Floods in Thames Ditton
Shortly after we last went to press the village was inundated by an estimated two and a half million gallons of tap water when a huge main burst behind 44 Basingfield Road in the small hours of 30 November. Our heartfelt sympathies to more than 50 residents who had to evacuate their homes. A dozen are still in temporary accommodation. Several High Street businesses also suffered damage and loss of trade. Our RA councillors and officers were on the scene at dawn and throughout the day. We helped to put affected residents in touch with the loss adjuster, to keep pressure on Thames Water who responded well to the emergency, and later to lobby Elmbridge to get the village cleaned up. With help from alert residents who sent in photographs and reports we were able to post good coverage of the events on our website as they happened, and flag them up to regional and national media.
Drains in Thames Ditton
Meanwhile Thames Water are currently finishing the works that will connect up the new pumping station in Speer Road to the foul drains and reduce the risk of future clogging and backwashing in our sewers. This should mark the successful end of another long campaign by the Residents' Association to get them to address this problem.
The flood highlighted beyond doubt that although surface water drains could not have coped with the huge amount of water issuing from the burst main, many such drains in the village, especially those along Station Road, were simply not working. This has long been a problem, and latterly local residents led by Martin Perrin of Station Road have got up a petition about it. The drains in question are mostly not within Thames Water's responsibility, and the new foul-water works will not help with that surface water. It is Surrey County Council who must keep them clear. Our RA County Councillor, Peter Hickman, has mounted sustained pressure on Surrey's Highways Department and it has become clear that part of the problem has to do with insufficient equipment (Surrey are now going to spend a further £1million on more flood control measures and drain-cleaning machines), and partly with inadequate supervision. However, we can report some significant progress: Peter has managed to get them to clear three gullies including the one responsible for the infamous 'Basing Lake' of the past 24 years. The action now is to get Surrey, who are under the illusion that they have fixed all the drains, back to finish the job.
Linked also to the clogging of surface water gullies and drains are the problems in cleaning the streets caused by parked cars. Elmbridge Borough Council's monthly clean can not often be carried out fully. Leaves and muck build up, and are subsequently scrunched into the drain traps. We are trying to get this issue better addressed. Meanwhile, the Thames Ditton street cleaning schedule for fortnightly periods is now available on our web site, and the one for Weston Green will follow shortly. You can help by moving your cars elsewhere on those days.
Floods and drains in Weston Green
Your RA councillor Tannia Shipley has continued to dog Network Rail and Surrey CC, who between them (and a few private landlords including the kennels on Portsmouth Road) have responsibility for the network of culverts, pipes and ditches that all too frequently fail to drain the lake that forms under Esher Station railway bridge after heavy rain, making life intolerable for cars and pedestrians alike. Tannia's seven-year campaign on this matter was put into perspective when Network Rail discovered in a dusty file cabinet that the problem was first reported by a Mr May in … 1914 ! However, Tannia reports progress in that Network Rail and Surrey are actually co-ordinating efforts and each has performed some of the many necessary works. More remain - the drainage network in question is about two miles long - but Tannia is determined to see it cleared even if, she says, "I have to die in a ditch."
On 18 January a fierce nationwide gale brought down substantial trees in Thistledene, Ennismore Gardens and Ember Lane, and sundry branches and roof slates elsewhere. We were lucky: no casualties were reported to us nor major damage to property or cars. The county authorities acted swiftly to clear the blocked roads and débris.
Kerbs in Basingfield Road
More progress to report: the value of electing an RA councillor to the County Council is again illustrated by the final success of Peter's efforts to get the kerbstones along Basingfield Road properly refixed. Bad parking, and cars being driven over them while passing or turning, had broken them down. They are now being reset more deeply alongside the concrete road surface instead of lying on top of its edge. This will have the benefit of adding about 18 inches to the width of the road, which should make passing easier when cars are parked down one side.
