Thursday, 22 May 2014

Oi You! Go And Vote...

Wake up! Wake up! It's Polling Day!

No doubt dear reader you are so exited that you can go and vote for a fresh new council today that you can barely contain yourself!

But even if that's not the case... If you've ever wanted to complain about how the borough is run or felt you weren't listened to about something, big or small, this is your one and only opportunity to actually do something about it.

Oh and there are European elections on too...

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Card Thieves Chased From Sainsbury's

A man gave chase to two suspects who had grabbed the bank card from a 62-year-old woman using the ATM machine outside Sainsbury’s in Central Road, back on Sunday the 11th May at around 10 past 3pm.

Two men approached her as she tapped her PIN into the machine. One of them stood between her and the machine and waved a Barclays Bank envelope which stated: ‘No cash withdrawals’.

She told them to ‘go away’ but whilst she was distracted one took her card from the machine and ran off.

She shouted ‘that man has stolen my bank card’ and another man nearby, who has not yet been identified, chased the two men up Cheam Common Road and towards Cuddington cemetery in Lindsay Road.

Meanwhile the victim called police. Officers arrived quickly to carry out a search of the local area but the suspects were not found. The woman immediately cancelled her bank card.

One suspect is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, aged mid-20s, of slim build with dark hair and stubble on his chin. He was wearing a navy blue baseball cap and navy or dark coloured jacket and dark trousers. The other suspect is described as of Middle Eastern appearance, aged mid-20s, about 6ft tall and of slim build. He was wearing dark coloured jacket and dark coloured trousers.

If you have any information about the incident or the suspects, please contact Sutton Police station on 101 quoting ref no: 4004843/14. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Tomorrow's Poll

Remember Tomorrow is polling day, the day when you get to exercise your hard earned right to have a say in who will be speaking up for Worcester Park on both Kingston and Sutton councils and also who will be speaking up for London in the European parliament.

I have requested and posted material from all the parties with candidates standing for a council seat in Worcester Park. You can see what they all had to say here:
Remember to set your alarm a bit earlier if you plan to vote in the morning before work. The polls open at 7:00 am. They will be open all day until 10:00pm so you can also do it last thing before you go to bed. (Cue people voting in pyjamas and dressing gowns.)

Also remember you don't need your official polling card to vote. Just turn up (perhaps with some sort of ID just in case.) And if you have a postal vote and haven't sent it off yet, it can be handed in at any polling station until closing time (Thanks Guest D for the reminder on that one.)

And also spare a thought for the people manning the polling stations - they are there all day from open to close; please be nice to them - it's a somewhat thankless task!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ex Local Garage Owner Dies

Many readers will have seen or heard today of the death of Sir Jack Brabham who was an Australian racing driver and winner of the Formula One champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966. He was also a founder of the Brabham racing team and a constructor of the Brabham race car. He is still the only person in history to have driven a championship-winning car that he designed and built himself.

But his real claim to fame and his proudest achievement must surely have been owning Jack Brabham Motors at the top of Central Road which was established in 1961. He also opened another garage in Ewell in 1965.

According to Adam Cooper in a May 1999 issue of Motor Sport:
"Through [the garages he] retained links with a little corner of suburbia which holds a lot of memories, since both Cooper and his own team were once based nearby. He’s almost certainly the only man to have driven an F1 car on the A3."
Sir Jack, who was knighted for services to motor sport in 1979 had a workshop in Chessington. The Cooper (also driven by Brabham) garage was in Surbiton.

Apparently he died at his home on the Gold Coast, Australia after a long battle with liver disease.

The site at the top of Central Road where Jack Brabham Motors used to be until around 2001, now boasts 'Brabham Court' so it is nice to see Sir Jack hasn't been forgotten. Perhaps someone might consider fixing the clock (which has been stuck at 8:46 for rather a long time) in his honour.

Rest in Peace Sir Jack.


An eagle eyed reader with a good memory has pointed out that the business was actually called: "Jack Brabham (WP) Ltd". Thanks Louisiana!

Update (20th May)

Blog reader Ian has found and sent in a couple of photos of the old place. These were taken on the 9th April, 2000:

Thanks Ian.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Charity Walk to Honour Parents

A blog reader has decided to organised a charity walk around the area with her friend in memory of her Mum and her friend's Dad who both died earlier this year.

22 year old Emma Bushnell's mother died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage on Valentines Day. She was only 53. When Emma heard that someone she had gone to school with, Samantha Williams had lost her dad three weeks ago (his funeral was today), she sent a simple message of understanding and condolence. The two who had not been close friends at school met up and it transpired that Sam's Father had died from exactly the same thing. Emma told the blog:
"We both knew exactly how each other felt, we found ourselves finishing each other's sentences. It was so surreal hearing us both say the exact same things."
The two girls decided to arrange a charity walk together in honour of Emma's Mum, Kay and Sam's Dad, Mick.

They are raising money for the Brain Research Trust Charity which works to get more research funds and donations for neurological conditions and to help survivors who have either brain damage or had a stroke due to a brain illness. There will be an opportunity to make donations on the day or you can donate using the Just Giving page here.

The walk will take place next Saturday (24th May) at 12 midday, starting at the Worcester Park Athletic Club in Green Lane. Emma and Sam will lead the walk up Green Lane past the school and left along the path between the horse paddocks through Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Recreation Ground to Motspur Park via Marina Avenue. The walkers will turn left there at West Barnes Lane and down to Malden Road where they turn left again for the penultimate stretch past the Plough and then the station and left again into Green Lane and back to the Athletic Club again. The whole walk shouldn't take more than an hour and a half.

Emma said that the Brain Research Trust Charity had sent her a charity pack containing balloons and further information about the charity. She will be putting up the balloons outside the Athletic Club in Green Lane so the meeting point is easy to spot! Everyone is welcome - nay, encouraged to go along and take part for Kay and Mick's sake, and as Emma put it: "to help stop anyone else having to go through that."

Thursday, 15 May 2014

On The S3 Bus

Remember the S3 bus saga - the one about it no longer stopping at the end of Green Lane outside Kingfish or the Old bank Chambers? Well questions have been asked and so far it seems like one of those absurd bureaucratic situations where nobody knows what is actually going on and it is the residents who are suffering.

On the 25th of March I had an email back from TfL in which I was told:
"With regards to buses stopping on double yellow lines, it depends on the local traffic regulation.  Some double lines allow buses to stop, others do not."
I then asked a question at the last Sutton Full Council (31st March) meeting about this. My initial question (which needed to be submitted the week before) was read out by the Mayor, Cllr Sean Brennan and was:
"The S3 bus has recently ceased to allow passengers to disembark in the hail and ride section of Green Lane, Worcester Park where there is a double yellow line even though this only means 'No Waiting'  and vehicles are within their right to stop there to drop off and pick up passengers. This is causing some passengers distress as it means they have to wait on the bus in heavy traffic close to the station through several cycles of traffic lights when they could otherwise get off and run for the train. People waiting for the bus on the other side have found the bus going straight past them with no indication of why it has not stopped to pick them up. What is the council doing to remedy this situation?"
The response (as well as follow up questions and answers) can be heard here:

Recordings of the most recent council meetings can be found here. The recording of this entire meeting can be heard at: The relevant bit begins at 0:36:29

So it seemed the Council were planning to have a closed meeting with Epsom Coaches (the bus company) and TfL to try to resolve it but nobody seemed to know whether or not buses could actually stop there, or why nobody knew.

