Poor play spoilt by “Cantonesque” antics

Epsom & Ewell FC 1-2 Oakwood, Southern Combination League – Division One. Saturday 4th February 2023.

Ten weeks to the day since we last had a League contest on a Saturday and nearly five since we had a match of any kind, we emerged from our hibernation with an absolute shocker of a performance as we lost 2-1 to Oakwood; a team we had beaten by five clear goals on their own ground in August and who were sitting in the bottom four of the table. This was our fifth defeat in a row, which represents our worst run of form since 2019 and our first defeat on this date since 1995 after six previous straight wins.

Unfortunately, this awful performance is only one half of the story as our club’s name was sullied further by a frightening incident at half time when one of our players chose to leave the field of play to “have it out” with a spectator, who just happened to be the father of our goalkeeper Kamrun Zain. He was then promptly and correctly sent off by the referee whilst both were actually standing in the main body of terracing on the clubhouse side of the ground; a quite bizarre sequence of events quite unprecedented in our club’s history.

But back to the start. The club had heralded the arrival of three players in the last few days, yet none of them were in the squad, while our Coach Jack Porter was named as one of the subs, which, with no offence to Jack, usually happens when we are short. The irony here was that only one man actually made his debut in the starting eleven, Thompson Adeyemi and the club hadn’t ever mentioned him joining! Our Manager Anthony Jupp was unavoidably absent for this match so Matt Chapman and Kevin Espinosa took charge in the dugout.

Despite our healthy league position and the fact that we had been without competitive football for so long, only 84 were present on a perfect day for football and it was a shame that there was so little of it on display. The club described the figure in their brief report as “good”, but on a day when mid table Selsey registered 192, and with title rivals Shoreham getting 182 at home the week before, I would beg to differ. We were missing our main striker Jamie Byatt, Ben Bauchop and Johnny “Sonic” Akoto while Ryan Smith took over the armband, following the departure of Brad Peters to Step Five Broadbridge Heath, where according to our Chairman’s programme notes he is now playing Step Four football! There was no Josh Alder to take Byatt’s place after he joined Alfold and so Josh Owen took on the central striker’s role.

The first half was without doubt, the worst forty-five minutes supporters will have witnessed at this club this season as we failed to impose ourselves in any way against a team that were extremely limited in their ambitions at first, and understandably so, following our August win and a 6-0 drubbing last time they visited us. However, it became apparent after around fifteen minutes that we were only able to play one way; sideways, followed by balls down the flanks to either Athan Smith-Joseph or Jaevon Dyer, both of whom failed entirely to create a single delivery of note for Owen. With few other midfielders appearing willing to join the attacks, they were seen off with relative comfort.

Nick Wilson sent a powerful shot over the bar after Dyer’s pull back to the edge of the area, but in the 23rd minute the visitors took the lead from a completely innocuous free kick way out on their left flank. The ball in looked like it would reach Zain, but Adil Raman nipped in front and poked the ball past our keeper from eight yards. Whose fault was this? It’s hard to know for certain, but the absence of the commanding presence of Peters was instantly noticed as no one took charge of the situation and we paid for it.

This was concerning. Neither team had really looked like scoring to this point and it was a horribly frustrating half of football to watch as passes went astray. Oakwood were no better, but for a team like ours with substantial experience of playing at a higher level it was extremely disappointing to witness nobody really taking control of the situation. The referee was also being a bit fussy by this time and Wilson and Owen both received warnings for complaining about decisions before the latter picked up a petulant yellow card for raising his boot to try and block a goal kick; the sort of thing you learn not to do in kids football.

The whistle blew for half time and the crowd began to conduct its own post-mortems. However, something was going on in the opposite corner of the ground to me. It transpired that a spectator had been loud and abusive throughout the first half, so much so that it could be heard on my side of the pitch by some spectators. Most of the abuse being given out was in the direction of Aaron Bogle, and it was from our keeper’s father who was clearly upset with some of the communication Bogle was giving to his son between the posts. As the players went off for the break it spilled over and although Bogle was originally escorted away from the area, he returned and confronted the spectator on the terracing with an altercation between them resulting right in front of a number of our supporters, some of whom feared for their safety.

Almost out of nowhere the referee appeared and he had no alternative but to send our player off for this atrocity. There is no excuse for leaving the field of play, even under provocation and we await further news of what further actions will follow, once the referee’s report is studied.

The second half commenced, quite probably with many people being completely unaware of what had actually happened while they had their half time pints! Strangely, despite being a man down we were actually better in the second half, although admittedly that wasn’t hard to achieve! Smith-Joseph was much more prominent in this period and was involved in most of the attacking threats we created, setting up Dyer for a low shot in the 50th minute which was just wide. A corner shortly afterwards was met by an Owen header that was well tipped over by the Oakwood Captain, Andrew Graves and then Smith-Joseph’s ball in was only punched clear to Adeyemi in space just fifteen yards out, but his powerful strike at goal flew inches over the crossbar and hit the facia of the Bernard Edwards stand instead.