Several major planning issues where we are actively supporting residents are at critical points. An impressive 550 residents have signed a petition against plans by Cranstoun House to admit current drug users to their rehabilitation premises at 5, Ember Lane. For the past thirty years, only those who have come off drugs have been accepted there. Much more on our website (address at end of article). 94 residents have petitioned against a plan to demolish the historic pub Ye Olde Harrow in Weston Green Road and replace it with a massive block of flats abutting Green Belt land. The Planning Officer has recommended against this development. Despite 60 residents having lodged objections, the Planning Officer has recommended that the third application to build 6 flats in the back garden of 16 - 18 Embercourt Road be approved. This will be vigorously contested by residents before the Elmbridge East Area Planning Subcommittee on 26 February, after we go to press, where these applications are to be addressed. Meanwhile 208 residents signed a petition reinforcing objections to development plans to demolish 13, Queens Drive and build a terrace of six townhouses there. The developer is appealing to the Planning Inspector against the earlier Elmbridge decision to turn this down.
This continues to be a problem, but Elmbridge Borough Council's Environmental Care graffiti removal unit has reacted with commendable promptness to remove fresh graffiti on buildings and walls in the village when we report it. Dealing with persistent and less accessible trouble spots is more problematic.
Goodbye to "Iron Mike"
Iron Man triathlete Mike Lockwood is leaving Elmbridge Borough Council after an outstanding decade including seven years as Chief Executive, during which he raised £2000 for our Hospital in the London Marathon among many services to Thames Ditton and Weston Green. We wish him well.
A warm welcome to Laura Deyoung, our new Police Community Support Officer who joined Surrey Police last November and after training is now with PCSO Richard Platt on the beat for Thames Ditton, Long Ditton and Hinchley Wood. Laura's spare time is spent looking after her two-year-old son, and she enjoys swimming and outdoor activities.
To Sarah Searle for organising the best Christmas Fayre ever in the High Street on 13 December. A report and photos are on our website.
To Vivienne Harris and the Thames Ditton branch of Cancer Research UK on raising £14,000 for cancer research over the past year. Their recent dinner and cabaret at the Vera Fletcher Hall raised £2500. Performed by The Shakespeare Revue Company, the cabaret was sponsored by Lodge Bros. (Next is the quiz and supper on 20th April. Call Vivienne 0208 398 6787).
To a small but remarkable group of street carol singers centred on Newlands Avenue, for raising £500 for the Princess Alice Hospice. Their number includes at least two opera singers of international repute.
AGM and updated Constitution
As the existing Constitution of the Association has not been updated since 1994, it is proposed to put an updated constitution to members for adoption at the AGM (see p.5). This will reflect current best practice. Copies of the proposed updated Constitution will be available at the meeting and can be obtained beforehand upon request to the Hon. Secretary. The Resolution before the AGM reads:
"THAT the Constitution submitted to this meeting, initialled by the Chairman of the Association for the purposes of identification, be adopted as the Constitution of the Association in substitution for the existing Constitution."
Local Elections - 3rd May
Please do turn out and vote. We don't take office for granted. If you are disillusioned with the national political parties, there is an alternative - your Residents' Association candidates.
The Business of Education
Thames Ditton can sometimes seem a little too somnolent when everyone has rushed to work and children have been delivered to school. So it gladdens my heart when I spy little groups of young men and women chattering and laughing as they make their way past my house to College. They do inject life into our community and they also seem very happy to be going to their day's education. Every day 1,506 newly emerging adults come into our village and yet, because the college is tucked away from the road, nestled in greenery, how many of us know what fantastic work is achieved on the site of what was once a pig farm?
Mr Keith Blackwell, the Principal for the past ten years, is fiercely proud of his Sixth Form College. After an investment of £7 million in buildings and facilities and achieving Grade 1 in every category of the Ofsted inspection it has now been given Beacon College status. Mr Blackwell has overseen some dramatic changes, not least the removal of such colleges from local authority control, thrusting Esher College into a new role as an almost independent small business. The building, which once housed Surbiton Boys School, now boasts an amazing Learning Centre and IT facility, of which the students have unlimited use. The state of the art computer suites mean that students can also interact with their teachers from their own home and although they do not have to be on site for the whole day, they have an electronic registration system and their attendance is carefully monitored.