If you're still awake the sage continues... Blog reader Michelle (who has been chasing this up very thoroughly) spoke to Sergeant Colin Buchan of Sutton's Safer Transport Team (after being our SNT Sergeant here) back in April and found out from him that:
"The police cannot issue tickets for yellow lines and haven't been able to for years."
I managed to speak with Sergeant Buchan this morning and he confirmed to me what he has told Michelle. He also confirmed that buses are completely within their rights to stop to drop off and pick up passengers on yellow (single or double) lines and that if anything like this happens again, the bus company should report it to his department who will look through the cctv from the bus. They will treat each case individually but no police officer should have told a bus driver they must not stop there.

He also said that obviously buses should only stop where it is safe to do so and that bus drivers should use their own judgement but they are entitled to stop on the yellow lines there.

Sergeant Buchan has already had a meeting with the council and is waiting to hear back. He is also looking to talk to Epsom Coaches.

I have also chased both TfL and Epsom Coaches for an update. I have just received this update from Epsom Coaches:
"Unfortunately, I am unable to give you any information regarding this issue other than it is being discussed with everyone involved."
I am still awaiting a reply from TfL. Perhaps they all need a hand retrieving it from the too hard basket...

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A Bridge Too Far

A few people have asked when the new lifts at the station will be working. The answer, which I found out this morning is tinged with sadness. I was told by one of the gentlemen working on the project that:
"The new bridge can't open until the old one has been taken down."
They are in the process of trying to 'take possession' of the railway line (in other words close the station and possibly the line too) for a weekend so they can get the equipment in to remove the old footbridge. So take a last long look at it while you can. We still have a few weeks to go - it will probably be in early June when they remove it and open up the new footbridge (with working lifts).

Personally I don't understand why the old one needs to be removed before people can use the new one. In my mind two bridges gives people double the choice of where they want to cross the railway line. It costs more money and more inconvenience closing the station etc. for a weekend to remove it than to just leave it there offering people a second option.

The blog has discussed this situation before and it was suggested that it would cost more to maintain the bridge than to remove it but I find that a slightly incongruous argument. Perhaps the cost of taking it down is less than the cost of maintaining if for the next 20 years, but I doubt it would be less than maintaining if for the next five years. Perhaps the time to remove it should be when it would be needing its next major overhaul. In the meantime people would be able to use both. The idea that people can't use one so long as the other still exists just doesn't seem right to me.

Of course this also means we won't be able to see the new foot bridge (or anything else) from the old one any more. So we'll not have the opportunity to take photos like the one below. So enjoy this sight while you can too (complete with graffiti).

Monday, 12 May 2014

Meet The Candidates (Conservatives)

Party: Conservatives

Ward: Old Malden (RB Kingston)

Mary Clark
Local community champion
Mary has lived in New Malden all her life. She has a daughter now in San Francisco, and a son working in Italy. Her late father Frank Steptoe was twice Mayor of Kingston. Mary’s main interests are adult health and planning. She sat on the Health Overview Panel as a Councillor from 2006 to 2010. She currently spends a lot of time helping elderly residents fill in claim forms for Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Blue Badges.
Mary is chair and founder member of the Maldens & Coombe Heritage Society, Welfare officer for the Malden branch of the Royal British Legion and the charities  co-ordinator for the New Malden Farmers’ Market. Her interests include travelling, with a passion for Tuscany, and researching family trees. She was recently successful in getting the Council to clear the debris from the ancient pond in Church Road, and to install pump to maintain the pond. At the moment she is helping raise the funds for a bronze plaque on the High Street War memorial to commemorate the Centenary year of the First World War.

Kevin Davis
Local school governor
Kevin was born in New Malden and brought up in Old Malden having attended Burlington and Beverley Schools. He is a school Governor in Kingston and has run and established a number of innovative charities in the education sector. He now runs a Kingston based business as well as being the Chairman of a Trust in the centre of Kingston that is raising the profile of Kingston as a place of national historic importance. Kevin feels that the Old Malden ward is often forgotten by the Guildhall and wants to do more to fight for money to come to the area.

David Fraser
Old Malden Councillor
David has served on the Council for thirty years, including three terms as Deputy Mayor. A retired social worker, he spends much of his spare time helping disadvantaged families. He was awarded an MBE last year for his community work, including raising funds for an electric wheel-chair for a double amputee and a walking brace for a young teenager. During the Bosnia crisis he arranged for a lorry load of blankets and clothing to be taken by lorry by volunteer drivers, and at the time of the EU ‘butter mountain’ he collected and personally delivered surplus butter to each elderly and disabled resident in his ward. Today he is active on behalf of the Kingston Association for the Blind, Arthritis Care, Smith’s Charity (Parish of St John’s), the Horton League of Friends, and is a a governor of Richard Challoner School and President of the Motspur Park Horticultural Society. He led the fight against a proposal close South Lane from the A3, which would have affected residents on the Painters Estate.  He persuaded the then Transport Minister to view the site and it was agreed to keep it open.

Areas of Concern

Old Malden Conservatives have chosen to show this poster (on the right here) highlighting the issues they are tackling in the area (click to enlarge) rather than write long pieces about the five topics. If you would like further information please see their website:

They have also made a short video which you might like to have a look at:

Promoted by Ben Mallet on behalf of Mary Clark, Kevin Davis and David Fraser, all of 3 Bridle Close, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2JW. 

Eric, Alan and Rona planting trees in Fairlands Park
Ward: Nonsuch (LB Sutton)

Eric Allen
I have been a resident of Sutton since 1986. Married with one son who is currently studying for his GCSE this June. Born in Glasgow, arrived in Sutton when working for an Insurance company in Wimbledon. Subsequently worked in the City and was an Underwriter at Lloyds of London before starting my own Insurance brokerage in Sutton in 1998.

I am currently a member of the Sutton Environment & Neighbourhood and the Planning committees and the Conservative deputy Financial spokesman. Since becoming a councillor I have also served on the LGA (Local Government Association) Audit and Scrutiny panel and The Environment and Housing Board.

I have found the position as your ward councillor (Since May 2010) both challenging and rewarding and would welcome the opportunity to be your Nonsuch councillor for another 4 year term.

    Rona Forzani
    I have lived in Nonsuch Ward, Sutton for 32 years and am happily married with 5 children; all locally educated.
    Having served as Parent and Community Governors at my local Primary and Secondary schools for over 23 years, I am now enjoying being a School Pastor and Street Pastor assisting the night time economy in Sutton.
    I value being part of making a real difference to the community in which I live, and the people.  Having served voluntarily in local Education, I now value the privileged opportunity to serve as your councillor in a wider arena of challenge.

