Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Permit Parking?

One curiousity to emerge in the recent consultation on improvements to Green Lane and surrounding areas concerns suggestions from a number of residents that Worcester Park Athletics Club be given help to access their land for the purpose of car parking.

Sutton Council officials were, I understand, left scratching their heads after seeing this very specific suggestion cropping up so many times (with almost identical wording) on consultation returns. 

It turns out it is the result of some well-timed 'lobbying' from Worcester Park Athletics Club who want to access a stretch of land off Green Lane for use as a car park on match days. The land in question is understood to be the green space between the retirement home and the rear of Pembury Avenue - currently accessible only by a pedestrian footbridge over Beverly Brook. 

One Pembury Road resident who contacted me is less than impressed with the proposal:

"I was very annoyed to receive a letter from the Worcester Park Athletic Club proposing that the green field behind my house be turned into a 50 space car park for use by their members & away teams that visit, who only meet up for a few hours on a few days each week.

They don't give a hoot that we would be losing another green space, in which local residents walk their dogs & is home to all sorts of wildlife, but it would be used by the unruly kids to get up to all sorts of trouble & vandalism, but would be a disturbance to the residents who live in the home for retired people, who want a bit of peace and quiet!

These people should park their cars elsewhere and WALK...or am I missing the point that it is supposed to be an athletic club."

In fairness to the Athletics Club, anyone who has used Green Lane on a days when events are taking place there will know full well the impact on traffic and parking on what is already a congested road. Lack of parking facilities for members and visitors was even cited as one of the reasons behind the closure last year of the Worcester Park Bowling Club.

So as much as I would regret seeing any green space given over to car parking, perhaps it is a smaller price to pay for keeping a facility such as the Worcester Park Athletics Club as a viable proposition and a valuable local amenity?

As far as the Green Lane improvements are concerned, a Sutton Council source confirmed to me that helping the Club access land for parking would very definitely fall outside the remit of the improvement fund for Green Lane.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Streets Ahead?

The recent joint public consultation by Kingston Council and Sutton Council on how best to spend funding to improve the streets around Green Lane and Central Road certainly generated some healthy debated amongst blog readers.

The Worcester Park public had the opportunity to view the Councils' proposals at a series of public exhibitions at Green Lane School last week. 

With the exception of some general improvements to the pavement and some de-cluttering/upgrades to 'street furniture' to a small section of Central Road, between Green Lane and Longfellow Road,  the proposed 'improvements' appeared to consist mainly of improved street crossings in the various residential streets that are in line for the funding. 

Is this a case of creating proposals to suit the funding, or finding funding to suit the proposals? I suspect the former. Others who have viewed the proposals may disagree -  perhaps improved street crossings are precisely what our residential roads are crying out for.

Sadly (and in my view inexcusably) the proposals aren't available online, so if you didn't make it down to the school hall to look at the displays you have missed your chance.

I have asked the Council for electronic copies of the various plans so I can bring them to you on the blog, but so far to no avail.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Up Above The Streets & Houses

For those of you wondering why the scaffolding had appeared above 'More Than Lofts', all was revealed yesterday afternoon - it was to allow the construction of this fantastic rainbow over Worcester Park.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

87.7 Point FM

Just a quick plug for 'Point FM', a community project set up by Cheam Baptist Church currently broadcasting to the local area.

The station can be heard in Cheam, Ewell, Belmont, Sutton and Worcester Park from 'The Point' in Malden Road, Cheam (next door to Cheam Baptist Church) on 87.7 FM until 4th April.

You can find out more and listen online at  http://www.cheambaptist.org/

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Clean Lane


Grace Church (that's the name of a church, by the way, not a woman called Grace) is organising a clean-up of the area around Green Lane School this Sunday (28th March). Everyone is welcome to join them.

They will provide rubbish sacks and refreshments (as opposed to sacks and rubbish refreshments) so all you need to bring is some thick gloves and sturdy boots.

If you are free to lend a hand, you can meet up with the group at 3pm on Sunday outside Green Lane School.

For more details check out their website at gracechurchworcesterpark.org

Dates For Your Diaries

Just a reminder about a few events taking place today - firstly, the Social Media Cafe is being held at Starbucks in Sutton High Street from 4pm to 6pm.

