Another Surrey Local Plan Pauses

Office workers bored at their computer desks

The towns, villages, and open spaces that will take the brunt of Surrey Heath Borough Council’s 6,000 new homes will be kept under wraps a little longer after the local authority kicked its housing plan into touch.

It is the second time this year the council has paused its local plan after announcing in February it would hold off until after housing secretary Michael Gove’s long-rumoured but never seen planning changes take effect.

Now the council is blaming the “economic climate” and the need to develop a strategy for Camberley town centre – which has been hit by the £79 million loss in value of the Camberley Square and House of Fraser sites.

It has said it will now “review the timetable for the remaining stages of the Local Plan process, known as the Local Development Scheme”.

Surrey Heath Portfolio Holder for sustainable transport and planning, Councillor Alan Ashbery said: “The council is committed to delivering the best local plan for our residents, while giving maximum protection to our highly valued green belt and special protection areas.   

“Given the current economic climate, more time is required to review key policies and undertake further work to support the development in Camberley town centre.  Once these important pieces of work have been completed, a new local development scheme will be published. This will set out dates for the remaining stages of the process, including publication details prior to submission to the Secretary of State.” 

The original draft in February was to deliver  6,213 homes up to the year 2038 – with more than 1,000 lined up for green belt sites. That left 2,700 homes, once those that had already been granted planning permission but had yet to be built were discounted.

The council’s draft outlined were housing could be built – this includes employment, commercial, recreation and green spaces and was drawn up following consultation with residents and businesses in 2022.

After the February delay, it was due to submit a final draft for consideration in November 2023 but this has now been delayed again, the council said, to allow further work to be carried out.

Related reports:

Gove: meddling and muddled over Surrey Local Plans?

Land, plan and a scam mess for Tandridge

Gove flexing his muscle on a Local Plan?

Spelthorne’s neediest lose out on housing

Motion to pause Local Plan process (Epsom and Ewell)

Image: ffaalumni CC by ND 2

Gove: meddling and muddled over Surrey Local Plans?

Spelthorne Council leader and Michael Gove

Michael Gove is a Surrey MP and the Cabinet Minister in charge of housing and planning. The progress of Local Plans across the County are in disarray. Local Plans set the framework for each Surrey Borough’s planning policies, including housing, for years to come. The Independent Leader of Spelthorne Council in Surrey has taken on Gove in a fierce letter exposing the muddle in the Central Government’s position. The draft Local Plan for Epsom and Ewell has been paused. Emily Coady-Stemp reports:

The risk of flooding in Staines has been labelled a “major concern” by the council’s leader, as she has hit back at a government intervention in planning for homes in the borough.

A last-minute intervention ahead of a key meeting meeting this month saw a letter sent to the council saying Michael Gove directed the council not to withdraw its local plan.

The council nonetheless voted to pause its plan again, a move since approved by the government inspector allocated to it, and a response has been sent to the housing minister.

Councillor Joanne Sexton (Independent Spelthorne Group, Ashford East) said the authority, where she became leader after local elections in May 2023, had been preparing its plan for 9,000 homes in the borough through “an unprecedented period of instability in the planning system”.

She said during this time “major reforms” were being proposed by central government “which seem to change with the wind”.

Her letter to housing minister Rachel Maclean said the option of withdrawing the local plan was put forward at a meeting of the full council on Thursday September 14 because this may be a quicker way to get a plan through, rather than carry on with examination of the current draft.

Hearings into the plan started in May this year, but were paused in June while the council brought new members up to speed. Opening hearings heard concerns about the impact that putting more than half of the new planned homes in Staines would have on the market town.

Cllr Sexton said in her letter: “I, along with local members, also have a major concern in relation to potential flood risk in Staines which is where over 50 per cent of our new homes are planned to be provided.” She said an outstanding statement of common ground from the Environment Agency on flooding concerns could still end up being “a key issue of soundness”, the term inspectors use to say if they think a plan will or won’t work. She also asked why a timeline for policy changes that are due from central government has still not been published.

Cllr Sexton attached a list of more than 60 local planning authorities that have now paused or withdrawn their local plans “as a result of this chaos and mixed messaging”. She asked if the minister was “mistaken” when she declared in her letter that Spelthorne would be left with one of the oldest local plans in the country and highlighted other areas where the Secretary of State had not intervened, including in Basildon and Castle Point.

On Spelthorne not being left with one of the oldest plans in the country, Cllr Sexton asked: “If you concede this point, does it follow that you should rescind the intervention or is it your intention to intervene in the other councils with plans older than 2009?”

The local plan is the latest in Surrey to run into issues, with Tandridge set to put an end to its plan despite having spent £3.5m on it, and having first submitted it to government in 2019.

Cllr Sexton “took issue” with the last-minute nature of the letter from government, which came less than four hours before the meeting took place. She said: “This is completely unreasonable and unacceptable. At the very least you could have formally advised us earlier that you were minded to intervene so that we would have had the opportunity to understand and respond to your concerns ahead of the council meeting.”