Almost immediately we paid for this miss as the visitors scored a second goal, when from just short of forty yards Darrell Agyemang spotted Zain a little off his line and struck the ball over him and into the net in the 65th minute. It was a superb goal and the absolute highlight of a match of such low quality. In response, we threw on Musa Beegun for his debut and Gavin Quintyne and in the 76th minute we had a goal back as Beegun and Dyer linked well before threading the ball to the advanced Gideon Acheampong. His deep cross caught Graves out and looked like it may go in on its own, but the ball was bundled over the line by Smith-Joseph who admitted after the match that it may have gone in off his arm!

Our winger almost scored again after a wild defensive pass went straight to him in the 86th minute, but his shot was well blocked and cleared. The Oakwood bench made it quite clear to their player what they thought of the wayward pass as it had nearly cost them two points, but apart from a late Wilson header that just missed the far post, we were all out of ideas and Oakwood claimed all three points to give them an excellent chance of escaping relegation.

I wrote after the Chessington defeat that we had worked hard to get up the League, but that another poor performance would not receive such a forgiving report. Quite simply this one was completely unacceptable to our extremely patient supporters and bearing in mind that our visitors are one of many clubs in this league without a playing budget, our players should be handing their wages back after this one. There was not a single redeemable feature to take from this match, yet worryingly, this was not the worst part of the day.

So what happens now? Well, for starters I can advise that our keeper has chosen to leave the club, as a screenshot of his message saying so was put out on social media in the last 24 hours. Maybe this is not a surprise, but either way, our Manager will have his hands full finding replacements in time for our trip to Hailsham Town next weekend. Be clear of one thing though. Promotion from the play offs is not the biggest disaster, particularly as Shoreham are now way clear of us at the top. However, further performances like this one will see us start to slip out of the playoff positions, which would not be acceptable to supporters.

What happens to Aaron Bogle is less clear as I write this some twenty-four hours after the event. Our club have belatedly put out a statement advising that the incident was unacceptable and will be dealt with accordingly. You would therefore draw the conclusion from this that he is to be released, but it is bizarre in the extreme that this hasn’t happened yet. It is easy to think back to December 2021 when the club’s decision to release Alex Penfold was publicised within a couple of hours of that match being abandoned, yet in my opinion, this Cantona-esque episode was worse and can only result in his release and subsequent long period of reflection from the sidelines. Concerningly, and as evidence of the club’s disjointed Media policy, there is no appearance of the statement on the club’s “official” website, and literally just one sentence in its match report covering the half time fracas, almost as if the club want to bury things and pretend they didn’t exist. Our club seem quite simply unable to grasp the situation and the number of times they have “read the room” wrongly is embarrassing in the two and a half years since the “new regime” and its new culture came in.

At a time when our club is about to ask for help from its supporter base with reference to its plans for the Hook Road Arena sporting hub, this club cannot afford to have such a situation hanging over it. Supporters at the game genuinely feared for their safety and I have had a number contacting me to express their disgust and explaining how the matter could have been handled better. Rather oddly I have also seen one occasional supporter has commented along the lines that the club could do no more at this time than to issue what was a vague and poorly written statement. That is their opinion, but I vehemently disagree with it. The Surrey FA will be watching and waiting for an extremely quick response here as charges will surely follow and our club’s reputation needs to be protected. We need to be doing something and should have done this already.

This horrible incident at what tries to portray itself as a family and community club could and should have been prevented by its officials. Committee members advised supporters that they had not heard the extremely loud abuse going on during the first half, but this is hard to believe as evidenced by people hearing it across the other side of the ground. Then, when it all happened, the player was removed from the area rapidly enough, but the supporter was not. In fact, he then wandered to the other side of the pitch. The person concerned was finally escorted from the ground by our Vice-Chairman Barry Gartell midway through the second half, but the moment he walked away from the entrance, the supporter just walked back in and watched the remainder of the match.

Epsom & Ewell: Kamrun Zain, Gideon Acheampong, Kevin Moreno-Gomez, Ryan Smith (c), Oliver Thompson, Aaron Bogle, Jaevon Dyer, Nick Wilson, Josh Owen, Thompson Adeyemi, Athan Smith-Joseph

Subs: Musa Beegun for Adeyemi (72), Gavin Quintyne for Owen (72)

Epsom College Head, husband and child found dead

Epsom College

In the early hours of Sunday morning 5th February, Surrey Police was contacted by the South East Coast Ambulance Service to a property on the grounds of Epsom College. Officers attended at around 01:10am where they, sadly, found the bodies of three people, including a child.

