Saturday, 25 February 2012

Time To Remember?

Staff at Green Lane School in Worcester Park are appealing for help locating a time capsule which is believed to have been buried at the school 60 years ago.

The school has been approached by BBC Surrey and Sussex on behalf of one of  their ex-pupils who is now in her sixties but is unfortunately terminally ill.

The former pupil has compiled a 'Bucket List' which includes finding the 'Time Capsule' which she says was buried in 1952 to commemorate the Queen's accession to the throne.

Unfortunately nobody currently at the school has any knowledge of where the time capsule was buried and they no longer have any records from that era.

The BBC, who are broadcasting her progress with her list, have arranged for a metal detecting expert to come on board but the school is appealing for any former pupils who have any recollections of the time capsule to get in touch.

If you have any information that might help in the search for the capsule, contact Jo Davey at Green Lane School.

Local Kids Clean Up

Back (from left): PCSO Gary Weaving, Sgt Suzannah James, and Bola Odulate, Thames Valley Neighbourhoods Officer with some of the young volunteers


The Hamptons is looking greener and cleaner thanks to the efforts of a group of local youngsters who gave up their time for 90-minute litter pick of the area.

Litter removed from the streets, estate borders and open spaces included discarded wrappers, drinks bottles, bits of broken toys – and even a hammer!

Sgt Suzannah James of Worcester Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team, who organised the event with Thames Valley Housing said “The children really got on with the job and enjoyed themselves - and it was a great chance for us to get to know them,”.

Eleanor Morgan, Resident Involvement Officer, at Thames Valley Housing (which runs social housing on the development) said that the “the kids’ hard work was rewarded with a goody bag each.”. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Delivering Advice

Following a successful pilot project in Worcester Park, police officers are teaming up with the Meals on Wheels service in Sutton to help stop elderly and vulnerable people becoming victims of bogus traders and doorstep tricksters.

During last year's pilot in Worcester Park and Nonsuch, the Meals on Wheels team handed out 60 police safety packs to residents.

Sgt Suzannah James, of Worcester Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team, who has been pioneering the project, said the safety packs have been so well received by residents that it was decided to expand the scheme across the borough:

"This is all about organisations working together to help people and keep them safe. We do not want to cause unnecessary alarm or distress but just wish to provide residents with up-to-date information about current crime trends along with helpful tips on crime prevention methods.”

PCSO Wendy Stephens, of Worcester Park Safer Neighbourhoods
Team with Meals On Wheels volunteers Hazel and Alan Williams

Police Community Support Officers will be accompanying Meal on Wheels volunteers when they do their lunchtime rounds. At the same time as the meal is being delivered, the PCSOs will quickly introduce themselves and deliver a pack about ‘How to stay safe’.

Because there is only a very short time for PCSOs to say talk to residents during these meal visits, a follow-up visit will be arranged within a couple of weeks. At this second visit, officers will go through the information in the safety pack and explain its key points.

For example, residents will be told:
  • to refuse entry to any doorstep callers claiming to be digital switchover TV engineers unless they have arranged for an authorised engineer to visit their home
  • not to allow in any unknown or unexpected callers. Such callers may not be who they say they are and just want to talk their way inside to steal cash, jewellery and other valuables
  • to treat all callers without an appointment, except for known friends, family and neighbours, as suspicious, refuse entry and call 999 for the police immediately
More than 300 recipients of Meals on Wheels are expected to receive the Safety Pack and receive a follow-up visit by a PCSO.

The Safer Sutton Partnership Service, which manages the borough’s community safety services (including neighbourhood policing)  has been working closely with the borough’s network of community-based service providers to ensure that information about personal security is delivered to Sutton’s elderly and vulnerable people.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Worcester Park By-election: Liberal Democrats HOLD

The Liberal Democrats have held their seat in the Worcester Park Ward by-election, with a victory for their candidate Roger Roberts.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Liberal Democrat Councillor Jennifer Campbell-Klomps.

Mr Roberts joins fellow Lib Dem Councillor Stephen Fenwick and the Conservative's Stuart Gordon-Bullock as Councillors for the ward.


There are now 43 Liberal Democrat members on the council and 11 Conservative members.