She said the council would seek further legal advice on the intervention, and would send a “more detailed formal response” on the intervention in due course.

Referring to what she called a “total disparity” in the approach, Cllr Sexton also referred to a letter sent in April to Kwasi Kwarteng, Spelthorne’s MP.

In that letter, Ms Maclean said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was unable to discuss the details of Spelthorne’s plan in order for the examination of the plan to “remain fully independent”.

Cllr Sexton said: “You are saying that you are unable to discuss the plan, but can unceremoniously intervene and stop the council deciding their own fate regarding the plan? Can you please explain the total disparity here?”

In his response agreeing to a further pause, the inspector, Jameson Bridgwater, asked the council to address issues he had raised at the hearings  “in particular flood risk and its potential implications” on sites where homes may be built.

Related reports:

Land, plan and a scam mess for Tandridge

Gove flexing his muscle on a Local Plan?

Spelthorne’s neediest lose out on housing

Motion to pause Local Plan process (Epsom and Ewell)

Image: Joanne Sexton Leader of Spelthorne Borough Council, (Ashford East), at the council building in Knowle Green, Staines. Credit: Emily Coady-Stemp and Michael Gove.

Land, plan and a scam mess for Tandridge

Catherine Sayer Tandridge District Council leader. Image credit Darren Pepe/Surrey Live. Cleared for use by LDRS partners.

A land scam, £3.5million spent and residents being “ignored” have come to a head as a district council finally looks set to call an end to its 6,000-home local plan.

As well as uneven development between the north and south of Tandridge, councillors raised concerns about the draft plan not looking enough at necessary infrastructure.

After a drawn-out process including hearings in public, the abandoned garden village planned for Godstone and terse public exchanges with the government’s planning inspector, the council’s leader declared the plan “dead”.

A meeting of the district council’s planning policy committee on Thursday (September 21) decided to ask the inspector for a final report, despite an additional bill of around £12,000, rather than withdrawing the plan.

Of the options in front of members, the council’s leader said: “In either case, the plan is dead.”

The inspector told the council in July he did not “see a route to soundness for the local plan”, but at a meeting after that the council put forward options to find a way forward.

The local plan, which set out where and when homes will be built across the district until 2033, was submitted to government for examination in January 2019.

There was a change of administration in May 2021, when a minority administration of residents’ associations took control of the council.

The current leader, Councillor Catherine Sayer (Residents’ Alliance, Oxted North and Tandridge), said she thought the local plan system was “totally unfit for purpose”.

With a government funding bid for works to improve junction 6 of the M25 failing, central to the plans for a new garden village, she said there was “a big question mark over why the planning inspector did not end the process at that point”.

Cllr Sayer told the meeting: “In an attempt to avoid ending up with no plan at all and the threat that would mean to the green belt together with a huge waste of taxpayers’ money, we tried to salvage something.
“We proposed amendments and deleted the garden community and attempted to do whatever else the planning inspector had indicated might make the plan acceptable.”

The leader also told the meeting it was “common knowledge” that some of the green belt land planned for the garden community had been part of a land scam where more than 350 small plots were sold on an investment basis.

She said: “Most of the owners are believed to reside in India and Pakistan. To enable the garden community to go ahead, it would have been likely that the council would have needed to use its compulsory purchase powers to assemble the land.”

She said asking for a report from the inspector could “bring some kind of useful closure to what is such an unhappy and costly chapter for Tandridge District”.

Councillor Jeremy Pursehouse (Independent, Warlingham East Chelsham & Farleigh) said he was “very sad to see the demise of the garden community” which he said balanced out planned development across the north and the south of district. He said: “We can’t put everything in Warlingham and Caterham, it just doesn’t work like that. It will just make people who are living in suburban areas further away from the green of the countryside, we have to share these things around.”

He said the north of the district did not have the infrastructure for the kinds of development being looked at in the plan.

Councillor Mick Gillman (Residents’ Alliance, Burstow, Horne & Outwood) said he lived in the south of the district, which did not have the railways of the north, and described the A22 as “a car park much of the time”. He added: “It’s driven by infrastructure, and you’ve got to put a lot of money into the infrastructure in the south to get it up to speed.”

But he also highlighted his reasons he thought it was important to get a report from the inspector.
Cllr Gillman said the council owed it to residents to justify why more than £3.5m had been spent on “something that has failed”. He added: “What’s even more concerning to me is many of the reasons that the inspector flagged up were those that were flagged up by residents in the consultation process and they were ignored. And I think residents need to know that they did not get it wrong, and it was the organisation within the council that got it wrong.”

The meeting unanimously agreed to ask the inspector for a report, rather than withdrawing the plan, and will recommend this to council. Full council will debate the next steps for the plan, its next scheduled meeting is on Thursday, October 19.

Photo: Catherine Sayer Tandridge District Council leader. Image credit Darren Pepe/Surrey Live.

