his literature through my letterbox, showing him how it could be done. He tried it himself (several times, in fact), and he was amazed at the way it always landed on my doormat.

So I asked, “Now why would any fool entertain such silly behaviour, not to mention the cost of removing and replacing my door?”

“A-ha!” he exclaimed. Then he winked and whispered, “Not to worry, after the election, all those in Worcester Park with £2 million houses will pick up the tab!”

So I asked him how many such houses there actually were in Worcester Park? After a pause and a review of his leaflets, and a couple of phone calls, he looked up and said, “Well it’s the principle that counts!”

I then asked, what if after the election, someone took a zero off the £2,000,000 and said that every house over £200,000 had to pay, blaming Mr. Brown for buying too many paperclips or something?

With that, he turned white as a sheet! He got on his mobile phone again and started running up my pathway, yelling about secret taxation plans being leaked!
Funny little fellow!"

London Calling

The Worcester Park Blog has (cue the fanfare) made it onto's list of  'Top London Bloggers'.

Check out the others on the list for an interesting gambol through the rest of the capital's blogosphere.

Monday, 19 April 2010

W.I. Not?

The Women's Institute isn't just about jam, Jerusalem and slow hand clapping Tony Blair. The organisation has sought to modernise itself in recent years - and now it could be coming to Worcester Park.

There will be a gathering of interested women tonight (Monday 19th April) at Christchurch with St Philip church hall  at 7:30pm - the first step in bringing the Women's Institute to Worcester Park.

If you are interested in finding out how you can be part of the W.I. in WP, then pop along to the meeting to find out more.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

No Kerfuffle Over Eyjafjallajoekull

The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano, unlike Cheryl Cole, is continuing to blow ash.

This may be causing chaos and disruption for thousands across Europe but down on the ground in Worcester Park, blog reader Andrew B is amongst those relishing the peace and quiet;

'So, the closure of UK airspace continues. Isn't it wonderful?! Who can be missing the constantly intrusive rattling thundering helicopters which use Worcester Park's airspace?

It's all so peaceful, so let's hope the volcanic fluff currently being despatched this way continues for months on end.

Conversely, we occasionally receive sand from the Sahara over here - I've certainly had it on my car a few times. I thought sand was silica, the same substance which is causing the present no-fly conditions.

I don't recall planes being stopped for that when it must have been prevalent in the air. Do planes not fly over the Sahara ? There must be a lot of the said silicates spiralling way up into the atmosphere on the major thermals that must occur in such a hot place."

I must admit it has been glorous enjoying the peace and quite of my suburan garden today.

As I poured a glass of chilled white wine, reclined the deck chair, soaked up the sun and listened to the contented chirping of the birds the plight of holidaymakers and business travellers across the globe couldn't have been further from my thoughts.

Selfish. Moi?

One Horse Race?

Whilst all the attention might be focussed on the forthcoming General Election, there are of course local council elections taking place in Worcester Park (for those living in the Sutton or Kingston boroughs, that is).

But where, pray tell, are the candidates for the local elections? So far only the Liberal Democrat council candidates have graced by doormat with campaign literature and knocked on the door to speak to me (I wasn't in at the time).

Only just over a couple of weeks to go, and I've not ot a peep from the local Conservative council candidates so far.

Has anyone heard from them?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I Agree With Nick

The man of the moment, Nick Clegg, will be visiting Sutton town centre at 9.15 tomorrow morning to talk to a group of 18-25 year olds (and anyone else who wants to pop along and agree with Nick) about the importance of electoral reform and voter registration. 

I'm wondering where they've found 18-25 year olds who can make it out of bed at 9.15 on a Sunday morning??

To witness this modern day miracle, head to Manor Park off Throwley Way in Sutton tomorrow (the corner of the park nearest the police station).

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fund The Pond!

Some Worcester Park residents may recall that the pond in Shadbolt Park, Salisbury Road used to be a haven for local wildlife. Now it is dry for most of the year because the original concrete liner has failed and the pond has become an eyesore.

The Friends of Shadbolt Park commissioned a study to explore the possibilities for restoration. Wildlife enthusiast Carol Williams took it upon herself to take action, especially since 2010 is the UN year for biodiversity.

A public meeting was organised in December at which members of the Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Lower Mole Countryside Project explained what could be done to restore the pond and create a more attractive space for wildlife and park users.

The intention is to create a smaller pond within the area of the existing pond, using a flexible butyl liner, and create a haven for frogs, newts, toads and dragonflies.

