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Graham speaking v2At the TD & WG Residents' Association AGM on 26 March, RA Chairman, Graham Cooke, presented his Annual Report:  

 

It is once again thanks to the support of so many local residents that I am able to report on another successful year for the Thames Ditton and Weston Green Residents’ Association.

The year started with highly successful election results in both Thames Ditton and Hinchley Wood & Weston Green when Caroline James and Nigel Haig-Brown were, respectively, elected with very large majorities.

The overall results in Elmbridge were less satisfactory with the coalition of Residents’ Associations and Liberal Democrats losing its majority and a Conservative administration taking control. At the forthcoming local elections in May we hope that, in addition to seeing our own RA councillors elected, Elmbridge residents in other wards, especially Esher and Molesey, will recognise that their residents’ associations can serve their interests better than the big political parties. If you have friends or family in other Elmbridge wards, do encourage them to vote for independent Residents Group candidates - that way we can see our Councillors in a better position to deliver your needs.

Our Surrey County Councillor, Nick Darby, has had another busy year. Time does not allow me to mention the multitude of issues and tasks that he and all our local councillors have been involved with, but Nick has been heavily involved in resisting a number of proposed changes by Surrey in relation to children's centres, libraries and bus subsidies. Whilst recognising the financial constraints that Surrey County Council is faced with, Nick has worked tirelessly to see that our local area retains vital services and to encourage the delivery of these in the most efficient way. Nick contributes a regular article in Thames Ditton Today where you can learn more.

Parking continues to be an emotive issue – it is particularly tricky as local opinion on this subject can vary, to say the least. One area where the majority agreed that action needed taking was St Leonards Road, and we now have the restrictions in place. The limited free parking in Thames Ditton High Street continues to make the area more vibrant.

Sadly, the Conservative administration now in power in Elmbridge has seen fit to substantially increase parking charges and scrapped the annual residents parking permits for the Ashley Road Car Park.
Once again, we have been involved in supporting a multitude of projects within Thames Ditton and Weston Green. The ever popular Farmers' Market continues to thrive and we thank all those who make this happen. The Christmas Fair, Christmas Trees and Christmas lights have all been funded or partly funded by your RA, as has Thames Ditton in Bloom and the planting at the stations and the Co-op on Hampton Court Way.

Milbourne Pond in Weston Green is a pond once again – in addition to supporting this project to put water in the pond we have also contributed to the efforts to keep water from where it is not wanted, with our Flooding sub-committee working in conjunction with the Environment Agency – again, see Thames Ditton Today for more details.

In September last year we saw the erection of our new Thames Ditton village sign on Giggs Hill Green. The sign recognises Peter Hickman’s long service to the local area including his 12 years as a Surrey County Councillor. When Peter passed away in December it was a loss to the whole community.

As ever, planning applications have been an important issue for our local Councillors and, in addition to those within our boundaries, the developments proposed at Sandown Park and the ‘Jolly Boatman’ site at Hampton Court have raised particular concerns. The Sandown Park application proposes over 300 dwellings and a large hotel. The site is Green Belt land and we continue to resist and object to building on the Green Belt as well as any inappropriate development in our area. We will also continue to resist any development that is not accompanied by the necessary infrastructure to maintain a sustainable community, in particular, sufficient and local school places.

Our thanks go to those who support our litter-picking initiatives in Thames Ditton and Weston Green – first Saturday of the month in WG, third Saturday in TD. For more details see Cllrs Tricia Bland or Tannia Shipley.

Another successful Secret Gardens of Thames Ditton was enjoyed by so many last year – this year it’s Secret Gardens of Weston Green – make a diary date for 23rd June.

We have continued to communicate with our members via the quarterly magazine, Thames Ditton Today, and special thanks to Libby MacIntyre and Sandra Dennis for this high quality production. Our website www.residents-assocation.com is recognised as the place to go to understand all local issues and our thanks go to Peter Haynes and Mark Charlesworth for all their work in maintaining the site. We encourage all our members to allow us to communicate via email when important issues arise, this reduces our costs and makes sure that key issues are quickly communicated. If we don’t have your email address, please let us have it, we promise not to bombard you with unnecessary emails.

We now have just under 1000 followers on Twitter – for those who use this medium go to @TDResidents. We also monitor other forms of social media and have recently formed a small team which will insure that our message is heard by those who use these as their preferred medium.

Last summer saw a number of traveller incursions which, sadly, involved some completely unacceptable anti-social activity and, in some cases, criminal behaviour. All our local councillors took a hands-on involvement and it was partly thanks to their efforts that Elmbridge Council was able to obtain a High Court injunction making further encampments illegal. The Injunction was extended for a 3-year period in November last year.

We continue to press South Western Railway for improvements to their, some would say, notoriously, poor service. Representatives attended our open meeting earlier in the year and I can only really report to you that this is a ‘work in progress’. At the end of last year we did have a limited coup as the campaign to retain the one fast evening service from Waterloo was successful.

The year ahead will bring fresh challenges in many areas. We are expecting the consultation on the third runway at Heathrow to commence quite soon. The Hampton Court and Sandown proposed developments raise major concerns and we shall have to strive ever harder to keep Thames Ditton and Weston Green what they are, simply lovely places to live and work. We are fortunate to have local councillors who devote literally thousand of hours each year to our cause. They serve our community voluntarily and, continue to do so at times when their own personal lives should be to the fore. I would like to say thank you to them all.

Thank you to all our officers, magazine distributors, collectors, litter pickers, bulb planters, Boomerang club supporters, Secret Gardeners and finally, those who simply just vote for us.

And, on that note, I am very pleased to be able to tell you that both Karen Randolph for Thames Ditton and Janet Turner for Hinchley Wood and Weston Green have agreed to stand for re-election on 2nd May.

Our next open meeting will be held on Tuesday 30th April – this will be the pre-election meeting so please come along with any questions you have or issues you want to raise with our candidates. Thank you all for the support you have given the RA over the last 12 months and, I hope, for the support you will continue to give.

 Graham Cooke

Chairman