Bunting Boots Battersea Into Touch

Battersea v Sutton and Epsom rugby action

Sutton & Epsom 26 Battersea Ironsides 25, Saturday 23rd September. This was the first time the two clubs had ever met in a league fixture as Battersea Ironsides became league opponent number 104 at Rugby Lane on Saturday. Once more the Black & Whites were set against an unbeaten side and on this occasion they entertained the league leaders. The hosts gave a debut to fullback Luca Shaw whilst the visitors, not for the first time this campaign, made a host of changes to the squad who had downed London Cornish the previous Saturday. S&E turned the early season form guide on its head with a dramatic 26-25 victory.

After the recent torrid temperatures it was a welcome return to sensible weather that was most conducive to entertaining rugby. Freddy Bunting set the game in motion and within five minutes the Ironsides had taken the lead. A solid lineout in the 22 was followed by a penetrative carry by lock Jack Wharton before captain Stuart released the backs and winger Ben Turner applied the coup de grâce. The conversion from the flank drifted wide as Battersea led 5-0. Five minutes later and the visitors had doubled their lead. A stunning break from a ruck on halfway by blindside Raphael Arboine was snuffed out by a splendid cover tackle deep in the S&E 22 but the damage had been done. The ball was recycled and spun wide for Ben Turner to dot down once more. Another challenging conversion from Charles Stuart failed as Battersea Ironsides were 10-0 ahead in as many minutes.

The league leaders were content that the natural order was being maintained as they appeared to be on their way to a regulation bonus point victory condemning the Black & Whites to another demoralising defeat. However, perhaps there should be a pitch-side sign at Rugby Lane declaring: “BEWARE OF THE BUNTING”. An illegal side entry to a ruck offered the Sutton skipper his first shot at goal. He duly obliged to put S&E on the board at 3-10. A few minutes later he was caressing the ball through the uprights again for 6-10 to conclude the first quarter. The second penalty being awarded for a deliberate knock on after a fine break by Matt Whitaker. The men from Burntwood Lane responded as outside centre Jacob Charles carved through the home defences and with a modicum more of precision a try would have ensued. Moments later his centre partner Ben Lyons held on to the ball too long and another chance disappeared over the horizon.

The SW17 outfit’s progress was already being hampered by the regular blasts from referee Richardson’s whistle. The sight of the referee shooing back the Battersea offenders the obligatory ten metres as if they were recalcitrant hens was becoming a regular feature of the game. Almost inevitably Freddy Bunting was given another opportunity to add to his account but failed to reduce the deficit on the half hour. The hosts rang the changes with Will Lloyd replacing Callum Gibson in the front row and Jack Benton taking over from Ewan McTaggart in the second row. The remainder of the half saw more probing kicking from both XVs as if they had signed a non-aggression pact putting security ahead of ambition. In time added on, normal service was resumed as Freddy Bunting bisected the uprights for the third time as S&E trailed 9-10. There was just enough time on the clock for the visitors to also have a shot at goal. Charles Stuart kept his head and landed his penalty from near the halfway line to conclude the first period with Battersea
Ironsides 13-9 to the good.

As the sides turned around a fascinating contest was evenly poised. The early dominance of the visitors had been undermined by indiscipline as they threw around penalties like confetti and failed to heed the impassioned plea of ‘cut out the penalties’ from within their ranks. S&E grew into the game via a solid scrum and keeping it tight with the forwards carrying to good effect to counteract the threat of the Battersea backs in open play.

The Black & Whites started the second half in fine style. An early infringement saw Freddy Bunting kick to the 22. An excellent catch and drive was followed by Matt Whitaker carrying to within five metres of the line forcing a scrum to Sutton under the posts. The resilient Battersea defence held the line until Sutton were awarded a penalty try when prop Will Lloyd was illegally prevented from collecting his annual score. The hosts now led by 16-13. In adversity the Ironsides made the perfect riposte. Probing kicks from Charles Stuart pegged the hosts in their 22 and put the visitors onto the front foot. Then more incisive running by Charles Jacobs had S&E on the retreat as centre partner Ben Lyons was on hand to shrug off challengers for an excellent finish in the corner. Despite the conversion failing Charles Stuart’s side had seen the restoration of their lead as the scoreboard read 18-16 to Battersea Ironsides.

With an unpleasant echo of last Saturday’s match against Old Reigatian the opposition tries were like London buses and Battersea secured a bonus point for their fourth try a minute later. Capitalising on the bouncing ball from an up and under the Openview side tore into the Sutton 22 and scrum half Jack Moates dived over. Charles Stuart gratefully accepted the easier conversion to extend the lead to 25-16. In a blink of an eye the Rugby Lane crowd, who had been contemplating a first win of the season, were now dreading a fourth defeat on the spin. As the game entered the final quarter so the action switched to the visitors’ 22. Despite pressure and territory the hosts had to be content with another Freddy Bunting penalty to be within a score at 19-25.