The first of three public exhibitions is being held at Green Lane Primary School today from 5pm to 9pm - your chance to view the proposals and plans and quiz Council officers on environmental improvements to Green Lane and surrounding roads and also the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone in Worcester Park.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Next Drain To Water Loo

If you have used or even walked past Worcester Park station recently the chances are you will have caught wind of problems (yet again) with the station's drains.

Commuters at the station have been greeted by the less than fresh scent of South West Train's brand of 'Odour Toilette' for the past week.

'Coffee Man' was one of several blog readers who e-mailed me to let me know about the nasty niff, which is so bad that it required the use of four exclamation marks:

"It's raw sewage leaking from a drain in the forecourt of the station and running down the main road and under the bridge. Apparently Network Rail/ South West Trains have been advised on several occasions over the last week and still no action. 


It smells like a third world country !!!!!


It happened 3 time last year and they still can't get their drains sorted out.So be careful when walking the the area ,it will rot your shoes."
 
Whilst another blog reader asked;
 
"Am I the only person who doesn't like the smell in the waiting room - not very inviting, particularly for the coffee shop - could we persuade SWT to do something?"
 
Of course if this were the Sutton Guardian, the quotes would no doubt be accompanied by a picture of the aggrieved commuter standing outside the station looking suitably disgusted, pinching his nose with one hand whilst pointing at the offending effluent with the other. And the article would probably begin with a line about how 'commuters at Worcester Park station were kicking up a stink' yada yada yada.
 
But it isn't, so you'll just have to imagine that bit.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Worcester Park Mosque Plans Denied



UPDATE - JULY 2012: A planning application has now been submitted to turn these presmises in Green Lane into a mosque. Full details can be found here.




Original article from April 2010:


The group behind a proposed 'Worcester Park Islamic Community Centre' has denied suggestions on its website that it is planning to convert vacant premises in Green Lane into a mosque.

A representative of the Centre confirmed to me that contracts had been exchanged on the 'Bank Chambers' building (next to Kingfish) but said that whilst plans had not been finalised, they would most likely involve the creation of an Islamic-funded community centre for the whole of the local community to use.

When asked about suggestions on the group's website that the building was to be converted for use as a mosque, he told me was unaware of the existence of the website, which was taken offline within hours of our conversation.

The website called for 'Muslims locally and internationally to donate generously towards building the House of Allah' in Worcester Park.

It described Worcester Park as 'a huge focal point, with home to over 500 Muslim households in the locality' adding that 'currently the nearest Masajids [mosques] are up to 3 miles away...' and included a downloadable pledge form for donors to help fund the £325,000 cost of creating of the Centre.

No planning application has yet been submitted for the site.

UPDATE: Two weeks after I broke this story, it was picked up by the Surrey Comet who ran a somewhat sanitised version of the story in their paper and on their website. The Google cache of the wpicc.org website has now gone - click on the image below to see a snapshot of the page.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Consult And See

Last month I reported on Kingston & Sutton Councils' joint consultation on plans to improve the environment around the station and Green Lane area of Worcester Park, prompting a good deal of feedback about what you would (and wouldn't) want to see done.

The councils have now completed their consultation and will be presenting the draft proposals at a series of public exhibitions at Green Lane School, Worcester Park.

The exhibitions will give you the opportunity to view the proposals and discuss them with council officers.

The sessions are being held on:
  • Wednesday (24th March) from 5pm to 9pm
  • Thursday (25th March) from 6pm to 10pm
  • Saturday (27th March) from 8am to 4pm
at Green Lane Primary School.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Pasta La Vista!

With appropriate Mediterranean tardiness, La Continental mezze/tapas/bistro has finally opened (in place of the old 'Berties' cafe).

There were a few customers in there when I wandered past, which is encouraging for a brand new venture and they are open for evening meals too.

The menu is certainly comprehensive - even if the lunch special today was the distinctly un-Mediterranean 'Cottage Pie & Veg' - and prices don't look too bad, so I shall have to check it out soon.

Of course if you've beaten me to it and have already sampled their fare then you can add your comments to the ever-popular restaurant & cafe review page of the blog.

A host, of golden daffodils...

In response to my tongue-in-cheek blog posting last Sunday, Robert writes:


"As the long-suffering but immensely proud husband of the organising nerve-centre of the Daffodil Day, at which 'PCSO Steve' was spotted and snapped by the Worcester Park Paparazzi, can I chip in with my two bob's worth? 