Surrey Police can confirm that the bodies found were Emma Pattison (45), Head of Epsom College, her daughter Lettie (7), and her husband George (39). The family’s next of kins have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers. We ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

An investigation is being carried out to establish the circumstances of their deaths. At this stage, police are confident that this is an isolated incident with no third-party involvement.

Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said, “On behalf of Surrey Police, my team, and I, I first want to express my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Emma, Lettie and George, as well as to the students and staff of Epsom College, for their tragic loss. I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place last night, and hope to be able to bring some peace in these traumatic circumstances. I would ask that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”

Inspector Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell’s Borough Commander, said: “We’re aware that this tragic incident will have caused concern and upset in the local community. While this is believed to be an isolated incident, in the coming days, our local officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance to students, parents, teachers, and the local community. I would like to thank the school and the community for their understanding and patience while the investigation continues.”

The three deaths have been reported to the Coroner.

Dr Alastair Wells, Chair of the Board of Governors at Epsom College, said, “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news. Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career. Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family. But for now, we ask that we are all given the time, space and respect we need to come to terms with this tragic loss.”

There is currently a significant police presence at the location, and the surrounding area, and we would like to thank the local community for their understanding while our officers continue their investigation.

Image – Epsom College –  Copyright Naveed Barakzai/Maxal Photography, but licenced under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.5.

Local Audit meet: unexpectedly interesting…

Epsom and Ewell Town Hall

When is a question not a question? This issue was the subject of heated discussion at the 2nd February meeting of the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee. Former Stamford Ward councillor Previn Jagutpal, who resigned his seat in December, used the council’s procedures to ask a question at the start of the meeting: “When an outside agency such as … the Local Government Ombudsman [LGO] makes a determination about the functioning of this council, what is the process for the Chair of Scrutiny … to be informed?”

The chair, Cllr. Steve Bridger (RA, Stamford Ward), referred the question to a legal officer attending the meeting. “I believe the process,” the officer reported, “is that there’s going to be an annual report which will come to the committee which reports on any decisions made by the Ombudsman.”

Invited to ask a supplementary question, Mr. Jagutpal, then asked the Chair if he was “satisfied that all communications from outside agencies such as … the LGO in your 4 years as Chairman of this committee have followed that process and you have been informed of all such decisions?”

The Chair was again prompted. “You will receive a written answer in due course,” he said.

Mr. Jagutpal then requested to ask a second question. However, the officer ruled that his supplementary question was his second question. Mr Jagutpal argued that, according to the council’s constitution, a question followed by a supplementary question is one question, then a second question may be asked. But the officer responded that “You have asked a second question. There are no further questions we can answer tonight.”

“Are you going to deny me my constitutional right?” Mr Jagutpal asked angrily. “As far as tonight, that’s it in terms of questions,” ruled the officer and Mr. Jagutpal left the council chamber.

Cllr. David Gulland (Lib Dem, College Ward) wanted to discuss the matter further “Obviously that question and the answers raised further questions in many of our minds,” he said and asked if the committee could discuss the matter.

Another pause from the chair was followed by “No, we continue with the agenda.”

But Cllr Gulland was not so easily put off. During the course of the evening he asked many other questions relating to the information being provided to the Committee and the Council’s internal processes. But he left his most damning speech for the final agenda item.

“Under the constitution,” he argued, “the monitoring officer is meant to report to all councillors on any breach of regulation or of data protection or where the ombudsman has reported it to us … I had to go and look for it, [but] I’ve found the letter of 20th July 2022 from the ombudsman to our interim chief executive, a public document, [which says that] ‘during the year your council failed to respond in time to our correspondence during three investigations. On each occasion, we had to escalate the matter internally and were forced to consider issuing a witness summons and a public report for non-compliance. Such delays in our investigation undermine our role and can result in further distress to complainants.’

“There’s a big elephant in the room,” Cllr. Gulland continued, “that our processes are not working and, more importantly, this committee has not been told about that. I would welcome comments from the chairman or the officer about my comments on the ombudsman and also about data protection issues.”

Again, it was the officer who responded. “You are referring to an old letter from the ombudsman,” he said, the letter being barely more than six months old. “I’m very happy to look into that. We’ll come back to you on issues about data protection.”

The July 2022 letter from the LGO acknowledges the challenges faced by local councils coping with pandemic working practices and the impact on services. The LGO seeks to encourage and assist EEBC in improving its procedures.

Meanwhile, members of the public and possibly even members of the committee may remain in the dark about possible breaches of regulations.

