Tuesday, 29 April 2014

May Be Time For A Market

It's that time of year again when Central Road begins to play host to local produce and craft markets. The first of four planned for the year is this coming Saturday starting at 10:00am and going through 'til 4:00.

I don't know if anyone agrees that what seemed to start out quite well last year seems to have turned into rather sad little affairs by December. The first one had lots of stalls and lots of people but each one seemed to have less stalls and less people than the last one. I would have thought there is a critical mass of stalls required to make people want to come along to a market and that just making do with less and less stalls each time isn't going to attract more and more people.

However this is a whole new year and it's perhaps time to welcome said market with open arms and really make an effort to help 'make it work' by heading down and buying actual stuff from them in order to make it worth their while being there! Perhaps with a new round of markets there has been a big injection of oomph to get the first one really going. It's certainly not going to survive as an independent market if last year's trend continues.

What do you think dear reader? If we had the option to give the market at external boost and get some other things in to attract more people, would this be make enough of a difference to get you to want to go along (if you haven't much before)? Or do you think if it doesn't improve then things should be allowed to follow their natural course? I personally feel that letting it limp along like it did last year is not really an option.

Dig This Garden

Anyone who lives anywhere near Christ Church with St Philip (near the corner of Ruskin Drive and Cheam Common Road) will have taken a short cut through their garden at one time or another. In doing so they will probably have considered what a pleasant and well tended garden it is.

Unfortunately this pleasant garden doesn't tend itself. On the first Saturday of each month during Spring and Summer a small team of dedicated people take the time to look after it and make it nice for the pleasure of those who walk past (or cut through).

Now if any readers enjoy gardening and a bit of company, Isobel and the team would love to welcome you along to help. There is always plenty to do but as Isobel told the blog, free tea and coffee is provided. The next one is this coming Saturday from around 10am. Some gardening gloves, trowels and spades are provided (as well as the tea and coffee) but feel free to bring some if you like. It is fine to just turn up. However if you would prefer to let Isobel know first or talk anything through, feel free to giver her a call on 0208 330 4738.

Dig This Power Cable

Remember that large hole in the pavement outside Nefis six weeks ago? Well it seems it went into hiding and has popped back for another visit, this time 20 yards further down the road outside The Brook pub (Ideally placed to collect unsuspecting patrons leaving the pub.)

The reason is the same: One of the two parallel high voltage (11,000V) power cables which serves the entire Worcester Park area has failed. The cable was about 70 years old or so. It was one of two cables - they keep a redundant one in case one fails so that thousands of homes and businesses don't all lose power at once. So right now we are on the spare only.

They are looking to change the actual cable over tonight and hopefully fill it all back in tomorrow. In the meanwhile nobody boil any kettles okay?

Update (29th April, around 11:30pm)

As promised they are indeed fixing it now (See new photo on the right here). Although they aren't so sure about the 'having it all filled in again tomorrow' bit. They think it will be more likely be by the end of the week.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ride For St Raphael’s

On Sunday the 10th August over 20,000 amateur cyclists will set of from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and ride their way through London and down into deepest Surrey as they complete a 100 mile journey finishing at the Mall back in London again.

Prudential RideLondon is an annual world-class two-day cycling festival developed by the Mayor of London  (That's Boris to you and me) and his agencies in partnership with Surrey County Council, celebrating the legacy for cycling created by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The weekend will actually be hosting four separate cycling events, making use of the road closures to give many people a chance to enjoy a good cycle. The RideLondon-Surrey 100 includes leg-testing climbs and a route made famous by the world’s best cyclists at the London 2012 Olympics - so lots of lovely Surrey countryside to admire and enjoy along the way.

As well as encouraging many people to enjoy a bike ride, the event also helps raise money for charity. The first event last year raised over £3.5 million for charity.

