Monday, 30 November 2015

TfL Is Watching You

Blog reader Peter kindly dropped me a note this afternoon having spotted something interesting in the London Evening Standard. It seems the traffic jams in our humble little neighbourhood have reached the attention of City Hall and Transport For London in Particular.

According to the story in the Evening Standard a new 40-strong specialist team has been set up by Transport for London (TfL) to stop illegal and inconsiderate driving that leads to traffic delays in the capital.
The team, which will raise to 80 by next Spring,
"will be deployed to key junctions and roads to help deal with problems that can cause delays to drivers and bus passengers, such as illegal stopping or unloading of deliveries. 
The new team will work closely with the TfL-funded Metropolitan Police Roads and Transport Policing Command, which was launched by the Mayor in January and, with 2,300 officers, is the largest policing command anywhere in the country."
Most notably, Malden Road and Central Road between Columbia Avenue and Balmoral Road is one of the ten target areas. So watch out if this might affect you! (Not mentioning any names, local traders etc...)


Silver Christmas Concert


The Epsom & Ewell Silver Band is giving their annual Christmas concert this year at St Mary's Church on the Avenue (in the Epsom & Ewell quadrant) next Sunday (6th December) at 7pm.

The Silver Band which (perhaps confusingly) is a brass band, has been around for 105 years and I suspect they should be pretty good by now!

This particular concert, which is in it's third year, is organised by the local Cuddington Residents' Association and the local councillors (all from the residents' association). Money raised from ticket sales will go to help the church, support the band and also to help the local community.

Cllr George Crawford told the blog:
"Last year we raised about £1400 from this concert which is in its third year. We gave the church £300 ( which is way beyond the cost of hire) and we split the rest with the band. Fifty fifty. 
It is our policy to spend [this] money on local good causes and we will continue to do so."
Cllr Crawford also mentioned that amongst other things, money raised would go to help improve the children's play area in Shadbolt Park.

I only know too well that running any musical outfit is a very deep money pit and so I'm sure the Silver Band will be glad to have a couple of spare quid to cover rehearsal space, transport and the many other costs of being musical...

So if live music is to your taste (either brass or silver) go along and support them on Sunday and enjoy this year's special Christmas Concert at St Mary's.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Dorchester Christmas Fair


As the Christmas fairs continue, next Friday is Dorchester Primary School's turn.

It all starts at 3:30pm just after the kids come out so it's ideal for parents picking their kids up and finishes at 5:00 giving everyone time to get home for dinner.

Lot's of things on - so go along and enjoy...


Having Remembered

This years remembrance service turned out to be a special one. After last year's 100th anniversary of the start of WW1, I was half expecting the turnout to be a little diminished in comparison. However as usual it was standing room only at the memorial after a packed church service at Christ Church with St Philip with the new Reverend Stephanie Nadarajah (who did a very good job). In fact it was so packed that a bunch of us had to watch proceedings on the screen in the hall next door.

It was also special because this year I took along WP Junior to experience it all for himself. - Lest we or our children forget.

As usual the RBL was very welcoming to all afterwards and continued the event and entertainment with a Scottish Piper and then Dave Marrion's Big Band.

My apologies for taking a few weeks to get these pictures of the day up for you. Time is very short at the moment with new WP Junior #2 - so I'm having a catch up this weekend...

Here they are...












Garage Accident


A person has been hit by a vehicle on the forecourt of the Esso/Tesco Garage in London Road North Cheam. Several police and ambulance staff were in attendance and rather busy so I didn't press them for details. However people may want to avoid the site for a short while.

Thoughts are with the person hit and the blog hopes they make a full recovery.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Public Police Meeting


A few Fridays ago, readers may remember an extraordinary meeting taking place in Maple Lodge to discuss the outcomes of possible cuts to the police budget and the effects to policing in Worcester Park.

Given that I am chair of the Worcester Park Residents' Association and as part of that role, also chair the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel, I should really report on this here from that position rather than from the point of view of someone watching proceedings from an outside perspective. I would therefore invite comments from those who were present to augment what I have written here.

Anyway, to give a little more background, back in early October, Michael Freter, chair of the Hamptons Estate Company (previously the Hamptons Residents' Association) asked me to call an extraordinary police ward panel meeting to discuss possible threats to local policing due to the difficult budgeting decisions being made at the moment. Given the concern over the issue I agreed this was appropriate and set about doing so. I wanted to invite our local MP Paul Scully and our London Assembly Member, Steve O'Connell (who might be termed as Boris's representative in Sutton and Croydon) to inform the meeting about what is happening at higher levels and so we could ask them to take our concerns to higher levels.