When is a question not a question? You decide. These are the relevant paragraphs from the council’s constitution:

1.9 At the Meeting the Chair/Chairman will ask the questioner if the response

answers their concern or if they wish to ask one supplementary question. If a

supplementary question is asked, it must arise from the reply given.

1.11 If a member of the public asks or wishes to ask more than one question, their

second question (written or oral) shall be taken after all other individuals who

wish to ask a question have been given the opportunity to do so.

Related Reports:

Man wrongly labelled ‘vexatious complainant’ by Epsom and Ewell Council

Camberley Bounce Back Against Spirited Sutton

Sutton and Epsom RFC in action against camberley

Sutton & Epsom RFC 26 – Camberley 50. Saturday 4th February. This fixture was scheduled for December but fell victim to the freezing weather. Camberley arrived smarting from a most unexpected defeat, only the second of their campaign, at the hands of lowly Bournemouth and were keen to return to winning ways. In contrast Sutton hoped to gain inspiration from the Chapel Gate upset and record a priceless win. After a wonderfully entertaining
encounter with a dozen tries it was the visitors who claimed the victory, but not all the plaudits, with a 50-26 success.

Image courtesy  Robin Kennedy

Liam Prescott kicked off towards the clubhouse for Camberley and S&E were soon awarded
a penalty at the breakdown. Sutton had the first opportunity to open the scoring from the line out
on the opposition 22. Rob Hegarty carried well and that began an onslaught on the opposition line.
Probing runs from George Drye and Stefan Cooksammy saw the ball move from one side of the
pitch to the other against sterling defence by their lofty opponents. Then, agonisingly, George
Owen intercepted the ball 5 metres from his line and after some juggling secured the ball and
sped away down the touchline to score the first of his hat trick of tries. Liam Prescott impressively
slotted the conversion from touch for 7-0. Undeterred by the setback Sutton stormed back and the
sidestepping Kyren Ghumra was stopped 5 metres short. The ball was quickly spun to the opposite
flank for Ollie Baptiste-Wilson to score. Freddy Bunting levelled it for 7-7. It was a mightily
impressive reply considering the deflating nature on the earlier score.

Sutton & Epsom had started impressively and had met Camberley’s first sorties were met
with resolute defence as both sides tried to assert themselves territorially with well-placed kicks.
As the end of the first quarter approached the Watchetts XV kicked a penalty into the corner. Their
lineout very efficient lineout catch and drive set up prop Adam Pickett for a try. Though Liam
Prescott failed with the conversion they had regained the lead at 12-7. This score initiated 20
minutes of stunning rugby as Camberley produced the best passage of play seen at Rugby Lane
this season or, indeed, on any of the Black & Whites’ travels this campaign.

From another attacking line out the well-oiled machine churned out another try as Dom
Sammut powered over. Liam Prescott added the extras for 19-7. If these two scores were
functional and efficient the next four were far more thrilling in their execution. As if to prove they
were not one trick ponies the next line out ball was spun wide to be to be touched down in the
corner by George Owen. Liam Prescott converted from the touchline for 26-7 and the vital bonus
point was secured. A clinical finish that was a mere hors d’oeuvres to the sumptuous feast that
was to follow. Camberley won a scrum near halfway and went left and Liam Prescott put the
runner into space as wonderfully angled running and passes were interchanged to see centre Alex
Young score. Liam Prescott bisected the uprights for 33-7. Sutton cause was not aided as they lost
Stefan Cooksammy to a dislocated shoulder. The emboldened visitors were in no mood for
sympathy and were running the ball from everywhere. A 50-metre burst from their 22 down the
left was then recycled and spun to the right as brisk well-timed passes saw try number six.
Moments later try number seven was a replica of the previous one for 43-7. The timing of the
passes, the pace and the unselfish play were breathtaking as Nick Barry scored and Alex Young
collected his second try. The only surprise was that Liam Prescott’s conversions had drifted wide.
Sutton were dealt another injury blow when winger Kyren Ghumra withdrew injured. The
rearranged back division saw Ross Parsons off the bench to 9, Austin Bell retreat to 15 and
Lawrence Elliott slot in in the centres. Meanwhile Captain Chris Farrell was press-ganged into the
backs. From adversity sprung hope as the half ended with prop Alex Mount crossing the whitewash
and Freddy Bunting converting to make the score 43-14 at the break. It had been a half of
fabulous rugby but the Rugby Lane crowd must have been a little bit concerned over their interval beverage how their emergency three-quarter unit would cope against the expected second half

The contest resumed and Sutton put on a display of rare character and courage against
their esteemed opponents and making light of adversity they threw themselves into attack in
glorious style from the first whistle. Replacement prop Joe Reid was added to the mix and Sutton
won a penalty from the scrum they had been awarded from the restart. Ross Parsons took it
quickly and broke down field as excellent support play saw Josh Glanville score. Freddy Bunting
made it 21-43 for a perfect start to the second half for the hosts. Both sides threw caution to the
wind confident in their ability to add to their tally of tries. It was breathless stuff with S&E with
limited possession not only resolute in defence but attacking with panache at every opportunity.
The hosts secured a bonus point with their own catch and drive try that saw George Drye touch
down which was a deserved reward for a superb display by the lock forward. The only blemish
was a rare miss from Freddy Bunting as the Black & Whites now trailed 26-43.