It is envisaged that volunteers under the guidance of the Lower Mole Team will carry out this work in the autumn - by which time we need to raise a little over £4000 for the project to go ahead.

Project volunteer John told me:

"The cash will be needed to pay for the new liner, hire of machinery, and materials. Nearly 40 people attended the public meeting and it was agreed that we should go ahead and try to raise the funds to pay for the project.

Waitrose in Central Road featured the project in their green token scheme, which got us off to a good start, and we have received generous donations from several individual residents. We have a commitment of a significant sum from Surrey County Council, depending on getting sufficient local interest.

To dream up ways of meeting our target a few of us have formed a committee and, apart from asking for donations, we have discussed a sponsored walk around Shadbolt Park, coffee mornings, a stall at the Cuddington Fair in June, and have written to banks and building societies in Central Road for small grants (none received as yet)."

Some preparatory work to restore the pond has already been completed on a rainy day in February. Volunteers cleared the overgrowth around the area and tidied up generally.

If anyone has any other ideas for fund raising or wishes to make a contribution or is willing to help in any way please contact Carol on 020 8337 3722 or e-mail

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Prey Silence

No sooner has one noise nuisance been silenced than another is plaguing the good people of Worcester Park.

Blog reader Tim told e-mailed me to ask:

"I was wondering if anyone living at the top end of Worcester Park high street has noticed and is becoming extremely tired of some repetitive bird noises?

I have been advised it is a gadget that is designed to deter the pigeons off the roofs near More Than Lofts/Stitch Express.

It is an increasingly annoying, repetitive, squawk that is intended to replicate the sound of a bird of prey (I can only assume).

Please make it stop!!"

Monday, 12 April 2010

Paw Thing

A cat was found and rescued by the RSCPA over the Easter weekend in Clarkes Avanue. He's a white and tabby male cat and had been seen in the area with an injured paw for several weeks.

He has been taken to RSPCA Putney - telephone 0300 123 0716. RSPCA Putney Lot no. PC59758 “George”

J.J. O.K. ... BNP n/a ... GP £167k

Three quick things to start your week...

J.J. O.K: John James Gardening is now under new management (although it is still owned by the same family which has run it for the past 34 years). As soon as I heard the news I made straight for the store to discover the fate of J.J the parrot. I'm please to say he has survived the change and can still be found keeping a watchful eye over the store. I guess there was a special claws in his employment contract. Fnarr fnarr.

BNP n/a: The BNP have beaten a retreat after their paltry showing in the Nonsuch by-election last year and are not fielding any candidates in the forthcoming local elections. Mind you, the Labour party candidate polled half the share of the BNP candidate and he will be standing again.

GP £167k: Good news for those struggling to find a GP in Worcester Park with an £167k of funding approved to expand Dr Kanthan's surgery on London Road. Details on Jason J Hunter's campaign website.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Hair Today

I see that the Conservative's David Cameron was in Cheam Village today - I wonder if anyone managed to get the ultimate photo-opportunity; the illustrious Tory leader posing outside 'David Cameron Hair' on Cheam Broadway?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Local Council Elections & General Election - Candidates List

Below are the confirmed candidates standing in the local council elections and Parliamentary elections on Thursday 6th May.

There are two Sutton Council wards in Worcester Park  - Worcester Park ward and Nonsuch ward. Parts of Worcester Park also fall under Kingston Council's Old Malden ward, which I have therefore also included below. Beside each candidate is their address - it may not matter to you, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to being more inclined to vote for candidates who actually live in the ward for which they are standing.

Worcester Park straddles the boarders of three Parliamentary constituencies: Sutton & Cheam, Kingston & Surbiton, and Epsom & Ewell.

WORCESTER PARK WARD (London Borough of Sutton)

Conservative Party:
Stuart Gordon-Bullock (Cookes Lane, Cheam)
Marie Grant (Wilbury Avenue, Cheam)
Alan Swinton (Beresford Road, Cheam)

Labour Party:
John Evers (St Philip's Avenue, Worcester Park)
David Hosking (Longfellow Road, Worcester Park)
Hilary Hosking (Longfellow Road, Worcester Park)

Liberal Democrats:
Jennifer Campbell Klomps (The Hamptons, Worcester Park)
Jason J Hunter (Hemingford Road, North Cheam)
Stephen Fenwick (Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Wallington)

United Kingdom Independence Party:Chris Day (Courtenay Road, Worcester Park)

NONSUCH WARD (London Borough of Sutton)

Conservative Party:
Eric Allen (The Avenue, Cheam)
Richard Butt (Arundel Road, Cheam)
Alan Plant (Church Hill Road, North Cheam)

Labour Party:
Kathie Clark (Moreton Road, Worcester Park)
Shaw Buck (Lawrence Road, Hove)
Marcus Papadopoulos (Stoneigh Avenue, Worcester Park)

Liberal Democrats:
Gerry Jerome (St Philips Avenue, Worcester Park)
Kirsty Jerome (St Philips Avenue, Worcester Park)
Roger Roberts (Oaks Avenue, Worcester Park)

The three candidates who gain the most votes in each individual ward will be elected to sit on the Council from 2010 to 2014.

