Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blue Bird

I've had emails from two people today saying they've found a blue budgie and would like to know who the owner might be. If you live in the area and have lost such a budgie, please get in contact so you may be reunited with said bird...

Vic House Consultation

Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Saturday the is a chance to go along and have your say about the latest plans for the replacement to the eyesore that is Victoria House up at the Cheam crossroads.

Have a look at the new plans and make your feeling known...

Monday, 25 May 2015

Alley Fit For A Pig

Regular local walkers and cyclists will be aware of the recent improvements to the path leading from the top of Green Lane near the stables, past the Hamptons and down to Trafalgar Avenue. The path, known locally by various names with a common theme as 'Pig Alley', 'Pigs Alley', 'Pig Farm Alley' (which may contain some clues about some local nearby history) or 'Dog Sh*t Alley' (which may contain some clues as to what might be found there), was closed off to the public back in November last year so that a proper footpath could be constructed.

For anyone who knows this area, the finished product is orders of magnitude better than what was there before. I have been wanting to see this path improved for quite some time and I'm so glad this has finally happened.

The path is intended to be part of a new cycle route which should run from the top of Green Lane where the stables are, right the way through to Sutton. This particular set of works runs from Trafalgar Avenue through to the the path at the other end of Boscombe Road where the Hamptons begins (Picture on the left).

Hopefully the next section will be between Boscombe Road and the stables and started before the end of the year.

While the official notices saying this would take approximately a month were a bit of a master class in wishful thinking, I would say the wait has been worthwhile.

For those who are interested, here is a bit of a photographic record of the process...

Path closed to the public. Early November 2014
Fence is up and work has started. Mid November
Mid November
Back to normal. Early January

Path taking shape. Early - Mid February
Tarmac mostly complete. Early - Mid March
Tarmac done. Mid March
Bollards going in. Late - Mid March

All ready to go - Mid April
Rubbish removed and path open again - Early May
It was around mid April that some local scrag thought it would be a good idea to graffiti the central bollard (blurred out in this shots above).

It has been argued that there might be a fine line between art and graffiti. And only a short walk up this alley are some examples of graffiti that rather show up the lack of any talent held by the scrawler of this particular crayon worthy bollard drawing. While all graffiti is generally criminal damage, creating something that is at least impressive to look at is far removed from the infantile practice of writing one's name everywhere. I was glad to see that the offending blot was removed soon after the path opened.

Graffiti free bollard
As well as the nice new path, a new fence was put in as well which should keep the local back fences a little cleaner.

Overall a very good job!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Hole Lot

Now that the election is done and dusted and I have spent some time re-introducing myself to my family, it is time to look back over the last few months in Worcester Park. As I have mentioned in a previous recent post, there have been numerous things going on which I just haven't had the time to write about.

I start this process here with brief overview of local holes in the ground... I know, I know - please try to contain your excitement. I will try to be brief...

The Holes...

Just prior to the Ides Of March (that's the 15th for those without Wikipedia) a large hole was dug in the pavement outside the Dentist's in Windsor Road.

This was for 'essential electricity works in the area'.

Good thing it was near the Dentist's because afterwards it needed 'a-filling'... (yeah I'm ROFL too...)

*      *      *      *      *

Not long after that, a hole appeared in the pavement outside the newly taken over and refurbished Kingfish fish and chip restaurant.

This hole refused to go away for a very long time and was finally closed up again nearly a month later.  This hole was due to a water leak which was getting into the basement rooms of the new restaurant and took quite a while to fix.

*      *       *       *       *

Around the time the Kingfish hole was being finalised (about halfway through April) these holes appeared in the pavement outside Superdrug.
Something else to do with electricity I guess...

*       *        *        *        *

On Tuesday 21st April workmen turn up briefly at around 6:30pm to close half of Central Road opposite Brinkley Road in order to replace a man hole cover.

While this was certainly not the best time to choose for such an operation they were mercifully swift and finished in within about an hour.

*        *         *         *        *

Then in the final week of campaigning a large hole appeared at the bottom on Longfellow Road outside the Halifax. I was rather busy this week and every time I went past I thought to myself 'I must get a picture of that'. They were quite aesthetically pleasing as far as roadworks go (should I seek help after making such a statement?) and regret that the morning I managed to wander over to take 'the shot' they had gone - to be replaced with only a darkened oblong of bitumen and a nice new manhole cover. 

