Get a lift from Epsom’s flat season.

Horses racing

The Flat season continues at Epsom this Thursday, with six evening races for fans to enjoy in the summer sun.

The going on the Downs is good to soft, soft in places, but with a day of sunshine forecast, it could firm up throughout the day before the first race at 5:55pm. The racing runs all the way through until 8:35, with the main attraction being the Class 4 Betfred “Bet Builder” Handicap at 8:05.

Read below to find out the latest horse racing betting and tips from Epsom’s card on Thursday:

17:55 – Betfred Play Fred’s 5 Million EBF Maiden Stakes

The first race of the evening will put on show some promising two-year-old horses, who will race along seven furlongs. Having been bred from Andrew Balding’s stable star Kameko, there are high hopes for Spell Master having debuted in sixth place at Newbury 14 days ago. However, Oisin Murphy’s presence on John and Thady Gosden’s Attack cements its place as the top pick for this contest.

18:30 – Steve Donoghue Handicap

For this Class 5 race, a slightly longer trip of 1m 1/5f awaits the runners and riders, with nine entries competing for the top prize of £4,448.90. The standout runner in the race is Blenheim Star, with three wins in six outings so far this year, most recently at Brighton 16 days ago, but trainer William Knight will hope that the ground firms up.

19:00 – Chantilly Handicap

Next up, the second handicap of the card sees six runners competing over a 1m 2f trip. For Jack Channon, Amancio is the type who can bounce back from a disappointing fifth place at Chester 34 days ago and Rossa Ryan will hope to guide home the three-year-old to a win which replicates success at Haydock on April 27.

19:35 – Betfred Ladies’ Derby Handicap

For the fourth race, for female amateur jockeys only, Naasma looks like the smart option having operated well at this C&D. One to watch out for in this race is also Roost, who is down in grade and with blinkers back on could enter the running.

20:05 – Betfred ‘Bet Builder’ Handicap

For the second Class 4 race of the evening, ten runners will take to the short 7f 3y trip. Having performed well at this C&D, Guiteau is the top pick for the race, although the highly rated Miss Information will be expected to produce a strong performance under the charge of Oisin Murphy for Andrew Balding.

20:40 – Betfred ‘The Classic Bookmaker’ Handicap

For the final race of the evening, 12 runners will take to the course in a race which is exclusively for three-year-olds. From a career low mark, Bated Breeze catches the eye, especially when first-time blinkers are added into the equation. Meanwhile, Havana Mojito is the forecast favourite having finished runner-up here 16 days ago and is at a 4lb lower mark.

Selections – odds via BoyleSports 

17:55 – Attack 5/2

18:30 – Blenheim Star 9/4

19:00 – Amancio (NAP) 6/1

19:35 – Naasma 5/1

20:05 – Guiteau 3/1

20:40 – Bated Breeze (E/W) 10/1

Image: Credit Paul. CC BY 2.0

Surrey’s LibDem MP majority take on Thames Water

Surrey political map against letter to Thames Water

Buoyed by having the majority of Surrey County’s 11 Parliamentary Constituencies returning Liberal Democrat Party Members of Parliament, the six new law-makers, including Epsom and Ewell‘s Helen Maguire MP, have joined forces to tackle Thames Water‘s shortcomings. A spokesman said “This is all part of the campaign by the Liberal Democrat Party to get our streams, rivers and coastline, cleaned up and to stop the often illegal dumping of sewage into our water.”

Surrey Political Map: Offa29 – Own work. CC BY 4.0

Epsom Choral Society goes to Town on English music

Epsom Choral Society in Cadagon Hall

Epsom Choral Society joined the musical forces of The Barnes Choir, The English Sinfonietta and the Arcubus Ensemble on Saturday 13th July in The Cadagon Hall, London for a stirring celebration of English music, including William Walton’s stupendous Belshazzer’s Feast. Peter Lutton reviews the concert.