    Alan Plant
    I have been resident of Nonsuch Ward, Sutton for 36 years. Married for 47 years. Very much a family man with 5 children educated in Sutton and 10 grandchildren. I attended Technical College in Wimbledon, and served an Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering and Design. I owned a successful small Marine Engineering business, before retirement.
    Having an active interest in local issues. I Re-forming Chapra Resident Association, acting as Chairman since 2010. Now coupled with Ward Coordinator of Nonsuch Neighbourhood Watch.
    I am a member of the Council`s Local area committee on behalf of the residents, together with attendance of the Nonsuch Police Ward Panel meeting and the Outer London Fund Stakeholder meeting.
    The opportunity of serving as your Councillor, will enable me to help further improve our environment in Sutton, and Nonsuch ward in particular.

    Areas Of Concern:

    Traffic and Transport.
    Nonsuch Ward suffers from major traffic delays during peaks, both in Central Road and on the A24 London Road. The hold ups along the A24 could be improved with better traffic light phasing at Gander Green Lane.

    Moving the bus stop outside Sainsbury`s North Cheam to the inside lane of a red route doesn't help.

    The traffic in Central Road needs serious attention and we are supporting a cross boundary traffic review to really address this properly.

    Church Hill road with a failing sub-structure and being overloaded with out of service buses, is in an almost constant state of repair and not fit for purpose. Resident’s requests for a 20 MPH zone have been ignored despite it being adjacent to a school.

    We also need a safe crossing on the A24, near Oaks Avenue where residents have a difficult time crossing over to reach the bus stop or post box.  
    (Alan Plant)

    Housing and Planning
    We need to preserve buildings that are typical of our area and those which serve the needs of our residents. It is also important to restrict overdevelopment of a residential plot, and there should be sufficient off road parking spaces when considering any development. Where a new development with residential accommodation can be successfully built without detriment to the area, then account must be taken to ensure the infrastructure is in place to handle the additional population, be it medical facilities, schools places or off road parking. To ensure the public’s content with their surroundings and improve a visitor’s perception of the area, we must ensure no major building is allowed to fall into the condition of the Victoria House eyesore. Landlords, developers and owners must be made to keep their property in safe and respectable condition.
    (Alan Plant)

    Rubbish and Recycling
    In a recent letter to the Guardian a resident asked if anyone on the council understand fallout levels. The answer is 'Yes' - At the first Incinerator planning meeting, both I and fellow Conservative, Graham Whitham, questioned the applicants on the dispersion of the Nitrogen Oxide from the waste stack. Additionally, we questioned the impact of prevailing winds and highlighted concern that particles could be dispersed over nearby Boroughs.

    At that first meeting, Graham, Stephen Fenwick (Lib Dem) and I voted against, while three Lib Dems voted in favour and two abstained. When the meeting was re-run Stephen Fenwick U-Turned and voted in favour along with previously abstaining Lib Dem colleagues. The views of Councillor Whitham and myself were unchanged and we voted against.

    Waste will continue to be a problem particularly with a growing population but we must consider all possible alternative for the sake of the next generation.
    (Eric Allen)

    Children and Education
    Having a real interest in education, serving as a school governor in my children’s local Primary and Secondary school for over 23 years, I can appreciate the excellent work our schools do in providing high quality education.  Sadly, over this time, I had been frustrated by seemingly short-sighted decisions of Local government to close schools when birth rates fell, only to put pressure on schools and their governing bodies to increase class sizes just a few years later when there were too few schools and pupil places available! When will someone implement longer-term strategies that save taxpayers’ money and tears?   Furthermore, neither Worcester Park nor Nonsuch Ward have a Secondary school and many of our children have to travel to Kingston, Ewell or to other wards for their schooling.  Whilst Sutton prides itself on high standards of education our Grammar schools’ intake goes beyond local boundaries; is this fair? 
    (Rona Forzani)

    The Local Economy
    The Local economy in North Cheam is blighted by the eyesore known as Victoria House. I have for many years lobbied the Council regarding its terrible condition and more recently the Health and Safety issues, none of which were addressed until a broken window fell to the pavement. Certain Conservative proposals to deal with the redevelopment are being considered and we're hopeful that work will commence, redeveloping the site very shortly.
    Conservatives are concerned about how your Council tax is spent, whether it be £7000 to wall paper a derelict building only to see it fall away in 12 months, or wasteful spending on wooden structures in Sutton High Street or even the ongoing £400,000 to cover losses at Sutton`s life centre. This has to stop, we need sound commercial practice and common sense, to eliminate this waste. With more emphasis on developing sustainable business to boost the local economy.
    (Alan Plant)

    Ward: Worcester Park (LB Sutton)

    Stewart Mackay
    I am an experienced and successful campaigner who served on Runnymede Council, holding both the economic development and housing portfolios. I now want to represent Worcester Park where I live. I am passionate about changing our local area for the better. You will find me a straight talker, sometimes outspoken. I get things done. I believe in small and safe local government with low business tax to encourage investment, creating opportunities and apprenticeships for local young people and as a car driver I am pushing for a cross border wholesale review of the traffic conditions and parking in Worcester Park. 

    Gino Marotta
    I have lived in Worcester park since 2002 with my wife and two daughters. Having been self-employed, I understand the importance of keeping costs low and minimising waste. I hope to use this experience effectively as a councillor when managing budgets using taxpayers' hard earned money. I enjoy watching sport and charitable work. 

    Areas Of Concern:

    Traffic and Transport
    Traffic is one of the biggest issues faced by Worcester Park. The regular traffic jams in Central Road and spilling into residential streets has been a source of frustration for people for many years. It is too big to be solved by tinkering with things like the re-phasing of traffic lights. Something big needs to be done and that is why we've already spoken with our counterparts in Kingston and Merton (and with Boris Johnson) about a cross boundary traffic review in order to look at real long term solutions to this problem including the possibility of another road connecting the A24 to the A3.

    Reducing traffic also means giving people more incentives to walk or use public transport when they can. Providing good transport links close by and supporting good retail shopping locally will help with this. This is one reason we campaigned to bring Crossrail 2 to Worcester Park.

    Housing and Planning
    Good planning is necessary to preserve the character of an area while ensuring it serves the needs of the community as well as possible. We will reverse the trend of too many traditional family homes being bulldozed and turned into ugly blocks of flats. We will change the current planning policy which encourages developers to provide too few parking spaces on new developments as it leads to our streets being clogged with cars that can't park at home. There is already inadequate infrastructure in Worcester Park for the number of people here so we'll resist any further major housing developments in the area while trying to address the lack of Doctors' surgeries, school places and parking. We were also the only party to join with local residents to campaign against the Green Lane Mosque proposal due the traffic and parking problems it would cause, doing so from the start.