The students come not only from Thames Ditton, but from far and wide attracted by the high standard of education provided by the College. Esher College is one of the top ten colleges in the country, with 85% of its students going on to study at university. Any student of the age 16 -19 is welcomed by the college, but applications are taken on a first come first served basis, and it is always hugely oversubscribed! Keith has successfully strived to create an adult atmosphere, an half way house between the rigid structure of a school environment and the totally independent university life. The college, aided by modern buildings and friendly student/staff relationships, has created a very positive feeling in which the students can work. They can also relax at breaks and lunchtimes in a spacious modern cafeteria that serves an appealing menu of hot food and snacks. Plasma screens across the college advertise the daily cafeteria menu, the lunchtime talk on the history of anaesthesia and the performances of "The Return of the Native" which was being held in the College's 300 seat theatre.
Keith believes that his students not only need academic development but also interests outside of academia. The college has two football pitches, a rugby pitch, tennis and netball courts and a huge indoor sports hall. The youngsters are given opportunities to act in Drama performances and attend lunchtime lectures on a variety of subjects by exciting speakers. Students also have a "wider skills week" at the end of their first year, where they might have experience in travel, field trips and work. With tough Health and Safety requirements it is getting much harder to arrange work experience - a vital aspect of their education. Can you help?
Mr Blackwell is also very keen to foster close relationships with the local community. With this is mind he stresses to his students the need to be respectful to the College's neighbours and to the village. He meets with representatives of the surrounding roads every six months to discuss any concerns arising. Mr Blackwell has also set up a team to nurture the College's Adult Education Programme. Jo Hampton, the Adult and Leisure Activities Manager, tel: 020 8335 2544, is continuing to develop the programme, getting a feeling of what interests the Thames Ditton community through the many inquiries she receives. At the moment languages are really popular, Mandarin is being introduced in September, but there are also courses in Health and Fitness, Art and Design, Counselling and Life Skills and Computers/IT. The college employs 30 part time adult tutors mostly from the local community. It is not only the adult community with which Keith wishes to build links. The Elm Partnership is a group of schools and colleges, which meet to discuss how they can work together. The College allows schools to use its facilities free of charge. Thames Ditton Junior School is having its Sports Day in July at Esher College. Local groups and clubs also use the wonderful facilities. Molesey Junior Football Club under 11 Girls Five a Side team play in the Sports Hall, Surrey Youth Ballet,Kingston Chamber Music Society and the Institute of Directors are some of the diverse groups that use the College after the students have gone home. Mr Derek Hempston is the person to speak to if you think your group would be interested in hiring a College facility: his telephone number is 020 8972 9106.
So when you see those youngsters passing through Thames Ditton, remember that they come here as older children, nervous and excited about attending a new school. At the end of two years they leave as mature young adults, ready to tackle the world and all it can throw at them. We are as fortunate to have them here, as they are to spend two years in such a fine environment. Our reporting staff
How Does The Council Work?
RA Councillor Edward Rowe explains...
Good simple question. I wish there was a good simple answer but let's try.
Which Council are we talking about? There are two Councils of course. The County Council headquartered in Kingston is responsible for things like education, roads, social services, libraries, trading standards, and some environmental matters such as waste disposal and wildlife protection, throughout Surrey. The one I'm going deal with, that I sit on, is Elmbridge Borough Council based in Esher. This Council handles matters within the Borough such as planning, leisure and community affairs, the local economy, licensing, car parks and cemeteries, rubbish collection and, through choice, the provision of many services for the elderly. It comprises an elected Council with a Cabinet and Committee structure, plus a permanent staff.The wards in Elmbridge each elect councillors on a rolling basis for terms of four years: sixty councillors in all, of whom currently 27 are Conservatives, 25 are the various Residents' Associations and similar groups, and the remainder are Liberal Democrats. This is 'the Council' that holds ultimate civic authority and responsibility for the Borough.