England in the 18th and 19th centuries is often said to have been a ‘land without music’; this concert
proved emphatically that from early in the 20th century every effort was being made to disprove that
notion. From Parry in 1902 to Walton in 1931 we heard music of great confidence, assuredness of
technique and not least, great beauty. The large forces needed were cleverly squeezed into the venue,
including the optional extra brass. Such a splendid all-English offering encourages those of us who feel
that much concert programming pays too little heed to the sheer quantity of excellent composition in
these isles over the last one hundred and twenty years.

Parry’s ‘I was Glad’ and ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ are staples of the repertoire but were given more than the
usual respect; indeed, there was some very careful treatment of the various parts of the text. Even if the
brass opening in the former left little room for the choirs’ entry to crescendo, mostly the dynamics were
carefully observed, the Vivats were sensibly omitted (against current trends) and the contrasting middle
sections in both were sensitively presented. The tempo of ‘I was Glad’ could perhaps have been a notch
or two faster, given that this building has no noticeable reverberation period. In the louder parts, choral
forces this size were able to balance the sheer power that modern orchestral instruments can produce
and yet the climaxes were not overwhelming in a venue which might have been thought not quite large
enough for such massed forces.

The baritone soloist, Philip Tebb, was a very good communicator in both Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five
Mystical Songs’ and Walton’s ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’, only very occasionally losing out to the scale of the
orchestral sound behind him. A few hints of intonation fractionally under the note did not detract from
his impassioned performance. When the choir was assigned to very gentle but tutti accompaniment,
they were well balanced and the effect was surely exactly what the composer intended. Also particularly
effective was the orchestral wind playing in ‘The Call’. Finally, the tightness and drive of ‘Let all the
World’ with its excellent dynamic contrast ensured an inspiring finish to these heartfelt settings of
George Herbert’s powerful poetry.

The English Sinfonietta’s strings provided a very appropriate breather in Elgar’s ‘Serenade’, before
Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ rounded off the first half. This was precise, immaculate ensemble playing of
a very high order. The music was allowed to breathe and a great many nuances of rhythm and dynamic
were brought out in all three movements. Particularly notable was the restraint in the final part of the
second movement. The stylish yet slightly skittish playing evident in the third movement reflects Elgar’s
confident orchestration; string players eulogise Elgar’s writing for their instruments, saying that his
understanding of their needs is shown in the way the individual lines often lie under their fingers.

The climax of the evening was of course Walton’s ground-breaking cantata, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’. This
must have been a revelation to all its hearers back in 1931 – it has this power now, as we heard clearly in this performance. The orchestra made the most of the dramatic brass and varied percussion writing,
carefully designed so as not to drown out the choral writing, itself written deliberately in homophonic
style so that the text would be clear to the listener. The rhythmic demands in this music are considerable, yet this performance came across as confident and accurate, even if some furious counting must have been going on amongst the differing voice parts.

The emotional outpouring in the first few pages reached a peak of luminosity in the repeated setting
of the words ‘How shall I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ Walton’s bold choral writing broke new
ground and the choirs did it full justice. The long and demanding unaccompanied baritone solo was
delivered with both accuracy and passion before we launched into the vivid description of the
feast and its musical elements.

Walton’s music strikes a balance between modernity and tonal tradition which makes him more approachable than many other composers; this performance was admirable for its clarity and direction. The sinister percussion introduction to the writing on the wall and the choral shout of ’Slain!’ were as effective as any visual image, showing the power of modern oratorio when brilliantly crafted and expertly handled.

The final romp of celebration was given due impetus and we were left breathless at the end by the grandeur of the conception and the quality of the performance.

Congratulations are due once more to Epsom Choral Society, The Barnes Choir, the Arcubus Ensemble
and the English Sinfonietta, all under Julian Collings, for their stirring performance of a great classic.

Peter Lutton

Formerly Assistant Director of Music, St John’s School, Leatherhead and Organist Emeritus, St Nicolas, Great Bookham.

Safety set back for a Council’s car park revenue

Swan shopping centre car park in Leatherhead (image Google)

Safety work to repair crumbled concrete and rusted steel reinforcements at the Swan Car Park in Leatherhead could cost a council more than £200,000.

Mole Valley District Council is set to approve the repair work after its emergency budget passed through its extraordinary scrutiny committee.