OLD MALDEN WARD (Royal Borough Of Kingston Upon Thames)

Conservative Party:
Mick Amson (Malden Road, New Malden)
David Fraser (Malden Road, Nww Malden)
Kate Stinton (Adelaide Road, Surbiton)

Labour Party:
Ian Kellett (Kingshill Avenue, Worcester Park)
John Knowles (Fir Grove, New Malden)
George Pearson (Church Road, Worcester Park)

Liberal Democrats:
Ghazala Hayat (Risborough Drive, Old Malden)
Suk-Ha Kwon (Sheephouse Way, New Malden)
Kerry Williams (Sheephouse Way, New Malden)

Christian Peoples Alliance:
Roger Glencross (Hollington Crescent, New Malden)

Green Party:
Adeela Taimuri (Archdale Place, New Malden)

Daniel Goodger (Chantry Road, Chessington)



Declared candidates to date for the Parliamentary election on Thursday 6th May

Constituency of Sutton, Cheam & Worcester Park

Kathy Allen (Labour)
Paul Burstow (Liberal Democrat)
Martin Cullip (Libertarian)
Peter Hickson (Green Party)
David Pickles (UK Independence Party)
Philippa Stroud (Conservative)

Constituency of Kingston & Surbiton:

Edward Davey (Liberal Democrat)
Max Freedman (Labour)
Edmond Rosenthal (UK Independence Party)
Monkey The Drummer (Monster Raving Loony Party)
Chris Walker (Green Party)
Helen Whately (Conservative)

Constituency of Epsom & Ewell:

Chris Grayling (Conservative)
Jonathan Lees (Liberal Democrat)
Craig Montgomery (Labour)
Elizabeth Wallace (UK Independence Party)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Night Mare

Not for those of a nervous disposition, this tale of equine terror in Worcester Park has been sent to me by a blog reader still evidently terrified by the ordeal a quarter of a century ago....

"I had horses stabled at Grafton Road (off The Avenue) in Worcester Park over 25 years ago. One summer night I had gone there quite late to bring my horse in, and noticed a bay horse I'd not seen before near the end of the field. I didn't think much about it - just thought it was a new horse that had been put in the field.

About half an later I was just about to put a water bucket in the stable when I heard a mad rush of hooves rushing past me so fast i could feel the wind against my skin as it passed....then an awful noise as if there were horses neighing and screaming as if terrified.

Then I saw the bay horse go straight through a shut/locked stable door!!! The noise stopped and everything went quiet - the stable door was padlocked AND bolted up!

I was so terrified I couldn't get out of that yard fast enough. I drove up the road, but stopped by the field as I thought about the bay horse I'd first seen. What was it that I'd seen? Was my mind playing tricks on me?

I was scared but puzzled and rang one of the girls who'd stabled there for years.

She told me there had been a fire in the yard years before and the horse that i saw had got trapped and burned to death in the stable block (and afterwards the block was rebuilt in the same place. Apparently when it was alive the owner never put a head collar on it to bring it in from the field as she'd open the gate and it would go straight into it's stable.. and she said that is what I'd seen.

She said she had heard it before but never seen anything.

I went down the next day to see old Tom Parker who I rented the stable from. He said it had happened years ago and knew about the hauntings as previous tennants had mentioned strange thing going on there.

Needless to say it scared that s*#t out of me so much that I then stabled my horse at Tom Parkers at the farm by Worcester Park station."

Altogether now... scar-ey hor-ses....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


They are so much a part of our lives today that it's sobering, if not frightening, to think that at the time of the last general election in the UK Facebook existed only as a small-scale social network for US college students, YouTube was still being tested ahead of public launch and Twitter hadn't even been invented. 

Welcome to the first UK elections in the social media age.

Much will be made of how the national parties use (or abuse) these modern methods of communication to reach out to the electorate, in particular the many first-time voters, but how social media will be deployed at a local level is going to be even more interesting.

