News from the Residents' Association
Elmbridge Council Elections on 3 May
Our thanks to residents who again supported the pragmatic, hard-working and non-party-political stance of your Association and voted for two high quality candidates in Thames Ditton and Weston Green:
- Thames Ditton
KAREN RANDOLPH (RA) 1196 Elected
- Belma Still (Conservative) 294
- Rebecca Darling (Liberal Democrat) 116
- Roger Hughes (Labour) 62
- Weston Green
TANNIA SHIPLEY (RA) 772 Elected
- Mark Ashley-Hacker (Conservative) 433
Many tireless workers made this success possible - the manifesto deliverers, the tellers, those who put up posters and our agent, Peter Hickman. They deserve our gratitude. Elsewhere results were mixed, with the Residents Group losing two seats to the Conservative Party in Walton and Hersham, and gaining one from them in Molesey. The Council now comprises 28 Conservatives, 24 Residents and Independents (Residents Group) and 8 Liberal Democrats. At the Annual Meeting of the Council the Liberal Democrats again rejected an offer to join with the Residents in a joint administration, even though in the past we worked very successfully together, and supported the Conservatives who therefore dominate the administration though they failed to attain the absolute majority for which they were aiming in the elections.
Tribute to Edward Rowe
- Edward Rowe stepped down as one of our Thames Ditton councillors in May. A former London manager of Norwich Union, past chairman of the Residents' Association, chairman of the Vera Fletcher Hall Association and a governor of Esher College, he has done an excellent job as one of our Thames Ditton councillors for seven years. Among many achievements for the community during this time, he led the successful campaign to persuade Thames Water to invest in the new pumping station and sewer work in Speer Road and expand capacity at the Esher treatment plant. He worked with the Council and local businesses to ensure the success of the Christmas Fayre through arranging street closures, insurance and other details. He was for 4 years the Council Cabinet member responsible for finance and resources - most onerous of jobs- during which time the Council was awarded "Excellent" status by the Government for its efficiency. We are delighted that he's agreed to become our Vice-President so that we can continue to benefit from his experience, wise counsel, and deadpan Irish humour.
Libby MacIntyre, to date our unflappable Hon. Sec., has been elected as the new Chairman to succeed Martin Wilberforce, who has astutely and with great tact and charm guided Residents' Association proceedings for the past few years and will, in his new capacity as Vice-Chairman, continue to deploy his experience to our advantage. Libby, a graduate in Law, trained and worked in retail and personnel management with Marks and Spencer and is now a freelance consultant commuting to London four days a week as a specialist in change management. The Association intends to make the most of her expertise in this area. Libby and husband Andy, latterly Production Manager for the Financial Times and a keen fisherman as well as one of this magazine's stalwart distributors, have lived in the High Street for ten years. She was persuaded to join the RA in 2002 because, she says: "Although it's a hectic life and it is easier not to be involved, I felt I should do it rather than stay on the sidelines and moan about things not getting done." Libby's successor as Hon Secretary is Lorraine Sharp of Weston Green, whom we will introduce to you in a forthcoming issue.
Planning (March - May)
Following very substantial public objection and major interventions in the East Area Planning Subcommittee by our Weston Green Councillors the Planning Officer's recommendation to allow Cranstoun House to admit active drugs users to the hostel at 5 Ember Lane was rejected. We supported the Planning Officer's recommendation to refuse the application to replace the Harrow with a massive block of 14 flats, and understand that the developer's architects have been in discussion concerning a fresh application, presumably scaled down, which may be expected in the near future. In the cases of 16-18 Embercourt Road and 13 Queens Drive The developers are appealing to the Planning Inspectorate against the rejection of their plans to build, respectively, a block of six flats in a back garden development, and a block of 6 three-story terraced houses. 16-18 Embercourt Road is subject to a written submission process and Queens Drive to a public hearing. The appeal against Elmbridge Council's refusal to permit the substitution of one detached house by a pair of semi-detached houses at White Gates, 7 and 8 Giggs Hill Road, enlarging the development from four houses to five, was turned down. The Inspector's reasons included that the cramped appearance of the buildings would harm the character and appearance of the Giggs Hill Green Conservation Area. The Inspector turned down the developer's appeal to build two rows of four terraced town houses, one fronting Ember Lane and one fronting Carlton Close, after the demolition of two houses at 29-31 Ember Lane, considering that the terrace of four houses fronting Carleton Close would be harmful and out of keeping with the character and appearance of the surrounding area, cause harm to neighbours' living conditions and would lead to loss of trees on the site. In all these cases your Residents' Association councillors played a major part in the outcomes to date. Meanwhile, following many objections including a stiff letter from the Association's Planning Convener, an application to convert 29 High Street into one small office plus a block of five flats on three floors, with no parking provision, was withdrawn. A further application may be expected.