The only evening that both of them could attend the meeting was unfortunately a Friday evening (the 30th) which meant that two of our local councillors and both representatives from the Hamptons were unable to attend due to previous engagements. However Cllr Wingfield was able to be there to represent the councillors and Michael Freter had given me some points which I agreed to raise at the meeting on his behalf. Being that the meeting was to discuss the budgeting and running of the metropolitan police, the local police felt it would not be right for them to be present, but they expressed their appreciation that we were trying to secure a better outcome for them. The picture above shows (from left to right) Steve O'Connell AM, myself, Paul Scully MP and Councillor Paul Wingfield.

Around 20 - 25 local residents were present at the meeting to hear the information from both Paul and Steve and to discuss and debate the issue. For a single topic the meeting went on for almost two hours but being an extremely urgent issue, I felt it was important to let everyone speak who had something to say.

One of the main outcomes of the meeting was a resolution that I should write to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to express our views and position and to ask that the existing local police situation in Worcester Park remain unchanged. I have put a copy of most of that letter below, as it sets outs clearly much of what was discussed at the meeting without me needing to repeat myself.

I have since heard back from Paul that he had a meal with the Chancellor George Osborne recently and used the opportunity to press him about this mater. On Thursday he publicly stated:
"Hopefully last Monday evening will have born fruit. I spent it asking the Chancellor to have another look at the police budget before considering anything that will have an effect on neighbourhood policing across London."
Steve also promised to bring up the issue with Boris Johnson but added that Boris would not put up with the loss of local Safer Neighbourhood Policing in London.

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe on the 17th November:

Dear Sir Bernard,
As chair of the Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel in Worcester Park, London Borough of Sutton, I recently called an extraordinary ward panel public meeting (Friday 30th October) to discuss concerns about possible changes to local policing in the face of reportedly expected budget cuts. This was attended by Paul Scully MP and Steve O'Connell AM.
There are two things that came out of this meeting which I would like to make you aware of, plus the outcomes we would like to see locally.
First, the general conclusions drawn about what is going on was seen clearly as a negotiation in public with the opening position being every possibility on the table including the unpalatable ones.
We can see that the recent ominous headlines are a result of political game-playing by the Met and the politicians. Essentially the pitch to the politicians is ‘make any more cuts and we’ll destroy your showcase policing policy and blame you’. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, the main losers will be us, the public. We note also that the HMIC has criticised the police in general for expensive budget failures. Poor planning on future staffing, wasteful computer systems and a paranoid fear of the private sector. We accept that money needs to be saved and these failures should be addressed before taking the axe to PCSO’s and the success of Neighbourhood Policing. At the same time we asked our MP Paul Scully to raise our concerns with the Chancellor George Osborne to ensure that the police budget allows our Neighbourhood Policing system to continue in as unchanged a state as possible.
Second and more importantly, our existing Neighbourhood Policing setup in Worcester Park is an example of why it is so important not to lose our Neighbourhood Policing system. Gary Weaving is our own dedicated PCSO in Worcester Park ward. Gary is well known in the local area and provides a valuable bridge between the police and the community. He knows the area well, he knows who the local trouble makers are, and he knows who the local vulnerable people are. He is always friendly and approachable and has a rapport with the local traders in the high street as well as local residents. We believe his understanding of the local community is a source of invaluable intelligence which has been instrumental in helping bring and keep crime down in Worcester Park. Additionally in 2013 Gary received a Met Police ‘environmental efficiency’ commendation award for his leading role in creating the ‘fishery’ in the wetland area of 'The Hamptons' part of the ward, something he did in his own time for the local community he wishes to serve.
It would not only be a terrible loss to our local community to lose PCSO Gary Weaving, that loss would be hugely disproportionate to any financial gain from such a change.
I have no doubt that the majority of London Borough wards have similar stories to tell and that our dedicated ward officers and PCSOs have proven themselves to be both an effective and efficient tool in reducing crime locally. In light of recent events in France, I would also argue that such officers are our intelligence foot soldiers and that without them, a vital source of information for our security services would be cut off.
As the Worcester Park ward panel we are resolved to ask as the highest priority, the retention of Gary Weaving as our dedicated ward PCSO. We would also ask that our current system of Neighbourhood Policing remain unchanged and lastly the retention of our Police Office at 154 Central Road, Worcester Park, KT4 8HH.
I look forward to a positive resolution to this current set of negotiations, which will see both sides take a sensible position bringing both the necessary financial benefits while retaining the effective and efficient aspects of Neighbourhood Policing.
Yours sincerely

Simon Densley
(Chair, Worcester Park Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel)

We all hope that with our efforts and the undoubted pressure being put on from many local communities, we will retain our valued Safer Neighbourhood Police in Worcester Park.