Turnout was just 33.48%. The results in full:

Roger Roberts - Liberal Democrats:  1367
Simon Densley  - Conservative Party:  977
Hilary Hosking - Labour Party:  315
David Pickles - UK Independence Party: 190  
George Dow - Green Party:  46



And in comparison to the 2010 election for the Ward:



LIB DEM CONS LAB UKIP GREEN
2010 Election 44.80% 41.89% 10.03% 3.28% n/a
2012 By-Election 47.22% 33.75% 10.88% 6.56% 1.59%

Defeated Labour candidate Hilary Hosking said:

"I am pleased we increased our share of the vote. Whilst we were not successful in this election, it was good that Ken Livingstone was able to visit the area and we did meet a large number of people who voted Liberal Democrat in the by-election who said they will be voting for Ken in the London Mayoral Election in May


Can I also congratulate the Worcester Park blog on its detailed coverage of the campaign. We need more news outlets like this across the Borough of Sutton."

Thursday, 16 February 2012

By-election Today

It's the Worcester Park Ward by-election today - the polling station is open until 10 o'clock tonight and you don't need to take your polling card along to be able to vote.

If you still haven't made up your mind who to vote for, then you can check out the profiles of the Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Labour and Green Party candidates here on the blog.

UKIP are also contesting this seat, but did not respond to the invitation to submit information to the blog.



Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Local Election For Local People?

Tomorrow's Worcester Park Ward By-election has been one of the hardest fought in many years, with the Conservative Party drafting in their party Chairman, Labour wheeling out Ken Livingstone to boost the campaign and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dropping in to Worcester Park (albeit unseen) to rally the local Lib Dem troops.

All over the fight for a single seat on the Council.

Much has been made of where each of the  prospective candidates live - with Labour trumpeting that theirs is the only candidate who actually lives in the ward, and the Liberal Democrats deriding their Conservative rival for living in Morden.

So how local are the candidates in this local election?

Below is where each candidate lives, the distance from the Green Lane polling station  and (because nobody would be foolish enough to try and drive to Worcester Park) the walking time from their home address to said polling station:

Hilary Hosking, Labour Party: Longfellow Road, Worcester Park (0.4 miles, 8 minutes)
Roger Roberts, Liberal Democrats:  Oaks Avenue, Worcester Park (1.2 miles, 23 minutes)
Simon Densley, Conservative Party: Love Lane, Morden (2.3 miles, 46 minutes)
David Pickles UK Independence Party: Kingswood Drive, Sutton (4 miles, 1hr 16 minutes)
George Dow, Green Party: London Road, Hackbridge (5 miles, 1hr 39 minutes)

Being local clearly matters to some of the candidates contesting this election - but does it matter to you, the voters?


Where's Winkworths?

Yesterday, I reported the mild confusion caused by Winkworth's Estate Agents PR team who had taken to Twitter to trumpet the opening of the Worcester Park Branch despite it appearing not to have opened yet.  Fortunately this did not lead to widespread panic on the streets and looting , but it could easily have done.

Being the kind blogger that I am, I tweeted @WinkworthPR to seek clarification.

Undeterred, they tweeted back, muddying their own very confused waters:


The conscious amongst you might have noticed that their tweet made absolutely no sense. So being the kind blogger that I am, I thought I would give them another chance to clarify things...


Undeterred, they spun back with this response...


Exasperated, I went in search of a brick wall to bang my head against. I found one, just in front of this 'Winkworths' office in Worcester Park:


When I regained consciousness, I found that @shaunamner had tweeted me to explain that '"Technically" the branch is trading & WP properties being handled via Cheam office."

Which seemed a bit like saying that technically Tesco is trading in Worcester Park, but all sales are being handled by their New Malden megastore.

To be fair, Shaun and his team have been trading as Bairstow Eves in the same premises for the last 10 years and have only just joined the Winkworths group, so they are still handling Worcester Park properties (albeit from their Cheam office until the refurb of the Central Road office is finished).

I think I finally understand. 

Welcome to Worcester Park, Winkworths!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Eggspensive



Police are appealing for information about a limited edition Faberge egg, which was stolen in a burglary in Bridgewood Road, Worcester Park, on Friday 10th February.