Firstly, can I thank the WP Blog for publicising what was an amazing and inspiring event. Yes, maybe I am biased by my association with the creative director. I don't, however, tend to heap praise unless fully deserved; wife or no wife. It really was amazing.

I was very pleased that the Brinkster published a photo of what was behind the eight foot law enforcer's valuable presence in Central Road. A Parade with marching band is not something you see every day in our High Street. Indeed, as a resident of WP for over 17 years, this was a first for me. 


Going by the faces of the residents and shopkeepers of Worcester Park it was an exciting first for them too. Many a lump was brought to many a throat by the spirit of community created by the Kingston and Malden Scout and Guides band. What a shame this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. Even those drivers whose journeys were delayed for a few minutes commented on how great it was.

Personally, I take the Blogger's tongue-in-cheek comments about 'PCSO Steve' as exactly that. 'Steve' though, and the rest of the Worcester Park Safer Neighbourhood Team deserve applause rather than mickey taking, not only for their efforts for a large part of the day in supporting the event (and of course, providing crime prevention and safety advice) but also for their attitude towards Worcester Park as a community. 

This was evident in bundles throughout the day. As someone who has worked in public service for nearly 30 years, I am only too aware that such enthusiasm and commitment is a very special and valuable commodity.

PCSO Steve was a big draw for children at the festival and, to the best of my knowledge, only reduced one child to tears - considerably less than Father Christmas manages in Debenhams annually.

Just to put another contributor's mind at rest about the 'Curious case of the Marie Curie daffodil', St Raphael's did not organise the festival nor suggest its theme. Both came from Christ Church with St Philip and the theme was thought up by my talented wife, about a year ago. 

Strange but true, this was because daffodils grow at this time of year and look nice. Sorry if anyone took offence at the apparent 'theft' of the daffodil theme. I can assure it wasn't intended, or even realised.

Can we please have some more events like this in our community? I would like to be part of them."

Waitrose Worcester Park - Easter Opening Hours

Waitrose Worcester Park - Easter Bank Holiday opening hours

Good Friday (2nd April): 08.30 - 18:00
Easter Saturday (3rd April): 08:30 - 19.00
Easter Sunday (4th April): CLOSED
Easter Monday (5th April): 10.00 - 16.00

Friday, 19 March 2010

Worcester Parking Permits?


Residents in parts of Worcester Park could face annual charges for parking under proposals  to introduce a 'Controlled Parking Zone' (CPZ).

Sutton Council has begun a public consultation to seek residents' views on introducing the CPZ on roads in central Worcester Park..

One option under consideration is for the introduction of a permit-holders only scheme, with residents charged £40 per year for a permit and pay and others required to 'pay and display' during controlled hours. Businesses within the CPZ would face annual of £320 per vehicle for parking on-street.

The second option is the introduction of a 'free-bay scheme', with single yellow lines on the affected roads being controlled between allocated hours, with only a limite number of 'free bays' to allow residents and visitors to park.

The free bay scheme would mean residents would be unable to park all day outside their homes, unless in one of the limited number of 'free bays'.

The roads earmarked for possible introduction of the CPZ are:
  • Green Lane
  • Longfellow Road
  • Lincoln Road
  • Caldbeck Avenue
  • Washington Road
  • Brinkley Road
  • St Philips Avenue
  • Lindsay Road
  • Browning Avenue
  • Windsor Road
  • Hampton Road
  • Moreton Road
  • Balmoral Road
  • Donnington Road
A public exhibition, with the opportunity to view more details of the proposals and question council Officers about the proposals will be held at Green Lane Primary School next Wednesday (24th March) from 5pm to 5pm and Thursday (25th March) from 6pm to 10pm.

If you live in the affected road, would you welcome the introduction of a Controlled Parking Zone?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Height Of Confusion

How high is is Worcester Park's railway bridge? Well, the answer now depends on which one of three conflicting warning signs you believe.

According to the sign outside Midas Touch, the nearby bridge is 15 ft 9 inches high...


...but by the time you reach it, the bridge has magically grown an inch another 3 inches to become 16ft high.


Now, Sutton Council has heaped more confusion on the issue by erecting a new sign just a few feet away, proclaiming the bridge to be a whole 6 inches shorter at 15 ft 6 inches high.



