Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Mast It Go There?

Back in June I reported on the unwanted installation of a mobile phone mast on Salisbury Road just outside the King George V Fields, Auriol Park, opposite Auriol Park Road.

I am sad to say that despite the desperate objections from the local residents, the mast (now complete with graffiti) went up in November. As one of the local residents told the blog:
"The mast is up and people are distraught.  Had a lady weeping on my shoulder yesterday evening so upset.  There is graffiti all over the boxes and locals are desperately upset."
Unfortunately this is a situation I am all too familiar with. Having fought a similar campaign myself several years ago I was often in touch with groups of people running similar campaigns and they almost always ended this way.

I saw evidence that councillors, MPs, council officers and members of the press were routinely sent material that ridiculed the idea that the modulated microwaves generated by such masts (or mobiles in general) could cause any harm. Yet through my research I saw many scientific papers which had found the opposite to be true.

Part of their campaign had been based on the fact that the land could not be built on. They have title deeds to prove that the land here is part of the King George V Fields in Trust (meaning that business enterprise cannot be entered into on the land) and belongs to Epsom and Ewell. Apparently Epsom and Ewell had assumed the land belonged to Surrey County Council and then said they weren't sure who owned the land, after which claiming it was adopted (a lengthy process generating lots of paperwork) but could not show any documentation substantiating that claim.

A representative of the phone operator has apparently told a meeting of residents that they would not be prepared under any circumstances, to put a mast on a piece of land where they did not know who legally owned it. The mast is there so they must happily know who owns it. It seems there has been a great deal of obfuscation going on here but this doesn't surprise me as I have seen this process used over again in these situations.

One of the organisers, Diana Jarvis has started a petition to push for better control of phone masts in residential areas. Please support her and the local residents both here and in the many groups around the country who have experienced the same thing. Sign the petition here: http://www.controlphonemasts.org


Monday, 28 December 2015

Thank You Gov'nor



A little over four years ago I took on a new challenge in the form of becoming a school governor. I've always seen good education as a fundamental part of a decent, happy and successful society and when I was told that Nonsuch Primary School (Chadacre Road, off Sparrow Farm Road - heading towards Stoneleigh) were looking for a new governor I decide to apply in order put my money where my mouth was - so to speak.

A few weeks after sending off the paperwork I was contacted and told that I had been successful and as of the 25th November 2011, I was officially a member of the Nonsuch Primary School Governing Body. I was invited to attend courses in governorship; I went and met the head teacher and several weeks later turned up slightly nervously to the next, and my first full Governing Body meeting.

I needn't have been nervous as pretty much everyone else was there for the same reason - to help ensure the school does the very best it can for it's students. We would be best described as 'critical friends' of the school, working with the head teacher for the best possible outcomes for the school.

It took a little time to get to know the systems but everyone's contribution was welcome from the start and straight away I was able to offer my views and support. I became the link governor for music and science (two subjects close to my heart) and was able to participate in music classes and the annual science week and report back to the governing body how well these things were going. These were perhaps some of the highlights of my governorship.

Four years later, before November just gone, I decided not to seek re-election to the position. Having been elected chair of the Worcester Park Residents' Association in July I wanted to focus my efforts on the Worcester Park community a little more. Blog readers may have noticed a drop in bloging activity over the last several months which can only be put down to work, family and other such commitments and I felt it was time to do a smaller number of things better rather than spread myself too thinly. (I also stepped down as chair of the Friends Of The Daisy Field.) I have gained a great deal from my four years as a school governor and I hope that the school gained similarly from my input.

Whilst Nonsuch Primary School recently took on two more excellent governors, they are still looking for some more people to complete the board, which is mainly why I'm posting this. Anyone of an altruistic nature with a passion for education should seriously consider becoming a school governor.

Governors are volunteers and it is expected that they have full time jobs and family commitments so only a few hours are needed each month for evening meetings and few more in your own time to go through the policies and other paperwork that the governing body needs to scrutinise. One or two visits during school hours per term are also encouraged and many employers will give staff time off specifically for such community service. That is about all the time commitment that is required, but giving that little bit each, a good set of governors can make a huge difference to a school.