The egg, which is described as being by Theo Faberge, is signed and numbered on the bottom. 

If you are offered the egg or have any information to help crack this case, please contact the Burglary & Robbery Investigation Team at Sutton Police Station on 020 8649 0775. 

Alternatively, you can call Sutton Police station on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Crime ref. no. is 4001481/12.






Worcester Park Ward By-election: Hilary Hosking - Labour Party

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.


The Labour Party - Hilary Hosking                                                 



Hilary Hosking is the only candidate who lives in Worcester Park Ward (and therefore the only candidate who can vote for themselves in this election).

She lives in Longfellow Road and has lived there for 23 years. She not only can express an opinion on parking and traffic, but actually experiences it day and night.

She has stood for local election in the area in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010, so has knocked on doors and delivered leaflets across the area over the years.

Supporting local shops and businesses

The Worcester Park Blog does a great job in letting residents know about new businesses and changes on Central Road. I use the shops all the time and know some of the shopkeepers. In the end the role of a Councillor is to advocate for the shops and say “use it or lose it”.

I will work with local traders to continue the regeneration of the Worcester Park shopping area at a time of recession looking at new events and activities that might draw shoppers to the area, perhaps with deals for Oyster Card holders to minimise the traffic impact I will also seek to encourage the improvement in the presentation and activity of local charity shops so that Worcester Park develops a unique ‘not for profit’ ‘Worcester Park Village’ retail offer that encourages more people to shop there. In view of the ward boundaries I will apply the same approach to North Cheam too.

Crime & Policing

Boris must reverse his reduction of Sutton Police by 14 Police officers. He should abandon his plans to force 600 London police sergeants to reapply for their own jobs and drop his plan to cut 300 sergeants from London’s 630 safer neighbourhood teams. This will affect Sutton and Worcester Park too.

The Conservative Mayor of London has now admitted that not only he has put up fares, he has cut police numbers too. The latest figures from the police had already confirmed that Boris Johnson has cut 1,782 police officers in the last 18 months.

However he has recently admitted that 1,700 police have been cut from Scotland Yard in the last
two years.

At the same time figures show during the last year violent crimes have risen including: knife crime (up 13%), robbery (up 13%), rape (up 10.6%) homicide (up 7.6%) and muggings have gone up by 15% in the last year.

In March 2010 there were 33,260 police officers in London .By October 2011 there were just 31,478 police officers in London.  In a recent exchange with host Nick Ferrari, Boris Johnson told LBC 97.3:

Nick Ferrari: "You're down 1,700 in the last two years?"
Boris Johnson: "Numbers go up and down they naturally fluctuate as officers retire."
Nick Ferrari: "By 1,700?
Boris Johnson: "Yes..."

Education

I was shocked to read about Sutton Council’s Chief Executive pushing for a change in Government policy to increase class sizes above thirty. It is appalling that a Liberal Democrat would seek to end the class size maximum brought in by Labour. They then claimed it was the Chief Executive acting on their own initiative. If that is the case, who is in charge, the elected politicians or their appointed officers?

We need to tackle the need for extra school places at Cheam Common Infants and Juniors with a flexible one-off extra ‘bulge’ class for the year in question rather than increase class sizes to 32 or permanently expand the schools. This benefits parents, does not damage children’s education and is also fair to local residents living near the school

Traffic

I live in Longfellow Road so I see the problems every day. The reality is that we have a bottleneck at the Railway Bridge in Central Road exacerbated by the amount of traffic coming out of newer developments in Green Lane. I invited Ken Livingstone to visit the area recently to look at the issue.

In the short-term we need to continually review traffic management in order to reduce traffic jams and cut through traffic and identify small gains that improve parking for residents locally.

In the longer term we need to get Sutton, Merton and Kingston Council’s to agree a traffic management and a planning policy for the roads and the land north of Green Lane and Mayflower Park that might eventually lead to consultation over a second crossing over the railway line which might not be considered until the future of the Gas Works site is resolved. In other words this issue cannot be completely resolved by one borough and should be addressed by Councillors and Councils in the three boroughs.