Thames Ditton Health
The Surrey Primary Care Trust (which funds and/or runs most of the NHS services which we normally use) is in dire straits. Its outturn for 2006/7 was an overspend of £16.3 million and it is striving to balance the books in the current financial year. The PCT is no longer placing any NHS patients in the four designated rehabilitation beds at Emberbrook. This is in addition to the apparent withdrawal of any inpatient respite care services and a vastly reduced number of beds available for non-acute services at any alternative community hospitals serving the larger area. Effectively this means that at present, the NHS in this area is now no longer capable of providing inpatient services to cater for those requiring short term 'step up' or 'step down' beds invariably resulting in more admissions to more expensive (and less appropriate) acute hospital beds. Residents' Association Cllr. Karen Randolph, the Chairman of the Friends of Thames Ditton Hospital (at Emberbrook) tells us that the Friends, with funds from generous contributions from residents in this area over a number of years, are providing ultrasound equipment to be available for local GPs in the MEDICS group. This will drastically cut waiting times for scans to a couple of weeks as well as being more convenient for local patients. Home of CompassionBy the time this magazine is distributed, rumbling rumours that alien development of the Home of Compassion was in the air should be allayed by the news that legal arrangements are in train for the Home to be sold to a private company, Caring Homes Ltd. They will continue to run it as a going concern to offer respite for the aged and infirm, and will be in a financial position strong enough to carry out the approved changes that will enable the Home to meet modern care standards and accommodation regulations. Lacking sufficient means despite fund-raising and donations, the existing institution was unable to put such plans into effect when Surrey CC withdrew promised capital support, and Social Services funding of patient care was insufficient to cover the real cost. The proceeds of the sale will be used to set up a charitable trust for the relief and care of the dying.
Apart from an armed robbery in Tiger Joe's car park, an attempted ram-raid of the off-licence in Thorkill Road and an altercation between youths on Watts Road that led to one of them being glassed, it has been a relatively quiet period in the area. Our PCSOs are now patrolling at night as well as during daylight hours. In March, three youths from the Longmead area were arrested for burglary following an observant resident's phone-call to police. They remain on bail awaiting trial. During the weeks prior to their arrest, there had been a spate of burglaries and petty theft in Thames Ditton that almost doubled the average reported crime in the ward. During the four weeks after the arrests, crime subsided to the 'normal' levels and reported house burglaries dropped from 16 to a more customary 3 (and less in the succeeding four weeks). In addition to the youths mentioned, there are five youths in our wards who are currently subject to ASBOs. All live in the same area. Meanwhile, following information from alert residents that pointed to drug-related activities by the riverside Kingston Grammar sports ground, half a dozen youths were caught with substantial amounts of cannabis and cautioned.
Residents in top 7 councils in England
- In its ponderous but measured way,the Audit Commission has just announced that to the end of FY 2005/6 Elmbridge was one of only 7 district councils in the whole country to achieve the maximum score in its rating of councils on financial standing, strategic management, value for money and broad direction of travel - all this achieved when the Residents' Group ran the Council.You may read current local news from the RA on our website at:
Cloé Puts Her Feet Up
As you know, we have a cracking good Library in Thames Ditton. It is not just a dull repository of books, but a living Library that buzzes - well, hums softly - with useful activities and is well embedded in community life. This is in no small measure to the credit of Cloé Dwelly, who retired in early May after a decade as Library Manager, and her excellent and enthusiastic team.
Cloé was neither bred nor called to library work but came to it serendipitously. She was born at home in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, during an air raid that prevented the midwife from arriving. Her father, who celebrated his 100th birthday this April, was in the Royal Catering Corps. After the war, he rose in the hotel business via the former Southampton Hotel in Surbiton to the Grand Hotel in Scarborough where the family lived from 1947 to 1963: "A calendar hotel," Cloé explains, "with four turrets for the seasons of the year, and 365 rooms - one for each day of the year". The young Cloé was schooled in Scarborough and trained as a primary teacher in Ripon, when in her last year her father was made manager of the Spiers and Pond group that was eventually taken over by Grand Metropolitan Hotels, and the family moved to the London area, ending up in Esher.