    Rubbish and Recycling
    Eleven years ago, Sutton's household recycling rate was in the top 10% in the country but since then we have dropped to the bottom third while Conservative run Croydon's recycling rates are now much higher than Sutton's have ever been. We will turn around this decline in recycling rates. We will also double the free garden waste collection to 4 bags. We will keep the weekly rubbish collection and look at the possibility of reintroducing a street skip for people to get rid of bulky items they can't take to the tip. We will also clamp down on fly tipping and littering and work with local businesses to help keep areas clean around or as a result of their shops.

    Children and Education
    A good education is essential for all children, benefitting both the children and the community they live in. Unfortunately the current Lib Dem council had allowed a shortage of School places to develop  - the Sutton Guardian used the phrase "Borough's education crisis begins to bite".  Two new schools will be required by 2019 and there is still no site secured for even one of them so we will have our work cut out to ensure enough places are provided over the next few years. Additionally there is a lack of secondary school places for children in Worcester Park so we will work hard to address this too.

    Children also need more than just their formal education to thrive. We will encourage and provide access to sports facilities and clubs, youth activities and anything that can help channel our young people's energy into positive and creative things.

    The Local Economy
    To get our local high street thriving we need more people choosing to shop locally and more people wanting to shop here when visiting or passing through. Improving local business will in turn lead to our shops employing more local people. We're already talking with local traders and the traders associations to find out how we can help improve business. We're looking to help with their own schemes like the 'Our Worcester Park' re-branding and other incentives, more information showing the extent of available products and services, and with regular events like the Christmas Late Night. We also want to help people to want and be able to shop here with more 'stop and shop' parking and by supporting local speciality businesses that attract customers. Plus we will help start-up business by waiving their business rates for the first year. When the local economy thrives, the area thrives.

    Promoted by Ranulph Murray, on behalf of Sutton Borough Conservatives Federation, both of 2a Donnington House, Sutton, SM1 4SY

    Sunday, 11 May 2014

    Meet The Candidates (Labour - Kingston)

    As the last posting was getting a bit long and this arrived a bit later, I have put this on a separate page...

    Party: Labour

    Ward: Old Malden (RB Kingston)

    Bill Bennett
    After a career in telecommunications which included seven years working on the NASA space programme, Bill now devotes much of his time involved in psychology and gerontology, with a particular interest in physical and mental fitness in an ageing population. A New Malden resident for over twenty years, he cares passionately about the NHS and the encouragement of healthy lifestyles. Bill has campaigned against the Coalition's cuts to the School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) and strongly supports Ed Miliband’s proposal for a 10-year cross-party plan for sport in the UK, and also Labour’s eight-point Cycling Manifesto.

    Ian Kellett
    Born and raised in Worcester Park, Ian has long experience as a college administrator and a school governor. He has also for many years helped organise sports and social activities in the area. Ian is very concerned by the ever-widening performance gap between Kingston’s secondary schools. With increasing traffic flows, Ian sees the need for better support for our local shops against the incursions of superstores and much better parking management in Worcester Park supplemented by greater collaboration with Sutton Council.

    George Pearson
    George, who had a career in international banking and computer systems, has lived in Old Malden for more than 35 years. He feels that there needs to be much better consultation with local people over planning matters. He campaigned against the closure of Old Malden library. But he feels continued vigilance is required to avoid it joining the 400 libraries that have closed under this government. George is also saddened by the closures of Yew Tree House and Newent House local authority residential care homes – closed since the Liberal Democrats came to power locally.

    Policies (Kingston)

    (Labour’s full manifesto can be downloaded as a PDF from:

    Traffic and Transport

    • Roads have been neglected by the Liberal Democrats. At the current rate of repair and reconstruction, carriageways would only be resurfaced once every 25 years and footways reconstructed once every 50 years. Labour will give a high priority to spending on road maintenance.
    • Some 36% of roads in Kingston currently have a 20 mph speed limit. This makes our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. We will install more 20 mph zones and limits with residents’ support.
    • We will work with South West Trains, Network Rail and Transport for London to increase the frequency of services on the Chessington South line and to secure early implementation of the Crossrail 2 Regional Option, which will benefit Old Malden.
    • About 50% of cyclists’ deaths in London are caused by Heavy Goods Vehicles, even though HGVs are only 5% of the traffic. We will sign the London Cycling Campaign’s “Safer Lorries, Safer Cycling” pledge.

    Housing and Planning

    • There are already over 6,000 households on the council’s housing waiting list. At the current rate under Liberal Democrat rule, it would take over 15 years to house them. Working with housing associations, a Labour council will build new affordable homes.
    • We will ensure that new developments include their quota of affordable homes under the council’s existing policies (50% in larger developments).
    • Our borough benefits enormously from its Metropolitan Open Land and Green belt. Labour seeks to preserve these areas. New developments will be on ‘brownfield’ sites.
    • We will promote and protect community ‘hubs’. These are the places where people traditionally meet – whether in their church or community hall, a pub or a club, the post office or a local shop – all places that are vital for thriving communities.
    • We will encourage communities to nominate valued facilities such as pubs as “assets of community value” under the Localism Act.

    Rubbish and Recycling

    • We will protect weekly recycling collections as well as look for ways to make it easier for residents to recycle, and increase the borough’s recycling rate.
    • We will tackle the problem of recycling for flats, particularly those over shops. We will increase the frequency of waste collection in areas where need is greatest.
    • We will improve the provision of public bins for on-street recycling. These will make it easier for people to recycle rather than to put recyclable material into non-recyclable bins.
    • We will work with charities and recycling companies to do more to reuse or recycle old clothes, shoes, bedding, white goods, furniture, and any other recyclable items.
    • We will examine abolishing the charge for the bulky waste collection service for poor households and households headed by a disabled person.
    • Fly-tipping is a problem in some areas. Where possible, we will use fixed or mobile CCTV to identify offenders.

    Children and Education

    • Under the Liberal Democrats, child protection services were run badly. OFSTED, the independent inspector, found them to be inadequate in two consecutive reports. Child protection services have consequently been taken out of Kingston’s direct control. Labour will ensure that these services make rapid progress towards acceptable performance, and that all lessons from the failures are learned.
    • Under the Liberal Democrat rule, education is under-performing. In 2010, the charity Save the Children described the gap in GCSE results between the borough’s poorest and better-off children as “scandalous”. In 2014, the gap has widened. Kingston is now the tenth worst authority in England and second worst in London. Labour will focus on standards in all Kingston’s schools so that every parent can be confident their child will receive an excellent education.
    • We will identify new sites for new schools, and ensure that there are enough school places for all local children.

    The Local Economy

    • Youth unemployment in the borough is over double the overall rate. We will support all young people in finding suitable education, training or apprenticeships – in particular by ensuring appropriate apprenticeship places are offered by Kingston Council, targeting those young people who do not have Level 3 qualifications.
    • We will work with Jobcentre Plus, employers and others to ensure that people can get the training they need to find a job – particularly training in IT skills as these are now essential for many jobs in Kingston.
    • A Labour council will work with Kingston University’s ‘incubator’, to help create more Small and Medium Enterprises.
    • We will make it easier for small firms employing local people to win council contracts.
    • We aim to retain neighbourhood shopping parades and individual shops. These can be vital for older people and others without easy access to transport.