Update (26th November)

What a relief! I'm sure we are all very pleased with the outcome of yesterdays budget spending review with the Chancellor protecting the police budget.


Autumn Winners

Regular blog readers will remember a recent spate of Autumn events for children, run and organised by local event organiser, Richard Johnson. These included a drawing competition and a treasure hunt. Both events were sponsored by the Sainsbury's Local at the top of Central Road with Haart (the estate agent) providing additional prizes for the treasure hunt.

Well the winners of the Autumn design challenge have now been announced and as two of the three winners were members of 1st Worcester Park Girls Brigade, (who meet every Thursday, at nearby Christ Church with St Philip), it was organised to meet up there to give out the prizes.

Congratulations go to Kalida Alnajjar (left), Ruth Ritchie (centre) and Lexi Hamilton-Warford (right), seen holding their winning designs on the left here. A big thank you also goes to shift manager Dan (seen at the rear), from Sainsbury's Local, who kindly came along to present the three prizes of a £10 book token. Alongside Dan is 1st WP Girls Brigade Captain, Angela.

Extra prizes at Haart
The organisers would like to thank everyone who took part and entered the competition.

Richard Johnson who organised it told the blog: 
"The Sainsbury's team also showed me some of the entries and I saw there were a lot of thoughtful and creative ideas... Worcester Park has talent!

For those that didn't win a prize this time, one or two local traders have expressed an interest in sponsoring future art competitions, so there undoubtedly will be more opportunities for local children to win a prize next year."
Treasure Hunt prize
winners outside Sainsbury's
Then came the Autumn Treasure Hunt, where Worcester Park's children were invited to take part in a high street treasure hunt, where they were challenged to find 25 posters in the local shop windows on Hallowe'en evening.

Completing the challenge wasn't too difficult, (and even possible without crossing the notoriously busy Central Road), as over 100 local shops joined in to support the activity, by placing a poster in their window. Mr Johnson wanted to express his thanks to all 102 shops who took part this time and supported the event and said,
"I was amazed just how many shopkeepers were up for this, having grown from the initial 20 traders, who took part in the first treasure hunt, back in Easter 2014."
The list of all 102 traders who took part is: (clockwise from the top of the hill)...

On the left/to the west: The Tops, Fulham Timber Merchants, Sainsbury's Local, Broadway Bargains, Happy Garden, Meghna, Costcutter, Wise Beds, Lemon & Lime Kitchen Designer, Bronco's, Royal British Legion, Camera Continental, Smile Dental Implants, Megabytes, Toy Shed Toy Shop, The Classic, Worcester Park Library, Nat West, QEF, Santander, Pets Place, Superdrug, Sunshine Café, Food and Wine, Princess Alice, Burkitt Stationery & Cards, Cut & Blend, Redgwell's Sewing Machines, Greggs, Quality Dry Cleaners, Nationwide, Woodward Brothers, Sole II Sole, Marie Curie, W H Smith, UK Household, R Woodfall, Caché, Moon Light Unisex Hair Salon, Barclays, Gascoigne Pees, Surrey King Café, Nefis, and The Brook…

On the right/to the east: Worcester Park Station, Worcester Park Station Newspaper Kiosk (Paul Daws), Fiko, Kingfish, Mr. Ink, Abi Express, Ryan Gate, PC Centre, Boots, La Mamma, H&T Pawnbrokers, Clark's, Trutex, Halifax, Glitz and Glam Beauty, Chinese Medicine Plus, Ross's Fruiterers, Checkers, Conservatory Florist, Sean Hanna, Tarrant's Hardware, Sularis, Golden Images, Hendy's Jewellers, Read & Rite, Kimberley Nail Designs, St. Raphael's, Garner's Funeral Service, Hunters, Coversure, Amy Nails, Shesh Mangal, Graham Lee Carpets, Preview Menswear, Bellini, Connor Prince, Central Plumbing, Central Locksmiths, AMS Opticians, Dawson Aerials, Chubbys, Haart, Knightwood Furniture, The Perfect Property Maintenance Company, Launderette, Computer Surgery, More Than Lofts, Frederick W Payne, Star Barbers, Classic Wok, Dual Tools, Amor Beauty, CSC Cars, Ocean, Stitch Right, Jolley's Newsagents, B R Fencing & Christchurch with St. Philip's…

A big thank you to all of them for getting involved in local events like this and helping to keep the community spirit alive in Worcester Park.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

First Fair Of The Season

And so it begins. The Christmas fairs have started. Well at least it's the second half of November I suppose. Hopefully we won't be all Christmased out by the time the actual, day arrives...