With only seven minutes remaining the men in green ventured into Black & White territory and were given a penalty. Following the prevailing orthodoxy the pot at goal was declined in favour of the kick towards the corner. In hindsight, Charles Stuart’s decision might have been a tad cavalier as a successful kick would have translated to a nine-point lead. Fortune did not favour the bold as they were undone by conceding their umpteenth penalty. In time added on a collapsed scrum gave Freddy Bunting the chance to kick to the corner for S&E to have a shot at glory. There followed 5 minutes of unrelenting assault on the Battersea line, heroic defence and unbearable tension with penalties and scrums as the action concentrated under the posts. Finally, a mass of bodies slumped over the line and jubilant Sutton players thrust their arms skyward. Mr Richardson took a considered look and finally raised his arm aloft for Rob Hegarty’s try. It was left to Freddy Bunting to add the conversion that was greeted with rapturous applause and the final whistle as Sutton won 26-25.

Battersea Ironsides had the ideal start with a quick-fire Ben Turner brace of tries. Their lineout, whether on their ball or against the Sutton throw, was excellent. Centre Charles Jacobs was a threat every time he had the ball. Captain Charles Stuart varied the attack from 10 but ultimately they were let down by their discipline. The profligate penalty count spread like a contagion and not only cost them 12 points, but also hefty yardage and time spent with 14 men.

The Black & Whites showed character in bucketfuls coming back from the dire start and then overturning the 9-point deficit that culminated with the nail-biting denouement. For Sutton the pack was a source of great strength in the set-piece and the loose, Matt Whitaker was a giant in attack and defence whilst Freddy Bunting kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Next Saturday the Black & Whites visit newly promoted Old Alleynians for the first time since November 2012. The OAs have had a solid start to the campaign lying sixth in the table after wins over Gravesend and Sidcup.

Sutton & Epsom:
Luca Shaw, Jack Briggs, Ciaran Mohr, Freddy Bunting ©, Max Russell, Gareth O’Brien, Chris Ballard, Tom Boaden, Jack Howes, Callum Gibson, Ewan McTaggart, Josh Glanville, George London, Rob Hegarty & Matt Whitaker. Replacements: (all used) Will Lloyd, Chris Farrell & Jack Benton.

Battersea Ironsides:
Jack Winch, Ben Turner, Charles Jacobs, Ben Lyons, Charlie Craig, Charles Stuart, Jack Moates, Sam
Chetwynd, Harry Vigar, Harry Batstone, Jack Wharton, Max Trickett, Raph Arboine, Alex Chitan, Charlie Horrell. Replacements: (all used) Jonny Newsham, George Williams & Billy Diamond.

Epsom Common Association: A History of Conservation and Biodiversity

Founded in 1974 by local residents deeply concerned about the state of Epsom Common and the looming threats to its existence, the Epsom Common Association has since been a stalwart defender of this natural haven. The roots of their mission trace back to the 1930s when borough and county planners contemplated the construction of an Epsom bypass, with a road cutting across the Common at the forefront of their plans.

By the 1960s and 70s, these proposals began to take concrete shape, much to the dismay of the community. In response, determined local individuals rallied to form the Epsom Common Association, a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate that would rage on throughout the following decades.

One of their early triumphs was the restoration of the Great Pond, a landmark achievement completed in 1979. Yet, their work encompassed a broader range of objectives:

  1. Preserving the Common: The Association was committed to safeguarding the Common from any potential housing or construction projects, road developments, or encroachments.
  2. Enhancing Amenity Value: Their mission extended to preserving and enhancing the Common’s amenity value for all users.
  3. Conservation of Biodiversity: Recognizing the Common’s unique status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), they sought to maintain and enhance a diverse range of habitats for various wildlife species.
  4. Nature Reserve Status: Their efforts also aimed at maintaining the Local Nature Reserve status and advocating for National Nature Reserve status.
  5. Contributing to Conservation: The Association played a vital role in conservation work through their volunteer team, ECoVols. These volunteers were engaged in various tasks, including scrub clearance, charcoal burning, tree planting, and bracken reduction.

To keep their members informed, the Association produces three newsletters each year, covering recent activities, wildlife observations, news, and potential threats. They also maintain an active online presence through their website and a Facebook page. See www.epsomcommon.org.uk

The Association’s governance is facilitated by a Committee, elected annually during the AGM. This Committee includes representatives from Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and the Lower Mole Partnership, ensuring collaboration and effective management.

Membership of the Association is just £3.00 per household, and an additional £2.00 for postal members, making it accessible to a wide range of residents.

Epsom Common, though no longer a pristine wilderness untouched by human influence, has been integral to the local community for centuries. From its historical use for grazing animals and gathering firewood to wartime cultivation, the Common has a rich heritage intertwined with human activity.

To guide its future as a public nature reserve and promote biodiversity, the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council unveiled a Hundred Year Management Plan (2016-2116), approved by Natural England. The Association wholeheartedly endorsed this long-term approach and commitment to biodiversity conservation.