    Promoted by Chris Priest on behalf of Kingston Borough Labour Party, all at 160 London Road, Kingston, upon Thames, KT2 6QW.

    Saturday, 10 May 2014

    Meet The Candidates (Labour - Sutton)

    Party: Labour

    Ward: Nonsuch (LB Sutton)

    Name: Shawn Buck
    I grew up in the borough of Sutton and have worked in Sutton at Quadrant House near Sutton station for many years. Since 1999 I have worked in selling digital and print advertising, and event sponsorship to a wide range clients in the aviation industry in Europe and the Middle East, My role involves extensive travel to meet clients at their offices, as well as attending major industry events such as Paris, Farnborough and Dubai air shows, I am a member of the Aviation Club of the UK. I am interested in Transport issues and more support for local businesses

    Laura Mullaney
    I have lived in Nonsuch ward for 19 years, and I was born in St. Helier hospital. I attended Nonsuch High School and now work in Rachel Reeves MP’s Westminster office. I’m passionate about local issues, including protecting the vital services that St. Helier provides in the long-term, a campaign which Labour have backed nationally. The eyesore of Victoria House in North Cheam which, although is finally due to be demolished, has stood empty for far too long whilst the Lib Dems and Tories have fought amongst themselves. I believe that Labour can do a lot for local people by listening to their concerns on these and other issues, and I am willing to stand up for local views and work to get the best deal possible for the local community.

    Dr Marcus Papadopoulos
    I have lived in Worcester Park, and the Nonsuch Ward, all my life therefore I know the area, its people and local economy intimately. I know people’s concerns in-depth – from traffic congestion along Central Road to demands on local schools – and would press these hard and candidly, if elected. From a professional perspective, I work with leading politicians from the three main parties at Westminster enabling me to gain insight to the policy decisions of the Coalition Government and how these are being formulated and implemented. That would stand me in good stead to tackle the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Sutton regarding, for instance, cuts to local government budgets and policing and the dire consequences these are having in Sutton. I also understand the culture of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties by my close connections to their prominent politicians and through meeting activists at their respective autumn and spring party conferences.

    Ward: Worcester Park (LB Sutton)

    John Evers
    I am a caretaker at Kingston College and have lived in Worcester Park Ward for a number of years with my wife and daughter.  I have contested this ward in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and was the Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey in 1987 and a candidate in the GLC elections of 1977 and 1981. A Labour Councillor in St.Helier from  1982 to 1986, I am an active member of Unite the Union where I am the union learning representative for my branch.

    David Hosking
    I have lived in Worcester Park ward for 26 years and work for the NHS. I believe in the fundamental principles of the NHS and the need for a publicly owned and publicly accountable railway. I enjoy gardening and cycling.

    Hilary Hosking
    Hilary Hosking lives in Worcester Park Ward in Longfellow Road and has lived there for 26 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. She works in the rail Industry and actively campaigns for better transport services as a member of the trade union TSSA. She is a keen gardener and cyclist.

    Policies (Sutton wards)

    Traffic and Transport
    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. 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, including rejecting planning applications that add to traffic flow. In the longer term we need to get Sutton, Merton and Kingston Council’s to agree traffic management and planning policy for the roads and 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.

    Housing and Planning
    Labour is committed to:

    • 400 more affordable local homes in the next 4 years to help local residents to rent, buy or join a shared ownership scheme.
    • Protect viability Worcester Park and resist takeaways, payday lenders and betting shops whilst protecting traditional ‘local’ pubs as community hubs
    • We will undertake a full environmental impact analysis before planning consent is given to any significant development or change of use.
    • We condemn anyone who uses planning applications to promote racist or fascist ideologies and suggest residents read the Hope Not Hate Website’s watch list of extreme right candidates for Sutton 
    • Oppose out of town shopping centres. Sutton needs investment in its local retailing infrastructure enabling people to shop locally without over reliance on the car
    • A better repairs service to improve council homes with the Council still a landlord and with its rents being capped.
    Rubbish and Recycling
    The Liberal Democrats have agreed to the build an incinerator in the borough. We will seek to withdraw the Council from contracts and aim for more quality green jobs instead.
    Thus, Labour will tackle Sutton’s appalling recycling rates and set a target of 50% recycling after consultation with residents. We will be focused on delivering tangible improvements in contrast in Lib Dem publicity gimmicks like dumping 11 tons of rubbish in Sutton High Street.

    We recognise the concerns raised by residents about littered, overgrown and untidy gardens and so will launch an ‘Eyesore Garden Project’ involving local people in days of action, resulting in enforcement notices wherever necessary.
    Labour will work with energy companies and government to assist householders retro-fit their homes far more quickly to reduce their carbon footprint
    For more information go to our full Manifesto here:

    Children and Education
    Labour will meet the need for additional secondary phase places in the borough by supporting  the expansion of existing schools and by building a new comprehensive secondary school, to be sponsored by an existing Sutton Academy Trust, Co-operative Foundation Trust or similar not for profit body.
    We will work with a future Labour Government in its plans to extend free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 hours to 25 hours per week.

    We will Introduce Code Clubs for all pupils to learn programming skills and a new careers service to help our children’s future
    We will provide early supportive interventions to keep families together, reducing the need for foster placement and forced adoption. Labour will also help foster carers by providing additional support services and increasing the Foster Carer’s Grant.

    For more information go to our our website here:

    The Local Economy
    We use local shops all the time and know some of the shopkeepers. We 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. We will encourage improvement in activity of local charity shops so that Worcester Park develops a unique ‘not for profit’ ‘Worcester Park Village’ retail offer. In addition:
    Council Tax to pay for service improvements should be raised at no higher than inflation in any given year for the next four years, so residents know what to budget for.
    We will tackle expensive lending locally and provide better advice services to help you get on.
    Fair wages and fair Employment practice
    Make Sutton a fully wi-fi enabled borough

    Promoted by Mary Towler on behalf of Shawn Buck, Laura Mullaney, Marcus Papadopoulos, John Evers, David Hosking, Hilary Hosking and Sutton Labour Party all at 111c Stayton Road, Sutton, SM1 2PS

    Meet The Candidates (Liberal Democrats - Not)

    As with every other party (and independent) standing in the local elections, I invited the Liberal Democrats to submit their copy for publication on the blog. Unlike every other party, they declined to take part.

    It is just a shame that the Lib Dems have declined to contribute to something that at the end of the day, is for the benefit of the people of Worcester Park.

    Friday, 9 May 2014

    Meet The Candidates (Green)

    Party: Green
    Ward: Old Malden (RB Kingston)
    Name: Lucy Howard

    I have lived in the Borough for most of my life; I was born in Kingston Hospital, grew up here and I now live in New Malden with my family. I have worked for 8 years as a secondary school teacher and have a first class degree from Oxford University. I am passionate about improving the environment for future generations and particularly in reducing local air pollution and improving our parks and green spaces. I'm driven by a desire to bring our children's health and quality of life into the centre of the debate.  Having seen my parents battling with the bureaucracy of the care system when my grandparents were extremely old and frail, I would like to see the council adopt a more human face towards those people who are in the greatest need.