Camberley attempted to reassert their scoreboard superiority but the Rugby Lane team
was emboldened by their tries and were now formidable in defence. Ross Parsons and Chris Farrell
in quick succession stopped the visitors near the line. S&E withstood a 5-metre catch and drive
and turned the ball over on the line. The siege was lifted and Sutton returned to the front foot
seeking another score. Indeed, it took until the final play of the game for the Black & White line to
be breached. It needed a deft piece of skill by Liam Prescott to deflect the pass under pressure to
George Owen who squeezed in at the corner to complete his hat trick. The redoubtable Prescott
converted from touch and Mr Powdrell concluded proceedings with Camberley 50-26 winners.
The visitors were excellent from 1 to 15, they not only had power and pace but clinical
precision exploiting every overlap in a thrilling display of 15-man rugby. However, by keeping
Camberley to a solitary second half try in the final moment was a measure of the quality, character
and determination of S&E’s performance in the second period. Making light of the mitigating
circumstances of the injuries they again showed at Rugby Lane they are a XV that plays well
above their lowly position in the table.

Next Saturday S&E host local rivals Wimbledon who are on the crest of a wave having won
every game this season following an opening day blip against Camberley. Having not being
inconvenienced by the elements they sit on top of the table with the handsome advantage of
points secured on the board. At Barham Road in the reverse fixture against S&E the Dons were
41-10 winners despite a very spirited display by the Black & Whites. The match will kick off at
Rugby Lane at 2:30pm.

Sutton & Epsom
Lawrence Elliott, Ollie Baptiste-Wilson, Sam Hurley, Stefan Cooksammy, Kyren Ghumra, Freddy
Bunting, Austin Bell, Alex Mount, Chris Farrell ©, Will Lloyd, George Drye, Josh Glanville, George
London, Rob Hegarty & Tom Brooker.
Replacements: (all used) Joe Reid, Tom French & Ross Parsons.

Victor Hardwicke, Max McCarthy, Alex Young, Jaid Wiltshire, George Owen, Liam Prescott, Alistair
Walton, Adam Pickett, Michael Clarke, Nicholas Barry, Sam Voight, Dom Sammut, Ed Grosvenor,
Chris Bird ©, Alex Hughes.
Replacements: (all used)
George Franzel, Josh Watson & Joseph Wood.

Surrey celebrates LGBTQ+ month

Ella Guru's painting of Quentin Crisp

Surrey History Centre celebrates the February LGBTQ+ month with, among many others, the story of local born Quentin Crisp, who attended Kingswood School in Epsom. Born in Sutton and named Denis Charles Pratt in 1908, he changed his name in his twenties, had a colourful and controversial career and died in 1999.

I started to wear make-up because it was necessary for me to live out my life getting up, going to work, buying food and going home again, so that someone could be seen to be homosexual and to be part of life.”

This quote, following the screening of his acclaimed work The Naked Civil Servant, encompasses Quentin Crisp’s attitude to his appearance and homosexuality – it was vital to his individuality, something on which he refused to compromise.

Throughout his life Crisp was a controversial figure; within the gay community he was not liked by everyone.  However, his contribution to the gradual acceptance of openly gay men is universally acknowledged.

Early Years

Born Denis Charles Pratt in 1908 in Sutton, then part of Surrey, he was the fourth child of Charles and Frances Pratt, a solicitor and a former governess.

Attending Kingswood Preparatory School in Epsom, Crisp was mercilessly teased for his effeminate behaviour. In 1922, he won a scholarship to Denstone College, near Uttoxeter, and on leaving in 1926, studied journalism at King’s College London.  Failing to graduate, he then took art classes at the Regent Street Polytechnic.

Leaving home to move to central London at the end of 1930, Crisp adopted his new name and cultivated an effeminate appearance that shocked many and provoked homophobic attacks.

Crisp attempted to join the army at the outbreak of the Second World War but was rejected and declared exempt by the medical board on the grounds that he was ‘suffering from sexual perversion’. He left his job as engineer’s tracer in 1942 to become a model in life classes in London and the Home Counties. He continued posing for artists into the 1970s. “It was like being a civil servant,” he explained in his autobiography, “except that you were naked.