In their bid to create a mosaic of habitats and maintain a balance between grassland and woodland, the Association undertakes various management activities. These include the removal of young secondary woodland to restore lost grassland and heath, as well as the reintroduction of summer cattle grazing.

A success story of their strategy lies in the thriving butterfly population on the Common. It now hosts a range of butterfly species, from woodland dwellers like the Purple Emperor and White Admiral to grassland species like the Meadow Brown and Marbled White.

The diverse habitats have not only benefited butterflies but also thousands of other flora and fauna, including plants, fungi, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The Association ensures active engagement with its members through events such as two annual evening meetings featuring guest speakers on topics related to the Common’s heritage and natural history.

Additionally, they organize natural history walks led by experienced naturalists, covering topics like butterflies, wildflowers, bush crickets, birds, fungi, and bats. These walks provided valuable insights into the richness of the Common’s ecosystem.

The Association’s commitment to conservation extends to the welfare of cattle on the Common, with members responsible for daily health and security checks.

Another intriguing facet of their work is charcoal production, a monthly endeavor from February to November. The charcoal is made from felled trees on Epsom and Ashtead Commons.

Finally, conservation task days, carried out from January to May and September to November, involve both hand tools and some power machinery. These efforts are conducted in close coordination with the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and Natural England.

As the Association looks ahead, their plans include the removal of young trees to enhance wetland meadows, continued scrub and young tree removal to improve habitat for heathers and flowering plants, and hand-pulled bracken during the summer months to encourage grasses, meadow flowers, and heathers.

In sum, the Epsom Common Association stands as a shining example of community-led conservation efforts, dedicated to preserving the beauty, biodiversity, and heritage of the Epsom Common for generations to come.

You can get involved in the upcoming activities:

Sunday 15th & Monday 16th October at the Great Pond:
Removal of young trees along part of the eastern margin to open up a small wet land meadow for benefit of wild flowers and water fowl.

Sunday 19th & Monday 20th November at Bramble Heath:
Removal of scrub and young trees to maintain the open area and improve habitat for heathers and flowering plants.

Related reports:

Epsom Common Green Flagged again

Epsom Common Bird Walk Poem

Uncommon commitment to the Common

Local action to tackle global climate crisis

Forest fires, blanched coral and drought

According to the Eco-Friends of Epsom we are in an era marked by the increasingly pressing issue of climate change. The urgency of understanding its scientific underpinnings and potential solutions cannot be overstated.

Join The Eco-Friends of Epsom for a discussion with John Mackintosh, local expert in environmental matters, who serves as the Environment Manager at Mole Valley District Council and an Environmental Consultant at GreenGoals.

On Wednesday 27th September at 7.30 in the Methodist Church, Ashley Road, Epsom a meeting open to the public will take place. The event is not just about delivering information—it’s about fostering a deeper understanding. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with John, probing him with questions to better grasp the challenges and solutions.

Neil Dallen, who is a local RA councillor and active in Eco-Friends said: “Climate change knows no boundaries, and its impact is being felt across the globe. Unusual weather patterns have led to a surge in natural disasters, including floods, extreme temperatures, and debilitating droughts. While the causal link between specific events and climate change can be debated, the stark reality is that thousands of lives have already been lost, and countless more have seen their homes and possessions reduced to rubble.

“The evolving landscape of our planet demands immediate attention. While some may harbour doubts about whether it’s too late to reverse the course, one thing is unequivocal: doing nothing is not an option. Our actions, or lack thereof, will profoundly influence the lives of future generations.”

“The question that looms large is, “What is the right course of action?” This quandary is not one that any individual or nation can resolve in isolation. Climate change is an international predicament, and governments worldwide must come together to find viable solutions.

“You might be wondering, “Can I, as an individual, truly make a difference?” The answer is a resounding yes. Change begins at the grassroots level, and each of us can play a part in mitigating the impacts of climate change. By coming together as a community and sharing knowledge, we can embark on a journey towards a sustainable future.”

Mr Dallen added: “Join us for an enlightening evening with Eco-friends in Epsom, where we’ll explore answers to these pressing questions and more. Together, we can take the first steps towards a better-informed, more sustainable future for our planet and generations to come.”

Related reports:

Classic growth versus environment dilemma

Surrey schools going solar

Time for us all to slow down?

Images: Bobcat Fire, Los Angeles, San Gabriel Mountains,(Eddiem360) Bleached colony of Acropora coral_Andaman islands (Vardhanjp) CC BY-SA 4.0. California Drought Dry Lakebed Public Domain.

Shoot-out ends Salt’s Vase season

Bearsted 1-1 Epsom & Ewell FC. Bearsted won 4-1 on penalties. Isuzu F.A. Vase – Second Qualifying Round Saturday 23rd September 2023.

A rather disappointing penalty shoot out, the twelfth in our history, ultimately sealed our exit from the F.A. Vase this season. However, much like the F.A. Cup defeat at Eastbourne, we had looked like going out with a whimper until Captain Callum Wilson pulled us level again as the match finished 1-1 after the ninety minutes was complete.

