This Bulletin is both to update you and to advise that the AGM Notice is soon to be delivered to your homes by your road representatives. Some articles may also appear in this Notice.
AGM – this takes place on Tuesday 15 March at Nescot at 7.30 pm. Our speaker this year is Jon Sharpe, the Council’s Transport and Waste Services Manager. Epsom & Ewell is relatively unusual in using a ‘kerbside-sort’ system for its paper, glass and cans. However, few Councils do this, preferring to mix most of their recycling in ‘co-mingled’ recycling bins, and so the manufacturers of bin lorries are stopping making the ‘kerbside-sort’ vehicles that our Council currently uses. Consequently, the Council needs to change how it collects recycling, and the changes will coincide with the replacement of the Council’s current vehicle lease contract in spring 2017. Jon will talk us through the changes, why they are happening, and how they will benefit residents. He will be keen to get comments and feedback from residents, so come along and join us – refreshments i.e. a glass of wine or a coffee/tea will be served from 7.10 pm.
Nescot development site– Houses are mushrooming and traffic disruption is causing some problems which we are chasing up. There was a site meeting last Friday which we hope will resolve some of the lorry issues – we wait to hear the result of this meeting.
The path has now been re-instated but, as we have pointed out to one of those attending the meeting, Alan Flaherty, the Traffic Engineer at Surrey County Council, the entrance to the site needs to be wider and a pedestrian refuge island should have been included for the safety of all of those walking down that side of the road.
The development web site is www.circlehillnescot.co.uk if you wish to make any comments direct.
Nescot College – In connection with moving the animal husbandry and developing on the academic campus and altering the car park, Nescot had to submit a travel plan to E&EBC. This they have now done and it has been published on the E&EBC website under planning application 15/01547/COND. You may like to have a look at the travel plan. You will need to allow a certain amount of time for doing so as it has a lot of words and pictures.
Reigate Road – Nescot Roundabout – Some work required under the Stage 3 Safety Audit has been done but we are waiting to hear if everything has been completed.
Traffic on East Street – No news on the completion of work as yet.
Winter gritting – With cold weather promised by the forecasters keep yourself updated on Surrey Highways plans for winter gritting and maintenance. General information on Surrey Highways winter plans and preparations is on the SCC website – Salting and Gritting. If you are a twitter user you can follow Surrey Highways at @surreytravel for up-to-date information on gritting, as well as other travel alerts for Surrey.
Proposed site for Aldi Supermarket on Old Dairy Site – 200 objections have been lodged and, as shown in the Guardian on February 11, more than 50 residents took part in a roadside protest on Sunday 31 January. There are considerable concerns on the location chosen for the supermarket and the traffic chaos that would ensue. The application comes before the Planning Committee on Thursday 10 March at 7.30 pm.
Accommodation for 77 students on Mill Road – 14/01784/FUL- no further news on the issues with the developers regarding the badgers in their discussions with the Council.
Herald of Spring – Saturday,12 March – Bourne Hall, Spring Street, Ewell – 9am to 5pm. Lots to see and do and it’s all free! Flower displays by Ashtead Nursery’s. What’s on in Epsom’s Spring Gift Market with up to 40 stalls of Arts and Crafts, Jams and Jewellery; flower sales by Mayflower Flower Club; community activities such as beekeeping and bowling; petting animals and puppet show by Hobbledown; Bourne Hall Museum Kids Club historic activities; free spring themed arts and craft by Creation Station; schools historic scarecrow building completion.
Surrey Wildlife reserve at Priest Hill – work parties are scheduled for Monday 7 March and Wednesday 23 March. If you would like to help with the site management please contact the ranger; email@example.com; no experience necessary just enthusiasm!
Ewell Village shops – Wild’s Lounge and The Star – we hope for news at the AGM.
Land at North Looe – Surrey County Council are reviewing the development of 2 large old derelict greenhouses and a further breeze block and corrugated steel clad and roofed building – no further news as yet.
Crossrail 2 Consultation – further details in AGM Notice.
Government takes more money away from Epsom & Ewell
Shortly before Christmas, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council received details of the grant funding it will receive from the government for the next two years and it shows that central government is withdrawing financial support at a much faster rate than it originally indicated. The cuts faced by the Council, and others in Surrey, are far more severe than in most other parts of the country.
The reduction in funding is significantly greater than the government had indicated as recently as the Autumn Spending Review in November, with no revenue support grant (RSG) at all after 2017. Originally the Chancellor indicated it would be 2020 before the grant was removed altogether.
Epsom and Ewell is one of only 15 councils country wide that will lose their RSG over two years, rather than four. Seven of the others to lose RSG by 2018 are also in Surrey.
Subsequently the Government did modify its settlement, giving us some transitional funding. Even still the revenue support grant will decrease by 50% for 2016/17, following on from a cut of 30% in 2015/16 and 23% in 2014/15.