What I can report is that they were to replace electrical infrastructure and power had to be switched off to some local residences and businesses over that weekend.

*        *         *         *        *

Now into the post-election period, a hole has been dug in Clarkes Avenue to accommodate some gasworks.

This is still a 'live hole' although looks to be nearing completion. Hopefully it will not take as long as some to finalise...

It is rather a shame that the gas pipes that needed fixing were not a little further down the road as we could have got this rather broken up section of Clarkes Avenue fixed at the same time for no extra cost!

*         *          *          *         *

And finally, since last Thursday we have been treated to major hold ups in Central Road so that the old John James premises can have some more water pipes installed. I believe that an extra residence has been created there which is why a new connection to the mains has been required. Read more about this here...

Glad to be able to bring you the hole picture...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Water Traffic Jam

Oh dear, Central Road eternal super traffic jams have sprung to life again over the last couple of days...

This time it is all down to bringing water to the old John James establishment which has been undergoing internal renovations for quite a long time.

The works began on Thursday and should hopefully be finished this afternoon. The main works have now been completed and they are only waiting for the tarmac to be relaid on the road again so fingers crossed.

In the meanwhile give the area a wide berth if at all possible if using motorised transport...

Update (24th May)

The road should have been opened up again yesterday afternoon after the tarmac was reinstated in the road section. There seems absolutely no reason why the temporary traffic lights should still be there as the roadway is now repaired and able to take vehicles along its full width. Even if the bricks have not yet been re-laid in the parking section.

According to a chap from a shop nearby, the workmen simply left after filling in the tarmac. When he asked if they will take down the temporary traffic lights as the road was re-instated they simply said it was not up to them.

What utter ineptitude from Thames Water causing local people this completely unnecessary inconvenience.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mosque Appeal Allowed

It is with a sombre heart that I must report to those who have not yet heard the news that our efforts have not been successful in opposing the Mosque application at 2-4 Green Lane.

The planning inspectorate's decision to allow the 4 year trial application has been emailed out to many people this morning. The original application for 140 people (not 4 year trail) was rejected but the second appeal was allowed.

Many people will be reading the news in disbelief, wondering what in reality we can really do next. I know people who have said that this will be the final straw as far as traffic and parking in the area is concerned. Indeed, problems with Parking and traffic in the area is the very reason Andrew, who ran the blog up until March 2013 when I took it over, left Worcester Park.

In part of his conclusion the planning inspector wrote:
"Whilst the smaller scheme for 95 worshippers would also have an adverse effect, I do not consider that that effect would be severe. On balance the benefits of proposal B [4-year trial limited to 95 worshippers] would outweigh the harm, and temporary permission for a period of four years would enable the effect of the use on traffic movement and highway safety to be fully assessed."
You can read the actual decision documentation here.

While it is undoubtedly clutching at straws, it is the four year trial and so there are some fairly stringent conditions that have been placed on the application. My position is that we must hold the view that if those conditions are breached, then the trial has failed and the applicants will have to move to a more suitable location on or before the end of the 4 year period.

As part of those conditions the applicant is now obliged to submit a travel plan and a management plan before they can begin using the building as a Mosque. These must be approved in writing by the council.

We must navigate very carefully now - for the sake of our community. While I still hold the view that this is an absurd application for that site, we are where we are and we must not let it rip our community apart. We need to accept that the law is the law and that while we have done everything in our power to stop this happening - it has happened. Above all we must not vent our anger through acts unbecoming of our decent community.

Yet we should continue to work within the law to bring about a better resolution than this one. Over the next four years it must be demonstrated that all conditions imposed by the application are stuck to fully. At the end of that time the question will be asked, "What evidence is there to show that the conditions have been breached."

If the conditions are breeched, then we will expect the council to produce documented evidence. If they cannot present the evidence then there will be no case as it will have to be assumed that no conditions have been breached. So we must ensure our local councillors push to make it the highest priority for Worcester Park that any breeches of the conditions are noted and documented by the council. This will have the twin effect of hopefully minimising the nuisance caused to the local community by this application, and if as many suspect, the Mosque is not able to operate in the way the planning application claims it will, then planning law will be able to be used to ensure a more suitable spot is found after that time.

