Thursday, 17 February 2011

It's Grim Up North Cheam

Blog reader 'The Dan' was perusing The Sun's City section (the journal of choice for all financial high-fliers, as he aptly puts it) and spotted an article about the increasing number of boarded up shops on local high streets (a perennial topic on the Worcester Park Blog).

The Dan writes: "Included is a list of those suffering the most - after Margate it's mainly a rabble of northern towns in areas of economic woe, until a little further down the list you come to Worcester Park's beloved neighbour - North Cheam. It's good to know in these difficult times that we're not feeling the pinch quite as badly as the poor folk the next town over..."

Are there really 25% of shops in North Cheam boarded up? I appreciate that the derelict eyesore that is Victoria House (by the crossroads) will contribute hugely to the number, but I would be very surprised if there really were 25% of shop units empty in North Cheam.

Of course if anyone has the time and inclination to go and count for me.....

Friday, 11 February 2011

Hood Advice

Blog reader 'S' has e-mailed me with this worrying tale, to alert fellow Worcester Park residents:

"At about 2pm two young men in hooded jumpers rang on our doorbell. My Mum was home alone and opened the door to them. They tried to come in through the door and she shoved the door shut quickly and pulled the bolts across, she then pressed our panic button (our house alarm comes with those) as they smashed the glass panel next to our door and tried the latch on the door.

Our Mum thought they looked dodgy because they both had their hoods up and one had his face up close to the glass in the door. Unfortunately she did still open the door! 

She saw one man and he looked to be in his early 20's and is white. She didn't see the other one to be able to say anything other than that he was of the same build as the first man. She won't be opening the door to people unless she knows them now. I just thank the heavens that she wasn't hurt.
Beware Worcester Park Residents!" 

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Monumental Idiots

It has stood for almost a century in tribute to the town's war dead, but today this is all that remains of Worcester Park's war memorial after it was destroyed by contractors working for Sutton Council.

Local residents who found the smashed memorial yesterday morning at first feared that it was the work of vandals, but it was soon realised that the real culprits were tree surgeons who had been working in the cemetery on Thursday afternoon.

Tyre marks at the base and gashes on the side of the plinth show how the contractors' lorry smashed into the side of the memorial as they drove away from the site, sending much of the stonework toppling to the ground, smashing a nearby gravestone as it fell.

All  but one of the stone tablets at the side of the memorial, which were engraved with the names of Worcester Park's war dead, were sent crashing to the ground by the force of the collision.

Tyre marks in the grass show the path that the contractor's vehicle took, and closer inspection by the Worcester Park Blog today has revealed a further trail of destruction left by the tree surgeons as they drove over gravestones and memorials to get to the rear of the cemetery where they were felling a tree.

Freshly damaged stonework and memorials along their route confirm that the war memorial was not the only victim of the contractor's demolition derby...

It is not known whether the contractors reported the damage, but Sutton Council has confirmed that they will be held responsible for the costs of repairing and restoring the memorial.

Writing on her blog, Local Liberal Democrat councillor Jennifer Campbell-Klomps has branded the contractors 'vandals' and has called on Sutton Council to reconsider doing business with company responsible:

"I commend the vigilant resident who witnessed and reported spotting the tree fellers in the vicinity of the war memorial. As an ex-servicewoman, it is extremely difficult to understand how disrespectful anyone can be regarding fallen war heros. 

At least precious time has been saved now that the need to look for the culprits have been spared. No need to name and shame them - in this present economic climate - they will pay through the back teeth with hard cash.

Now it is up to the Sutton Council to decide whether they can afford to do business with such vandals."

IN PICTURES: the Worcester Park war memorial in better days.....

And the destruction caused by Sutton Council's contractors...

A gravestone smashed when the memorial fell....

Friday, 4 February 2011

When I Need You

I gave 'Henry's Cafe' another go this week. They've FINALLY learned that gun metal grey walls don't make for the warmest of welcomes and have moved from monochrome to muted technicolour, but it's still a world away from the cheery buzz and warm welcome of its predecessor Berties.