Local Health Services

The future of our local Health Services will not be resolved until the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government drop the NHS Bill. The ability to do this is in our own hands locally and the by-election can send a message about it. Authoritative commentator Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer on Sunday:

"The government might not be in such a miserable hole if anyone at a senior level had conducted a political risk-assessment right at the very beginning before Mr Lansley first sprang his scheme on an unprepared world. This has always struck me as one of the most remarkable aspects of the saga. At a time when it was already embarking on ambitious reform of welfare and education, imposing an unprecedented spending squeeze and trying to manage a novel coalition, no one at the top of government seems to have asked whether it was sensible to add a massive reorganisation of the NHS that no one fully understood except its author, who was himself incapable of explaining it to anyone else."

So where was Lansley’s Deputy, Paul Burstow, when all this was happening? In the end Paul Burstow needs to say where he stands over the NHS Bill and whether he will support the release of the Risk Register?

I want to see more GP provision in the North-West of the Borough covering Worcester Park. The Malden Road Baths Leisure facility has some run-down health buildings at the back of it and local residents could campaign for a mixed development with a proper Local Care Centre combined with a Leisure Centre on that site.

I am not convinced the current South West London review of Acute Hospital Services will secure a 25% shift in services away from hospitals. There are still many one-person operated GP practices for a start. We therefore need a more accountability to the public of local GP’s if they are going to decide where current hospital services are going to be commissioned from.

Council Tax and Service Cuts

The Liberal Democrats enabled the existence of a Conservative Government. We are now reaping
some of impact of their decision. Many people have said to me they are very shocked and sad that
they voted Liberal Democrat to keep the Tories out and instead got the Tories anyway. We now
see the results in terms of cuts and the appalling NHS Bill.

As a Councillor I would have to represent Worcester Park but also be aware of local services across
the borough too. As a result I am:

•  Opposed to the cuts to older people’s services such as the closure of Oakleigh and
Gaynesford Lodge

• Support Ken Livingstone's campaign to reverse Boris Johnson's fare rises and to cut fares by over £1000 over a 4 year period for Worcester Park commuters

• Opposed to the Conservative Mayor of London’s closure of Wallington Police Station & the halving of 18 Police Sergeants in Sutton who lead on local Neighbourhood Policing. Worcester Park will have to share a local Police Sergeant and local Police knowledge is being lost

• Against the Council's proposal to increase school class sizes. This will damage children’s education and increase traffic locally.

• Opposed to the loss of Sutton Magistrates Court which local Liberal Democrat MPs had pledged to keep open. That pledge like their opposition to tuition fees increases was broken within a year.

• Seriously concerned that supposedly ‘green’ Sutton Council is proposing to build an Incinerator in the east of the borough. Even the Liberal Democrat London Mayoral candidate, who is trailing a poor third in the polls, is opposed. It’s easy for him though, he won’t have to implement it.

Labour Councillors in the past in Sutton argued for very small increases in Council Tax over and above Liberal Democrat policies. The Government money to freeze the Council Tax has been welcome, but does not make up for the cuts that have occurred. The Liberal Democrats say they have kept the libraries open, but that is a relatively small budget compared to the cuts they are making to older people’s services.


Twitter Ye Not!

The PR team at Winkworth estate agents were busy trumpeting the opening of their latest branches yesterday, taking to Twitter to tell the world that "offices in Worcester Park and Cheam have opened".

Hoorah!

Unfortunately the PR team had clearly failed to spot that the Worcester Park office, at least, has not actually opened yet and is still being fitted out (in the old Bairstow Eves premises at the top of Central Road).

All of which just goes to prove the two golden rules when dealing with estate agents - never trust what they tell you in the advertising, and always inspect the property for yourself....



Monday, 13 February 2012

Worcester Park Ward By-election: George Dow - Green Party

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.

The Green Party - George Dow                                         

George Dow has lived in Wallington for over 30 years with his wife and family, works in management training and is a trustee of a national environmental charity.

Over the years he has been active in the community in many areas.He was the Green Party candidate for Carshalton & Wallington in the 2010 General Election and also stood in the Local Council Election.