The car park is fully owned and operated by the council with all revenue going straight into its coffers. The flip side is that it is also responsible for 100 per cent of the maintenance costs.

The work will be carried out over a three-year period, which the council hopes will prevent anything more significant from developing.

It has set aside £116,496 for the first year, £49,745 in year two and  £50,910 for the final year of the project for a total of £217,151. 

The meeting heard from cabinet member Councillor Keira Vyvyan-Robinson, who said that in 2022 the council carried out a five-year maintenance report that warned of the need to “monitor concrete and rebar (reinforced steel) ” within the car park – and remedy any failings. 

For financial reasons the council decided not to go ahead with any work but the situation earlier this year “had deteriorated.”

She said: “It’s not a health and safety issue at the moment however it is important that the works are remedied  in order that they don’t deteriorate any further.”

The majority of the project’s budget is expected to be used “primarily in relation to the concrete frame and repairs to concrete which has crumbled.” Cllr Vyvyan-Robinson added.

A final decision on whether to proceed will be made by the council’s cabinet committee on July 17 2024.

Officers told the meeting how surveyors had been monitoring the car park “visually” and that its condition has since stabilised.

The repairs, the council hopes, would eliminate the need for regular observations. 

Asked if there was a risk of concrete falling off the walls, and onto people or their cars, officers replied that there wasn’t an “immediate risk but the longer they leave it the greater that risk becomes”.

Work will be scheduled to avoid the busiest times of the year and be done piecemeal to limit impact on people parking and minimise any revenue losses for the council. 

Image: Swan shopping centre car park in Leatherhead (Google)

Surrey’s cyber sleuth students at work

Students at computers

Cyber-curious students from Ash Manor School have been inspired to consider future careers in the sector after taking part in a special one-day workshop.

The event was hosted by Surrey County Council in collaboration with the Surrey Cyber Security Cluster (SCSC) and SATRO Education Charity as part of the Inspire Surrey pilot programme, and was held at the Hogs Back Hotel in Farnham.

The ‘Digital Detective Challenge’ was developed to harness the imagination of the students and encourage them to consider a future career in this exciting and fast-growing industry.

At the end of the day, almost all of the year 8 students taking part (28 out of 31) said they would now consider taking up a career in cyber – a resounding success for the day.

Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Economic Growth, said: “Cyber security is a growing, highly innovative sector of huge importance to our regional economy. Events like this are fantastic to really capture the interest of enquiring young minds – the vital future leaders of this sector – and ensure cyber security’s continued growth and success in Surrey. I’m delighted the event was such a triumph for all participants.”

Surrey is a world-leader in cyber security, as home to a large and growing number of security firms and consultancy agencies including BAE Systems, CGI and F5.

Two of the UK’s five Gold Standard Cyber Security Universities (Royal Holloway and University of Surrey) are also based in the county, helping to drive innovation in the sector.

Surrey County Council is further nurturing the sector and supporting growth through its involvement in the Surrey Cyber Security Cluster.

Mr S Coomber, Head of Computer Science at Ash Manor School, said:“Events like this enable students to explore what it’s like to work in cyber security. By showcasing the breadth of opportunities available, we hope to empower students to make an informed decision about considering a career in the cyber sector.”

Jane Sheridan from SATRO Education Charity, said: “Today’s event was not just about solving puzzles; it was about igniting passion and curiosity for cyber careers among young minds. We wanted to provide students with a glimpse into the exciting world of cyber security while emphasizing the importance of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.” 

Hani Momeninia, Director of the SCSC, highlighted the significance of nurturing future talent in the cyber field. He said: “As the cyber landscape continues to evolve, there is a growing demand for skilled professionals capable of defending us against emerging threats. Initiatives like this play a crucial role in inspiring and nurturing the next generation of cyber leaders. It’s been great to work with the Surrey Cyber Security Cluster and SATRO Education Charity to design and host an engaging event for our budding cyber professionals.”

The event was one of a number of initiatives intended to inspire a range of audiences to consider a career in cyber by the Council’s Economy & Growth Team, in collaboration with the Surrey Cyber Security Cluster. Other events included a workshop for mums returning to work and a cyber careers fair at Brooklands Museum for secondary school students across the county.