On the face of it, a draw against a team that are well placed in the Southern Counties East is not a bad result and had this been a League match, we’d probably have been more than happy with a point, but we were unable to take advantage of the Wilson equaliser and what was actually our second worst statistically of the seven shoot outs we have lost, ensured that the correct team went through to the next round.

We made three changes to the line up following the defeat at home to Sheerwater. Up front we had Marlon Pinder who returned to the club in midweek and he came in for Tino Carpene, while Wilson returned at the back in place of Nick Inwugwu and Rory Edwards also came into the starting eleven in place of Chester Clothier.

On a perfect playing surface the opening exchanges were mostly in favour of the home side. Harvey Keogh was in action early to keep out a shot from an angle with his legs before Reece Tierney picked up an early and somewhat harsh yellow card, which was probably given because of the theatrical tumble as it was only fractionally late. On the quarter hour the Bears had a good opportunity but Joel Wakefield sent his strike over the bar from just inside the penalty area.

The home side continued to press and a decent attempt from Jordan Tingley went over Keogh’s head, but was wide of the goal and the danger was cleared. Then Wilson made a good block for a corner and from this, there was a concerted appeal for a handball, which certainly had me worried, but the referee wasn’t interested and as we broke, Jaan Stanley was brought down, earning Alfie Sanders a yellow card for the home team. Wilson was in action again soon after as he made a fine block from Tingley and as we approached the half another Bearsted corner was headed over by the unmarked Ryan Blake.

The final action of the half was a rare Epsom attack as Tommy Williams found Ade Batula on the left, but his ball across goal was cut out by Frankie Leonard in the Bears goal. In fact we had the first chance of the second half too as a Williams corner was headed clear under pressure from Tierney at the far post, but in the 55th minute we went behind as a good pass in from the left to Ollie Freeman enabled him to square the ball for Tingley to finish from close range.

This had been coming and as with other recent matches it was looking as though we had a mountain to climb. Pinder had a good opportunity from an Ethan Nelson-Roberts left wing cross but his headed contact was minimal and the ball went across goal instead of at it. Our “new” man put in a decent shift and will get better as he regains fitness, but his service was sadly lacking in this match. Even our wing backs, who had provided the best opportunities in recent weeks were not getting forwards as often as they used to; something I feel we need to address if we are to provide more of an attacking threat.

Carpene came on after 66 minutes and looked lively. He was involved in our equaliser five minutes later as Batula did well on the right wing before laying the ball back for Stanley to deliver into Carpene who then knocked the ball on for Wilson, standing around the edge of the penalty area to drive low and hard past Leonard, who got a glove to it, but was never going to keep it out. Without a doubt this was against the run of play and would prove to be our only shot on target, but we’ll take anything we can get right now! With our heads up we started to ask more questions and Batula tried his luck from 25 yards, only to see his shot blocked by a defender. Then in the 87th minute Carpene slipped his man and got through, running in on goal from about 40 yards out, but Blake was there to make a crucial tackle just outside the area and our chance was gone. Nelson-Roberts then found Kiyo Brown in the final moments but his shot was also blocked for a corner by a defender.

The home side struck a free kick over the bar during the five minutes of injury time, but the final whistle ensured we would go to penalties. Regrettably we had just taken off our regular penalty taker in Stanley and didn’t really turn up for the spot kicks. With Bearsted electing to go first, Phil Headley, Ollie Freeman, Will Johnson-Cole and Blake all scored, rendering their fifth penalty unnecessary as Carpene and Williams both saw their weak kicks saved by Leonard. Wilson netted his penalty in between the two saves, but when Blake’s fourth penalty went straight through Keogh it was all over for another year.

There were some positives. Despite missing Ash Snadden and Zach Powell at the back we looked a lot more solid than we had against Sheerwater, but the real concern here is that we are having to do too much defending right now and need to find a way to take the pressure off of our back line for greater periods. Pinder will improve options up front if we can get better service to him, but we now face matches against AFC Croydon Athletic (League Cup) who scored six this day before we travel to Tadley Calleva who hit seven. Neither will be lacking in form or confidence when they face us.

Epsom & Ewell: Harvey Keogh, Tommy Williams, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Callum Wilson (c), Ollie Thompson, Reece Tierney, Ade Batula, Rory Edwards, Marlon Pinder, Thompson Adeyemi, Jaan Stanley

Subs: Nick Inwugwu for Thompson (62), Tino Carpene for Pinder (66), Kiyo Brown for Stanley (84)

Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk

Costs through the roof enquiry for local Council

Epsom and Ewell’s Poole Road Pavilion re-roof costs go through the roof. The Strategy and Resources Committee Epsom and Ewell Council met September 21 to authorize the extra costs.

The tenders received exceeded the allocated budget. An extra £105,000 from the capital receipts reserve is needed to cover the increased costs.