After ward elections each year the full Council elects a Leader of the Council from among their number. At the moment this is a Conservative, as the Residents Group lost a couple of seats last May. The Council also elects a Mayor and a deputy who is normally expected to take over as Mayor the following year. These prestigious, largely representational posts are by convention shared round the elected groups in turn. The Mayor is the titular head of the Council, but is not the Leader of the Council. The Leader enjoys considerable power, selecting colleagues to form a Cabinet of 10 persons, all being Conservatives at present. Other committees such as the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the Planning, Licensing and Environmental Affairs Committees are shared out on a proportional basis between the elected groups.
The Cabinet effectively sets the agenda for Council business and farms out tasks to the other Committees, which report back with recommendations to the Cabinet for decision. These Committees can add items to their own agenda. The Cabinet can take decisions at that point on some issues, if there are no resource implications. Otherwise they send their recommended decisions to the full Council. This cycle, from Cabinet to Committees, back to Cabinet, then if necessary to the full Council, takes place five or six times a year. There are particular procedures for Planning and Licensing, and the planning process will be dealt with in a future article.
At the bottom of it all is the perpetual quest for Value for Money. Even the Cabinet can't get its pet schemes through without referring them to the open scrutiny of full Council if they have resource implications. Any proposal to change what's done or how to do it has to be accompanied by a statement of costs, prepared by the permanent executive officers. Such proposals are subject to a challenging process. If you want to achieve this kind of change you have to persuade other members of the Council to support your proposal. The essence is to pick issues where there is a real possibility of support from both the officers and the Council, to research them well and persuade key portfolio holders to endorse them. If you haven't got or can't get budgetary provision for the proposal within the 3-year rolling Financial Strategy Document (voted by the Full Council) you're usually wasting time. Wasting everyone's time is as sure a way to prejudice one's chances as jumping up and down being obnoxious to colleagues. While residents can phone their councillors and vent their feelings (and you do), your councillors must remain calm and focused at all times...! But then, who said it was easy?
For day-to-day things that need fixing, such as a street clean or a sewer smell, the first problem is often finding out who within the maze has the responsibility (and the budget), and here it is a great help if your representative knows that part of the executive well. RA councillors seek to build up a reputation for pragmatism and persuasion so that officers will be inclined to listen and help, and we get a good response from them in general. Often we'll find that the main responsibility lies outside the Council and several other bodies such as Surrey CC, Thames Water, or EDF will have to be roped down as well.
I'll spare you, if you're still reading this, Audit and Standards, Disciplinary investigations, Disciplinary Appeals, Joint Staff and not forgetting Appointments. You'll want to know: does the whole system work? Yes it does, with reservations. It's cumbersome, complex and generates too much paper. But it's transparent, with enough checks and balances to prevent people from doing daft things with your money. It should be very clear by now that your Residents' Association needs its representatives on the Council. Otherwise we should be very hard put to know what buttons to press for any results, let alone get close enough to press them.
Your Say Counts
From RA County Councillor Peter Hickman
Many of you have taken the opportunity to express views on parking in Thames Ditton following my article in the Autumn edition of this magazine. Over 80 residents attended the meeting on 16 November where issues were "brainstormed." In addition there have been at least 50 responses by telephone or via either the website form or the forum. Views have been many and varied and the role of the RA under Ben Ellis is to distil these into acceptable solutions that can be put to Surrey County Council. The RA concluded, following the meeting, that there were two areas needing different solutions to fit differing problems: the High Street, and the Station Area.
There are basically two issues in the area of the High Street.
It is absolutely vital for the health of the village to have an active shopping area along the High Street and we must encourage the use of our shops. Without them we would become just another dead suburb with no soul. We must provide spaces for visiting customers of shops and businesses. Equally, space should be provided for those who live there.
Currently many vehicles are parked all day in the High Street. Some park inconsiderately causing obstruction, particularly around Ashley Road, Church Lane and Harvest Lane. There have been several occasions when service vehicles have not been able to access these roads. Occasionally a long line of cars parked along Watts Road can cause obstruction. All day parkers should use their own off street parking facilities or if they have none, the Ashley Road Car Park has space for nearly 70 cars.
Here we have problems with commuters and students who park all day as the roads around Thames Ditton Station have no parking controls. There is frequent obstructive parking at road junctions, outside the schools, alongside residents' driveways and congestive parking in cul-de-sacs.