80,000 people entered the ballot to take part in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 which mean 60,000 or so have unfortunately missed out on this one. However there is still a chance! St Raphael’s Hospice have Gold Bond places in RideLondon-Surrey 100. The registration fee is £50 and the minimum sponsorship amount is £400 - this will give you a place on the St Raphael’s team. You have until this Friday (2nd May) to sign up. If you are at all interested in this opportunity or would like some more information, please contact Emily Nicholls, Community Fundraiser, on 020 8254 2463 or emily.nicholls@straphaelshospice.org.uk.

Planting An Idea

Some of the Worcester Park Station Volunteers: Simon Densley,
Nick Baum, Georgia Baum, Stephen Payne and Maria Mar
If you will be heading into the city on the train tomorrow morning, hopefully you might notice that the sloping bank next to the station steps has had a bit of a tidy up over the weekend. The Worcester Park Station Volunteers were back this morning; weeding, tidying up and planting a few more shrubs in the little garden there.

Almost a full bin bag of litter was removed from the small area as well as a very large pile of weeds. Only five of us showed up this time but we are hoping to do it again in around six weeks and hopefully more people will join us then. It all started just before 9:00am and we had finished by 10:30 - so it certainly won't take a huge chunk out of your day if you do decide to come and help.

It's great to see how much better the area looks now compared to a few years ago.

Update (29th April)

Here is a photo which Nick Baum (the organiser) took before all the work began all those years ago now!

As Nick says:
"Amazing to see how bad it looked – note the amount of old bottles there were!Makes you realise how much it has changed."

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Green Lane Inquiry Update

Many blog readers will have had one of these letters (below) through their door in the last day or so. It's really just to confirm what we already knew - that the public inquiry  regarding the application to turn 2-4 Green Lane into a Mosque will resume on Thursday 29th May for two days.

It will be at the Salvation Army Hall again. Hopefully they might have some sort of sound system this time - many people found it very difficult to hear proceedings on the first two days. Also I would have expected it to be recorded like many public council meetings are, however strangely (to me at least) this was not the case.

It will be starting at 9:30am on both days and if you would like to attend, please email developmentcontrol@sutton.gov.uk.

As usual I will be there to argue our case where possible although having now spoken (and been cross examined) I might not have another opportunity to speak officially. I will however keep blog readers up to date with those facts that I can report - given that it is an ongoing inquiry and I am not able to say anything that could prejudice the case.

To Learn About Contruction

For many Mummies and Daddies, last week contained a certain amount on anxiety. We were of course all awaiting the very important news about where out little ones would be spending the next several very important years of their lives being educated.

We had submitted our list before Christmas with a local outstanding Catholic school at the top and a variety of other schools trailing below in descending order of satisfaction for one reason or another. It didn't turn out too badly; we ended up with Dorchester Primary which was actually our second choice and not one I am unhappy with.

Dorchester Primary School however is looking a little different to how it looked six months ago. There has been a mad rush over the last couple of years to expand schools all over the borough as the council has suddenly noticed we haven't got enough school places for the number of children in the borough and is now racing against time to smooth over the problem. (Unsuccessfully it would seem according to this Sutton Guardian report.)

Dorchester is one of those selected for expansion and this September will be welcoming 90 new young children (including WP Junior) instead of 60, to what is now mostly a construction site and a bunch of portacabins.

That's not to say work isn't progressing quickly. Ten large precontructed sections arrived on Wednesday, having snaked their way up Clarkes Avenue behind a man walking ahead of the ultra wide loads. (Local residents apparently received prior warning of the event). Ten more arrived yesterday (Friday) with a further ten scheduled for Monday. This (plus two more I believe) will make up the ground floor of the new building. Another 30 sections are due to go on top as a second floor and it should all be put together within a few weeks apparently. (That's just the basic floor, wall and ceiling etc. All the wiring, piping etc. comes next.) They seem to be so desperate to meet the deadline that they have even been working Sundays, much to the consternation of local residents in Dorchester Road and nearby.

February this year
Hopefully come September there will be some semblance of a main school building for WP Junior to start his school life in. That's not to say I'm against portacabins - the current students seem to be coping with them and I spent a short spell of my school life in them (a couple of years ago now...). The buildings being replaced were only supposed to be temporary anyway, but were left as they were for decades - so work has certainly needed to be done.