After a spell at a school in Hendon Cloé taught at Hampton Wick. But in the first week after moving to Esher, Fate appeared in the guise of a Young Conservative collecting jumble. Her mother told him she had a daughter interested in joining - although this was news to Cloé. The following Monday Jim rolled along to pick her up in a Jaguar. Now Mother had consistently warned her about 'young men with Jags' - one suspects that such warnings stem from some intense personal experience - and it does not take an expert in female psychology to conclude that this only makes them more interesting. Further encounters followed, some in the unimpeachable surroundings of All Saints Weston where the pair were married four years later. They celebrate their fortieth anniversary this July. Both subsequently became churchwardens of All Saints, and their three children were baptised there, so we may deduce that any off-road tendencies of the younger Jim were not the kind that a mother should necessarily fear, and have been thoroughly expiated.
The arrival of children from 1968 onwards interrupted teaching. Cloé eventually returned to the profession as a part-time supply teacher in 1985 at Thames Ditton First (now Infants) School and also the Middle (now Junior) School, of which she is still a Governor. She felt unsatisfied "borrowing other teachers' classes." Then, passing the Library one day, she saw an advertisement for a part-time Library Assistant, and applied for it. "I hadn't been all that avid about books before," she confesses disarmingly, "although I had read some."
She didn't get the job: nor when she applied for the next one, for Saturdays only! No doubt impressed by Cloé's persistence, however, the manager subsequently offered her a further part-time post. She started work in the Library in 1987, and within five years became Assistant Manager, later taking over the top job in 1998. Managing the library is not to be confused with librarianship. Surrey's central Librarians handle the ordering of books for libraries throughout the county; Library Managers and staff are responsible for keeping the library and the stock in good condition and order. The libraries of Surrey are administratively stratified into five bands, from the largest in Guildford and Woking to the smallest in the likes of Virginia Water. The Dittons Library, categorised as band 3, is in fact the busiest of all libraries in that band and issues more books than some of the libraries in the next band up. There are about 8,000 registered readers, a growth of 30% since 2001, of whom roughly two thirds are adult, one third children. There are some two and a half thousand visitors each week and during the first quarter of this year over 31,000 books were issued.
Our Library, built in the early 1970s along with the Youth Centre (now Thames Ditton Hall) and the Junior School, has come a long way from the original small hut over the road. Cloé has accompanied some very significant changes. Computerisation over a decade ago was a huge task. All books had to be bar-coded, all readers entered in the system. There is free internet access, much used; fax and photocopy facilities are available; and Cloé is justly proud of the naturally-lit reading area, a former unused 'courtyard' that she had Surrey glaze in. It now offers a highly civilised area for lounging with book or newspaper, and a desirable coffee machine. The walls are lined with paintings exhibited by local artists for a nominal tenner a week hanging fee, or if greater, ten per cent of any sales, accruing to the Library. This exhibition space provides beautiful visual stimulation, makes at least £500 each year for the Library, and is much sought-after by artists who have booked up well into 2008. Young children are offered free Rhyme Time on Monday afternoons and Story Time on Thursdays. A room is available for hire when the Library is closed, and is used for many activities ranging from Spanish classes to music and reading groups. "It's not a whispering Library," says Cloé, "but a community resource and meeting place".
Asked why the Library is so successful, Cloé singles out the availability of convenient free parking, its proximity to schools (including children trekking back from Hinchley Wood) and the work that she and her staff put in to attract children to the world of books and libraries. Those things are undoubtedly important, and certainly any loss of parking, for example, would be a blow. Yet if you asked me, I'd say it is the people, and Cloé's cheerful and pragmatic leadership, that have made this a living Library, not a dying one. Cloé and her staff are full of fun. Indeed I can assure you that the sole copy of a calendar that the staff prepared as a surprise parting gift to Cloé presents an eye-opening view of Library personnel that perhaps the wider world is not yet prepared for!We now welcome our new Library Manager, Liz Harding - a former Assistant Manager here and latterly the Manager of Molesey Library - as with gratitude we wish Cloé well in retirement. What will she do? Her first grandchild is expected shortly. She will continue on the Board of Governors at the Junior School. She's set the ball rolling to raise funds to re-frame the unique Silver Jubilee tapestry that hangs on the Library wall and is in need of care and attention. And although she is prudently resisting offers to take on commitments immediately, perhaps she can be coaxed to write occasionally for Thames Ditton Today.