Fame, acceptance and America

Crisp became a gay icon after the publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant (1968), brought his exhibitionism and refusal to remain in the closet to the attention of the general public.  In 1975, a film adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant was broadcast on British and American television making both actor John Hurt and Crisp household names.  Crisp declared himself one of the great stately homos of England.

Afterwards Crisp developed a one-man speaking show that toured Britain but he still felt like an outsider. In 1981, Crisp moved to New York where, experiencing a fuller sense of social acceptance, he continued his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp.

During his extraordinary life Crisp wrote a number of influential, controversial and provocative works, and acted in a variety of television dramas, films and stage plays, the last being the film Orlando with actress Tilda Swinton.

Just short of his 91st birthday, Quentin Crisp died in November 1999, in Manchester on the eve of a nationwide revival of his show.  With a minimum of ceremony his body was cremated and his ashes flown back to the US and scattered across his beloved Manhattan………. “

You can read more of this story and others from the Surrey History Centre HERE and use its interactive map to find out about the lives of gay figures who lived or had connections with the County of Surrey.

Courtesy Surrey History Centre

Image – painting by Ella Guru of Quentin Crisp – creative common licence

Don’t blame us for potholes say Surrey’s highway authority.

Pothole in Woodcote Road Epsom

The state of Surrey’s roads is “no fault of the county council” its cabinet has heard, as councillors vowed to put more pressure on central government for highways funding. In what the council’s leader called “pothole season”, the problems facing the repair of the county’s roads were set out at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on Tuesday (January 31).

Approving the budget for the next year, ahead of full council voting on it, cabinet agreed a 2.99 per cent increase to the authority’s council tax share, or 94p per week for residents. This will be alongside any increases to come from Surrey’s 11 districts and boroughs and a proposed £15 increase per year for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Cabinet members agreed a final budget for the council in 2023/24 of £1.1billion, an increase of £61.4m from 2022/23. The council tax increase will be made up of a 0.99 per cent increase in the core council tax and a 2 per cent increase in portion that is spend on adult social care.

In terms of the budget for roads in Surrey in 2023/24, the meeting heard that the budget was being set in the context of “hyper-inflation”, seeing an increase in the cost of bitumen of nearly 30 per cent over the past year.
Councillor John O’Reilly (Conservative, Hersham), chairman of the communities, environment and highways select committee, pointed to three central government cabinet ministers being Conservative MPs, including the chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey.

He said he hoped a central government review into highways funding was carried out earlier than next year, adding: “The state of our roads, through no fault of this council, do require not just pothole filling but resurfacing.” Cllr O’Reilly told the meeting: “I’m sure we’ll put as much of our influence as we possibly can on central government to address these issues of funding for highways, particularly potholes.”

Speaking before the meeting, Cllr Tim Oliver (Conservative, Weybridge), the council’s leader, said despite seeing more traffic than other areas, the county council got the same level of funding from central government. He said the potholes were a national problem, made worse at this time of year by the freezing weather in what he called “pothole season”. But he added that additional investment from the council had paid off and led to fewer potholes, with 32,000 being filled last year compared to 75,000 the year before.

He told the LDRS: “We need the government to give us some one-off money for potholes.”

Council will meet to approve the budget in full on Tuesday (February 7).

Related Reports:

Going potty about pot-holes?

Surrey County Council proposes 2023/24 budget

Senior local Councillor slams Surrey’s budget consultation

One more Titanic plus another sinking survivor

Mary Roberts grave in Ewell's St Marys

Following Epsom and Ewell Times story on George Pelham, who survived the Titanic disaster and another ship sinking, local writer and historian Martin Knight tells us the story of another Titanic double-sinking survivor, buried in our Borough:

Few will be aware of Ewell’s connection to the most famous maritime disaster of all time in which 1,514 people perished on RMS Titanic. Mary Kezia Humphries was born in Liverpool in 1870. In 1912 she was living in Nottingham with her husband David Roberts, who was the proprietor of the West Bridgford Motor Company. Mary joined the historic ship as a stewardess in 1st class and was rescued in lifeboat 11 as the boat was swallowed by the North Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg on the night of 15 April 1912.

 Her husband and children experienced a torrid few days without knowing whether Mary had survived the tragedy or not and it was only after she was deposited by the Carpathian in New York that word finally reached home. However, the experience did not deter Mary from going back to sea, and in 1914 she was working again aboard the Rohilla when that ship went down in the North Sea. Mary told her family that the rescue from the Rohilla, a ship that was built in Belfast by Harland & Wolf like the Titanic, was a far more frightening ordeal than the one two years earlier. The sea was eerily calm when the Titanic sunk and if you were lucky enough to get into a lifeboat you were relatively safe but conditions were far more treacherous with the Rohilla. Eighty-five lives were lost. Mary is thought to be the only survivor of both disasters.