Business Surrey, the Council’s new business initiative, is committed to supporting sectors, such as cyber security, with support to grow. Discover more at www.businesssurrey.co.uk.

Those businesses looking for support and advice with workforce needs can contact the team for free support at www.businesssurrey.co.uk/advice-and-support/business-support-form.

The Surrey Careers Hub also works to connect employers with schools and colleges to support young people to take their next best step. Find out how you can get involved at https://www.businesssurrey.co.uk/workforce/careers-hub/.

Call to landlords to help Council help housing need

Street with to let signs

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is looking for landlords of three-, four- and five-bedroom houses to sign up to their Private Sector Leasing Scheme.

The Private Sector Leasing Scheme allows the council to assist local families in housing need, while reducing the risks and hassle of renting for landlords.

The council will lease and manage properties for a period of three to five years. Landlords will be guaranteed rent, with six months being paid in advance. During the tenancy, the council will carry out any minor repairs up to the value of £500 per year and ensure the property is returned to landlords in the same condition as when the agreement started.

Landlords who lease their properties to the council will enjoy the following benefits:

  • no inventory or inspection costs
  • no letting agent or management fees
  • no need to register deposits with a tenancy deposit scheme
  • a single point of contact within the council
  • Right to Rent checks carried out by the council
  • an option for routine and major repairs to be dealt with on the landlords’ behalf for a fee.

Councillor Clive Woodbridge, (RA Ewell Village) Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Committee, said,

“We are all aware of the housing crisis that is affecting cities and towns across the country, and Epsom & Ewell is no different. It is a priority for the Council that we can provide good quality temporary housing for families in the local area.

“If landlords sign up to our Private Sector Leasing Scheme, it enables us to house local families within the community and minimises the disruption to their home life, work and school at what can be an already stressful time.

“The scheme is also good value for landlords and is relatively low risk when compared with letting the property on the open market.”

Landlord Lee Wiffen said, “I cannot praise the Epsom & Ewell Private Sector Leasing Scheme enough. In my six years letting my property through the scheme, the professionalism of the team in the housing department is first class.

“The security of having great tenants and regular on-time rent payments, means I would not look any further, as a landlord, when looking to rent a property than the Epsom & Ewell Private Sector Leasing Scheme”

Full details of the scheme can be found in our PSL landlord information pack and PSL landlord application form.

Image Albert Bridge licence

Epsom UCA artists wear their mortarboards

Student puts mortar board on head of UCA student

Last week, the next generation of artists and designers from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Epsom received their degrees alongside Yinka Ilori MBE and Jonathan Anderson, who were awarded honorary doctorates for their outstanding contributions to the creative industries.

Held at Royal Festival Hall in London, the fashion designer Jonathan Anderson shared his experience of being a student with dyslexia and starting his own company.

He encouraged graduates not to fear failure, but to be curious, to take risks, and above all else avoid getting stuck in the mud!

He also admitted that he thought rules were useless and reflected on the value of authenticity:

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. Steal, adapt, borrow, he said.

The British-Nigerian artist and designer, Yinka Ilori MBE, who is known for his bold use of colour and playful designs added:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of being an artist… If you told my younger self where I would be today, he wouldn’t believe you.”

He also urged graduates to: “Never stop dreaming. . .always say ‘yes’ to new opportunities. We live in a world that is all about connection and connectivity. Above all, have trust in yourself, and listen to your intuition.”

Prof. Jane Roscoe UCA Vice-Chancellor

The graduation ceremonies saw over 3,000 students from UCA receive their degrees and attending for the first time was UCA’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane Roscoe, who said:

“The global arts and creative sector are vibrant – there are so many opportunities, and the major challenges facing our planet will need creatives and creativity in every shape and form. You, of course, have all been prepared for this future and your UCA degree has given you the skills and is your ticket to success.”

Spread across three days, the ceremonies marked the culmination of 3,000 students’ time at UCA, before taking the next step on their journey in the creative industries.

Average house price in Epsom and Ewell over half- million.


Epsom and Ewell saw the largest increase in new build completions in the South East between 2021-2023, new data has revealed. 