Action to date
We have had an on site meeting with SCC to discuss the situation and possible solutions, identify the roads that need to be considered and outline ideas that you have all put forward. With experience from elsewhere, Surrey will be visiting the area to collect more facts by surveying parking in trouble spots. Various options have been discussed: residents parking permits, curfew parking, no parking areas etc. Some of the solutions could be controversial and not suit everyone. Surrey will delineate on a map the areas that may be subject to parking controls, and issue questionnaires to gauge public feelings. These questionnaires should give an accurate picture of your views and are a tried and tested way of achieving consensus. This we hope will be carried out in March/April. Following this initial phase a detailed plan will be drawn up identifying the controls and every property affected will be asked whether the detailed proposal is acceptable. For the proposal to go forward a good response rate and a good majority in favour is absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile please send any views or opinions you wish to be taken into account via the widely visited RA website at www.residents-association.com or phone Ben Ellis (8398 2114) or myself (8399 0931).
A Friend In Deed
Karen Randolph, Chairman of the Friends of Thames Ditton Hospital, doesn't sit back while causes need to be fought for: "If you can't care for the good things close by in your community, what chance is there that the wider world will become a better place? But," she adds quickly, "don't make me out to be a goody-goody!"
Surrey-born Karen studied History and Politics at Reading University, then worked in management for BT in Guildford and London before joining Williams and Glynn's Bank. Under the auspicious dome of the London Planetarium she met Paul, and when their son arrived twenty-three years ago they moved to Thames Ditton, with Karen working locally in marketing research. Three years later, the very premature birth of daughter Hannah prompted Karen to become an active supporter of the Born-Too-Soon charity at Kingston Hospital. When in the early 1990s she read in Thames Ditton Today about Tesco's plans to despoil beautiful Giggs Hill Green with a supermarket, garage and carpark, Karen picked up the phone to the Chairman of the Residents' Association and was immediately recruited. Although Tesco was able to deploy immense resources, the RA's campaign was successful. Karen went on to become Membership Secretary and later a very effective Chairman of the Association. Meanwhile Karen ran a very strong Junior section at Thames Ditton Tennis Club, which weighed heavily with the authorities when in an historic legal case the Club succeeded in resisting plans to develop their leased land.
Karen is able and effective when presenting a case, pragmatic and energetic in pursuing one. Paul cautions that although he's a barrister he doesn't win many arguments over the breakfast table! Personable, engaging and refreshingly down-to-earth, she caught the eye of Sir Curtis Keeble and was brought onto the Committee of the Friends of Thames Ditton Hospital. As Chairman, Karen keeps a sharp eye on Surrey's Primary Care Trust and has fought repeated battles to keep going a local facility that would, if the NHS's promises had been kept, provide 14 beds for needy local patients. Karen's acquired a taste for getting things done. The last word is with her: "We've all had experiences in our lives where we got frustrated. I just decided I should do something about it."
Your Residents' Association In Action 2006 - 2007
Every year we thank Ted Woolley in these pages for planting and watering the flowers on the Fountain roundabout in the High Street. We thought you'd like to know more about this modest fellow whose photo appears on the cover.
Ted was born sixty-nine years ago in Cricklewood and spent his working life as a butcher in the London area and subsequently, Horsley. Always keenly interested in horticulture, he jumped at the chance to take on the job of gardening, caretaking, security and maintenance at the Home of Compassion thirteen years ago. His wife Norma supervises the laundry and linen, and the couple live in the cottage attached to the Home. Their two daughters are married and live not too many miles away.
Very fit and lively, Ted is a great handyman and built a greenhouse at the Home, essential for raising all the bedding plants for the gardens and the Summer Fair, and of course for the planters on the Fountain roundabout. These are watered every other evening during the summer months, with the aid of a standpipe that Ted lugs to the Fountain. This year he fancies blue salvias and cinerarias in the troughs, and trailing begonias from the fountain itself.
Ted's quiet enjoyment in contributing to the community doesn't end there: he's made substantial models of shops, the church and the fountain. Each Christmas he sets this model village up in his back garden at the home, fully illuminated and with Santa cruising the rooftops in a wooden sleigh, for the delight of local children.