Cllr Robert Leach (RA Nonsuch) stated he did not object to the proposal in principle but raised a concern. “The three tenders all come in suspiciously close and all above the manufacturers estimate. This seems to be the trend in local authorities. We get a lowball estimate. And then when the tenders come in, we find that they’re significantly more.” He questioned why the estimate was so far off the mark, resulting in a cost that is over a third more than originally anticipated.

The Council’s Senior Surveyor responded to concerns about cost estimates and tenders. He explained that prices can vary significantly in the current market due to factors like energy and transportation costs. In this case, the manufacturer may have provided a lower estimate, contributing to the cost discrepancy. “I don’t think it’s because we’re a council. It’s just the way it is in the market.”

Cllr Alan Williamson (RA West Ewell) was also concerned about the substantial increase in cost for the roofing repairs. “That’s quite a big discrepancy on the original estimation.”

The Head of Finance explained that the reason for bringing the roofing project cost increase back to the committee is the significant change in costs. “It’s right that you as members should consider whether, at the increased cost of a quarter of a million, you still think it’s a viable scheme that the council should progress.”

“In this particular instance, I think I was given some dodgy advice from the manufacturer. So apologies for that,” he said.

Cllr Shanice Goldman (RA Nonsuch) asked about the process for evaluating estimates. “Do we use our own internal expertise to kind of look at that and check the validity of estimates that we’ve been given?” As she understood it, the original amount of £150,000 was agreed upon just nine months ago in January, rather than two years ago.

The officer responded: “The process for the capital bidding starts two years before. So when you’re getting the estimates together, by the time we get on site, it is virtually two years past.” He also added they relied on the manufacturer’s estimate for the cost, and while they usually expect estimates to be higher, they couldn’t have foreseen the extent of this particular cost increase.

Cllr Goldman sought assurance that the council will take steps to ensure the accuracy of the data provided for decision-making. She said “It’s quite difficult for members to make a vote or to vote on matters where the data isn’t accurate.” She asked for improvements in the estimation process to enable members to make informed decisions based on reliable information.

Cllr Hannah Dalton, the Vice-Chair of the Committee, (RA Stoneleigh) recommended that an internal audit look at this particular procurement to allay any member’s concerns around it.

The additional funding for the project was approved as was the recommendation that an internal audit review of the procurement process take place.

On the Council’s IT strategy Cllr Alison Kelly (LibDem Stamford) raised questions regarding the council’s carbon reduction target, emphasizing the need to avoid greenwashing practices and ensure that suppliers can demonstrate their commitment to carbon reduction. She asked, “How are we as a council going to avoid falling into that trap? And will the suppliers be expected to explain how they meet carbon reduction neutrality? And what weight would be put on these when choosing the preferred supplier?”

The Head of IT, highlighted the importance of incorporating metrics like Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) into their procurement process as they shift to cloud-based services. “We will be looking to include a number of metrics within our procurement…….in particular, as we move to cloud-based services.”

Cllr Kelly also inquired about the reuse and disposal of old equipment. “I want to know what consideration has been given to the reuse and disposal of old equipment. Will this perhaps be indicated in later report?”

The officer expressed willingness to consider requests for equipment reuse and mentioned interactions with recycling companies and charities for equipment recycling. “I’m happy to receive any requests from councillors where they’ve potentially got a use for equipment,” The Council also receives inquiries from recycling companies, some of which offer free services. Additionally, there are charities, both local and in the southern region, that aim to recycle equipment for use in schools and further education.

The discussion then shifted to the reskilling of current staff members to adapt to new IT strategies.

The officer highlighted the Council’s training plans. “Within our Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, there is a free training suite, and we are working our way through that to actually develop a learning plan for individual staff.” He also added that this learning plan is designed to help individual staff members acquire new skills and knowledge.

Cllr Chris Ames (Labour Court Ward) raised questions about the factors affecting residents’ ability to adapt to service changes. “ I think there maybe a larger number of factors that might lead some people to have difficulty in channel shift.”

On the Household Support Fund, Cllr Neil Dallen (Committee Chair – RA Town) explained the urgent need for funding to support vulnerable residents. The item proposed to continue the partnership with the Good Company, a local charity that runs the local food bank, Epsom Pantry, and the Epsom Refugee Network.

The last two items on the agenda, included the Commercial Tenant Update and the Commercial Property Update were discussed in private as they “pertain (ed) to information related to the financial or business affairs of specific individuals or entities.”

Epsom and Ewell’s Technology College 70 years young

Nescot in Epsom and Ewell

The North East Surrey College Of Technology (NESCOT), situated in Epsom and Ewell, Surrey, England, traces its roots back to the 1950s when it was known as Ewell Technical College. As NESCOT marks its 70th anniversary in 2023, it’s worth delving into its intriguing history.

Originally christened as Ewell County Technical College, the institution welcomed its first cohort of students in September 1953, with an official inauguration following in March of the subsequent year. The college’s establishment was notable not only for its academic pursuits but also for its geographical footprint, occupying what was purportedly the largest arable field in all of England. The construction of this educational institution came at a price tag of £250,000.