I was glad to have worked at what is clearly an outstanding school and I'm glad to say that with the current board of governors and head teacher, I believe the school is in good hands.

I would encourage anyone in the area who has ever entertained the thought of becoming a school governor to take the next step and find out more about it. You will need to be CRB checked but the school will help organise this. To take the next step, at least as far as Nonsuch Primary is concerned, please contact the school directly by emailing teachers@nonsuchprimary.sutton.sch.uk or by phoning 0208 393 9209. It is a wonderful way of giving something back to the community.


Friday, 25 December 2015

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Change Central

The ongoing process of change in Worcester Park's retail precinct has once again reached a critical mass and as such I now feel compelled to report on it.

Starting near the top of the high street, readers may have noticed the old Beds To Go shop (which spawned Wise Beds a few doors down) has nearly completed its transformation into 'Secondhand Land', a shop that sell (and buys) second hand furniture.

I spoke to the new owners (Paul and Ava) a few weeks ago who told me they were hoping to be open by Christmas. However I have rarely seen a shop that has actually opened on the original planed date and it so far looks as if they may have trouble meeting that particular goal. They will of course be an additional second hand furniture dealer almost opposite Bob's red second hand furniture shop almost directly across the road.

Moving straight down to where the old Geranium charity shop used to be, we now have (as of yesterday) a new Polish shop. The Swojska Chatka Polski Sklep opened it's doors yesterday morning and has so far been very busy. This is of course also the second of two such similar shops in the area with the Smak emporium at the very top of the high street (some would say in a separate area entirely) still going strong.

Turning left into Windor Road, the minicab office closed a little over a month ago, lasting just over a year in business. Conveniently some local business were able to use the shop as a mini one night only popup shop during Christmas Late Night this year. This included Helen Overton with her Forever Living Aloe Vera range and local photographer Michael Leonard with a selection of photos.

On the corner or Longfellow Road - opposite the Halifax there used to be a Vets. Tucked in behind there was a small beauty salon known as Glitz n Glam. Well it seems there's more money in hair and beauty than dog and cat worming because the vets has gone and Glitz n Glam has taken over the whole building.

Looking a tad further Down Central Road - On the 3rd of December people started receiving letters from HSBC telling them that our Worcester Park branch would be closing on the 28th of February next year. So whilst this is not yet a change, this is a pending sad loss to our high street.

Of course we all know about Mr Ink already.

Just up from the now permanently closed Ink Spot, used to be Prospects Recruitment (and their famous doorbell). Back in May a notice was put up about moving the Post Office into the now derelict retail space. Well it seems some work has now begun in that space so watch this *ehem* space.

Up at the very top of the high street - in the curved section the old 'My Travel Expert' shop which used to be Ace Accountancy Service before that, has sadly gone but has perhaps poetically returned to being an accountancy firm in Tax Affinity.

Meanwhile over in Dorchester Road the barbershop which popped up in September last year has closed down. I did get a haircut here which was absolutely fine (mind you my hair isn't very complicated). The guy running the place was very nice so I was sad to see it go.

It was replaced briefly by a fireworks shop however it was looking to open again very soon as a hair salon.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Poached-A-Bike


If you see this bike above whizzing about anywhere, it was stolen on Wednesday night (16th December) at about 7pm near the bottom of Green Lane. The owners are offering a reward for information leading to its recovery. Please email the blog - mail@worcesterparkblog.org.uk - if you have any info and I will pass it on - or contact the police on 101 (non emergency). Always call 999 if an actual crime is taking place.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Library Feedback

Several people have written to me recently to ask me to publicise the current issues regarding Sutton's Libraries. While I would normally stick fairly closely to Worcester Park specific issues, there is chance our Library may be affected so I am including this post.

Sutton Council have put together a survey which you can fill in in about 10 minutes. For background information please see the consultation document and the public meeting write up. Please be quick if you want to fill in this survey as I think is closes tomorrow.

There is also a a very quick petition regarding the Mobile Library.