Our reporting staff
Lavender and Crane
Strolling round Weston Green one evening shortly before Christmas you may come across that quintessential scene of village carol singers enjoying a good singsong while collecting for charity. Yet listen more closely: they're rather good! Among them are at least two opera singers of international renown. This is, after all, Weston Green…
Justin Lavender and Louise Crane moved here from Wiltshire twelve years ago. Louise, born near Hampton Court, knew it would be the right place. Louise has been singing and performing since she was seven years old. At nine she started piano lessons, and when four years later her mother took her to a D'Oyly Carte opera, she knew what she wanted to do. And she's done it - joining the D'Oyly Carte as a principal contralto, and subsequently performing all over the world in a variety of roles and venues. Louise now sings with various companies including the touring group, Opera Della Luna, well known for their humorous slant on opera and operetta, including the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire. She enjoys a parallel concert career with oratorio engagements all over the UK and abroad. Her teaching commitments include a weekly visit to the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Engineer's son Justin also knew what he wanted to do, and began studying nuclear engineering at Queen Mary College, University of London. But joining the choir for a performance of Britten's War Requiem, he was spotted by Britten's famous partner, the tenor Peter Pears, and under Pears' tutorship abandoned the atom for the stage. Residual hankerings after engineering are assuaged by his model railway. A highly acclaimed tenor, Justin has sung at Covent Garden, La Scala, the Sydney Opera House, the Berlin and Vienna State Operas and latterly, somewhat to his surprise, has begun to add Wagnerian roles to his repertoire. This year he's busy with the Welsh National Opera and with Elgar's centenary celebrations: Justin is a noted interpreter of 'The Dream of Gerontius'.
The pair met at a musical summer school where Justin was teaching. "An incandescent few days," Louise recalls: the opera is yet to be written. I was disappointed to learn that neither of them sings at home in the bath - another fantasy demolished! Married life among opera singers is by no means straightforward. It's not that they fight over the one grand piano in the house, but that their peripatetic careers can mean they might not see each other for considerable periods of time. So they have a rule: after three weeks of separation, one will go to visit the other wherever they may be, and someone has to be found to feed John, the cat. This has led to some epic journeys, of Louise to New Zealand and Justin by air, land - risking the overnight curfew in Vietnam - and small boat to the South China Sea where Louise was singing on the QE II, anchored for the purpose.
Earning your living in opera can be a precarious matter. The singer is engaged on contract and must learn and study the part thoroughly before rehearsals, for real depth of insight is needed to interpret and perform it well. This can mean language coaching: Justin, who has lately been learning Chinese, is the only Western tenor who can sing the Chinese version of Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde'! "Then you often have to relocate to another city or country during weeks of rehearsals, find accommodation and survive there, all at your own expense - you don't get your fee paid until after the performance," notes Justin, who is commuting mainly to Cardiff this year. And one gathers that there are institutions that can be shamefully late in paying. If you miss a performance because of last-minute illness, you don't get paid, and you can't get insurance for that. Health and fitness are important, and both Louise and Justin devote considerable energy to maintain condition. Louise is an active member of Colets where you may often hear her groaning on a Swiss ball, and she also runs a seven-mile course several times a week with yet another interesting resident of Thames Ditton, Inspector Karen Llewellyn of the Metropolitan Police Royal Protection Squad. Justin practises Tai Chi and rows a single scull in the Thames Newlands Rowing Club that has a membership of two (Keith Hardy being the other). They've rowed the length of the Thames, naturally.
Louise and Justin very much enjoy their work, and feel honoured to practise in an egalitarian tradition where the only aristocracy is one of talent. This talented pair also greatly enjoy living in Weston Green, not merely for its convenience to Cardiff, Sydney, Singapore and Riga but also for the tremendous set of neighbours they have in Newlands Avenue, all of whom participated in a great street party a year or so ago and some of whom form the body of those carol singers. An excellent focus for anyone studying the delightfully rich biodiversity of residents within the ambit of this magazine…
Our reporting staff
It's All In The Plan
'Bill Posters will be prosecuted' ...after which some wag has usually scrawled, 'when we can find him'. Thankfully, the Thames Ditton and Weston Green area is relatively free from fly posters but we will all be familiar with those little yellow notices telling us that a planning application has been submitted, that plans can be viewed at the Council Offices in Esher and that representations must be made before a certain date. Over the last few years these notices have seemingly become more common than estate agents' boards. With property values at today's levels it is hardly surprising that many of us are keen to improve our homes.