Thank you again, Ted.
Bats, the only mammals capable of true flight, account for a fifth of mammalian species. They are more closely related to humans than to mice and can live over 30 years, but breed slowly: a mother bat usually has just one baby a year. There are 17 species in Britain. Several are rare, and one almost extinct. To stem the steep decline in our bat population, all bats and their roosts are protected by law.
British bats feed on insects. They find their meals on the wing using echolocation, which enables us to detect and identify them using simple bat detection equipment. Around Thames Ditton and Weston Green we have at least eight species including Daubenton's 'water' bats, less common ones such as Noctules, and the Serotine, a larger bat found in the South-East which is fast declining and the subject of a Species Action Plan in Surrey. Ross Baker and Lynn Whitfield who run the Surrey Bat Group and until recently lived in Weston Green, write: "We have very few roost records for Thames Ditton and would welcome more reporting. The playing fields around Weston Green often have Noctules and Serotines feeding over them on the insects attracted by floodlights. Pipistrelles of both common species are abundant. We would also expect brown long-eared bats to be in the woodland areas, but these bats are difficult to pick up on bat detectors because they whisper their echo-location calls. We need firm evidence of roosts, such as bats observed entering buildings or tree-holes, or crumbly mouse-like droppings in the loft."
Bat boxes can be installed to attract bats to your garden. Bats move roosts at various time of the year according to whether they are hibernating, breeding or in transition. Collectively, the three species of smaller Pipistrelles have broad tastes and will happily roost in trees and modern buildings, whereas Serotines seem to prefer older Victorian and Edwardian houses with slate roofs and gable ends.
The Thames is good for Daubenton's bats, which require low light levels. Bats are not blind. While some bat species feed on insects attracted to lit areas, all are themselves highly sensitive to light levels and increasing light pollution can be a serious matter. To research this problem, local ecologist Alison Fure organised a survey by boat along the Thames from Teddington to Hampton Court last year, accompanied by some forty interested representatives of English Nature, Thames Landscape Strategy, assorted Councils and other groups concerned with river management. She plotted light levels, GPS position and signals received from 406 bat flights, demonstrating that as light levels increased bat activity decreased directly.Where there was no background light spillage there was greater diversity of species. Daubenton's bats, in particular, were not found above 1.0 lux, whereas lights on Hampton Court Bridge emitted 19 lux and Kingston Bridge a whopping 31 lux where no bats were present. Garden security and decorative lights can also be a problem for bats.
We're lucky to have in our area one of the most important havens for bats at Seething Wells, where there's a substantial labyrinth of underground tunnels and structures, some of which are statutorily listed. These are used by eight species, and include a roost where mothers of the Daubenton's bat congregate to give birth and rear their babies. Natterer's bats are recorded here even during the winter and use the complex structures for hibernation. Noctules feed over the filter beds; Serotines are seen occasionally while the three Pipistrelle species are frequently recorded. There are brown long eared bats along Barge Walk. Seething Wells is now a designated site for its wildlife value, and so important for our less common species, particularly the light-sensitive Daubenton's and Natterer's bats, that it's essential to prevent any further increase in light pollution and to forestall plans for development that would increase light levels or otherwise disturb the habitat here.
|Bats found along the River Thames August 2006|
|Pipistrellus sp. (50khz)||13|
|Long eared bat||3|
|*Unidentified Myotis, usually Natterer’s or Daubenton’s|
If you'd like to play a part in securing the future of Seething Wells as a designated wildlife site, you can join the fledgling Friends of Seething Wells - details from Alison (below). You might also like to acquire an inexpensive bat detector and some training from the Surrey Bat Group in its use. Bats hibernate over winter, so you won't get cold, and it can be pleasant monitoring them of a summer's evening when they awaken and come out to feed some half an hour after sunset. The Surrey Bat Group would like to hear from you - and if you do this, please let us know - we'd like a Village Bat Correspondent!