He is currently part of the core team in establishing the local Transition Town initiative – ‘Sutton in Transition’ – and playing an active role in the Sustainable Hackbridge community development project.

In 2008 he participated in the Green Guardian's ‘Green Household Award’, winning in the borough and
runner-up in the South West London regional awards.

Supporting local shops and businesses
The local economy is a cornerstone of Green party philosophy. Some of our policies would need action at national level, for example we would like to abolish the uniform business rate and give local councils the power to set business rates to encourage community-friendly businesses.

But a combination of carrot and stick approaches at local level can support community businesses: reducing parking charges for local shopping centres, taxing parking spaces at more distant centres like Sutton would encourage people to shop local. We should examine ways in which the council can encourage local businesses to collectively publicise themselves, perhaps via local loyalty schemes which have worked well elsewhere.

The council could and should be looking to provide affordable workspaces locally so that people do not have to leave their locality to set up in business.


Crime & Policing

Green Party crime and community safety strategy is based on the view that prevention is always better than cure.  We believe that people who are well-educated and well-housed, who have jobs, who are supported by good health and social services and who are living in well-kept neighbourhoods are best placed to build strong and inclusive communities that deter crime and anti-social behaviour.

We support the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and recruitment of community support officers to provide a distinct visible presence on the streets which help people feel safer and deter people from committing crime.

We think that PCSOs should be given the power to issue fines for anti-social behaviour such as dog fouling and littering.

Public spaces should be well maintained with good street lighting and people-friendly street design.

We believe in dealing swiftly with vandalism, litter and illegal dumping to make sure that streets and open spaces are kept. Those serving community service orders should be drafted into anti-graffiti and litter teams.

Where prevention fails, we believe the police should act swiftly to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour. They are more likely to do this if they are based locally and know and understand their communities.

Education
For Greens, education is about ensuring everyone is given the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to fully engage with and contribute to the society in which they live, in an inclusive education system.

We believe education must be about more than just academic knowledge or simple achievement - children must also, for example, learn practical life skills and social awareness. All too often, schools focus too heavily on exams and tests at a cost of ensuring all pupils receive a well-rounded education that gives them the very best start in life.

Ensuring all teachers and children feel comfortable at school means putting an end to routine discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in school admissions policies, staff recruitment or the daily timetable.

While education should include recognition and celebration of religious diversity and spirituality - and all schools should allow space for prayer - this should not extend to turning down pupils or teachers because they belong to a different religion.

We are opposed to the government’s academies programme which is a form of backdoor privatisation, and the ridiculous ‘choice’ agenda. Nearly all parents simply want a good local school not a bogus ‘choice’ which for all but the wealthiest is no more than Hobson’s choice with local children often being excluded from good local schools by outsiders.
Traffic
There have of course been such frustrating congestion and delay issues which the area has faced – what with water and gas mains replacement works and the ongoing traffic congestion due to Malden Road being a major route for commuters.

While recognising that utilities work needs to be carried out, I do feel that in order to reduce traffic congestion – whenever possible – the number of car users on the road could be substantially reduced by, for example use of public transport (bus and rail), improved cycle routes and – if it is not possible to do without a car in some cases – then moving towards sharing our car journeys.

Local Health Services

The Green Party totally opposes the government’s health privatisation programme, which will see health being run not by already overstretched GPs but by private contractors and consultants.

The yearly cost of these privatisation schemes is already over £1 billion and we are the ones left to foot the bill. We believe in keeping the health service free – we would abolish prescription charges, re-introduce free eye tests and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available. We want to end phony patient choice: for most of us patient choice is much less important than getting good treatment at our local hospital or health centre – which is often, for many, the only practical choice.

We will fight for a fair deal for those needing health care by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and by demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. In particular, we campaign for the principle of a free NHS by implementing in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland.

We support a comprehensive network of local surgeries, health centres and clinics to relieve pressure on acute services, and the concept of 24 hour access to local out-patient healthcare.
We will also fight to restore free dental care and provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist.

Council Tax and Service Cuts
Protecting public services is a key priority for Greens. We believe in a properly funded system of public services to ensure a good quality of life for all, not just with regard to our social services but also in our built environment. These cost money, and need to be paid for. However it’s undeniable that for much of the past decade levels of Council Tax rose way above inflation.