Of course another concern is the loss of Louise Austin to cancer earlier this year. She was a very great asset to the school and will be missed and undoubtedly some things will change now that she is no longer around. We had assumed she would still be in charge when WP Junior started and I am sorry that his time there will not have overlapped with hers. I haven't yet met Deborah Damestani, the new acting head teacher. No doubt I will soon. Most importantly I hope that she and whoever becomes permanent headteacher continue to steer the school in the direction of outstanding. Perhaps (and hopefully) some nice new school buildings might help in this regard.

Friday, 25 April 2014

On The Map For All The Wrong Reasons

This morning Worcester Park had its 15 seconds of fame as Nigel Farage questioned the media's coverage of Ukip members saying and doing 'repellent' things while apparently ignoring the Lib Dems being equally bad. Of course the example he chose was our very own Councillor Fenwick - although he only said "A Lib Dem Councillor in Worcester Park" as opposed to naming Cllr Fenwick himself.

Perhaps this is not the best of reasons for our town to be brought to the nation's attention on BBC Breakfast News. I suppose by doing so he has directly helped to turn that situation around a bit...

The blog should point out the Cllr Fenwick stopped being a Liberal Democrat soon after news of his conviction got out. He is not standing for re-election.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mystery As Police Close Park

Fairlands Park next to Sainsbury's in North Cheam was closed off by the Police this afternoon so they could try to solve a mystery crime. At least half a dozen police were gathered behind a cordon at the entrance off the Sainsbury's car park. The police were rather less than keen to disclose why they were there or what they were looking for but they were from New Scotland Yard so it was reasonably serious although apparently not super serious. It seems it was a new investigation and not one related to an existing investigation, at least not one known to the public. It did also look as if a forensics team was working there. If I hear and more news I'll pass it on.


Thanks to one blog reader who has mentioned that they were in the park when this happened and were asked to leave. Apparently they were told that the police were probably going to pull something out that would be upsetting for the kids to see but wouldn't say what.

Update (11:00pm)

The police apparently have found something that would have upset the kids had they seen it. However contrary to much speculation, it is apparently not a dead body. The park will remain closed (with police guards) overnight and the work will continue in the morning. The park should hopefully be open again later tomorrow.

Update (24th April 9:30am)

Don't read this while eating or if you're particularly squeamish... The item in question was (as has also been speculated) a finger. However (and this is the rather yucky bit) the finger was apparently caught it in the spiked fence while the owner was trying to climb over and fell, causing the skin and flesh to be pulled off the outside leaving just the bone - a process which has been described as being 'de-gloved'.

The finger could not be saved so it is assumed the remaining bone had to be removed by the hospital.

The park was closed after the finger was discovered by a young girl with her mother. The owner, a 42 year old man came forward and told police it was his and that he had lost it one night about a week earlier.

See also the Sutton Guardian story.

The park has now reopened.


For those of a morbidly voyeuristic nature who would like to see a picture of the hand without the finger, someone has posted a picture here. There is also a discussion which seems to reveal the identity of the finger's owner who (according to discussion) was apparently so drunk at the time he couldn't remember what had happened.

Thanks For An Egg-citing Time

Waitrose's Steve Barratt with Richard Johnson who organised
the event with the 'Our Worcester Park' Traders Association.
Local resident Richard Johnson who organised the Worcester Park Easter Egg hunt on Saturday would like to say a big Thank You to those who enthusiastically took up the challenge to find 10 OWP Easter egg pictures along Central and Windsor Road. Local traders certainly noted an unusually large number of younger Worcester Parkers peering in their windows. Several children impressively managed to spot 18 out of a total of 20.

Many thanks to Waitrose, especially Store Manager Simon Cuzner, Lynne Raffell and Steve Barratt, without whom, our Easter egg hunt fun and treats would never have happened.

Thanks also to the following 20 traders, who all similarly embraced the community spirit of the event and carried an OWP egg in their windows.