We owe the preparation for this article to:
Alison Fure, Furesfen Ecological Consultancy, 28 Bonner Hill Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT1 3HE tel: 0208 974 6670 email: email@example.com
If enough people are interested, Alison will organise a 'batty' boat trip along our stretch of the Thames this summer. This would take place at and after sunset, on a large boat with wine, bat detectors and experts. Children get very excited when they see the larger bats! Let her know if you might want to join this cruise.
Ross Baker and Lynn Whitfield, Surrey Bat Group email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entertainment for Spring at the Vera Fletcher Hall
There is a feast of entertainment at the Hall this Spring, with our very first Welsh male voice choir, concerts, comedy, a return visit by international opera star Donald Maxwell and, of course the programme for children, whose shows usually sell out.
For all Celts - not just Welsh ones! - and for everyone who enjoys good choirs there is, on Friday March 16th, a real treat when Cor Meibion Bro Dysynni Male Voice Choir sings at the St David's Day dinner in aid of the Thames Ditton Hospital Appeal, kindly sponsored by Dairy Crest. The choir comes all the way from the valleys, not of South Wales but of Snowdonia in North Wales, and the next day they appear with other choirs at the Royal Albert Hall so this should be a great occasion.
The Hall is making a name for itself with its programme of chamber music and on Friday 17th April we welcome the Vilensky String Quartet -two violins, viola and cello, which was formed in 2002 and now performs regularly in concert halls across Europe. They will perform Haydn's Quartet in D Minor "The Fifths", Mendelssohn's Quartet in E Minor and Dvorak's Quartet in F Major "The American".
Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan will welcome the return to the Hall on Friday 4th May of Donald Maxwell in Tiramisu Opera's production of "The Pirates of Penzance" with Linda Ormiston and Rebecca Rudge. Donald and Linda will teach you the chorus music (eye patches and music provided) followed by a performance of patter songs, bloodthirsty pirates, unhappy policemen, a model major-general and beautiful maidens. International opera star Donald Maxwell has sung major roles at opera houses such as La Scala and Welsh National Opera, including the title role of Falstaff at the Royal Opera House. He is currently appearing at English National Opera starring in "The Gondoliers", (where to hear him would set you back £60). To persuade him to come to the Hall again is a real coup. Soprano Rebecca Rudge, who sang with him last year in their delightful performance of "Pimpinone" at the Hall and sings at the Buxton Festival and other major venues is joined by mezzo soprano Linda Ormiston, who sings with Donald at Coverwood Concerts, at the ENO and internationally.
Michael Friend Productions have brought many plays to the Hall, including Shaw's Pygmalion, Mrs Warren's Profession and Major Barbara as well as Feydeau farces. This year they go back in time with Oliver Goldsmith's immortal 18th century comedy "She Stoops to Conquer", a story of love, marriage and mistaken identities when young Marlow mistakes a country house for an inn and his prospective bride for a barmaid. This classic play has been performed many times in the West End and we look forward to seeing it in Thames Ditton.
For children, on Saturday 31st March, Image Musical Theatre presents the ever popular "The Jungle Book", as a family musical where all can participate, based on Rudyard Kipling's classic tale of Mowgli the man-cub brought up by his adopted wolf family and his adventures in the vibrant tropical Indian jungle. With spectacular costumes, wonderful music and the opportunity for some children to take part as actors, this is family theatre at its very best. On Saturday May 5th Support Act Productions present "The Elves and the Shoemaker", a delightful musical adaptation, with life sized puppets, songs and magic, of the Grimm's fairytale of the shoemaker saved from eviction by tiny elves who work through the night to help make his shop a success. This story of love, honour and friendship, mixed with puppetry and song will appeal to all our young audiences.
The Hall provides high quality professional performances at a reasonable price, on your doorstep, without congestion or parking charges, where you will meet your friends and enjoy a splendid evening's entertainment. Performers recently and in the past include Rodney Bewes, Virginia McKenna, Susannah York, Dorothy Tutin, poet Wendy Cope, Petula Clark, Janet Suzman, Denis Quilley, Amanda Waring, John Julius Norwich, the Shakespeare Revue Company, Louis de Bernieres and many others. Come and join us and bring a friend.