The prime responsibility for this really lies with central government who claimed to have given local authorities generous annual increases, but in reality many of these increases were not enough to keep up with additional demands which central government has either directly or indirectly imposed on local authorities.

Remember that most of the cost of local services comes from central government grants not from the locally-raised council tax, but when the government support is reduced, perhaps for political reasons, a disproportionate burden falls on local tax-payers.


Green policy would remove the ability of central government use the grant levels for its own political purposes. We would use an independent commission, including representatives from all levels of government, to decide what increases were necessary in order to ensure local government was properly funded - taking into account any new responsibilities placed upon it.



Sunday, 12 February 2012

Worcester Park Ward By-election: Roger Roberts - Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.

Liberal Democrats - Roger Roberts                                                  


Supporting Local Shops & Businesses:

We need to keep Worcester Park and North Cheam as thriving shopping centres that are well used by local people. We have been fortunate in winning nearly £2 million to be spent entirely on these two areas. I intend to make sure that local people will be closely involved in deciding how this money will be spent.

One thing that I'm already campaigning for is dual parking bays in North Cheam to make it easier for people to park and shop. The traders in the area have told me that this is really important and so have the local councillors. However the Mayor's Transport for London doesn't seem to agree.

I intend to write to the Mayor, saying that this is unacceptable and that he should direct Transport for London to get this fairly minor change done as soon as possible.


Crime & Policing

We are fortunate to live in an area with fairly low crime levels but that does not mean that we should be complacent.

I remember what it was like a few years ago when we only had one sergeant across two wards and I was pleased when the decision was made to have two separate sergeants for Worcester Park and Nonsuch wards.

When the neighbourhood police teams were introduced, we were given an assurance by the then Mayor that this would be permanent but now the present Tory Mayor has cut back to one sergeant running both wards again. I am concerned that our police teams will be overstretched and unable to maintain the present low crime rates.

And given that the Mayor is expected to make more cuts to the police budget, could we lose more police in Worcester Park? I am determined to make sure that doesn't happen.

Education

We are fortunate in Worcester Park to have very good schools that parents want to send their children to. But this is putting pressure on the number of places available. The council has taken steps to cope with this increase in demand by increasing the number of classes, firstly at Dorchester and now with the new building at Cheam Common Infants.

This will be followed by extra accommodation at Cheam Common Junior School.

I am pleased that in these difficult times the council has been able to find the funds to put into education for the benefit not only of the present children in the schools but the ones who will follow on. We want to keep class sizes low and maintain the excellent standard of our local schools.

Traffic

This has been a problem for all the many years I have lived in the area and unfortunately with the increase in car usage it is set to continue.

Lib Dems have campaigned for a long time to persuade the traffic control department to link up the traffic lights all the way from North Cheam to the railway bridge. This has now been done and does seem to have made some difference. However I believe that they also need to carry that on all the way to the New Malden roundabout to ensure that there is a continuous flow of traffic towards the A3. I'll be working closely with the Council and Transport for London to achieve this.

Local Health Services

When we asked the local NHS in the past for more Doctors' surgeries, we were told that there is no need for any new ones and that if people sign on with a particular doctor and it is overcrowded, then the NHS will increase that capacity. With the growing population in the local area, I don't think we have enough health care in Worcester Park and I am campaigning for a new doctor's surgery. I am pleased to see that we have a new dentist opening up soon in Central Road.

I am also working with local MP Paul Burstow to protect vital services such as A&E and the Maternity Unit at St Helier Hospital. I believe it is important that local residents have access to a good local hospital and depending were in Worcester Park you live I think both St Helier and Kingston hospitals are well placed to serve residents.

Council Tax & Service Cuts

I am pleased that for the third year running the Council has not increased council tax and I am sure that householders will welcome it.

The Liberal Democrats on the Council have managed to find ways of saving money without cutting vital services like libraries and children's centres. It is obvious in these difficult financial times that many things that we would like to do may have to be put on hold, but over the last few years we have worked with our neighbouring councils to deliver some services jointly and so save on both staff and costs.

