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14 January 2009

Peter Irby takes over as Chairman

I am very honoured to have been elected as Chairman of the Forest Hill Society for the next year, writes Peter Irby. Michael Abrahams has done an excellent job for the last 2 years and I'm delighted that he has agreed to be the Vice Chair.

I have lived in Forest Hill for twenty-two years. My wife and I have two grown-up children - who live at home - and a cat. There are many reasons we enjoy living here; the green spaces, the Horniman Museum on our doorstep and a transport system which is, on the whole, excellent. I’m a great fan of the P4 bus as anyone on the Society’s Executive Committee will testify.

Before I retired eighteen months ago, I worked for The New York Times, based in London, as an advertising salesman. Before that, I spent seventeen years in the Army, in the Royal Green Jackets.

Apart from my family, my main interests are Chelsea Football Club which I’ve supported for fifty-five years and model railways.

So how do I see my new role as Chairman of the Forest Hill Society? My main priorities are to give guidance and to establish good relations with other local groups and individuals whose aim is to make Forest Hill a better place in which to live and shop.

Unfortunately, Forest Hill has one big problem. We are divided into four pieces by the South Circular Road and the railway line. This makes it very difficult to establish a vibrant town centre. However, if all members make it their duty to talk up Forest Hill, we will be closer to achieving this aim. There is too much negative talk about the area on some of the local web sites with people hiding behind anonymous names. Let's be positive!

The Society has made a good deal of difference already in the two short years of our existence, especially in securing our railway services. Looking ahead, I’m keen that we continue to push for improvements to Forest Hill station such as securing a new entrance to Platform 2 via the Perry Vale car park. We will continue to lobby for the Sainsburys car park, owned by LBL, to allow up to two hours free parking. That gives people time to use our local shops but denies commuters from outside the area a place to leave their cars all day.

The biggest local issue is the re-building of the Pools. I have formed a Committee whose sole purpose will be to help get the Pools re-built to the satisfaction of most people who live in the Pool Catchment area. We will never be able to satisfy everybody, but let's work together and understand other people's views. The pools will be a focal point in our town centre. The longer the delay in rebuilding them, the more the Town Centre will deteriorate and local shops will be forced to close as there will not be the custom they need to keep going.

There’s a lot to do and so I hope I can count on your support. Whether it’s attending our social events, delivering Newsletters, being active committee members or simply keeping an interest in local issues, our members’ contribution to the Society is highly valued. I hope I get to meet many of you over the coming year, perhaps at our monthly 23 Club meals, which I shall attend as often as time permits.

In the meantime, I can be contacted on:
peter@foresthillsociety.com

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