Ewell Technical College

Ewell County Technical College earned distinction as an early advocate of “liberal education.” During the mid-1960s, students at the college devoted their Wednesday afternoons to an eclectic array of supplementary courses, ranging from sailing to folk dancing. Additionally, it made strides in student welfare, being among the pioneering technical colleges to appoint a dedicated staff member for this purpose. Today, this commitment to student well-being is upheld through various support services, encompassing Advice and Guidance, Student Finance, counseling, healthcare, childcare, security personnel, and specialized assistance for students with a history of being in care.

In its inaugural academic year, Ewell County Technical College enrolled 789 students, organized into three departments: Building, Science, and General Education. By the mid-1970s, this institution had burgeoned to accommodate a student body of 4,000. Tuition fees for students above the age of 19 ranged from £72 to £120 per academic year, while those under 18 were entitled to claim travel expenses amounting to 15p per return journey.

In 1973, a devastating fire swept through the newly-constructed extension, causing extensive damage estimated at £100,000. The fire, which originated in a science laboratory, left the exact cause shrouded in mystery.

The transformation into NESCOT occurred in 1975 when Ewell County Technical College underwent a name change. Subsequently, in 1988, the college acquired the former Epsom High School. Notably, NESCOT’s theatre bears the name of Adrian Mann, who served as the college’s inaugural chairman of governors. Mann’s dedication to NESCOT extended even after his retirement as chairman in 1963, as he continued to serve as a governor for another decade before being conferred the title of Governor Emeritus.

Throughout its history, NESCOT has been a host to a diverse range of artists and events. Notable musical acts such as Queen, Genesis, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Ralph McTell graced the college’s premises. In 1977, Shepperton Studios chose NESCOT as a filming location for scenes in “The Revenge of the Pink Panther.”

Among the illustrious alumni of NESCOT is the renowned naturalist David Bellamy, who both studied at and later worked as a laboratory technician at the college. Bellamy credited his teachers at NESCOT with kindling his passion for biology. Additionally, Frank Hampson, the celebrated cartoonist behind the Dan Dare comic strips and a recipient of the “best postwar comic illustrator in the world” title in 1975, served as a technician at the college. Dr. Guy Vine, father to the famous Vine brothers, Jeremy and Tim, imparted knowledge in civil and structural engineering at NESCOT.

Over the years, NESCOT has offered a diverse array of courses, reflecting its commitment to comprehensive education. These courses have spanned a wide spectrum, from Advanced Domestic Cookery and Air Conditioning Design to Bacteriology, Biblical and Religious Studies, Certificate in Home Economics, Flower Arrangement, Drug Toxicity, Law, Nursing, and Guest House Management. Additionally, NESCOT has provided classes and refresher courses in Shorthand and Typing.

Notable alumni from NESCOT include Anthoni Salim, a prominent businessman, investor, and money manager; Professor Peter Saville, distinguished psychologist; Joe Wicks, the renowned fitness coach; and Jane Wilson-Howarth, an accomplished author.

As NESCOT enters its seventh decade, its storied history stands as a testament to its commitment to education, innovation, and the cultivation of talent across a diverse range of fields.

Image: Courtesy NESCOT

Elijah returns to Epsom before the end of times

Epsom Choral Society rehearsal

On Wednesday 20th September, Epsom Choral Society held an open rehearsal at St Martin’s Church, Epsom, their usual concert venue. An ‘open rehearsal’ served a double purpose. It was part of the preparation for their concert, performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah on 18th November. It was also a bid to attract some new singing members by offering a chance to come and try it out.

I went along.  I enjoy Mendelssohn’s music and it is easier to appreciate after an attempt at performing it. As Wednesday’s weather approached biblical proportions, it was a good night for singing about whirlwinds droughts and floods.

After a welcome from choir chairman Isobel Squire, conductor Julian Collings began the rehearsal. The whole work has about 40 songs. The choir sings in about half of them. Usually, a rehearsal would entail concentrating on a few items, looking to correct some mistakes, find the music among the notes and then sing each piece all the way through. Wednesday was more of a taster. We sang fairly quickly through almost all the choral numbers, saving the detailed work for Julian’s favourite movement, ‘He, watching over Israel’. The conductor’s role is to know the music inside-out (he does!), warning which notes are likely to go wrong and suggesting ways to make them sound better. Once the notes are correct, the next stage is suggesting how to shape them to bring out the musical effects.

No-one has to sing alone. Epsom Choral Society has room for some new members but they do have all parts covered. There are confident singers among sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. Any newcomer will be adding to the overall sound, not sticking out while searching for the notes. They also have an expert pianist, Marion Lea, who can highlight  the choir parts while learning or pretend to be an orchestra when everyone is singing something through.

Although the open rehearsal has passed, there are still plenty of Wednesdays before the concert. If you fancy a chance to discover Elijah from within an able and welcoming choir, I’m sure Epsom Choral Society’s membership secretary (membership@epsomchoralsociety.org.uk) will be very happy to hear from you.

Nigel Williams.