For those who live within the designated conservation areas in Thames Ditton and Weston Green there is a requirement to apply for planning permission even where changes proposed are cosmetic. These applications along with those for modest extensions and alterations to properties form the vast majority of those submitted from our wards to Elmbridge Council. Nearly all of them, if they be not too un-neighbourly, go through the approval process without much difficulty. There are also ever more applications for new developments or large conversions. Developers are attracted to our area, where houses and flats are easy to sell. Whereas building costs do not vary much throughout the shires, the profits here are high. While the process of regeneration is one that every area in the country needs however historic the local environment, property development is a commercial process and the over-riding priority behind these projects is to make their proprietors a substantial profit without a thought for the amenities and residents of Thames Ditton or Weston Green. Naturally there are those who will shout 'Nimby' at anyone who resists a development that will impact on them directly, but the process by which planning applications are considered and adjudicated on simply does not allow this kind of spin to enter into the equation.
My own involvement with the planning process came about as a result of an application that was submitted in 2004 for a development on land between Station and Ashley Roads. The application proposed up to 13 houses and flats and most of the development site was within the Thames Ditton Conservation Area. Local opinion was galvanised and Elmbridge Council rejected the Application. The developers then lodged an appeal. However, following a public hearing at the end of 2005 this was rejected. A great deal of time and effort was expended by neighbours and we all learned a fair bit about a subject that to many of us was new. We were greatly assisted in our efforts by our local Residents' Association Councillors, in particular David Lowe, and that was a major reason why I later agreed to become the RA's Planning Convenor.
The Planning Process
So what is the process? It is not my intention in this small space to try to explain the planning process in detail; in any event, the process and the rules are constantly changing. For those interested in finding out more, there are numerous websites that can be consulted and these will shortly be listed on our RA website.
Once a planning application has been submitted (and this can now be done online), the Elmbridge Borough Council Planning Department officers will look to see that it is in order and if it is they will publicise it. They are required to post a yellow site notice and the usual practice is also to include the details in the weekly list on the Council web-site, and to make a list of applications available to the local press. Informal discussions will frequently take place between potential applicants and the planning department before an application is made, with a view to establish what is and what isn't likely to have a chance of acceptance. Once an application is regarded as 'valid' the Planning Department appoints a case officer to decide whether to recommend the application is accepted or not. A period is allowed for representations to be considered from third parties (usually 21 days from the date of the site notice) before the officer's decision.
Where there is considerable local objection to a planning application the case will usually be referred to the Area Planning Sub-Committee that considers applications at least once a month. Applications exciting at least 10 objectors will usually be 'promoted' to the sub-committee although if there are firm grounds to do so, ward councillors can request that applications go to Committee in any case. The Sub-Committee (East Area for Thames Ditton and Weston Green) comprises councillors from the local area including Hinchley Wood, Esher and Claygate, proportionate to the number of seats held by the residents' and political groups in Elmbridge overall. Declarations of Interest must be made at the start of each meeting (these are open to the public) and the 'rules of engagement' are rigorously enforced. On occasions, Committee members will have to abstain from discussions or voting where they might have some indirect involvement. The Sub-Committee has the power to accept or reject an application taking into account the case officer's recommendation, the planning guidelines, and any relevant representation made by the public. Ten written objections to an application entitles one of those objecting to address the Committee for up to 3 minutes. Sometimes the Sub-Committee may decide to promote a planning application to the full Council Planning Committee, or suggest that the application be deferred, where there are matters that remain to be considered. Generally a decision will be forthcoming on the night of the meeting.
What are grounds for objections?
In most cases the reference document for a planning decision is the 'Replacement Elmbridge Borough Local Plan 2000', which includes the special arrangements that exist for Conservation Areas. One very important reason for having our own Residents' representation on Council is that councillors have a say in the adoption of these Local Plans, and we want to try to ensure that their drafting takes into account likely circumstances in Thames Ditton and Weston Green. The Local Plan is comprehensive but it is not prescriptive, and its guidelines will often be open to interpretation and therefore, argument. It is supplemented by 'Design Guidance' notes (drafted by Elmbridge to reflect the Government's Planning Policy Guidance) that give examples of what is considered good and bad practice nationwide.