    Traffic and Transport
    There are two issues here: we need to ensure that people are able to get from A to B (for example, through maintaining driver services for the elderly and disabled) but we also need to address the problems which heavy traffic causes. Our air pollution in Kingston is at illegally high levels and we have one of the highest rates of asthma in London as a result. We urgently need to look at ways to reduce traffic through incentivising car sharing and public transport use. The news that Kingston has been chosen to develop cycle lanes is excellent and we need to plan these carefully and consult with residents and commuters to ensure that the money is used in a way which encourages more cycling.

    Housing and Planning
    The Green Party has put housing for London at the forefront of its policies. All too often, including in our own Borough, new buildings are being planned for private rental, using our taxes to benefit the landlords rather than families who would prefer to be able to buy their own home. We don't want young people to be priced out of the area, and the high prices of privately built student accommodation is something I'd definitely want to address. With 300 homes currently empty in the Borough we need to look first at getting needy families housed in these, before getting involved in costly and unpopular new developments. Building lots of new flats in areas which don't have the local infrastructure to support the residents is a recipe for disaster and I would like to ensure that the planning takes place before the buildings go up.

    Rubbish and Recycling
    Along with three other councils, Kingston Council has given the go-ahead to a huge South London Incinerator. There has been little public consultation about this development which is going to increase our already high levels of air pollution and traffic and one of my first priorities would be to support the campaign against the incinerator. In general I feel the council is doing pretty well with recycling (apart from the annoyingly flimsy food waste bags!) but there needs to be clearer information about where exactly our waste goes once it has been collected. We also need to address the issue of unsightly bags of rubbish left out in High Streets all morning for the business bin collections which makes our streets unattractive, smelly and difficult for some to navigate.

    Children and Education
    Improving child protection in the Borough needs to be an urgent priority. We need to support the work of our excellent Children's Centres and ensure that more parents know about them and are able to seek help when they need it. We need to start planning now for how the baby boom of 2009/10 will affect secondary school entry, while continuing to work to improve capacity at the most popular primary schools. We should use our green spaces more imaginatively to help our children get active outdoors; for example for minimal cost we could have a space in local parks so that children who didn't have gardens of their own could grow plants with the help of volunteers.

    The Local Economy
    The Green Party believes strongly in promoting the living wage and we should start off by making sure that the council pays the living wage to all its employees, if necessary reducing the pay of its highest earners in order to do so. We need to regenerate our High Streets by promoting and supporting independent shops and markets. I'm not a business woman myself, so rather than assuming I had all the answers I'd want to listen carefully to the concerns of local traders and use their input to help with planning, while looking carefully at successful models of regeneration in other parts of the country for example local reward cards or loyalty schemes. Thank you for reading this far and if you would like any further information on Green policies please see

    Promoted by Tariq Shabbeer, 52 Dukes Avenue, New Malden, KT3 on behalf of the Green Party

    More Open Bowls

    If you like lawn bowls and particularly if you are interested in having a try without making a commitment, it seems you are spoilt for choice in the KT4 area. In addition to the Auriol Bowling Club open days, Cuddington Bowling Club is also offering two open days so the bowling-curious can go along and see what it's all about.

    Cuddington is offering free expert coaching, a nice club house, refreshments and the opportunity to join the club if you so wish (or not) but why not go and find out what it's all about?

    Their two open days are Wednesday 14th May from 11am until 2pm and also on Sunday 8th June between 11am and 5 pm. Just turn up!

    Thursday, 8 May 2014

    Meet The Candidates (Ukip)

    I emailed both the Kingston and Sutton branches of Ukip with the same request I have sent to other parties asking them to submit their copy by 10am this morning.

    At 10am, having received nothing I decided to follow up with a phone call and to offer a possible extension. The chap I spoke to at Kingston was very pleasant but said they were not dealing with the media and were concentrating of leafleting people instead. He said I had saved him an email as he was going to email me later on today to explain why they didn't want to take part.

    Regarding Sutton, I had emailed my request to two of the email addresses on this page. When I finally managed to track down a telephone number for a person, I had a long chat with said person, explaining the situation and asking him to chase up the people I had sent emails to. This afternoon I received back an email from him saying they do not know anything about the email I sent them. He said he has spoken with Howard and Han-Ley (Ukip candidates in Nonsuch and Worcester Park wards respectively) and given the short time span they regret that they cannot comply with the request. (I had extended the deadline to 6pm this evening.)

    He did however ask me to post the following short statement instead:
    “UKIP in the London Borough of Sutton have been asked to provide a biography and the answer or opinion on 6 questions or local issues concerning the residents in Worcester Park. Unfortunately, for reasons that are unclear the email request setting out a date and deadline came and went without us ever becoming aware of it. Our local manifesto, can be found here 
    After the racist assault conviction of Councillor Stephen Fenwick, UKIP in Sutton were keen to stand our bright,  young  local candidate, Han-Ley Tang against him in Worcester Park ward. Thankfully Councillor Fenwick is not seeking re-election thus sparing the electorate the job of sorting out his suitability. 
    Our candidate in Nonsuch ward, Howard Cowley,  is a retired maritime engineer who lives with his Thai wife locally and has done so for many years. 
    It is with regret that neither Howard nor Han-Ley were available at short notice to try and respond in the few hours available to them. 
    All UKIP candidates live in the borough and many actually live in the ward they seek to represent.”

    Le Marché Ce Week-End

    You wait months for a street market and two come along at once! For those for whom last weekend's local produce and craft market was not enough, this weekend boasts a Central Road French Market. The blog understands that the event, being put on by Association France At Home was not originally scheduled for Worcester Park this weekend but was cancelled elsewhere and so we have chosen to host it here instead.

    So for a quick extra stock up on your French goodies and a chance for a croissant or two, you know where to be this weekend...

    Last Saturday's market

    The local produce and craft market last week was, it must be said, a rather subdued affair. I spoke to numerous stallholders and the description I heard most often when asking how they were finding it was, "A bit quiet". One new stall-holder even said it was "one of the worst" markets he had done however the Giggly Pig stall-holder said he thought it was fairly busy. "Much better than the Easter farmers market at North Cheam" he then added.

    One of the problems was identified as the main road separating the two sides of the market (that traffic issue yet again). There was an attempt to solve this problem back in October when all the stalls were on one side of the road. However this didn't seem to lead to a great bustling experience either.

    Victoria House Sold

    Victoria House, that ugly (despite the wall paper) building welcoming visitors to Worcester Park from Sutton and Visitors to Sutton from Kingston and anywhere along the A3, has been sold to the Home Group.

    A deal was formally agreed between the existing owners, Stonegate Homes and the Home Group last week. The good news is that the Home Group fully intends to go ahead with the current proposal, albeit with some minor internal alterations.