So which of these three signs is correct? You decide.

I have forwarded the photos to Sutton Council to see if they can clear up the confusion. 

(P.S: Thanks to blog reader Axlrocky, whose wife noticed the discrepancy in the signs - trust a woman to notice the difference of a few inches...)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Case Of Disappearing Books

At the beginning of last month, I told you about further ideas which the Worcester Park Station Volunteer Group had for improving the experience of using the station - one of which was the creation of a book-sharing library for commuters.

The library scheme is already up and running, but blog reader Jane has spotted that commuters seem to be a lot better at borrowing the books than returning them:

"I noticed yesterday that all the books in the bookcase had gone and as yet nobody has brought any back. 

I wondered if you could highlight this little initiative and tell everyone to bring their old and unwanted books down there and to please return them when they have finished? 

It is a community-spirited idea to try and make the environment of Worcester Park a little bit nicer - I am sure with a bit of support it will work a treat!"

Of course it could just be that we are merely a town of bookworms and all the books are being read and enjoyed and will be returned to the bookcase at the station shortly.

If you have borrowed one of the books, don't forget to return it so that other commuters can enjoy it too.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Social Gathering




Arun has been in touch with me to let me know about a 'social media cafe' he is organising in Sutton on Wednesday next week.

The event is being organised in conjunction with Sutton Centre for the Voluntary Sector and FutureGov to help individuals, voluntary and charity groups and others to understand more about how they can use social media (blogs, Twitter, social networks and content sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube) to help reach a new audience and promote their project or cause.

The event is to be held at Starbucks on the High Street on Wednesday (24th March) from 4-6pm - if you are interested in attending, contact Arun Marsh - arunmarsh@gmail.com



Monday, 15 March 2010

Green Lights for Green Lane?


The plans to link and re-phase all of the sets of traffic lights in Worcester Park are due to be completed this month - according to blog reader Jennifer, the scheme seems already seems to have worked wonders for commuters using Green Lane:

"For the last 4 years, I have been living on The Hamptons estate and the commute along Green Lane and Central/Malden Road originally took approximately 30 minutes on most mornings.

The journey has improved quite considerably since the traffic lights now allows at least eight vehicles through instead of the "snail-pace" four! 

Occasionally, at about 0735 am, I have travelled the full length of Green Lane without stopping (with the lights on green of course)! This has only been possible over the last few months.

Perhaps the flow of traffic has not improved to the extent that one might expect, but progress has prevailed.

There must be someone out there who has also noticed the difference?'

Has your commute been eased by the re-phasing of the lights?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Very Long Arm Of The Law

I was inspired by The Brinkster's photo of 'PCSO Steve', who was out terrifying the crap out of small children on Central Road yesterday. I think all PCSO's should wear these costumes whilst on duty.

Their imposing height would go some way to compensate for the lack of powers of arrest, and if things do turn violent (which is unlikely as it's hard to be aggressive towards a an 8ft tall officer with a perma-grin and comedy shoes) then they would be nicely cushioned from any blows and could diffuse the situation by giving the reprobates a comedy clip round the ear with their soft foamy hands.

I think the idea has legs.



Friday, 12 March 2010

On the 2-1-Flee To Kingston

They don't always get the best of press, but Worcester Park's Safer Neighbourhood Team have notched up another small victory against petty criminals.

Two men were seen tampering with a moped in Longfellow Road, Worcester Park last month. When they realised they had been spotted, they made off on a 213 bus going towards Kingston. 

Officers from Worcester Park's safer neighbourhood team gave chase, stopped the bus and arrested the men. 

Honestly - you wait all day for a getaway vehicle, and then three turn up at once. 

Help For Hair-Do's

As regular blog readers (and even constipated ones) will know, two of my favourite blogging  topics are hairdressers and The Hamptons.


So the opportunity to write about an award-winning hairdresser in The Hamptons has left me almost incapacitated with excitement, but I shall struggle on regardless.

Worcester Park's very own Kim Roy, who works from her own private salon in The Hamptons, is an award winning stylist who has worked on high profile events such as London Fashion Week, has had her work featured on the front covers of top magazines and in newspapers and has also styled celebrities (just last week she did Katie Melua's hair for her new album cover).