The first winner, Jack Mackay, with his prize
Running west to east (from the bottom of the hill, to the top) these were…

  1. Kingfish Fish & Chips
  2. Mr Ink Cartridge Refills
  3. Centrals Wine Bar
  4. R. Woodfall Optometrists
  5. Marie Curie Shop
  6. H&T Pawnbrokers
  7. Woodward Brothers Meats
  8. Ross Fruiterers
  9. Central Sewing Machines
  10. Fowlers Stationery & Cards
  11. Pets Place
  12. Hendy’s Jewellers
  13. St Raphael’s Hospice Shop
  14. Worcester Sparks Electrical Supplies
  15. Cycle Power
  16. Graham Lee Carpets
  17. Preview Menswear
  18. Connor Prince Estate Agents
  19. Central Locksmiths
  20. Frederick W Paine Undertakers

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Planting Stations

At the tidied area: William, Stephen Payne, Nick Baum, Maria Mar and Simon Densley
Part of the team in 2012: William, Stephen Payne,
Nick Baum, Maria Mar and Simon Densley
The spring is sprung, the grass is rizz, I wonder where the Worcester Park Station Volunteers is? The Worcester Park Station Volunteers is on Worcester Park Station where they belong... Or at least they will be next Sunday (27th April) at 9am.

Nick Baum who coordinates the volunteering efforts told the blog:
"We are arranging a session at the station to give it a spring clean. Will be nice to get it looking smart with the renovations and improvements going on."
As usual, all help and volunteering efforts will be appreciated. Please just turn up on Sunday morning. If you have trowels and other gardening tools feel free to bring them but some will be provided so don't let that be a barrier to your attendance!

Lets see if we can make the area look even nicer than last year or even in 2012 when we decorated the area for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!

For more information please see their facebook page here. You could even 'like' it if the fancy takes you.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Farmers Market

After the disappointing North Cheam farmers market last month, tomorrow a special effort is being made by the local traders to bring forth a super farmers market (not to be confused with a farmers super-market). The special Easter farmers market is starting as usual at 9:30 but has been extended through to 3pm. There will be special local stalls plus an Easter egg hunt, perhaps - almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Worcester Park traders version.

The big carrots have been hung out again, perhaps this time as an enticement for a big bunny rabbit to turn up...

So for market stalls, fresh and local produce plus extra Eastery stuff thrown in, head to the bigger farmers market extravaganza at the North Cheam crossroads tomorrow. (That would be today if you are reading this on Saturday morning - or sorry you missed it if you are reading it much later than that.)

An Unenlightened Crossroad

Anyone travelling through North Cheam this morning has probably noticed that the traffic lights have not been working. The cars (or at least their drivers) have been very good and well manered and not caused as much traffic mayhem as might be expected (at least as far as I have seen). It's probably a good thing though that this occurred on a bank holiday.

Apparently they were not working at 7am (did anyone see them not working prior to this?) and have been off all morning.

So while one corner of the North Cheam crossroads may have been doing its best to enlighten people, the rest has remained stubbornly unenlightened...

Update (3:30pm)

Lights are working again.

Outdoor Service

This morning, the Easter celebrations continue at North Cheam with an outdoor church service at Lavender Corner starting at 10:45am.  Lavender Corner is the corner of the North Cheam crossroads where  Steve's Card shop, The Mexican restaurant, and Santander are. If you look up at the art deco you can actually see 'Lavender Corner' written into the building at the top - but I digress...

The North Cheam Baptist Church have traditionally had an outdoor service on Good Friday but it used to be in the car park at the Elmcroft Centre (next to Sainsbury's in North Cheam). However no one ever noticed them there and last year it was already books so they moved to Lavender Corner. It went so well they decided to stay.

As well as a Good Friday church service there is free tea, coffee and hot cross buns. There are also some tables with seating so people can just sit and relax. They have a band too. There are a few churches involved so they should have at least 50 people along.

It's nice to see them breaking with the traditional Easter worship of a rabbit. Why not pop along and join in? It starts in 10 minutes though (sorry for the short notice).