So while I think there will be challenges, I believe that this will impact less on us than on some other councils nearby. I was really shocked to hear that Surrey County Council is closing libraries but still increasing Council Tax by nearly 3%.

Worcester Park Ward By-election: Simon Densley - Conservative Party

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.


The Conservative Party - Simon Densley                                           


Simon says he sees himself primarily as someone interested in working to improve his local area, rather than as part of a political party’s machine.

Simon has already spent a number of years helping in the community including being a school governor, leading one of the biggest tree-planting exercises in South London and chairing various local community groups including a Police ward panel.

When his grandfather passed away in St Raphael’s Hospice, near Worcester Park, it was a key moment in Simon's life, prompting him to be a more active member of the community. His father was a local Sutton GP in his working years and impressed on Simon the benefit of local community ties.

Simon lives a few minutes bike ride away from the edge of the ward and cycles through Worcester Park each day as part his daily commute. Raising a young family in the area, he says he shares many of the concerns of local residents about roads, schools and healthcare.

Supporting local shops & businesses:

Many established traders are finding life difficult and our smaller independent shops need our support. The Worcester Park Blog does a great job in letting residents know about new businesses and changes on Central Road but it is also saddening to see the times that the blog has to report another local business closing or suffering.

Local shops are vital to many residents unable to face the long haul to New Malden or Sutton which is why I am backing the Conservative Support our Small Shops campaign. It has taken the Conservative London Mayor’s Outer London Fund to help our area whilst the Liberal Democrat Council wasted money on Sutton Town Centre. Boris has not unreasonably asked Sutton Council to match his concern about the area and put their hand in their pocket, matching the £1.8m that he is investing in North Cheam and Worcester Park.


Crime & Policing:

I am pleased to see that Boris [Johnson] has increased visible policing around Sutton with 2,577 more patrols each year. However, I want to make sure that Worcester Park gets its fair share of resources. Although Sutton is a safer borough than most in London, I know that we can do more to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in the ward.

I am not interested in political posturing but in making sure that our police force is deployed in the most effective way possible. They should be on the beat doing the job that they want to do rather than keeping sergeants behind a desk.

I am sorry that the Lib Dem candidate voted to scrap our much-valued and effective Parks Police. Fairlands Park has been the scene of a number of crimes over the last few years. We need to make sure that residents feel safe no matter where in the ward and the Borough they are.

Education:

I was surprised to read about Sutton Council’s Chief Executive pushing for a change in Government policy to increase class sizes above thirty. As a parent with a child who will shortly be going to a local school, I am deeply concerned that this potentially damaging idea is being promoted without anyone, especially schools and parents, being consulted.

Dorchester Road Primary School has already taken an extra class and Cheam Common is earmarked for expansion too. These plans bring their own problems including additional congestion but class sizes are limited by law. I am worried that there could be deals done behind closed doors which might result in the reduction of standards of our children’s education.

There is also a severe shortage of secondary school places in the whole of Sutton, particularly on the Worcester Park side. One woman I spoke to has been forced to home educate her 14 year old son since early last year because of this unacceptable situation.

I will work with local schools, parents, the council and other bodies to ensure that the demand for extra school places is met locally.

Traffic:

Traffic in Worcester Park is a nightmare. Whether its trying to get out of Green Lane in the morning, crawling past seemingly permanent road works in Central Road in the afternoon or struggling against five-a-side footballers parking in Glyn Road in the evening there is just not the local infrastructure to cope.

Worcester Park’s layout attracts drivers looking to avoid the congestion, into its narrow residential roads. In response, all the council has done is carpet the ward with speed humps. Having one of the area's main primary schools in the middle of the rat-run does not make a good combination. Heavy traffic and young school children do not mix.

Many new parking spaces are needed in Central Road and traffic flow needs to be seriously addressed. Altering the traffic light cycles is only the first step needed. Boris Johnson’s ‘pay as you dig’ scheme will help reduce the time that Central Road is dug up by utility companies. The council must not mess up the opportunity afforded by Boris’ £2m investment in the area. Their track record on projects such as Sutton High Street means that they will need to be watched like a hawk.