Where planning applications are rejected, the applicant has the right of appeal and these go to the Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol. Appeals can be dealt with by written submissions or at a public hearing. The Council will defend its decision to reject, the applicant will argue otherwise and the decision will be made by the Planning Inspector appointed by the Minister for Communities and Local Government: currently Ruth Kelly.
The Role of the Residents' Association
One object of your Residents' Association, embodied in its constitution, is to 'protect the amenities of the area for the time being included in the Thames Ditton and Weston Green Wards'. With representation on Elmbridge planning committees and its close contact with the local community, the RA puts in substantial effort to retain the character of Thames Ditton and Weston Green area that we know and love. In very many applications, the Association does not automatically involve itself, but it monitors them all and ensures that they are brought to the attention of residents likely to be affected. Obviously, where an application is acceptable, as in the case of most smaller extensions or alterations, there will be few if any residents' objections and the RA will not become involved. These are the majority. Where there is an application thought particularly to threaten amenities, for example example in the conservation areas, or one that would set a bad precedent for our area in general, the Association may well take the lead in organising objections to it. But normally the Association will be responding to, and supporting where it can, concerns of residents themselves: for this is an association of residents - your Association. The RA presence is generally needed only when there are serious grounds for objection, and hence we run the risk of being labelled as 'Nimbies.' A little more reflection will show that this epithet is unjust. Planning is about managing change acceptably. With the full involvement of the RA over many decades, evolution in the villages has been managed with considerable regard for conservation and for new development to be reasonably in keeping with their character. While we have had to resist major attempts to despoil our locale with by-passes, light railways, supermarkets, and a 60s-style shopping centre, change has also encompassed a move from fading industrial premises to modern office facilities, and from the defunct Milk Marketing Board to an acceptable mix of new housing and community amenities, with the RA and our councillors playing a constructive role.
There are always times when residents can't bear the prospect of an application going through and can't see why it should be allowed to do so: but objections will be most effective when they do not simply resist any change per se but are well focused on the planning guidelines and regulations in force. This means painstakingly building a case rather than going off at the deep end! Part of the RA's support will be the provision of some technical and tactical advice, based on recent experience of the planning process, to the residents who are organising objections. Another key part will be to monitor what the Planning Officer proposes to recommend, and if this looks likely to be an undesirable outcome to ensure that the full planning process is invoked, to Committee and Council if necessary. For this purpose too it is essential for the Residents' Association to have representatives on the Council. There are limits, however, to what councillors may do. They must abide by strict guidelines on permissible behaviour; they may be subject to a disciplinary process if they don't; and they can even face personal lawsuits from developers in some cases.
Finally, the Council's decision on a planning process does not always mean the end of the story. Developers, particularly those with substantial financial resources and with high profits at stake, can and do get an application through, begin work, and then seek to add more to the application. Or they may take the opposite tack, asking for far too much to be agreed the first time round, and submit repeated applications, modifying them slightly each time in the hope of getting past the process without conceding much. In both cases they may be counting on fatigue setting in among objectors. Developers may also go to appeal. The Residents' Association takes considerable pains to keep an eye on these tactics of attrition and to counter them. We win some, lose others; but in most cases what finally emerges from a contested application is at least an improvement on what was first proposed. Engagement is always worthwhile.
Graham Cooke, Residents' Association Planning Convener
Ditton Upon Tamys Todaye Summer 1787
News from Ye Residents' Association
A Petition has been gotte up by two hundred Residents concerned that the Development at Forde's Farm will entail the Demolition of several small Dwellings with which they have become familiar, and their Replacement by a vast Single Dwelling. Despite the Architect's attempts to disguise the true Scale by cunning use of Perspective, the Plans clearly show that the massive Scale of the Building is entirely inappropriate to its Location on the Bank of the River Tamys, and disproportionate to the Needs of the Applicant Charlotte Boyle Walsynghamme; but equally massive financial Resources will doubtless enable the Walsynghammes to ride roughshodde over local Opinion. The Development is to be known cynically as "Boyle's Farm."
Our Constables are seeking to bring to Justice the Malefactors who have lately defiled many Trees in our lovely Village by inscribing crude Hearts upon their Barke. It would be easier to identify such Persons were they able to carve their own Names correctly upon this arboreal Parchment.