If there has ever been an issue that has brought the entire local community together it has been this one - united in our opposition to this planning application. I believe that even though we have been unsuccessful, we should be proud of how we came together as a community. We did not let the pressure off, even after several years when many other local communities would have folded and interest waned. We had more people at the final day of the appeal than at the first day! (I understand that usually with these things many people attend the first day and by the time the final day comes, few people have the inclination to bother to go.)

I don't know that there is more we could have done. Given the limitations in planning law (of which I am not knowledgeable), I can't think of a single thing more we could have done as a community or individually to cause the entire appeal to be thrown out.

What  are your reactions to this dear reader? Over to you...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Worcester Park Goes Blue

Before I talk about the election results I would first like to say that many people will have noticed a distinct lack of blog posts reecently.

I offer my sincere apologies and an explanation in that, as many people know, I am now working full time (which I wasn't a year ago) and additionally being a small part of Paul Scully's election team, almost all my other spare time has been taken up in the fight for a Conservative win in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park. So while I have had numerous local stories ready to write (and loads of pictures ready to accompany them), I simply haven't had the time to turn them all into blog posts.

I would like to add how much of a privilege it has been being part of such a great team in Worcester Park helping to get the message out about Paul Scully. Whether people have been giving every hour God sends or just a couple of hours over the course of the campaign, these people have made a huge contribution and I thank them all.

Worcester Park's three MPs: James Berry, Paul Scully and Chris Grayling
I guess most Worcester Parkers, wherever in KT4 they reside, now know they have a Conservative MP. For a long time only the small Epsom and Ewell sector of WP had one in the form of Chris Grayling while the rest, being the Kingston (Old Malden) bit and the larger Sutton and Cheam bit were represented by (I was going to write had foisted on them but thought better of it...) Lib Dems.

As of Thursday night/ Friday morning this all changed as all three constituencies elected Conservative representatives. James Berry overturned a huge majority of 7,560 to beat Ed Davey in Kingston and added a comfortable majoity of 2,834 on top of that. Meanwhile Paul Scully in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park managed to finally defeat Paul Burstow, turning a Lib Dem majority of 1608 into a very respectable Consertvative majority of 3,921. As I mentioned before it has been a great honour to be part of the team that has helped achieve this, and once again I would like to thank all those who specifically helped the cause in Worcester Park.

Here is the video I took of the actual Sutton Cheam and Worcester Park declaration, made by Sutton's Mayor (and Worcester Park resident and councillor Arthur Hookway).

The next section is a commentary I began writing as a facebook status for my personal facebook page - however it became for too long for that particular medium and much more appropriate as a separate blog post. However being closely related to this one I have decide to dump it here instead, as is...

View from the inside

Politics is the most astonishingly brutal business. Over the course of Thursday night/Friday morning many people lost their political careers while many others began theirs. 

As many of my friends here know, I have been working very hard with Paul Scully's team in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park for the last few years to help get him elected to parliament. On Thursday night I watched that dream come to fruition.

Being one of Paul's counting agents I saw this unfold in detail at the Westcroft leisure centre in Carshalton where the votes for both Carshalton & Wallington and Sutton, Cheam & Worcester Park constituencies were counted. It also meant that I didn't see the overall national picture unfolding apart from a few comments from people who had heard various bits and pieces filtering through. 

Watching the votes being counted we could see early on that Paul had done well. In some cases Paul looked to be two or even three to one ahead of his Lib Dem rival (Paul Burstow). What was even more exciting is that Matthew Maxwell Scott, our candidate in Carshalton & Wallington, which wasn't a target seat seemed to be keeping up with his Lib Dem rival Tom Brake. The penny started to drop about the enormity of the national Conservative win when the news filtered through that Lib Dem Ed Davey had lost his seat in Kingston to our man James Berry, overturning a majority of nearly 8,000 and turning it into a Conservative majority of nearly 3,000.