Local health services:

Worcester Park has seen a massive expansion of new housing, especially with the new Hamptons development. The necessary corresponding increase in local infrastructure has been completely ignored leading to a shortage of necessary healthcare services. And we have more vets in the ward than GP surgeries!

I will continue to work with Stuart Gordon Bullock the current Conservative councillor for the ward to achieve local healthcare for local people. Stuart was the first local representative to identify and highlight this as an issue and we both want to see the same standard of healthcare as the rest of the borough enjoys.

Council tax & service cuts:

I have experienced what it is like to worry about the insecurity of job loss and paying bills for a young family. Council tax is one of the biggest bills that lands on our doormat each year. Boris Johnson is cutting his part of the Council Tax after freezing it for three years, showing what careful budgeting can do.

Conservatives in Government have created the climate for councils to be able to freeze council tax. My Lib Dem opponent [Roger Roberts] voted for 23 increases in 23 successive years. He supported a revaluation of council tax bands which would have added even more to our bills.

It is not enough to just freeze council tax when facing an election or being told to do so. We all know that over-spending does not work for household budgets. It doesn’t work for the Council either. I will fight the Lib Dem habit of only keeping council tax down when it suits their purposes, ensuring that every penny is spent wisely so as much of your money can stay in your own pocket to be spent as you choose.




Virgin Death

Blog reader CoffeeMan has contacted the blog (via carrier pigeon) about ongoing service outages he has been experiencing with Virgin Media since Thursday:

"Since early on Thursday 9th February Virgin Media broadband, telephone and television services have been down completely for long periods of time or only very limited services have been provided since.

According to their fault messages this has covered post codes  CR,SM,KT and TW so a very large area. It must be a major breakdown but no information on when services will be fully implemented or so far apology for loss of service.
I finally got through on the phone during a period of 'working phone' and after explaining the problems got a refund but nothing on when services will be resumed.

Strange thing is this has hot been reported in the press ,I would have thought many people would have been jumping up and down over this."

Virgin Media services are all working normally here at blog HQ (thank goodness as life would be unbearable if Mrs WP didn't have access to a continuous loop of  'Come Dine With Me' repeats and top quality documentaries like 'America's Dumbest Plumbers' and 'When Cupboards Attack').

If you have been affected by the Virgin Media service outages then do let us know.  

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Pawn Site

In what is perhaps an inevitable reflection of the state of our economy and our local high street, the Worcester Park Blog understands that H&T Pawnbrokers will be opening a branch in Worcester Park shortly, in the former 'One Stop Party Shop' premises next to HSBC.

Harvey & Thompson Pawnbrokers have over 160 branches nationwide, offering traditional pawnbroking services for gold and jewellery alongside cheque cashing and payday loans.

All good recession-proof stuff (although as previously reported on the blog the supposedly recession-loving Poundland is struggling to make a go of it in Worcester Park).

It is time, I think, to remind myself of my age old mantra that an open shop has to be better than a boarded up shop. Just.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ken Livingstone visits Worcester Park



With the Worcester Park Ward by-election just days away and the Mayoral and Greater London Authority elections on the horizon, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone joined Labour's campaign trail in Worcester Park yesterday evening.

Mr Livingstone, pictured above at Worcester Park station with (left) Louisa Woodley Labour GLA candidate for Croydon and Sutton and (right) Hilary Hosking ,Labour's by-election candidate for Worcester Park Ward, spent time talking to local residents on their doorsteps about the cuts in Police numbers and the recent public transport fare rises as well as traffic and planning issues.

Labour by-election candidate Hilary Hosking told the Worcester Park Blog

"I was delighted Ken was able to come down to support my campaign as well as Louisa Woodley's campaign for the Croydon and Sutton GLA seat. Ken thinks Worcester Park, split between various boroughs, can seriously benefit from the work of the GLA in tackling wider crime and transport issues."



Friday, 3 February 2012

Snow Forecast



85% Snow RiskWorcester Park based weather forecasting company NetWeather.tv is forecasting a 45% chance of snow over Worcester Park tomorrow (Saturday), and a 32% chance of snow on Sunday - rising to an 85% chance of snow on Tuesday.

Wrap up warm!