 At some point Mary and David opted for a quieter life and settled in Ewell. Mary died in 1932 and her husband David was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident just a year later. They are buried together along with their daughters Daisy Bell and Kezia Nora in St Mary’s Churchyard.

Related stories

Epsom’s Titanic Ties

No Crawleys for Surrey’s Downton Abbeys

Headley Court

A lack of “Downton Abbey” type families to occupy abandoned mansions led to 112 homes at Headley Court (near Epsom) get the green light last night. The Mole Valley green belt site has previously been used by the Ministry of Defence,  Help for Heroes and as a covid testing centre. It could now be turned  into 12 two-bed homes within the converted mansion, with further 97 two-bed homes and three one-bed residents on the grounds.

Image: Headley Court mansion: Graham Harrison MoD

They were approved by a vote of 12 in favour and zero against. with three abstentions, by Mole Valley’s Development Management Committee on Wednesday, February 1. Attached to the approval was a list of conditions, including that homes should only go to people aged over 60 and assessed as requiring a care package, to make a publicly accessible restaurant and library available on site, as well as to agree to a travel plan.
The travel plan would include an on-call bus service and car club. 

The green belt site does not require special circumstances as it is considered to be previously developed land, the committee heard. There is currently an ongoing appeal of a previously rejected planning application on the site, due to be heard in May, and a decision on whether to pursue that matter will be taken in due course by developers Audley Group.

Questions raised during the meeting surrounded public access, environmental protection matters and parking, with Councillor Tim Hall, who abstained in the vote, saying the plans were “not quite there” particularly as the current bus to the site only ran once every two hours.

The meeting began with chair Cllr David Preedy announcing an interest in the matter and leaving the chamber. As a ward member, a letter was read on his behalf where he highlighted issues of parking while deputy Rosemary Hobbs oversaw the discussion.

The site was formerly part of a larger parcel of land that had used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from the 1950s to 2018 and since subdivided and sold to different owners. The  mansion house has been vacant since the departure of the MoD with the Jubilee Complex gardens used by the NHS and Surrey County Council during the pandemic.

Cllr Helyn Clack said: “We’ve been through a lot of papers for Headley Court  and a lot of changes.
“It’s a very historic site not just in its past but the very recent past. Its held very dearly in the heart of residents across the whole of mv and wider still because of the work that it did for Help for Heroes, the Afghanistan war and also what it has done more recently supporting the NHS throughout the pandemic. Across the whole of Mole Valley there are lots, particularly in rural areas, of large country houses originally built in the late 19th century or 18th century,  and then become completely unable to be used for their original purpose. You see them everywhere.

“We’ve had them here to discuss being converted into something where they can maintain their facial value but also be of use to the community going forward. We certainly wouldn’t want to see Headley Court left unoccupied or abandoned and people who want to go visit it are going to be able to do so in this plan.  The fact that hundreds, maybe thousands of people will visit this site when it’s finished – it will be a memorial site, not just to the veterans who were mended here but also to the pandemic.”

She added that she was banking on the new residents demanding and setting up their own residents association
Cllr Clack said: “We don’t still have the sort of Downton Abbey type families anymore who can run these huge estates. It’s a shame the MOD pulled out, it was a wonderfully loved site.”

She had trust in the planning regulations to deliver on what they were asking for and to not let that not fall by the wayside because it’s ‘too difficult to do’.

A further item on the agenda, to grant listed building consent to develop the site, was approved unanimously.

A sign of no signs to come on ULEZ?

Traffic jam

Surrey councillors say they could stop TfL (Transport for London) putting signs on the county’s roads ahead of the planned ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) expansion. Surrey County Council’s leader said the authority would “stand its corner” on the expansion “blindly going ahead” as he called for more conversation between the London Mayor’s office and the authority.

The ULEZ sees drivers of certain cars charged £12.50 per day to enter it, and is currently in place in central London where Transport for London (TfL) claims there has been a reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half.
The zone is set to cover all of greater London from August, meaning it will border Surrey in council areas such as Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, and Spelthorne.

But Councillor Matt Furniss (Conservative, Shalford), the county council’s cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and growth, told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (January 31) that TfL would need a legal agreement with the council to put anything on the county’s roads.

Cllr Furniss said he had written to the Mayor of London and TfL, setting out the council’s “absolute disappointment” that the plan would go ahead without “meaningful conversation” on how Surrey residents would be affected. He said he had told officers to stop any discussions on the location of signs on the county’s roads until “a grown up conversation has happened between the two authorities on mitigating the disruption and the financial cost to Surrey residents.”

The council’s leader, Cllr Tim Oliver (Conservative, Weybridge), said “any conversation would be a good start” claiming there had been “no dialogue at all”. He told the meeting: “We do have the legal opportunity to prevent the Mayor of London putting signage on our highways and we will forcefully make that point to them. We will stand our corner on this.”