The study, conducted by architectural visualisation experts at Modunite, investigated ONS data on the number of new build completions from 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, to find which local authority has seen the biggest increase in new build completions year-on-year. 

Key findings: 

  • Epsom and Ewell saw the largest increase in new build homes, at 133% – compared to the English average of 21% 
  • Tunbridge Wells ranks second with an increase of 130% new build completions
  • West Oxfordshire had the biggest drop in house prices across England (13.10%)  
  • Milton Keynes saw the largest volume of new build homes in 2022-23 (2,480) in the South East, and the second-highest in England

For the full study, head to: https://www.modunite.com/a-review-of-englands-new-build-market/

The results: 

Local Authority  Average house price 2022  Average house price 2023  % decrease in house prices 2021-2022 2022-2023 % increase 2022-2023
Epsom and Ewell £543,670 £533,491 1.90% 90 210 133%
Tunbridge Wells £454,657 £446,490 1.80% 270 620 130%
Hastings £271,727 £270,043 0.60% 10 20 100%
Arun £351,693 £350,191 0.40% 490 930 90%
Eastbourne £298,348 £296,227 0.70% 40 70 75%
Dartford £355,378 £353,765 0.50% 400 660 65%
Canterbury £361,144 £357,128 1.10% 370 600 62%
Thanet £315,384 £310,705 1.50% 290 410 41%
Chichester £470,413 £452,668 3.90% 590 810 37%
Tonbridge and Malling £438,694 £431,931 1.60% 270 370 37%

Please find the full dataset here

Modunite can reveal that Epsom and Ewell has seen the largest increase in new build completions in the South East, with a 133% increase from 2021-2022 compared with 2022-2023. Between 2021 and 2022 90 new builds were completed, in comparison to 210 in the following year. House prices in Epsom and Ewell also dropped by 1.90%, down to £533.491. 

Hastings ranks third

Hastings ranks third. From 2021-2022, Hastings completed 10 new build homes, increasing by 100% by the end of 2023 with a total of 20. This is largely higher than than the average number of new build completions across all the local authorities in England (21%). House prices in Hastings have also fallen by 0.60% between 2022-2023, to an average of £270,043. 

Tunbridge Wells ranks second, with a 130% increase in new build completions between 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. A total of 270 new builds were completed in 2021 -2022, in comparison to 620 the following year. House prices in Tunbridge Wells have also decreased by 1.80%, down to £446,490 on average.

Image: https://oaktondevelopments.co.uk/henrietta-place-new-build-homes-epsom-surrey/

90% of Surrey road hole damage claims go to pot

Pothole in Woodcote Road Epsom

Pothole damage has given rise to 5,619 claims for compensation from Surrey residents to the county council since May 2021.

Since the last local election three years ago, only 581 claims were successful (just over 10 per cent) resulting in £190,000 spent on repayment.

in 2024 so far, up to May, only 12 out of 1,204 claims have been repaid by Surrey County Council (SCC), with £4,435.15 being paid.

As the local highways authority, SCC is only liable to pay for damage to vehicles if it can be proved it has been negligent in the inspection and maintenance of its roads.

“Rather than 90 per cent of the claims being fraudulent, it is more likely that only 10 per cent of people are determined enough to see through a difficult process to the end,” said Cllr George Potter (Lib Dem/Guildford East) at a county council AGM meeting on May 21.

Cllr Potter said the process is “very difficult and time consuming and bureaucratic” which will “discourage many people from going all the way through with their claims.”

Residents can apply for compensation if they suffer personal injury or property damage due to council-owned roads.

For their claim to be successful, they must provide a long list of information such as the details of damage plus two independent estimates for repair, exact location, proof of ownership and current MOT and insurance, travel direction as well as time, date and weather conditions.

Rebutting the accusation, cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr David Lewis (Conservative/Cobham) said he did not believe the claims were “fraudulent” in any way but that the criteria was not met.

“We have a duty to protect our finances and money raised from residents,” Cllr Lewis said. “[SCC] simply can’t have a process where every claim put in is paid out. The system we currently have is fair.” He added there are no plans to review the criteria or the process of compensating pothole claims.