Thursday, 17 April 2014

High Street Egg Hunt

Easter is just about upon us. And to help the locals celebrate (and particularly the younger locals) Our Worcester Park Traders have organised a High Street Easter Egg Hunt to challenge the observational powers of our young people (and provide them with prizes at the end.)

Worcester Park’s children are invited to take part in the special local event which spans the length of Worcester Park High Street (That would be Central Road and Windsor Road). In the windows of some of the local traders have been placed A5 sized pictures of Easter eggs. Each of these coloured egg pictures is identical and carries the distinctive local ‘OWP’ logo - as seen on the left here. (Some eagle-eyed shoppers may have noticed a few of these already...)

Children are invited to pick up an entry form from Waitrose on Saturday between 9am and 1pm. This form has 10 spaces for the names of any 10 of the shops displaying one of these Easter Egg Pictures. All the children need to do is find 10 of them and fill in the names of those 10 shops where they found them (just make sure you bring a pen or pencil to fill in the form). When they return the completed form to Waitrose they will receive a special Easter Treat.

This is all being organised by Worcester Park's traders with the prizes being donated by Waitrose so there is no cost involved. However there is a limited (albeit large) number of entry forms (and prizes) so get in early!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Get Into Cricket

The 2014 Colts Cricket season is starting at Worcester Park Cricket Club (WPCC) with registration evening on the 22nd and 24th of April - that's Tuesday and Thursday next week.

There is also free coaching for boys and girls aged 8 to 12 year old (Years 3 to 7) on Thursday evening (24th). See here for more information. The evening will be a mix of games and drills followed by a chance to meet the coaches and find out more about the club.

The Colts are WPCC's young people's teams and there are usually around 130 children, from Years 3 to 12 involved with many Senior Colts also playing in the Men’s Senior teams.

The Club is certified under the ECB Club Mark scheme, providing a safe environment for children to enjoy playing cricket. They are also a Surrey County Cricket Club Focus Club, promoting cricket in the County and liaising with both Sutton and Kingston Local Authorities.

They run 4 Colt League teams, U11, U12, U13, & U14 in the Mid Surrey League to try and give all of the Colts’ experience of competitive cricket. An U9/10 team plays a number of friendly Pairs matches later in the season, and the U16/17s play in the National U17 Cup.

ECB qualified coaches provide top class training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6.30 – 8.30 at the club (U9 and below 6.30 - 8.00). Most matches are played on Sunday mornings, with U10, U11 and U12s playing some games on Friday evenings.

The Colts teams are open to both boys and girls. At present there are only a few girls playing and many more boys but both are encouraged to join up and get involved. Ian Burrows from the club told the blog that while they would love to have dedicated girls/womens teams, at the moment the girls play with the boys on what are effectively mixed teams. He also mentioned that there are some clubs with women playing on senior 'mens' teams where the women do rather well!

Registration is at the club in Green Lane. For U13 and older the registration is on Tuesday from 6:30pm. For U12 and younger the registration is on Thursday, also from 6:30pm. You can just turn up and register but you are welcome to telephone the relevant coach to discuss things first if you prefer. A list of coaches and numbers is available on this page.

If you would like to download application forms etc. here some links:

You can download an application form here.

You can download a Training and Behaviour policy document here.

You can also download a fixture for the season here.

And you can download more information here.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Come Out From Under There

The extra work continues at the top of Central Road.

Yesterday and today Sutton and East Surrey Water find themselves moving an underground stopcock because 'someone' went and installed a bench over it.

The gentleman working on it told the blog that luckily the stopcock all comes as one section and it shouldn't take to long to move it the necessary 18 inches or so and redirect the pipes even though they have to work underneath the bench to get it out. Hopefully it should be done by the end of today (Tuesday 15th).

When I asked if perhaps it would have made more sense to move it before installing the bench, the rolled eyes and shaking head rather said it all really.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Lit Up Line Up

A few people have commented about the new shop fronts and signage at the top of Central Road. This is one aspect of the Outer London Fund (OLF) project that I think has genaraly been implemented rather well.