    Stonegate Homes bought the site early in 2012 and set about organising plans for a new development on the site which the community broadly backed. In June last year the plans that had been developed in conjunction with the local community were approved by Sutton's Development Control Committee however a couple of months later the building was back on the market again leading to much speculation about why Stonegate Homes had put it up for sale again and whether they had ever intended to carry out the work, perhaps preferring instead to sell it on with planning permission, adding a great deal of value to the site - and profit to the sale. This depiction of events was never confirmed but was repeatedly hinted at. For example one local(ish) councillor wrote on her blog on 5th November last year:
    "I can not help but feel, that whilst Sutton Council is doing its bit in marketing North Cheam, the real answer lies with Stonegate, the owners of Victoria House.  I and many other people just wish they would just get a move on, stop playing at 'Property Speculation'"
    However there was an alternative version of events which also fits the known facts and was alluded to in the recent Sutton Guardian story about the building. Stonegate's land director James Fitzgerald was quoted here as saying:
    "It was in doubt because the council was very hard to negotiate with on section 106 payments, there was a lot of internal fighting between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, but it's on track now."
    The blog has spoken to several people including Stephen Curwen, the director of Stonegate, and it seems that the council had added an addition section 106 payment to the deal after the planning approval was granted. This had been considered to be part of the main S106 payment but afterwards looks to have been redefined as an additional separate payment required from the developer as part of the planning approval agreement. For those (i.e. most people) who don't know what section 106 money is - it is basically money required to be paid by a developer to the local council to cover the costs of additional council services that will be required by users of the new development. The agreed amount forms part of the planning agreement. Now that you know what Section 106 money is, you can forget it again because it's all changing.

    Mr Curwen who grew up in Stoneleigh and told the blog "Victoria House was a derelict site when I was a kid!" didn't wish to disclose how much extra money was being asked for but the blog understands it was not an insignificant sum. It was the investors who had decided not to continue with the project, forcing the site to be put up for sale again. However negotiations continued between Stonegate and the council and a figure has now been reached that has been agreed by both sides. Mr Curwen was keen to stress that all councillors he dealt with were helpful and all sides wanted the project to go ahead. He did also mention that Councillor Eric Allen was very positive and keen to help from the start.

    Even though they no longer own the site, Stonegate will still be working with the Home Group on the project, so retaining a stake in the new development. They are looking to begin the work of demolition in August. Ladbrokes is staying put so the demolition will need to be done while keeping the Ladbrokes section of the building in tact.

    The building itself has fallen into such bad disrepair that a window fell and smashed on the pavement without warning a few months ago narrowly missing passers-by. It will be good to see this work finally being done. Mind you with all the delays so far - I'll wait until I see the demolition actually begin before I open any bubbly white wine from a specific region in France. Although if they just leave it a bit longer it might just fall apart all by itself...

    Councils and Development

    It is my view that if someone is prepared to come along and pour millions of pounds of their own money into something that will greatly benefit the community and the local area, then they should be given the opportunity to make some profit from that investment to make it worth their while going to all the bother. The council shouldn't try to squeeze every last drop out of a developer, just assuming they can afford it.

    Unfortunately this is not the first time Sutton Council seems to have scared off potential developers by insisting on too much from them:

    In 2012 Sutherland House on Brighton Road just south of Sutton Station was similarly given planing permission but again onerous S106 conditions made the development financially unviable. Developers are now instead looking at permitted development rights to just turn it into residential flats - because this doesn't require Sutton Council to give planning permission (hence 'permitted' development). It is not the development which would have best served the community and certainly not what Sutton could have had if the council had been more reasonable.

    Another one was the old Burger King site on the main road heading North out of Sutton towards Rosehill. This was bought by Travelodge as one of a number of sites to develop. But once again the conditions placed on development by the council, this time regarding the environmental conditions, left the site so low down the profitable pecking order that it hasn't been worth their while going ahead with the development - leaving just another derelict site on a Sutton high street.

    Update (12th May 2014)

    A few people have questioned some of the facts here and asked for more detail. Cllr Eric Allen has obliged with the following statement:
    "At a meeting of Councillors and planning officers on 4th April we were advised that the Developers of Victoria House were in discussion with a social housing organisation to take over the site. The problems that the developer (Stonegate) sited for the delays in the development were the required seven affordable homes plus the payment of £390,000 in upfront charges (S106 money) on top of the £500,000+ they were obliged to spend on public realm projects. 
    Stonegate wanted to either be removed from the obligation to provide the seven affordable homes (supplied at cost therefore no profit) or to have the S106 additional contribution removed. 
    As this is a landmark site which currently blights the North Cheam cross roads I had no objection to the removal of the S106 money, and suggested we agree this on condition that the developers started the demolition of the building within 2 months. 
    As Conservative councillor for Nonsuch, I have been fully supportive of the redevelopment and a strong advocate for renegotiating the charges imposed by the Liberal Democrat Council in order to kick start the redevelopment for the benefit of local people. It has been the Liberal Democrat imposition of almost £900,000 of financial obligation on the developer that made the project unprofitable and delayed the redevelopment. 
    The commercial loss to the council in terms of Council tax is around £100,000 for every year the redevelopment is delayed."

    Wednesday, 7 May 2014

    Meet The Candidates (Independent)

    Party: Independent
    Ward: Worcester Park (LB Sutton)
    Name: Richard Edmonds

    I am retired engineer and a Sutton resident, and I have worked in London most of my life. I see Britain and especially England as over-populated. On current trends of immigration , we native Britons will become a minority within a generation. Our once proud and law-abiding cities are now becoming riot-ravaged, permanent crime-zones. Who can forget those days and nights of rioting in the summer of 2011 ? To their shame the authorities totally lost control of the situation. As a British patriot I know that we should leave the European Union; it is a bureaucratic, undemocratic, corrupt, expensive and unaccountable nightmare of a monster. Let us be true to our Traditions: Rule from our own Westminster, and not from Brussels.

    Traffic and Transport:
    For those who live in Worcester Park, those who work and shop in Worcester Park, those who travel to school in Worcester Park, those who worship in Worcester Park, and those who travel through Worcester Park to some-where else along the very busy A2043, and not forgetting the pedestrians who need to cross from one side to the other,  ALL know of the confluence (Yes, rather like several mighty rivers merging into one river basin) of the resulting, almost permanent traffic jam that is Central Road during a large part of the day. All matters of town planning, both from the point of view of the locals, whose town Worcester Park is, and from the larger all- London perspective, should bear the traffic problems of Central Road very much in mind.

    Housing and Planning
    With regard to Town planning in the context of Housing:It has to be asked: is there any planning undertaken by the Central Authorities at the Home Office, with regard to the on-going, and very high levels of immigration into Britain, and the consequent pressure that this immigration puts on the demand for housing ? In this context, two vital questions for our community arise: How can the Green Belt, the "lungs of London" be protected, and the urban sprawl of London be contained ? There are seven million of us living in this city. And secondly with the resulting pressure on housing, how are young Britons ever to find a home on their own: the immigrant-fed demand for housing,results in higher rents, higher house-prices, higher mortgage payments, higher down payments. It is elementary that one cannot put two pints into a one-pint bottle.