Surrey’s councils were given the chance to respond to a consultation on the ULEZ expansion in 2022, with Elmbridge, Tandridge and Spelthorne, among others, submitting responses. They called variously for a delay to the expansion, an expansion of the scrappage scheme offered to London residents to include Surrey car owners and the expansion of the zone 6 Oyster card zone.

Cllr Furniss said the county council had put forward ten points to TfL that should be considered if the scheme were to go ahead. These included exemptions for taxis and key workers, corridors to NHS facilities near the border and extensions to public transport into Surrey, among others.

The expansion is due to come into place from August 29 this year.

Related reports:

ULEZ will come to Epsom and Ewell borders

Yet more on ULEZ….

More on Epsom and Ewell and Surrey and ULEZ

Council’s last minute opposition to ULEZ extension.

Surrey County Council proposes 2023/24 budget

Council tax pie chart for Epsom

Surrey County Council is planning to restrict a rise in Council Tax to 2.99% in the current budget plans for 2023/24. The council’s Cabinet agreed the draft budget today outlining the planned rise, which is lower than the vast majority of other councils in the UK and far lower than the rate of inflation.

Surrey County Council spends just over £1bn a year on delivering vital services such as Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, maintaining roads and pavements, Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, libraries, countryside management and public health.

Image: council tax pie chart: EEBC 2022/2023

The budget also outlines the council’s five-year capital investment plan that will deliver more school places and improved school buildings, increased support for children with additional needs, road improvements, big infrastructure projects like in Farnham town centre, the River Thames flood defence scheme, grant funding community projects and increasing recycling capacity across Surrey.

Tim Oliver, Leader of the Council, (Conservative) said: “This budget is about protecting the services that the people of Surrey rely on, while being mindful of the huge pressures household budgets are under at the moment. The rise in the cost of living, inflation and interest rates have all impacted the council as an organisation, as well as our residents. Everything we do has simply become more expensive to deliver. However, we have worked hard over the last five years to ensure our finances are in a solid and stable state.

“We think it is important to only levy the absolute minimum we need to meet increased costs, in order to protect the money in people’s pockets as much as possible. “We are making the decision to face this financial challenge in the fairest way possible, balancing our needs and ambitions with the immediate cost of living impact on our residents.”

The budget will go before a Full Council meeting on Tuesday 7 February to be ratified.

The full details of the proposed 2023/24 budget can be found here.


This list shows the Council’s budget plan for next year by each service area, and an indication of how much that is in terms of average Council Tax*.

Adult Social Care – Looking after people with disabilities, severe needs, and as they get older.

£439.7m per year (That is equivalent of £668.66 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Public Service Reform & Public Health – Working closely with our NHS partners to help people live healthier lives and keep them safe and well.

£36.6m per year (That is equivalent of £55.66 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Children, Families & Lifelong Learning – Giving young people the best start in life, with additional care for those who need it and supporting education providers.

£254.8m per year (That is equivalent of £387.48 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Environment, Transport & Infrastructure – Improving our roads and public transport, managing our countryside, and tackling the climate emergency.

£152.8m per year (That is equivalent of £232.37 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service – Keeping residents safe and responding to emergencies

£38.7m per year (That is equivalent of £58.85 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Customer and Communities – Helping local communities thrive, providing libraries, registrations, customer services and funding grants.

£18.9m per year (That is equivalent of £28.74 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Prosperity, Partnerships and Growth – Working with businesses and other partners to help grow Surrey’s local economy

£1.6m per year (That is equivalent of £2.43 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Communications, Public Affairs & Engagement – Making sure residents are well informed, can access services, and that Surrey’s collective voice is heard.

£2.2m per year (That is equivalent of £3.35 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Resources – Things like Surrey Crisis Fund, school meal provision, administrative support, IT, legal services, and management of council buildings to keep services running smoothly.

£79.3m per year (That is equivalent of £120.59 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

Central Income and Expenditure – Putting money into savings to help protect services in future, and repayments on borrowing used for our investment programme

£76.9m per year (That is equivalent of £116.94 of annual Council Tax for a Band D property)

*For illustrative purposes, this represents the total budget split by the Band D council tax value. Some areas are funded by specific restricted grants, which are not reflected here. This is the County Council’s Band D figures only and does not include amounts raised by District & Borough Councils, Surrey Police or Parish Councils.

Surrey County Council news service.

Related Reports:

Senior local Councillor slams Surrey’s budget consultation

Budget Report: More council tax for Epsom and Ewell

Great expectations on Surrey’s tax?

Banding against Surrey’s top value homes?

Balancing the Borough’s Books