When the worldwide web exploded into mainstream use in the late 1990s the real excitement surrounded its international capabilities. We are so used to it now that it's easy to forget the revolutionary thrill of instantaneous communication with friends, relatives or total strangers across the other side of the globe, the wonder of having news from far-flung continents appear on your desktop and the sheer exhilaration at being able to by a CD in America at half the cost of your High Street record store.

Whilst we may still marvel at the power of the web to make the virtual world a much smaller place, the reality is that we don't live our lives globally - we live, work, shop, relax and socialise in a very defined local area.

And so it came to pass that this worldwide communications tool is being used by a bloke in Worcester Park to blog about things that are happening in his tiny town, and thousands of others are logging on every week to read and comment about what's happening on their own street or at most just a few minutes' walk from their front door. It's not just me - all across London, there are countless other bloggers and citizen journalists tapping into the clear need for ultra-local content on the web.

I was surprised last year at the level of online interest in the Nonsuch Ward by-election. Even though there was just a single Council seat being contested, the comments and visitor stats for the website showed a healthy interest in local politics online.

As the very existence of the Worcester Park Blog shows, there is no shortage of local people going online to air their opinions on what is going in in their neighbourhood - planning issues, transport, the state of the High Street, problems with school places and so on and so forth.

If used properly, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other forms of social media could prove a powerful platform for elected or prospective local Councillors not only to reach out to the electorate but also, and more importantly, to engage and interact with them in ways that no pre-election leafleting could ever hope to do.

Quite how our current and prospective local politicians will take advantage of this remains to be seen - but already when it comes to Worcester Park politics there is a clear digital divide between the 'have nets' and the 'have nots' - witness, for example, the website from Worcester Park's prospective Liberal Democrat Councillor Jason J Hunter and his contact card resplendent with myriad ways of socially networking with him should you be so inclined.
He is, unless I am mistaken, the only Worcester Park council candidate with an online presence you have to look to neighbouring towns (like Carshalton Central's Councillor Paul Scully) for examples of others.

Simply having a social media presence isn't going to be the answer to a local politician's electoral dreams - it has to be used effectively, it has to speak directly to the local electorate, engage with them on a meaningful level and not just be used as yet another platform from which to harangue and already cynical and campaign-weary public.

Full marks to Jason J Hunter for establishing an online presence and for engaging with bloggers like myself and The Brinkster in a bid to promote his campaign and spread the message to the local people. As for whether his website, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages will really strike a chord with the people of Worcester Park I remain unconvinced - mainly because they are filled more with inconsequential snipes at Labour and the Tories rather than meaningful pledges on what he would do for Worcester Park.

Used properly, social media in this election campaign could give our savvy online politicians the edge over those who are yet to take their message online - and with potentially low turn out expected coupled with projected tight margins expected at Council and constituency levels there is real potential for an online presence to make a difference to the electoral outcome.

Used badly, it is a disaster waiting to happen. I await the first electoral electronic gaffe - it's only a matter of time.

When it comes to local politics in KT4 you can of course expect full coverage and comment right here on the Worcester Park Blog.

Let the battle begin!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Worcester Park - 2008 3D

I've just noticed that Google Streetview can now be viewed in 3D. You'll need a pair of blue/red lens 3D glasses (or a couple of flattened Quality Street wrappers) to gaze through to appreciate the effect.

Worth a try, though, if you want to immerse yourself in Worcester Park (as it was in the summer of 2008). Alternatively, you can step outside your front door and experience the real Worcester Park in 3D.

Happy Easter!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Hell's bells, it's 'The HG Wells'

It barely seems five minutes since I was blogging about The Drill public house being refurbished and re-opening under new management.

Long-standing blog readers will recall that The Drill got on the wrong side of Worcester Park (quite literally) by declaring on its website that it was in Cheam.

The people of Worcester Park were understandably distraught at this snub but thankfully civil uprising was averted - after an impassioned e-mail from yours truly The Drill promptly changed their website and declared allegiance to Worcester Park.

Two years (and yet another change of management) on, The Drill public house is no more. It has closed down and will be re-opening with new mangement under the new name: 'The H G Wells' on 28th April.

The new name is, of course, a nod to the fact that the author H.G. Wells was a one-time resident of Worcester Park (living for a time in The Avenue).

Full marks to the new owners for opting for a name with a link to the local area in an age when so many historical (and meaningful) local pub names are being lost forever in favour of the meaningless and generic.

Not only did H G Wells live in Worcester Park, it also had the honour of featuring in one of this short stories - The Argonauts Of The Air - which you can read here.