    Rubbish and Recycling:
    Well I am sure that I am not alone in expressing the hope that the Council manages to maintain a weekly collection of the house-hold rubbish, and that we in Sutton, do not experience what was imposed upon the residents and rate-payers in other less well organized communities, namely the rubbish taken only every other week.

    Children and Education:
    We live in an ever increasingly competitive world. This is true in every aspect of modern life. The young are growing up in a world, where the centres of trade, of manufacture, of design, of research and development, etc., etc. are located in countries all around the globe; and all are in keen competition with each other. The days when Britain was the work-shop of the world and had a monopoly on trade and manufacture: that is long gone. Education is the key to earning a worth-while place in the modern world. I will only say here: the abilities and aptitudes of all children should be born in mind and catered for: the academically bright, and those who want to learn a trade; and that all young persons should feel wanted, that they are needed, and have a vital role to fulfil in society, whatever their abilities.

    The Local Economy:
    Worcester Park is part and parcel of one of the greatest cities in the world. When one talks of the "local economy" - is one talking of the shops in Central Road ? - I'm only asking. Or is one talking of the finance houses of the City of London, Insurance, Assurance, etc., etc. Vast amounts of the trade and financing of the world is master-minded from London. Products manufactured the other side of the globe are designed by teams of engineers and technicians in London. Shall I mention: Harley Street, London W.1., for those world-wide in need of the best medical attention possible. Have I made my point ? The local economy extends a very long way.

    Promoted by Richard Edmonds of PO Box 279, Sutton, SM1 9AR

    Meet The Candidates (Introduction)

    It's time to roll out the May 2014 local election candidates so you dear reader can find out what they have to say and to offer the good people of Worcester Park. I have offered each of the parties standing the opportunity to write a short piece about themselves and several local issues which I will then publish as written.

    Three out of the four Worcester Park council wards are electing new councillors at this election: Nonsuch and Worcester Park wards in the London Borough of Sutton and Old Malden ward in the Royal Borough of Kingston. The only one missing out is Cuddington ward in Epsom and Ewell.

    There will be a daily posting of a response from a party standing in one or more of the wards (including independents), with each party on a different day. The various wards will all have a section in each party's posting.

    In addition to a biography of each candidate I have given each party in each ward up to 150 words to talk about the five following issues: Traffic and Transport, Housing and Planning, Rubbish and Recycling, Children and Education, and The Local Economy. I feel this giving broad topics rather that specific questions allows candidates to play to their strengths and say what they want to say - giving a better idea of what they really stand for.

    I have thought long and hard about doing this and equally long and hard about whether I should invite all those standing to participate. The reason for this is that amongst the candidates is someone who has been a member of both the National Front and the BNP. He stood as the National Front candidate in the Croydon North by-election in 2012 and is standing as an independent candidate here. Being such a far right extremist, I was tempted to deny him the same opportunity I am extending to all other parties and candidates.

    However, it is my view that this is an election where you, the people of Worcester Park are being given the opportunity to decide between the many candidates. It is not for me to pre-decide what you may or may not hear from those candidates just because I (or any number of people) might find such views offensive or distasteful. There are many other views expressed in comments on this blog that I disagree with - some vehemently, but I feel the commenters still have a right to make them. You the readers are intelligent enough to make up your own mind without needing me to act as a nanny censor.

    The various parties pages can be found here:


    I have been criticised from time to time for allowing some of the more unpleasant comments (usually made anonymously) to remain on the blog and not moderate such comments more ruthlessly. However it is usually the case that such comments attract numerous harsh rebuttals, often effectively putting the original commenter in their place. I believe that the benefit to readers is far greater to have seen the entire debate of both the original comment and the resulting rebuttals, than to have seen neither because the initiating comment was removed. There have been several such comments directed at me personally - but in the same spirit of openness I have allowed them to remain because again, everyone has their right to an opinion.

    I feel that unpleasant views need to be challenged, not hidden away. They need to be fought directly where they exist, not brushed under the carpet in a flurry of embarrassed denial. And they should be defeated with reasoned arguments, not with threats, legislation or censorship. You cannot legislate against an opinion. You can show it up for what it is though - and that it the only route to changing it. And that is why I will continue to generally allow everyone to have their say here on the blog. Including the chap you are about to hear from...

    Monday, 5 May 2014

    Vegan Get Together

    Back on the 13th March, a new local vegan club met for the first time in "The Den" at Christchurch with St Philip. Blog reader Carol Williams who organised it told the blog that:
    "10 people and a baby turned up for the first meeting. There was a great buzz about the whole occasion, with everyone saying how pleased they were to have this local group and thanking me for starting it up. Two people continued afterwards in the pub across the road, so we are making this a feature of the meetings in future, for those who wish to extend our time together. 
    Most people brought food to share. We had a wonderful garlicky arthichoke dip, oat pancakes, a coffee and walnut cake, some homemade biscuits, marmite and cucumber sandwiches, an avocado wrap and a huge pot of homemade pasta salad.
    Everyone wants to continue meeting and keep connected.
    We welcome anyone who is interested in learning about what vegans eat, whether they are thinking seriously about becoming vegan yet, or not, and we are, of course, very keen to encourage everyone to eat a more plant based diet, for health, compassion on other animals and the wider environment. Much more information on all of these aspects from us, so please do join us."
    They had another well attended meeting on the 10th April and the next one is scheduled for this Thursday 8th May - again in "The Den" at 7pm. As Carol said:
    "Same time and place, same arrangement, bring some food to share and just enjoy yourself. Non vegans very welcome, only the food has to be vegan, and the diners sympathetic to the plant based diet lifestyle, whether or not they are committing to it yet. Enquirers, learners, vegetarians who want to eat less cheese etc - all welcome."
    So if that appeals to you, why not pop along to the third vegan club meeting and enjoy a meal and a chat regarding all things vegan?

    Sunday, 4 May 2014

    A Bike Fix

    Dr Bike Events in Sutton, Summer 2014
    Click to enlarge
    Simon Densley with police marking his bicycleThis coming Wednesday at 4pm there will be free bike maintenance and cycling advice out the front of the Central Road Police office. Police will also be marking bikes to deter thefts as they have done numerous times in the past. The event is being called an on-street Dr. Bike event and is one of many similar events taking place over the summer around Sutton.

    Cycle Power LogoThis is a good thing for cyclists however I think a trick has been missed here. When I initially received the email request to post this on the blog, my first thought was to phone Cycle Power in Central Road and ask if they were involved. It turns out they didn't know anything about it. Cycle Power, a local independent business has been involved in the Police bike marking events in the past, offering free cycle safety checks. Surely such an event should make a point of bringing local businesses on board for a truly community event rather than bringing in an outside contractor and ignoring the local businesses that are more than capable and willing to contribute. (So I'm giving them a plug here instead.)