Kim has been nominated for The Nation's Favourite Hairdresser Awards and has made it through to the semi finals - she needs as many public votes as possible to see her through to the grand final. 


So why not show your support for Worcester Park's premier hairdresser by voting for her online at - to see just why she deserves your nomination you can view a gallery of her work on her website http://www.breezecreativehair.com/

Thursday, 11 March 2010

An Education In Itself...

Education is a bit of a thorny issue for us Worcester Parkers - not only does our little town find itself on the borders of three different boroughs but the lack of local secondary school forces parents into a stressful battle to secure a place for their offspring.

Paul Burstow MP today raised at Prime Minister's Question Time the issue of the 170 families living in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park who learned last week that they have not been offered a place at any local high school, whilst many other children from outside the borough have been successful at getting places in Sutton schools.

Meanwhile, local mum Jenny has e-mailed me to voice her concerns about the expansion of Cheam Common Infants School in Worcester Park:

"I was rather concerned to receive a letter from the school recently stating that they are looking to expand the school to a four form entry school. I believe this will involve adding an additional three classrooms to the infants school and then eventually a further 4 classrooms to accommodate children in the junior site.

Where are they going to put these classrooms, the playground and school halls are already tight for space for the children that currently attend the schools?

What will this do to the level of teaching and care at the school, I haven’t seen any OFSTED reports for four form entry primary schools that are either good or excellent.

Would it not make more sense to expand one of the other infants schools in the area? Dorchester, for example, has more space."

Your homework for today is to read my blog post from last year which featured WhiteVanLady's excellent take on the school admissions process in Worcester Park.

I'll be asking questions at the end.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

KFC Promises To Curb Noise Nuisance



Fast food chain KFC has finally promised to take action after subjecting local residents to six months of noise nuisance from the extraction system at its Worcester Park outlet.

Since September last year, residents in surrounding roads have had to put up with noise from plant at the rear of the premises which starts up daily at 9 am and runs until after 1am.

Yet despite complaints being received from a number of local residents, it has taken the intervention of Sutton Council's Environmental Health department to prompt the branch, which has an annual turnover of £1 million, to take action to curb the noise disturbance.

Blog reader 'Longperson' told me:

"Even though I live in Longfellow Road, one block away from KFC, the noise is constant and very very annoying. When the weather is cold and my double-glazed windows are shut it's not too much of an issue, but when summer arrives it's going to be a different matter.

When I spoke to the Manager at the branch, he admitted that a number of other residents from surrounding roads have complained about the noise from the machinery - he even said it was too noisy for his staff inside the shop!"

Blog reader 'Shell' also contacted me to tell me of her frustrations when she tried to get KFC to respond to her concerns about the noise nuisance:

" I spoke with the [branch] manager who told me that the Council had been informed and they had installed a timer as the noise was disturbing local residents. However, the noise starts when they open and continues until closing time after midnight. Surely that can't be acceptable?

I contacted the area manager this afternoon and did not receive a reply and tried to contact KFC customer services but couldn't get through. Apparently a lot of people have complained about it but seem to have given up!"

Nina Arnott, a spokesperson for KFC, told me:

“We always try to be a good neighbour and work closely with local residents. We’ve been trying to find a solution to a noise problem caused by a faulty extractor fan at our Worcester Park store and have worked closely with the Environmental Health Officer.
 
We’re happy to say that a contractor will be visiting the restaurant on Friday [12th March] to fit a noise reduction device to fix the problem.”

Monday, 8 March 2010

Going Native

This blog isn't just read by people in Worcester Park, you know - I have a loyal band of ex-pats who read the blog from as exotic far away places like South Africa, the USA and New Malden.

Last year I brought you some fantastic photos and information on Worcester Park House which were sent to me by Jeff, a blog reader and keen local historian.

John Nolan from Australia e-mailed to tell me that he is a relative of one of the last occupants of Worcester Park House.

I put him in touch with Jeff who tells me:

"John, whom I contacted off-blog, is descended from the occupants of Worcester Park House. Fredrick Wheeler, his great-great-great grandfather, emigrated to Australia and became an Inspector in the Queensland Native Police who were instructed to 'disperse' aboriginals living near European homesteads. 

Frederick interpreted this instruction over zealously and was responsible for many deaths. He was tried and found guilty of of a particularly horrible crime (beating a 10 year old aboriginal lad to death) but managed to escape from prison. 