I do find myself wondering why they are thinking of closing Beddington Library to save £50,000 per year or the mobile library to save £166,000 per year when they are poring nearly half a million pounds per year into subsiding the Life Centre in Sutton North. The library section of this building could be kept running for far less than this and the extraneous stuff could be used far more efficiently and save enough to probably keep both Beddington and the mobile Library running in Sutton, and keep the rest of our libraries secure as well. This plan was all set out by Cllr Tim Crowley on radio Jackie earlier this year. But hey ho...


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Late Night Report (Christmas)

Well Friday night was once again a big night in Worcester Park for the annual Christmas Late Night. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the evening. Here are a few photos from the night.

Fairground rides in the Stone Place

4th WP Scouts lucky dip type thingy

Carol singing

Win brightly coloured stuffed things

Lovely to see the real meaning of Christmas being celebrated.

Sweet stall

Food stalls

St Raphael's Hospice Shop

The Swans

Tracy from cycle power, chair of the Worcester Park Traders Association wanted to thank several people who have been working very hard to make this years event a success. In particular Brendan from Pets Place, Leanne from H&T Pawnbrokers, Kathleen from the St Raphael's Hospice Shop, Martin from Worcester Spark and Cathy and Keith from the Royal British Legion who all pulled out every stop and made this yet another successful event. The RBL donated half of the Father Christmas present this year and also displayed the colouring competition entries. They also raised £225 towards the Poppy Appeal from the sale of the Mulled wine outside the club. Waitrose also were very supportive and donated seveal prizes. Thanks also to the Reverend Andy Cain who chaired the 'Christmas Late Night committee' and was out helping with the face painting as well (WP Junior was transformed into a formidable pirate by one of the ST Mary's volunteers.)

It was great to see so many shops open and getting involved. I was sorry to see that Woodward butchers weren't doing their famous barbecue this year as I'm sure they would have (as usual) seen people lined up nearly round the block. There were a few other shops not open that I would have liked to see taking part too. However next year's event is already being considered and I hear there are even bigger plans afoot. Hopefully we will see every trader getting involved - for the benefit of Worcester Park.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Light Celebration


After last night's big Christmas Late Night event in the high street, tonight sees the Hamptons big Christmas Tree lights switch on event.

Far from being the mere flicking of a switch, the Hamptons are offering all the good people of Worcester Park free mulled wind and mince pies as they enjoy carol singing choirs and general good cheer. Father Christmas himself will again be gracing Worcester Park with his presence (or presents?) as he takes on the actual switch flicking duty.

Hope to see you there!


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Runaway Bus


For the few who haven't yet heard, on Tuesday morning Church Hill Road in North Cheam (just the other side of London Road - in fact it begins just behind Victoria House) became a scene of destruction after a 93 bus ploughed through several cars, lamp posts and front gardens. Four people were treated for minor injuries and it was just a mater of luck that no one was killed.

One father pulled his 5 year old son to safety in the back garden when it looked as if the bus was going to hit their house (it missed and hit neighbours cars instead.)

According to the driver, the brakes failed on the bus.

Rather than me repeating the whole story here however - this has been written about thoroughly in the local Sutton Guardian here and here (complete with aftermath video) and also made some national papers (here's the Evening Standard report).

Thanks to blog reader Alex Leadon for the photos here.


Christmas Late Night

Can you believe it? Only one more sleep away is Worcester Park's biggest night of the year - Christmas Late Night!

The Christmas event invented to give everyone a chance to do their Christmas shopping after they get home from work and local traders a chance to attract the sort of custom that might otherwise head elsewhere to look for shops that are open after they get home from work.

As usual the whole shopping experience will be augmented by fairground style attractions, carol singing choirs, a street market, food and drink of many varieties and the blog understands that Father Christmas himself has made the time to pop along with grotto and elves in tow.

Several areas will be closed off to normal traffic including Windsor Road (just between Central Road and the Stone Place entrance) and also several parking bays along central Road will be turned over to market traders, fun and entertainment.

Some of the local traders have been working very hard behind the scenes to make this all happen and no doubt it will be an amazing event as usual. Don't miss out!