The neon signs look really good when they all on in a row - although I have yet to see it with every single one on. As one guest commented a few days ago:
"All bar two of the neon signs were lit yesterday evening and it looked really great. Come on Stitch Right and the accountants, join the party please."
The awnings look good too when they are all out - that will be nice for the summer.

I contacted the architectural firm Jan Kattein Architects regarding why they recommended painting the art-deco façade rather than restoring it to it's original glory. Tony Staples from the firm told the blog:
"We often encourage restoration of original features on existing buildings, however at 2-18 Central Road the façade had undergone different treatments at different times. Sometimes painted and sometimes re-rendered with varying quality and finish. Given the existing state of the building we felt that repainting not only delivered the greatest visual impact but also represented best value for money."
He also sent a photo of the original finish before the painting was done in order to show what he meant (Click on the picture to enlarge):

I just hope the council has a plan for what happens if any of these shops move or go out of businesses. This only works if all the shops partake. If a new shop moves in I hope the resulting change of signage will be in keeping with the theme and not spoil the effect.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cllr Fenwick Still Around

If anyone thought Worcester Park Councillor Stephen Fenwick had disappeared completely following his conviction for racial assault it is not the case. Cllr Fenwick is still an independent councillor representing Worcester Park and as such he turned up at the Mosque appeal hearing on Wednesday and asked to speak. Unfortunately he had to leave to attend an important meeting that afternoon and was no longer available to speak when his turn came up.

He failed to attend the final local area committee for Cheam North and Worcester Park last Thursday and also the final full council meeting of this administration the previous Monday. However as one of the items on the agenda was to remove him from the many committees he sat on, I'm not surprised he didn't really want to be there.

Both Emily Brothers, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Sutton & Cheam and Tony Shields, Conservative councillor representing Sutton South tabled questions asking how long the Lib Dems had known he had been charged with racist assault and why they had only waited until the news hit the local paper about his conviction before taking any action. Although after Ms Brothers' question, Cllr Shields withdrew his question, being as it was, rather similar in nature.

There were also questions raised about why Cllr Fenwick could not be removed as a councillor after such a serious conviction with Emily Brothers branding the council's code of conduct and equal opportunities policies as "paper tigers".

Councillors from both sides agreed that there needs to be, as Cllr Tim Crowley put it, a better "mentoring system to ensure that when things get tough for councillors they don't end up in dark places."

I spoke briefly with Cllr Fenwick on Wednesday during a break at the appeal hearing and offered him the opportunity to put his side of the story via the blog. However he declined to do so saying it was too long ago now. He did appear to be reasonably well and didn't indicate whether or not he is planning to stand again in Worcester Park as an independent councillor in May.

Threat To Local Cricket

Back in November, the blog reported on the threatened sell off of the Old Salesians Playing Fields in Ewell where many Worcester Park Cricket Club games are played. A couple of days ago David Stemp from the club contacted the blog to say their worst fears have been realised.

David told the blog:
"Within the past week Abbeyfield Homes have submitted a plan to Epsom and Ewell Planning Department to build 60 homes upon the site. If the plan comes to fruition it will be disastrous for all those youngsters in Worcester Park who are keen to play club cricket in the summer months. Whereas 30 years ago there were over 20 grounds which could be hired from the London Borough of Sutton, there are now NONE. It is vital we try to protect Old Salesians Playing Fields as it is one of the closest, available cricket squares we can use. 
Old Salesians is used in the summer primarily by our 3rd and 4th XI League teams on a Saturday and our Colts on a Sunday. The ground is also used by Ewell Castle School, Dom Bosco School,  St Clements School and Old Salesians Football Club. Old Salesians turn out 6 soccer sides on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. After 83 years on the site, and after having built their own clubhouse, they are due to be evicted if the plan goes ahead. 
The plan will also be disastrous for the local residents in Ewell as it will greatly increase the amount of traffic in an already congested  village and will do nothing at all to alleviate the threat of flooding. The flood waters in front of Bourne Hall have only just disappeared. The Environmental Agency indeed has classified part of the site as being highly likely to flood. 
Epsom have allotted 20 sites which can be developed by 2020 but none of these were good enough for the developers who want to rob the youngsters of the area of some of our precious playing fields."
The plans can be viewed on the Epson & Ewell Borough Council website here. Concerned residents and cricketers have have formed an action group to try to protect these valuable playing fields. There is a meeting of the Ewell Village Residents Association next Wednesday, the 16th, at Bourne Hall at 8:00pm where the Action Group plan to garner as much public support as possible.