It was amasing news but to look at it from a different perspective for a moment or two, for every winner there are several losers. I know from my own bitter experience how it feels to lose an election, having stood for a council seat twice in Worcester Park and lost both times to the Lib Dems. So when I saw Paul Burstow walk in with his wife at around 3am, long after we could all see the outcome piling up on the tables, I had a fair idea of how he must be feeling. Having been Sutton and Cheam's MP since 1997, I knew the depth of his disappointment would be immeasurable compared to my not gaining a council seat - losing a parliamentary seat has been described by some as like being 'cut off at the knees'. As much as I wanted Paul Scully to beat him, I was touched as he hugged his close friends over on the other side of the room. 'All political careers end in failure'. He knew, like all politicians know, that this day would one day come. And to his credit he kept himself professional and composed.

Paul Scully arrived about half an hour later and the TV cameras on the counting floor were already pointed up in his direction.

Numbers were starting to come through from the Carshalton & Wallington side of the room and unfortunately Matthew seemed not have managed to overturn the Lib Dem majority even though he had greatly reduced it. This was against a background of having had very little money or resources for the campaign. If someone had said a few weeks prior to this that Matthew would have achieved such a result it would have brought great happiness. Against the backdrop of Lib Dems losing to Conservative all over the country, I think it must have almost felt like letting the team down. In reality it was however an astonishing achievement by Matthew Maxwell Scott and Elliot who ran the campaign. They should be proud of having cut the Lib Dem majority there by nearly three quarters.

The result from Carshalton and Wallington was announced first. Tom Brake had officially beaten Matthew Maxwell Scott by 1510 votes. Then came the Sutton and Cheam announcement - as shown above.

Across the country there was no denying it was better than anything we could have hoped for. We were all exhausted but elated but it was a bitter sweet victory, given Matthew's failure to gain Carshalton and Wallington. Those on the team who hadn't been at the count were instead gathered around a television in a home in Belmont which is where we headed for at around 5am. The party was indeed still in full swing and fired up even more once Paul arrived. Champaign was served to all immediately!

Over the next few hours we watched in excited disbelief as more and more seats were gained. We were like exited 10 year olds finding out we're about to go to Disneyland. At one stage I became quite overwhelmed as I remembered that the constituency also included the house in Banstead where my mother grew up. It was the house of my now deceased grandparents, both staunch Conservatives - my favourite house in the whole world. I became quite overcome as I told Paul how proud they would have been of this achievement.

While enjoying all the national successes, there was another result that brought home the brutality of this business and which was one I would ordinarily be celebrating. However it's direct effect on a dear friend of mine; also the Godmother of my son made it difficult to take pleasure from. The Labour MP Alison Seabeck lost her seat to Conservative Johnny Mercer. My friend was Alison's constituency office manager and is therefore now officially out of a job.

For every lost seat there are several lost jobs just like this, just as a similar number of jobs are created for the new MPs. The net total is about the same however that doesn't make it easier for those who no longer have an MP they can work for. In Sutton and Cheam there will be several people I know and know of, some of them local Lib Dem councillors who will have lost their day jobs along with Mr Burstow.

So while I am elated about the local result and the overall result for the country, I understand the personal pain many individuals are feeling at the change in their own circumstances. And on a personal level I offer my sympathy to those who have lost out.

Politics is a brutal business. It is not for everyone. Those who enter politics do so in the knowledge that the end could come abruptly at any election. It doesn't make it easier when the time comes, however just as a soldier signs up knowing they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, it is just part of politics that someone's career can end just like that, something which every one of us who gets involved has to face at one time or another.

At the end of the day however, we have gained a Conservative majority in parliament and for me that represents the best possible outcome. I will remember this victory with great pride and happiness for a very long time to come.

Winning Bet

I'm not normally a betting man. However on a cold Friday back in January I decided to put a £20 wager on the Conservatives winning a majority in the election. At 9/2 that would mean a £90 payout and always in the back of my mind was that when it came to the crunch, people would prefer Cameron's Conservatives to Milliband's Labour alternative.

It was a couple of hours after such an outcome was clear that I suddenly realised I was £110 richer!

What was particularly nice was that last weekend I was then able to shout the family to a rather posher than usual lunch - really just to say thanks for putting up with, and to make up for all the time I had spent out campaigning for Paul to win.

It was a lovely piece of icing on a very splendid cake!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Vote Today

Normal service will be resumed shortly...

But in the meanwhile - Today is the day you choose the next Prime Minister

Please choose wisely...