Cycle marking

Only very slightly off the topic: there will also be bike marking outside cyclepower from 3pm 'til 6pm on the same day (Friday 11th December) so you can take you bike along and get it marked and registered to help deter thieves - and help you get it back if it does get stolen! And then on to the big event after that!


Unlimited Fayre


The nursery on London Road between Goals and Sainsburys is holding a Christmas Fayre on Saturday 12th December, from 10am-12pm. The nursery will be filled with exciting stalls, fun activities, face painting, music and fancy dress! The Fayre will be a family fun filled day getting everyone in the Christmas spirit! - According to Lena who sent me the info... I have no doubt it will be wonderful. Get yourself there...


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Haarts Are Trumps

Serial local organiser of community themed and charitable activities for children and adults alike, Richard Johnson has brought another idea out of his hat. This time it is a Worcester Park themed card game inspired by Top Trumps. Richard sent me a pretty good description of how this came about... so over to you Richard...
During the autumn, when undertaking a children’s treasure hunt in the high street, Daniel Short (manager of Haart estate agents) told me his company were interested in financially supporting a local themed and orientated community project. Could I suggest something appropriate?
I grew up in the 1970s, when “Top Trumps” were a popular, playground pastime. And I was aware that they have made a strong comeback in recent decades, notably at the time of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And subsequently, releasing card sets alongside Star Wars and James Bond movies.
I suggested commissioning a playable game like Top Trumps, featuring a pack of cards based on the more attractive aspects of Worcester Park. It turned out that Dan had also been a childhood Top Trumps player and similarly held fond memories – he loved the idea!
If I could produce a full deck of 40 cards, devise categories that would provide a numerical value and common to everything from shops to parks, via youth groups, sports clubs and churches, then this would provide a playable game and Haart would be able to support it – with 50% of the funding.

The Worcester Park Trumps pack:
Thus, of the 40 cards, haart agreed to sponsor 20. I decided to split the pack into two halves: non-commercial (sponsored by haart) and commercial. The latter was represented by 20 local independent traders, who were all extremely generous and delighted to support a local project.
Alongside 20 independent traders (who each sponsored their own card) were 20 cards depicting:

  • 4 local youth groups*
  • 4 local sports clubs
  • 4 local churches*
  • 4 local parks*
  • Both local libraries* (both Sutton and Kingston have one in KT4)
  • Worcester Park railway station
  • Main sponsor: Haart estate agent
(*The cards are deliberately diverse, to represent Old Malden, Cuddington and Sutton wards.)
To make the game function like ‘Top Trumps’, I came up with 5 categories:

  • Number of years established
  • Number of staff
  • Street (house/shop) address number
  • Days open per week
  • Minutes’ walk to Worcester Park Station
The final category was particularly liked by haart. It showed that virtually everything in Worcester Park is but a few minutes’ walk from the local railway station: an attractive, convenient aspect for families considering moving to the area.
Funding and charitable objective:
As agreed, haart supplied £180 and the 20 traders each supplied £15 each, which included a pack of cards priced at £5.
The total cost of 100 packs was £360 making the cost price £3.60 per pack.
The selling price of each pack is £5.
Each pack sold therefore provides a profit of £1.40 while the original £3.60 will be rotated and reinvested in more packs until we can’t sell any more.
All of that £1.40 profit will be donated to a local charity. 
Where can they be purchased?
Worcester Park trump card games are on sale at three locations in Worcester Park:

  • Haart estate agents (near the top of Central Road).
  • Caché ladies boutique (near the bottom of Central Road).
  • Toy Shed toy shop (At the centre of town, opposite the library car park, in Windsor Road.)
Keeping within the local theme, these shops have agreed to support the Children’s Trust at Tadworth.

(This is a charity which assists children with brain injuries, sometimes with outstanding success: Dorking born Sophia Warner was born with cerebral palsy. As a child, she received specialist treatment. At London 2012, she represented Great Britain, as a Paralympics sprinter and is now an ambassador for the charity).

I look forward to purchasing a pack - and I trust none of the 40 feature Donald...


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Secret Church

When I used to work in Farringdon, we would occasional go for a drink in what we called 'the secret pub' which was a 400 plus year old pub in a little back alley that only the observant or adventurous ever discovered.