It is this bloggers view that
"Local sport is extremely important to the local community. As well as providing a focal point and common interest that can bring local people together, keeping them fit and healthy, it also provides vital opportunities for young people to grow, learn discipline, learn how to be part of a team as well as giving them something fun and exiting to do. Protecting our sporting venues is of the utmost importance."
There is also an online petition to save the playing fields. If you value local sport and cricket, please sign the petition here.

Please Make A Deposit

Waitrose are helping collect food this weekend for the Kingston Foodbank to help local people in need. Yesterday and today Waitrose (in Worcester Park) is acting as a collection point for the charity which provided three days worth of food for people who have been referred by various churches and agencies.

Yesterday, thanks to the generosity of Worcester Parkers, they managed to fill 4 entire cages with donations. This morning, only 20 minutes after opening the amount donated was small (see right) but will hopefully grow to a generous amount by the end of the day.

There are friendly staff (right) on the door handing out these leaflets (left) who will be happy to answer any questions about the project.

Waitrose hold regular collections for the Kingston food bank. Apparently Waitrose tried to start something involving Sutton but the blog understands that all their requests and emails to the council were ignored. However Sutton's loss is Kingston's gain.

So please, if you can, pop into Waitrose today and buy something extra for those in need. Let's see if they can beat yesterday's total!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Dash To The Rescue

A little over a month ago the blog reported on the poor state of the new tree surrounds which were starting to crumble only months after being laid (anyone see a pattern forming here?) The blog can report that this latest problem has now been addressed in the last week with new, more yellowy pebble dash replacing the old - at least around certain trees anyway.

Another problem with the previous tree surrounds is that they became rather slippery when rained upon (a phenomenon known to occur from time to time). It looks (or at least feels) that this problem has also been addressed in these new tree surrounds. They felt much less slippery under my feet that the other ones. (I must have looked a bit odd yesterday walking between trees running my feet over the pebbled surfaces, comparing results with a ponderous look - but sometimes that's what's required...) I had heard that there were plans to de-slipify (I know it's a made up word thanks) the surrounds. I hope they manage to get the others done too.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Free Tapas at St Raphael's Shop

Those dudes from Cooking Your Spanish do get around. Tomorrow (Saturday 12th April) they will be offering free Tapas at the St. Raphael's Hospice shop in Central Road (opposite Pizza Express) from 11 until 2pm (just right for lunch!).

You will be able to find David, Ana and other members of team CYS outside the door of the shop giving away their delicious Spanish snacks. All donations will be given to  St. Raphael's Hospice.

David Sánchez told the blog:
"Cooking Your Spanish, based on our social responsibility has chosen this year St. Raphael’s Hospice in Worcester Park to do some different fundraising activities.
The first one will be next Saturday 12 April from 11am to 2pm. We are going to be at the shop doing a Tapa tasting, offering two of the most popular tapas voted by our students. The voluntary donations will go entirely to St. Raphael’s.
I want to see how it goes and my wish would be to collaborate with a local Charity every year."
So follow your noses to the free tapas in Central Road and if you can, make a donation to St Raphael's at the some time...

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Mosque Appeal Today

The appeal against Sutton Council's decision to refuse planning permission for a Mosque in Green Lane starts today.

This will be heard by an inspector at the Sutton Salvation Army Church & Community Centre, Benhill Avenue, Sutton SM1 4DD starting at 10:00am. If you wanted to go you should have contacted Sutton planning dept by now. Details were posted here.