First out the blocks is Doris Venner Pre School (The Manor Drive, KT4 7LG) holding their event this coming Saturday 21st November from 11am 'til 2pm.

Louise from DVP would like to pass on the following:
"Get in the festive spirit at the Doris Venner Pre-School Christmas Fair, a fun-filled event for all the family, with a host of activities going on from 11am – 2pm. Browse the festive stalls, try your luck on the tombola, enter the raffle and be in with a chance of winning some great prizes. Children will be able to meet Father Christmas and have their photo taken with him in his grotto."
Entry will cost only 50p per adult and as DVP is a registered charity, funds raised will go directly to funding equipment for the pre-school.

So it's all for a good cause. The kids will love it. I suppose I should get into the Christmas spirit a bit more - even though it is still November and clearly not even winter yet. Ho ho blooming ho then...


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Inking Out


Nine years ago Mr Ink (AKA Patrick - although not Patrick Ink) opened up his retail shop at the bottom of the high street. Since that time many people have wondered how the shop has managed to stay open. Reports of people actually going into the shop were after all, few and far between.

But, on the eve (or thereabouts) of the closing of what has become a strangely comforting feature of our high street, the Worcester Park Blog can reveal all...

When Patrick took over the premises near the bottom of Central Road, the place was in a mess. Consequently he got a very good deal on the rental of the shop and set about fitting out the shop, doing all the work himself - as many independent retailers do, resulting in the ink boutique we have become familiar with over the last near decade. That lease ran for 9 years, and runs out in a couple of weeks time.

What most of us didn't know was that the vast majority of Mr Ink's business came not from people walking in off the street but through business to business work that remained largely unseen to the rest of us. Having the shop front may have raised his profile but having to always be ready to serve at the counter hasn't always meant he's been able to serve his other clients as well as he would like.

And so Mr Ink is not, I repeat - not - going out of business. He is closing the shop front retail business in order to focus on his business to business work, which is where his real business has been the whole time. He will be able to do this, as so many businesses are these days, from an office at home not only lowing his overheads but also allowing him to serve his business clients even better, for instance by delivering directly to them.

I think Worcester Park will miss Mr Ink once he has gone and the ever present ink emporium is no longer. I must admit that I had become a semi-regular customer in recent times - I do go through rather a lot of ink. We will certainly not welcome yet another empty shop in the high street. I hope the landlord will price the rent of the unit with a view to getting someone in quickly - but that's another story.

The blog would like to wish Patrick well in his transition to a new business model and hopes it is successful. In the meanwhile readers have only a couple more days to pop in and Make Patrick an offer for the last few bits 'n' pieces he has left in the store. Go to it...

Update 4:20pm Saturday 14th November

Mr Ink will be closing his retail shop door for the last time at 5pm this afternoon. That gives you just over half an hour to pop in a grab a quick bargain - mind you there's not much left...


Saturday, 7 November 2015

A Day To Remember


It's that time of year when we come together as a nation (or actually across the Commonwealth) to pay our respects and remember those who gave up everything so we could live in freedom and prosperity today.

The Royal British Legion was pulling out all the stops today to encourage people to wear a poppy and remember our armed forces upon whose backs our way of life rests. These gentlemen were happy to pose for a few shots including one allowing WP Junior to pose with one of their guns (perhaps not one for this particular medium).

Of course tomorrow is the big day (being the second Sunday in November) as Remembrance Sunday. The ceremonial events are as follows:

  • 10:00am - Church Service at Christchurch With St Philip.
  • 10:45am - Walk up to St. Philip's churchyard for the laying of wreaths and two minutes silence.
  • 11:15am (approx) Parade down Central Road to the Royal British legion where everyone is welcome - and that includes non-members also.
It is always great to see such a large turnout every year. The weather forecast is for cloud but no rain so there's no excuse! See you there...


Friday, 6 November 2015

Firework School

For those who crave a double helping of fireworks this weekend, you'd better get yourself down to Green Lane Primary School this evening (Friday 6th November).

The entertainment starts at 6pm with the grand firework display at 7pm. There will be food and drink available as well.

The cost to attend this event is (as shown in the poster here) £7 for adults and £5 for children (£22 for a family of four).

Readers can of course complete their firework weekend experience at the Hamptons on Sunday for Free. But don't let that put you off this one. The money raised will be going to help augment the education of our young people so it is a very worthy cause.

For those who are unsure, Green Lane Primary School is at the far end of Green Lane, there is very limited parking outside the school (please proceed with caution) so walking is recommended if you can.