Central government funding is expected to reduce by £1.5 million by 2019/20, the same as in the provisional settlement. Therefore the savings required by the end of 2019/20 remain at £3.3 million to achieve a balanced budget at the end of this period.
The Council’s priority will be to protect local services that are valued by residents. Cllr Neil Dallen, chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee, points out,” By becoming more efficient and making significant savings we have been able to maintain services over the past four years, despite the cuts. The scale of these latest cuts by the Conservative government however makes it inevitable that changes will have to be made. The status quo just is not sustainable.”
Councillor Clive Woodbridge, chairman of the RA group of councillors, adds,” It seems contradictory that the government is following a devolution programme aimed at giving councils more powers locally at the same time as it is withdrawing the means by which we can support the services our residents want. It is welcome that the Government modified the provisional settlement, which gives some relief over the next three years, but all additional support is completely withdrawn by 2019/20, so we have much to do to make sure we achieve the savings required by then.”
Council Budget and Council Tax
In an article in this spring Courtier the effects of the reduction in the Revenue Support Grant and the imposition of a business rate tariff that have led to a requirement for Epsom and Ewell Borough Council to make savings of over £3 million by 2019/2020 were explained.
On Thursday 11th February the Borough Council agreed its budget for 2016/2017, the first year of this four year cycle of financial challenges. It has required innovative thinking and some hard choices but, as Residents’ Association councillors, we believe that we have made the right decisions on behalf of our residents. I list below the main Budget decisions.
Income, Savings and Efficiencies
- Fees and charges across council services (waste, venue hire, planning, licensing, parking, cemeteries etc.) have been increased, raising an estimated £750K
- Route Call has been reconfigured saving £150K
- Efficiency savings have been made, and additional income identified, totalling £650K. These are as a result of partnership working, staffing changes, paperless Council etc. In addition changes have been made to reduce the cost of homelessness including bringing additional temporary accommodation into use and reducing the high cost of bed and breakfast accommodation
- A decision has been made to move adult services out of the Wells Centre (which is on the Ashtead side of Epsom) and to consolidate adult services into one Centre – the Longmead Centre in West Ewell. There are just 288 users of the adult services at the Wells Centre (48 of those users being out-of-Borough residents) and each user is being subsidised by £362 a year, and that is not sustainable.
Moving all adult services in to the Longmead Centre will lead to savings. In addition the opportunity afforded by consolidating provision on one site will enable the Borough Council to invest up to £70K in the Centre to improve the facilities for the larger number of users. The plan is to develop the current Wells Centre site, gaining a capital receipt for the council, and building much needed affordable housing. In addition the developer of the site will be required to build a new smaller community facility which will be self-managed by the residents on the Wells Estate.
Use of Reserves
Councillors have also agreed to use £634K of the reserves to ensure a balanced budget. However plans have been put in place to reduce this call on reserves by identifying in-year savings.
The council tax will rise by £4.95p a year at Band D. For the average council taxpayer that is a rise of 10 pence a week.
- Only 11% of your Council Tax goes to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, 76% of your council tax goes to SCC, 13% to Surrey Police.
Epsom College Choral Society concert in January – this was extremely well supported and thanks you to those who came along. I hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we enjoyed singing!
Epsom and Ewell Town Twinning Association – there is a Quiz night on Saturday 5 March and Wine and Cheese on Thursday 17 March. For further details go to their web site – Epsom Twinning.
Help is needed by offering accommodation for the visiting choirs at the Choral Festival of the Twin Towns, on the weekend of the 1st to 3rd July. They are already confident that they have beds for nearly 60 people but expect 120 people, with both choristers and dignitaries, so if you have any friends and neighbours or other choir members who can help, please let the Association know!
Condolences – you may have seen the very sad news published in the Guardian of the murder of Epsom teenager, Dominic Bernard, who went missing in Guyana in October 2015. Dominic went to South America to explore his Guyanese heritage and his love of photography and filmmaking. Flowers were sent on behalf of all the residents to the family who live locally. A fund has been set up on www.gofundme.com for those wishing to contribute.
Keeping in touch – this bulletin is distributed to all those who have provided email addresses. Please pass this information on to any resident who may find it useful and ask them to let us have their email address so we can keep them in the loop.
Web site – do visit this – www.ewelldownsra.org. We would especially love some photos to add to this.
Facebook – 39 people have now visited our Facebook page and “liked” us. Do go and use this to put comments or pictures of the area on.
Twitter – this is quite active with 50 followers of Ewelldownsra.
Comments and news reports – please use this as a two-way instrument and let us know if there is anything you wish to report or comment on.
Subscriptions – if any of you have yet to pay the annual subscription, please do so as soon as possible. A bank mandate and details for online banking are being published in the AGM Notice. Please let us have your views on this.