The intervention of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, has secured the future of the National Sports Centre at the Crystal Palace. Under terms of an agreement Sport England will take a further two year lease of the Centre so that it can remain open whilst the London Development Agency draws up detailed plans for a redeveloped or replacement stadium. In the short term this will allow the re-surfacing of the track in time for this summer's Grand Prix. The staging of this event at the Crystal Palace is essential for the success of a bid to host the Olympic Games in London. The LDA will take over the lease of the National Sports Centre in two years time and has also taken the option to take over the running of the Park itself within five years.
The enthusiasm for skate boarding continues to have a potent attraction for many teenage boys; a potency enhanced by the clever advertisement currently running on television showing a small group of skate boarders doing amazing feats along an obstacle course of low walls and iron girders. Therein lays the problem of providing a purpose built skate board ramp in a public park or recreation space. The novelty of these semi-circular ramps soon tires. Furthermore, by supplying one on such a site, the local council finds itself liable to litigation if an accident occurs and thus is forced to insist that skate boarders where protective clothes, and, because the facility is often located in a recreation area, limit the age of the user. All this requires monitoring.
Skate boarding can also be anti-social because of noise caused by the clatter of inexpertly handled boards. The Friends of Dulwich Park and The Dulwich Society have therefore argued against a plan to site a ramp in Dulwich Park because of disturbing neighbours. An alternative site at the Southwark Sports Ground on Dulwich Common was similarly rejected and the problem has shifted to Belair with a possible location near the car park. With a little luck, its curvaceous form may be mistaken for a new piece of installation art.
A number of residents have complained recently of both London Transport bus and school coach drivers running their engines while stationary. Roads affected include Sunray Avenue near St Faith's Church, Etherow Street, near Dulwich Library, Dulwich Village, outside Dulwich Hamlet School and Half Moon Lane outside James Allen's Girls School. This practice adds to noise and pollution levels and drivers should be notified.
Dulwich resident, Timothy Hornsby, has been appointed as Chairman of the Horniman Museum. As a former Chief Executive of the National Lottery Board and Director General of the Nature Conservation Council he brings unique financial and environmental expertise to the Museum. On taking over in April he said, "As a long time South London resident, I and my family have for many years enjoyed the Horniman experience of curiosity and wonder: so I am particularly pleased to have been appointed Chairman."
The advent of new Chairman marks an exciting time for the museum. The Horniman has recently been awarded Museum of the Year and London Family Attraction of the Year by the Good Britain Guide. Its sixteen acres of gardens has gained a Green Flag Award. It has also welcomed a half-million visitors since the opening of the Centenary Development in June 2002. The current great draw is Dinomites, a family exhibition with a dinosaur theme which runs until October.
It is rather unfortunate that the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch who have had stables at East Dulwich Police Station ever since it was built should be leaving Dulwich almost at the moment the horse track in Dulwich Park is expected to be upgraded. In June 2003, the stables attached to Brixton Police Station closed and half the horses were transferred to Wandsworth and half to East Dulwich. However, the completion of new stables at Lewisham has meant that all Dulwich's horses have now been transferred there. Few police horses will therefore be seen in Dulwich streets, or, unfortunately in Dulwich Park where they might have enjoyed the 2/3rds of a mile circuit.
The Dulwich Society website www.dulwichsociety.org.uk has proved very popular so far this year. It received over 7000 visitors or 'hits' in the first four months.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England works in London to improve the use of natural resources in the capital, so as to foster protection of the countryside beyond. This year the aim is to extend the South East London Green Chain through to Dulwich and beyond.
The Green Chain is a 40 mile network of footpaths linking 300 open spaces covering 4000 acres of SE London. It starts at the Thames Barrier, the world's largest flood barrier and runs through ancient woodlands at Oxleas and Bostall Woods, past the Jacobean splendour of Charlton House, the tropical delights of Avery Hill's Winter Garden and the Great Hall of Eltham Palace. It passes through the former parkland of Beckenham Place towards the ridge of Crystal Palace where it abruptly ceases.
The plan is to run the Green Chain into Dulwich and on to Nunhead thereby linking four of the cultural gems of South East London - the Picture Gallery, the Horniman Museum, Nunhead Cemetery and the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace. It is anticipated that the route will be mapped and waymarked with full access for the disabled. Not only will this highlight the value of each of these historic landmarks but it will underline the recreational potential of South East London and enhance the protection which each open space on the way enjoys.
Following a successful meeting with interested local groups it is hoped a route will link the existing trail with Dulwich Upper Wood, Sydenham Wells Park, Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich Park, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Horniman Gardens and Museum, Peckham Rye Park Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, Honor Oak Open Spaces, Brenchley Gardens, the Aquarius Golf Course, One Tree Hill, Nunhead Cemetery and end at Telegraph Hill. Sharp-eyed readers will notice some irregularity of this proposed route. This can be explained by the fact that there will be two trails one leading towards Dulwich and the other more or less following the old High Level Line route.
The campaigners hope to achieve financing of the extension from local authority and charitable sources. The first stage is to cost the extended trail, which will be carried out by independent consultants in the near future.