Tickets for these shows can be obtained from the Box Office numbers shown on the Hall's web site.
As a resident of Thames Ditton for many decades, I am decidedly in favour of a comprehensive scheme of residents' parking throughout the village. If we have it in one place then it will have to spread everywhere or else parking problems will just be moved along a road or two.
There are some people who, unlike myself, have absolutely no right to park on the public road and the sooner we get rid of them the better. Islanders for example shut themselves off from Thames Ditton by a locked portcullis and they knew when they bought their houses that there was nowhere to park. How would they react if we started parking our boats along their Island moorings? Church Walk is full of old people who shouldn't be driving at all. There are too many office workers in Thames Ditton and I am tired of queuing in our local shops while they buy their dreary sandwiches. Shoppers are also a pestiferous nuisance especially when they park in the George and Dragon where I like to leave my Mercedes while enjoying a few lunchtime malts. We would do better to convert the shops into housing. My nephew the property developer is prepared to step in to help do this if nobody else can be found.
Then there are the mothers who use a car to drop off and collect their children from school. These indulgent mothers should not be allowed to breed. This is the reason why we have so many obese children today. They will only grow up to be badly dressed and impudent students at Esher College, another nest of iniquity whose inmates should be deprived of any right to park nearby, and indeed should not be allowed to drive a car until they are over 30.
As for commuters, words fail me. Let them pay for the privilege of working, if they have to. We should make absolutely no provision for people to park anywhere near to the station and indeed if the station were to close altogether then our lovely village would be a much quieter place.
I should make it clear that I am firmly opposed to making Thames Ditton a traffic free zone as some idiot suggested. I like to drive around and want to have as few impediments to that as possible. To enable me to do this faster, I do think the speed bumps should be removed, preferably by teenagers from the Longmead Estate doing community labour under their ASBOs.
I stress that I am a very tolerant person. I have not, you notice, called for all parkers under the age of 60 to be shot or for those too poor to afford a house with a garage and off-street parking to be transported to Australia. Although I could easily have done so when roused.
I demand that the Residents' Association immediately implements my views. I know they are shared by many others, as they nod when I pass them in the street. Otherwise I shall withdraw my vote in the next elections in favour of the Ditton Independence Party (DIP) of which I am the founder member and I may say not the sole one.
The above is reprinted from a stimulating contribution to the website forum on parking. Alas we were unable to locate the author, who does not appear in our list of members who have paid their subscription this year, to secure permission. The views expressed are entirely the author's own.
By Margaret Briggs
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 May 2007..
The completed puzzle (or photocopy) with your name and address, clearly marking the envelope 'Crossword Competition', should be sent to:
Thames Ditton Today
6 Church Walk
1. Restore order and put at rest in the East (9)
8. One of Scrooge's visitors has just gone (9,4)
11. Roman Head (4)
12. Instruments initially of brass or even silver (5)
13. Plant in Berlin garden (4)
16. It is normal to state truthfully your date of birth (7)
17. Element sounds like a stupid trick (7)
18. Women around 500 boys (7)
20. Supports motor end that can go up (7)
21. Old comics thrown in the bins (4)
22. Six letter or see-through needing only five (5)
23. Knock out with fruit content (4)
26. Like a Monarch the era is demanding an interval (6,3,4)
27. There are many flowers in this state (9)
2. Biblical man (3)
3. Cannot do anything worth knowing (7)
4. Five extra alters the change of moves (7)
5. Kind (4)
6. Guardians growth in London (9,4)
7. I sit and I match ten examples to save nine of them (1,6,2,4)
9. Spring law awry; leaves falling wildly (9)
10. Aging is on the move and very painful (9)
14. Copper in a state of sudden fright (5)
15. Another stain in his lurid life (4)
19. A modern youth could be a southern bird (7)
20. Little man needs material over him to be properly dressed (7)
24. Tablet (4)
25. Let it stand as it was once in Rome (4)
Solution to the Winter 2006 Crossword:
Many correct entries this time. You all correctly inked in the square cunningly left blank. Heart-warming support was expressed for the crossword to continue. And so it shall!