I will be speaking at the appeal so apologies for the recent radio silence - there has been much preparation to do.

Wish us luck...

Update (around 8:30pm)

Phew, that was a long day! Actually we adjourned at around 5pm but if felt long.

I have been reminded by the inspector not the write anything which might prejudice the case so not too many details I'm afraid. However I'm sure I can tell you that the first hour and a half of this morning was spent sorting out official procedure and the bureaucratic stuff: ensuring we had the correct address of the site, information on who would be called as witnesses etc. Only then were the opening statements read out followed by the first witness being called. This witness (for the council) was questioned and then the cross examination lasted for at least two hours. By the time this was finished there was only time for one more witness before we adjourned for the day. There were several adjournments throughout the day.

It looks like I will be speaking first up tomorrow morning...

Update (10th April)

It's not over yet. The case has been adjourned until Thursday the 29th of May. Sorry no update until now, I've been in the city today (meeting with Boris Johnson - more on that later) and had to catch up with numerous other things last night before practically falling asleep at the keyboard...

However, the report from yesterday is that several 'witnesses' spoke (it is just like court case). I was one of four who spoke against the proposal. I spoke for about half an hour which was mostly a written speech with some additional observations regarding points that had been made the day before. I was then cross examined for another half hour or so. (All 'witnesses' have been cross examined to some extent.) Two others spoke for the proposal. In addition two people have spoken on behalf of the LB of Sutton's planning department, whose original recommendation was to reject the proposal - one on Tuesday and one yesterday. I hesitate to go into more detail as it is important not to prejudice an ongoing case.

There will be further details once the case has been decided.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Its A Frogs Life

Today I learned something new. Since 1989 there has been an organisation whose goal is to encourage the local community to help conserve amphibians and reptiles. They are called Froglife.

I had an email from Eddie Brede who is the Habitats & Training Officer for Froglife. He had heard about some Worcester Park Volunteers (he was actually thinking of the 'Worcester Park Station Volunteers' and wondered if we might be interested in some free training in amphibian/reptile identification, ecology and surveying.

When I suggested there may be other people in Worcester Park possibly interested in this, his attitude was 'The more the merrier!'

Eddie told the blog:
"The course would be organised locally (Sutton Ecology Centre), include both classroom/fieldwork, be on a weekend if this suited the group and would be accessible to all; we are not trying to create mini ‘David Attenborough’s’ merely to encourage people from all fields of life to become involved in local conservation. As previously mentioned there would be no cost and the course would be approximately 4-5 hours."
The reason it is free is that Froglife see this as a win win situation. We get free training, and they get more people who understand and would be more likely to want to help conserve amphibians and reptiles, which is what their goal is to achieve.

Eddie added that:
"After your training we would hope that some of your group would want to survey wildlife sites (including Carew Manor wetland/Caraway Place/Mayflower Park) in your local borough. This said, there is no obligation to do this and we as an organisation see our training as a ‘win-win’ scenario either way."
If any readers would like to be involved with this and receive some free training as described, please email eddie on Eddie.Brede@froglife.org with "Worcester Park volunteer surveyors course" in the subject line.

Catering To Local Tastes

For a couple of months now, a new cafe has been taking shape next to the Post Office in North Cheam. Cafe Affair is being opened by Paul Panayi as an extension of his Tasty Affair Catering business. Paul told the blog that they are looking to create a 'Costa Coffee' style cafe but with the addition of a selection of meals available for lunch and breakfast. Later on they will also be opening in the evening as a Mediterranean style restaurant or possibly a tapas bar (hopefully licenced) - and why not? They're paying the rent anyway - they might as well get the most out of the premises.

Cafe affair is looking to open in around a month's time - so about the end of April. They could possibly push to open sooner but the catering business is the main focus and they don't want to rush the cafe. When they do open though, I have been assured there will be a grand opening, which Worcester Parkers will be invited to! (Watch this space...)

I look forward to sampling all of this when the time comes!