Ye Council has announced a Trial for the Recycling of Kitchen Waste. Each Household shall shortly be issued with a Pigge clearly marked to avoid confusion with other Receptacles for Recycling. Fattened Pigges shall be placed on the Kerb for Collection before Yule.
Residents are indebted to Ruth Lyonne, for many years a stalwart Cllr. in Ditton upon Tamys and we trust for many more to come, for her Efforts to ensure that the Authorities will arrange to import Candles from France for the Village Christmas Tree in time for next Christmas.
Citizens using the High Street for its multifarious Purposes are enjoined to desist from parking their Carriages all Day, causing Congestion. A perfectly good Field is available for this Purpose close by, where Conveyances may be left for a mere Farthing.
Notice Boarde of Ye Hall
21 June: "Gulliver's Travels" by J Swift, a Miscellanie of much-loved Song and Dance Routines execrably performed by Ye Embers.
3 July: "Give it a Yank." Fresh from a triumphant Tour of Molesey, the Patchwork Ensemble reminisce about the Home Front during the American War of Independence in a Dialogue that will have you mouldering in your Grave. Tea will be served.
Ye reporting Staffe
By Michael Jackson
Residents of Thames Ditton and Weston Green are eligible for prizes. A £5 Voucher for spending in any Thames Ditton or Weston Green shop will be awarded to each of the first three correct entries opened after the closing date of 30 July 2007.
The completed puzzle (or photocopy) with your name and address, clearly marking the envelope 'Crossword Competition', should be sent to:
Thames Ditton Today
1. Singers from Oslo reach city on exchange (6,7)
2. It's on course at Bath or Sedgefield (5)
Solution to the Spring 2007 Crossword:
By Hook or Crook
In praise of culs-de-sac
The Prince of Wales, we read in the Sunday Times, has declared war on the cul de sac as an "environmental menace that fosters crime, car dependence and obesity." Instead of the cul de sac we are to encourage higher density housing in Victorian-style grids to persuade us to walk to the shops and lose weight. We are even told, though the evidence isn't stated, that we who live in a cul de sac weigh 6lbs more than our luckier neighbours who live on a through road. Well, most of us would go along with many of the Prince's attempts to encourage healthy living and make us more aware of the need to protect our environment but this attack on the cul de sac is surely a step too far.
If John Betjeman never wrote in favour of the cul de sac, this clearly was an oversight on his part since it represents much that is best in the tree-lined suburban England - and particularly Surrey- that Betjeman celebrated in his verse. It has been part of our urban landscape since the Victorian age. It encourages a sense of community since you know your neighbours better and look out for each other. It is largely in the cul de sacs (or, if you are a purist, "culs de sac") in Thames Ditton and Weston Green that street parties flourished, for the Millennium or the Queen's 80th Birthday. They are quieter as there is no through traffic roaring past. Children can play safely, kick footballs and ride their bikes on the street or pavements without parents worrying that they will be run down - although the older generation viewing this activity sometimes forget they were young once!
Surprisingly, cul de sacs consume less land than a grid street pattern and fit in better to awkward parcels of land. Contrary to the Prince's view, they are, according to the crime prevention officer at Thames Valley Police "much safer and less likely to suffer burglary and car crime". The most famous cul de sac in the world is of course Downing Street which is a crime free zone - or is it? You have to be vetted to enter Downing Street but that is perhaps a little over the top for your average cul de sac.
One of the most convincing tests is that buyers will pay more for a house in a cul de sac - but this does not seem to carry much sway with our planners today. Letchworth Garden City in 1903 pioneered the introduction of the cul de sac in town planning, with Hampstead Garden Suburb following soon after and these have always been held up as success stories. Developments such as these are now under threat from the Department of Transport that talks of "loops and lollipops", of "ill-defined spaces" (whatever that means!) and "layouts that make orientation difficult" - do they mean that in a cul de sac we can't find our way home after a good night out?
All this is a part of the attempt by Government planners to tell us how our suburbs must look. Perhaps Betjeman got it right in "The Town Clerk's View":
"All fields we'll turn to sports grounds, lit at nightFrom concrete standards by fluorescent light:And over all the land, instead of trees,Clean poles and wire will whisper in the breeze.We'll keep one ancient village just to showWhat England once was when the times were slow"
Why can't planners just let us keep the variety of street patterns that people want?
Dead End John ! (name & address supplied)
22 Across: 'Vizor' was in the setter's mind and better fits the clue (viz.) But all entrants used the more usual 'visor' so we allowed it.