Fixing approximately 50,000 potholes a year on average, Surrey County Council has budgeted to spend £5m of its annual budget on repairing potholes and other road safety defects.

SCC inspects its major roads (A roads), roads connecting traffic between A roads and smaller roads (B roads) and some smaller roads (often linking a housing estate or a village to the rest of the network) once a month. Rural roads connecting to smaller communities are inspected once every three months, according to guidance on SCC’s website.

As a general rule, the county says, the diameter of the pothole at the surface level should be less than 150mm on carriageways for cars to require it to be repaired within five working days. If it is not possible to permanently correct or repair the defect within the time period, a permanent repair should be carried out within 20 working days.

Related reports:

Pothole payouts and repairs penalise Councillor projects?

On the Hunt for pothole repairs

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

Going potty about pot-holes?

Campaign to keep local child cancer services local

The Royal Marsden Hospital

Wandsworth Council is leading a campaign against the NHS decision to move children’s cancer services from two South London hospitals into Central London and the new Labour Government will be asked to step in. NHS England announced its decision to move the children’s cancer centre based jointly at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, and The Royal Marsden, Sutton, to Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Lambeth, in March.

Wandsworth has now confirmed it will refer the decision to new Health Secretary Wes Streeting in a bid for him to intervene. The council is particularly concerned about the prospect of parents having to travel via public transport into Central London with immunosuppressed kids to reach the Evelina.

The authority said Richmond, Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Surrey councils are set to join the cross-party campaign, as children in their boroughs currently receive care at the existing children’s cancer centre. Richmond approved plans to challenge the decision in May.

Opposition to the plans began to grow after the NHS launched a consultation on two options for the future location of the centre last year – either moving it entirely to St George’s or to the Evelina. The centre has provided specialist children’s cancer services to those aged 15 and under living in South London, Kent, most of Surrey, Brighton and Hove, Medway and East Sussex for 25 years.

The NHS said it has to move the centre as a new national service specification in 2021 outlined very specialist children’s cancer treatment services must be on the same site as a paediatric intensive care unit and other specialist children’s services. The Royal Marsden does not have a paediatric intensive care unit, meaning a small number of children with cancer requiring intensive care are transferred safely by ambulance to St George’s every year.

Labour Wandsworth Council leader Simon Hogg urged Mr Streeting to work with local authorities challenging the decision to find ways to keep services at St George’s. He said: “We have opposed these plans to move specialist children’s cancer care from St George’s from the start. Our serious concerns remain – getting to Evelina hospital through Central London traffic will be challenging at the best of times. Travelling by public transport is not an option for vulnerable children who are on immunosuppressant medication. So there has to be a better solution to these plans.”

Local MPs have also publicly opposed the plans. Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan described the decision to move services from St George’s as ‘deeply disappointing’ when it was announced in March, and signed a letter to previous Health Secretary Victoria Atkins asking her to review it. The letter was also signed by Putney MP Fleur Anderson, Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh, Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney and Twickenham MP Munira Wilson.

Services are not expected to move until 2026 at the earliest. An NHS London spokesperson said: “Evelina London has been chosen as the future location for the children’s cancer centre following a rigorous process, including involving clinical advisers, parents, charities, nurses and research staff. The future centre will stand ready to give cutting-edge treatments that require intensive care on site, like other major centres worldwide.

“Service reconfiguration is rarely easy and we recognise that during consultation, parents and families raised a number of concerns about the change in location, including about travelling further into London, and what that will mean for them. Our focus now is on detailed implementation planning which takes all of these concerns into account to support families and staff.”

An Evelina spokesperson added: “We are fully committed to working with patients, their families, staff from the current service, and other partners to design the new service with children, young people and staff at its heart. This will ensure continuity of care during the transition period and a plan for the safe transfer of the service.”

A St George’s spokesperson said: “We understand the concerns being raised by our communities who want to keep specialist children’s cancer care at St George’s. We are working with NHS England and our partners and will continue to provide outstanding care to children and their families throughout this process.”

Charlotte Lillywhite – reporter.

Image credit Jean Barrow Licence