As your new Chairman, I am keen to get out and meet you, the members, and get your views on a first hand basis. So please do not be surprised if I knock on your door for a socially distanced outdoor chat. You will have seen from the interview published in the Winter 2021 edition of the Journal that I am interested in green/environmental issues. Are these issues you share?

Another opportunity for me to meet members is at the Society's AGM on Monday 9th May and I would encourage all members to participate. The formal notice of the meeting is contained elsewhere in this edition of the Journal. Can I also remind you that it is also a time to check that the annual subscription has been paid if you do not already pay by standing order. If you have not yet paid, and wish to remain a member of the Society, please respond to the membership secretary’s final reminder also in this edition.

Chargeable electric vehicles, whist not being the environmental Holy Grail (they still contribute to road congestion for instance), do provide significant local air quality gains for users who do not have an alternative to car ownership. The latest figures suggest that as many as 60% of new vehicles purchased have some form of electric power. Yet the provision of public infrastructure for charging such vehicles is wholly inadequate. There are not enough charge points installed in lampposts in the area and they are often inaccessible, expensive and blocked by fossil fuel cars parked in front. It is frustrating that, when many are considering moving away from fossil fuel to an electric vehicle, there is a worry about charging it. This has prompted users to buy a less green option (perhaps a self-charging hybrid or even and old fashioned fossil fuel car) or to pave over their front gardens to have a private charge point. None of these options is good for the environment. The arrival of ULEZ, which has prompted a surge of interest in chargeable electric vehicles, makes this a urgent issue for Southwark to address. We look forward to working with them to improve access to on-street charge points.

Whilst on the subject of the environment, The Dulwich Estate is thought to be reviewing its green strategy. It is high time that this is done. Home heating and renewable energy have special considerations in the conservation areas that cover part of the Scheme of Management area but it is encouraging that they are thinking of opening this review. The Dulwich Society stands ready to encourage and participate in the debate.

I wanted to finish my first Commentary as Chairman with a good news comment. The silver lining to the sorry tale of the disuse of the Grove Tavern, long neglected, is the more recent story of its car park. A local group of young skateboarders have, with the temporary permission of The Dulwich Estate, developed an outdoor skate-park on the land. They are well organised, enthusiastic, hard working and community spirited, all qualities admired by The Dulwich Society. They have attracted the attention of sponsors and Olympians and have successfully organised popular events. Their commitment is commendable. However, their long term viability is in doubt, as a solution to the disuse of this important plot is urgently sought. As a community we should prioritise allocating a long term location for these admirable young people to train for their sport.