John doesn't believe the reports that Frederick died in Java in 1882. I have suggested that he made it back to England and spent his remaining days in hiding in Worcester Park House to escape the hangman's noose but then I always did have a vivid imagination!"

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Saturday Is Daffodil Day

This Saturday (13th March) is Daffodil Day in Worcester Park, in aid of St Raphael’s Hospice.

The day starts with a parade at 10:45am by the Malden Guide and Scout Band, marching from Waitrose (Stone Place) to Christ Church with St Philip for the grand opening of the event by The Mayor of Sutton at 11am.

Throughout the day there will be floral displays from church groups, local associations, schools and pre-schools as well as scheduled performances from North Cheam Dance Academy, Passmores Dance Studio, Junior Music Group (performing drama and music), church singers and guest singers.

There will also be an organ recital, craft and cake stalls, ploughman’s lunches and light refreshments, face painting, craft activities, a poetry competition and art exhibition, the Metropolitan Police Mobile Reassurance Unit  (which is reassurring) and a visit from Sutton Fire Brigade

The day will end with a Service of Remembrance at 4pm led by Revd Charlotte Elvey.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Dung Deal

The offer of horse manure sounds irresistible - I just have to decide whose door I want it dumped on...

(Sign spotted on The Avenue, Worcester Park)


Friday, 5 March 2010

Stoned-leigh

Worcester Park is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons today with BBC News and other national outlets reporting the conviction of members of a gang who smuggled £62m of cannabis hidden in flower boxes.

The drugs were stored in lock up garages in Kingston, Ashtead, Epsom and Worcester Park.

However, perhaps it's a bit premature of us to go and sit on the naughty step - reliable sources tell me that the 'Worcester Park' lock-up garages were actually in the Stoneleigh area.

A minor technicality, maybe, but how is Worcester Park to clear its name?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Worcester Park Lodge


Last year I brought you some rarely-seen aerial photographs of Worcester Park House in its glory days.

Blog reader Steve has been in touch to share his memories of 'Worcester Park Lodge' one of the out-buildings of Worcester Park House:"Here are a few photos I took in March 1993 on a visit to the Lodge, where my Nan and Grandad lived in for many years. By 1993 it had been empty for years and was boarded up.

They lived there with my Mum, her three sisters and one brother. I remember staying there for weeks in the summer holidays in the 1970's till early 80's, with loads of woods around to play in."

Quite what the future of 'Worcester Park Lodge' is remains to be seen. Planning permission for 'refurbishment' of the site was granted some time ago, and renewed again in 2008 but works have yet to take place.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Auction Near

I went along to the 4th Worcester Park Scout group's auction in November last year - and I returned the proud owner of a £3 toaster which, for some reason came with a free milk frother.

I didn't actually need a toaster but I bought it on a whim because it matched my kitchen - and it was infinitely cheaper than buying a kitchen to match my toaster. I have yet to find a use for the milk frother.

The Scout group is holding their next auction this Saturday, 6th March at their headquarters on Balmoral Road, Worcester Park.

If you have any items to sell, you can take them along for listing at 10.30 on Saturday morning. Viewing starts at 13.30 and the auction gets underway at 14.30.

Admission is 50p. Happy bidding!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bluebells (and other green shoots)

As the tough times continue, it's good to be able to report a couple of new retail openings due to take place in Worcester Park this week.

It's hard to believe it's nearly a year and a half since the sad passing of Joe Bright, who ran 'Eves Flowers' near the station.

Joe was a familiar and friendly face to locals over the years and saviour to many a panicked (male) commuter dashing home from work to pretend they had remembered the other half's birthday/anniversary etc. all along.

Since Joe passed away, the shop has lain empty, despite a 'sold' sign appearing above it last summer, but all is set to change as the unit is due to open as 'Bluebells' florist on Wednesday of this week (if rennovation work goes to schedule).

It will never be the same without Joe, but I like to think he'd approve of his little corner of Worcester Park being alive once again with the sight and smell of freshly cut flowers.

Also due to open on Wednesday is 'La Continental' bistro in the former 'Berties' cafe unit.

Hopefully I'll make it there at the weekend to sample their Meditteranean cuisine - but if you beat me to it, be sure to add your opinion on the cafe/restaurant reviews page!