Whilst there I overhead an elderly couple bemoaning the fact that The Seasonal Shop had closed ("such a shame"..."obviously wasn't making money"...). I was going to explain how the concept of a seasonal shop works, but didn't - just imagine the joy on their faces when it bursts back into life for summer.

Meanwhile, ever since I mentioned the Leo Sayer-alike, he is now there virtually every time I'm in Waitrose. I am convinced that he is stalking me (and the rest of the supermarket). Still, at least he hasn't started singing. Yet.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Moving Comments

I've had a couple of e-mails in recent days from prospective Worcester Park residents looking for a little local insight to help make up their mind on whether to move to the area.

Being kind, helpful types I'm sure you can help Justin and Margaret with their enquiries. First up, Justin writes:

"My wife, little girl (2yrs) and I are considering moving to Worcester Park and have been eagerly pouring over the blog to glean what we can about WP and are pleased with the kinds of opinions, contributions and desires which the bloggers express.
We've found a house we LOVE and have been driving around (despite the roadworks) ascertaining what we can. Primary schools seem to not be a problem and despite the secondary school black hole we're not too concerned (after all it's a decade away, or a bus ride away if nothing changes). Should we be?
Our main concern is that at first glance WP high street seems to be "on the decline", what with a closed M&S Food and many "bargain" stores etc. We've very keen to get some feedback from the locals on this, where is WP going? Up, down or nowhere in particular? Where's the cafe culture and restaurants? What do young Mums do?
From an outsider's perspective the net affect of the Hamptons (other than maybe on school places) seems to be zero right now, based on the cars the residents there drive it seems to be attracting the right kind of ameri-philes.
All thoughts advice welcome for some could-be WP'ers trying to weigh up house price/size vs the lifestyle of Teddington/North Kingston (big parks, river, cafes, restaurants...)"

And from Margaret:

"I’m looking at moving into the area as I’ve only heard good things about Worcester Park, I’ve been to the area numerous times and it seems really nice and peaceful.

Having read some of your blogs is Worcester Park I’m a bit concerned. We are looking at a house on one of the large roads near St Matthias church, is the area nice? Any advice/opinions would be gratefully received."

Over to you, dear readers, for your thoughts and opinions!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Path To Destruction

Council cock-up or cost cutting conspiracy?

Construction of the footpath between The Hamptons and Buckland Way was dramatically halted after an eagle-eyed resident spotted a glaring error in a photo taken for the Worcester Park Blog.

Blog reader Paul from Buckland Way contacted the blog to voice his disapproval of the new footpath, accompanied with the photo below showing the line of the path marked out and construction about to begin - but it was only when he showed the photo to one of his neighbours that the Council's alarming error was spotted.

Paul takes up the story:

"In the planning application, the path was planned to go around the edge of the recreation field between the Hamptons and Buckland Way. However, the path was being constructed directly across the middle of the field with a proposed exit onto my neighbours property.

To say my neighbour was perplexed by this was an understatement - he quickly got on the phone to the Council. After getting nowhere with the person on the phone he escalated the process to her seniors and felt that he did not get anywhere there either.

Never one to be put off, he managed to track down one of the local Conservative ward Councillors who within 45  minutes of putting the phone down arrived at my neighbour's door to investigate.

After a bit of a chat, he disappeared off to Denmark Road and within a further 30 minutes work had halted.

A while later half the Council planners arrived and promptly re-marked the route of the new path after some serious discussions with my neighbour (on its original planned and approved route!).

Apparently, the path is short of funds so by going straight across the recreation field, I presume the council thought that they could save a bit of cash. What was going to be a tarmac path is now going to be gravel.

None of the residents in Buckland Way wanted this path for a variety of reasons and the Council thought they could cut corners (literally!)."

Council cock-up or cost cutting conspiracy?  You decide - but thanks to a blog reader's photo and the intervention of eagle-eyed local resident, the path is now being constructed on its originally designated route around the edge of the recreation ground.