I was interested to hear a few years ago of a 'secret church' that had started a few years before (October 2009) in Worcester Park. They had been meeting regularly at Green Lane Primary School and the congregation had since tripled in size.

Well okay perhaps it's not all winks and secret handshakes but you have to admire a group that starts something like this and keeps it going in a school building rather than the dedicated steepled developments we are used to associating with ecclesiastical gatherings. (I have seen others in the past but not very many.)

It so happens that Grace Church, Worcester Park wants to further reach out into the community and invite anyone who'd like to come along to do so over the next few Christmas themed events.

Mark Hughes, from the church told the blog:
"Christmas is a strange time - being happy is compulsory, but often the stresses and strains of normal life weigh on us most heavily over the festive period. 
And that's why Grace Church, which meets in Green Lane Primary School and has trebled in size since it was started six years ago, offers a range of friendly Christmas events. Their aim is for every resident of Worcester Park to have a space and time to think, reflect, and find meaning to the ups and downs of Christmas and of life. Grace Church is one of those churches containing many who don't think of themselves as particularly 'churchy' or 'religious'- which means if you don't either, you'll feel at home!"
About 40 children come along each Sunday and the church runs six different children's groups during each service to accommodate them. They also run relaxed evenings for people wishing to think through what they believe.

So if you are looking for somewhere to express your faith in a less formal atmosphere, perhaps Grace Church is for you.

And if anyone knows of a secret pub in Worcester Park, please let me know...


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Jingle Bell Ross


Ross Fruiterer's is once again selling Christmas trees and like last year is offering a 5% discount to mentioners of this very blog.

Additionally (as shown above) Ross is also working with Green Lane Primary School who are selling Christmas trees supplied by the well known Central Road greengrocer but keeping part of the money for the school.

Trees are for sale at the school next Saturday (from 10am 'til 1pm). They were also selling them Saturday just gone and sold almost 50 of them - so good news for the school. There is also plenty of parking at the school on weekends (at the far end of Green Lane.)

You can also inspect and purchase trees from Ross out the back of his shop - where there is a yard full...

Free delivery is available from both sites. Or you can stuff one in a taxi like this lady did on the right here...

I must thank Mrs WP for the idea for the title for this post which also inspired the following little rhyme:
Jingle bell, Jingle bell, Jingle bell Ross
Christmas is here and trees are in stock...
(It's okay, I've not penned any more than that)

So remember your 5% discount and perhaps help a local school out at the same time!



Dreaming Of A Light Christmas


They're on! Central Road's Christmas lights were switched on on Thursday.

There were a few teething difficulties with a some sets of lights not working but over the last few evenings, thanks to the persistence of Tracy from the traders association, Martin from Worcester Spark and Cllr Arthur Hookway, most of the dark patches seem to have been ironed out. Mind you coming past at dusk this evening there was a solitary lamp post all lit up but that's the way with separate timers - getting them all in sync is never going to going to be perfect.

There was particular pressure on the council this year to ensure Central Road's Christmas lights lived up to expectations after the less than perfect performance last year. Cllr Hookway has been quite persistent, reiterating at several meetings I've attended throughout the year that this year's Christmas light must all be working and on before our Christmas Late Night (this coming Friday - 11th December) and they do look to have come through with the goods.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Today's Christmas Fairs


The multitude and variety of Christmas fairs (or fayres if you like) is piling up. Today's cabs off the rank are the Worcester Park Library Christmas Craft fair and the Christ Church With St Philips Christmas Fair...

The Worcester Park Library Christmas Craft Fair is on until 3pm this afternoon - breaking with the recent tradition of holding this on the same day at the Worcester Park Christmas Late Night (this year to be held on the 11th December).

As usual there are oodles of craft based bits 'n' pieces to purchase from the lovely ladies who run the Library Craft Club and this event. They are also offering their usual free tea and coffee and slices of cake for 50p! It was looking quite busy when I popped in earlier so get down there to as not to miss out.

Coming up at 2pm is the Christmas Fair at Christ Church With St Philip (until 4:30pm) with lots on there as well. With careful timing you can get to this one after the Library one...