Have Your Say on Council Tax Level For Policing

Time is running out to have your say on whether you would be prepared to pay a little extra to support our policing teams in Surrey over the coming year.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend is calling on the county’s residents to fill in a brief survey and let her know if they would support a small rise in council tax so that policing levels can be sustained in communities across the county.

The Surrey public are being invited to have their say on whether they would agree to pay an extra 83p a month on an average council tax bill. But you will need to be quick, the survey closes at 9am on Tuesday 4th January. It only takes a few minutes to fill in and can be found by clicking here

One of the PCC’s key responsibilities is to set the overall budget for Surrey Police including determining the level of council tax raised for policing in the county, known as the precept, which funds the Force together with a grant from central government.

The Home Office have given PCCs across the country the flexibility to increase the policing element of a Band D Council Tax bill by £10 a year or an extra 83p a month, the equivalent of around 3.5% across all bands.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “We have already had a good response so far to our survey and I want to thank all those who have already taken part. If you haven’t had time to complete it yet, it really does only take a minute or two to fill in so please do click the link above and let me know what you think.

“I want to provide you all with the very best value for money I can from your policing service and ensure as many officers and staff are put into our police teams as possible.
“But like all public services, policing is facing a significant rise in costs in the current financial climate and in order to sustain our current position, an increase of some kind will likely be necessary.

“Over the last few years Surrey Police has been able to recruit an extra 300 officers and staff and I don’t want to see the hard work that has gone into providing a much needed boost to our policing numbers being undone.

“That is why I am asking the Surrey public for their support during these challenging times. But I really want to know what you all think so please do fill in our survey and give me your views.”

For more information click here to visit the website 

Festive Statement from Leader of Mole Valley

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: “With 2022 drawing ever closer, the pandemic continues to impact on our lives. This past year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. From the hope given to us by the success of the vaccine programme, to anxiety felt over these last couple of weeks with the emergence of a new variant. I believe that if we continue to draw strength from each other, in our family networks and local communities and take individual responsibility for our actions, next year will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one.

“The number of cases across the county continues to soar. Surrey remains one of the areas with the highest infection rates in England. Sadly, this is the second successive year where there are doubts in a number of people’s minds up and down the country about whether it is safe to meet with friends over the festive period. Above all else, however you choose to spend your time at Christmas, please do all that you can to take care of yourselves and others around you in the coming weeks and months. Please wear face coverings when required, keep rooms well ventilated when indoors and maintain good hand hygiene.

“The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the best defence we have against the virus. Every eligible adult (18 and over and some people aged 16 and over) can pre-book a booster jab appointment a month before the required three month gap since their second dose. Children aged 12 to 15 and 16 and over can also get a first and second vaccination. Appointments can be made using the national booking service at one of thousands of centres across England. For a list of vaccination sites available in Surrey, please visit the Surrey CCG website.    

“At the time of writing, it is still down to you to make the choice how, where and with whom you spend the Christmas period, unless you have tested positive and need to self-isolate for the period required either from your symptoms starting, or indeed the day you took the test if you have no symptoms. If you are due to be meeting people in the coming days, please do so safely. Remember, a high percentage of people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, so it is absolutely vital you take a Rapid Lateral Flow Test before meeting people from outside your household, even if you feel absolutely fine or have received the booster jab. Regardless whether you have had the booster, you can still be contagious and pass the virus to someone who has not had a booster. For advice about keeping yourself and others safe, visit gov.uk.

“The festive period sees our range of services differ slightly to those offered over the rest of the year. For information about everything from the opening times of our day centres to where you can recycle your Christmas tree, visit molevalley.gov.uk/christmas. The one exception this year is bin collections. There are no changes over the festive period, so please put bins out on the day you normally would.

“The festive period often presents the perfect time to take in the beautiful countryside on our doorstep by taking a walk on a crisp winter’s day. On that note, Natural England is inviting anyone who lives, works or enjoys visiting the Surrey Hills to have their say on whether additional areas to the existing Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) boundary should be extended. This is your chance to contribute towards Natural England’s ‘call for evidence’ stage. Visit the official website to find out more about the Surrey Hills AONB boundary review.

“I would like to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of Councillors and staff here at the Council.”    

Festive Fright For Pet Owners

It’s that joyous time of year again, and whether you’re going all out this Christmas, or are planning a more low-key affair, a national vet charity is warning pet owners of the many dangers that come on the big day.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “There are lots of hidden hazards that we don’t realise could be harmful to our four-legged friends, and this can be heightened on Christmas Day when festive spirits are at their peak. It’s important that pet owners are aware of the risks so that they can keep their furry family members safe this Christmas, as the last thing anyone wants is an emergency trip to the vet.

Decorative Dangers

“Tinsel, dangling baubles and fairy lights may be appealing accessories to decorate your Christmas tree and add that finishing touch, but unfortunately this shiny and tantalising decor can offer more risk than reward. Should your furry friend get their paws on a decoration, there’s a chance they could swallow it and potentially cause life-threatening blockages which may require emergency treatment.

Unwrapping Presents

“It’s easy to get distracted with the thrill of opening presents on Christmas morning and forget to watch our four-legged friends, which could lead to them getting themselves in trouble. Ribbon and gift wrap can be a dangerous choking hazard for cats and dogs alike, so take care when unwrapping gifts.

“It’s easy to forget about other hazards from gifts too – many children’s toys aren’t designed to be pet-friendly, and if batteries are swallowed, they could cause serious internal burns. It’s best to keep presents out of reach and be sure to clean up any wrapping paper before any curious paws can get hold of it.

Toxic Plants

“Avoid placing poinsettia, mistletoe, holly and ivy within easy reach of pets – between the bright red leaves and carol-worthy joy that these Christmas plants may bring, they are extremely toxic to many animals.

Festive Food

“We’re all guilty of overeating and overindulging ourselves at Christmas, but over feeding your pets can cause serious health issues. Some human foods can be toxic to furry friends and lead to sickness, diarrhoea or even pancreatitis. Stick to healthy treats for your four-legged friend this Christmas – and keep up the exercise to stop them from piling on the pounds.

A Full House

“This will be many pandemic pets’ first Christmas Day, so it’s important to provide somewhere safe and quiet for your furry friend to escape if they become overwhelmed. Cats feel safest when they’re high up and out of the way, and you can build a doggy den in a quiet room of the house. For small pets, move their enclosure into a quiet room away from loud visitors and TVs or music systems.”

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. This winter, your support is vital for poorly pets – find out how you can help us give pets a fighting chance at www.pdsa.org.uk/pdsa-chance  

Hobbledown After Dark

Hobbledown After Dark is a new winter experience at the popular children’s adventure park, which is included in your admission fee, if you purchase a standard entry ticket or you are a passholder for any time slot from 2pm onwards. We were lucky to be invited along to have a look on Friday 16th Dec and we loved what we saw.

We have been coming to Hobbledown since it opened, in fact the first event What’s On covered was the opening of the park back in 2012. So we were keen to see how hobbledown looked after dark with their festive winter lights.

As the amazing outdoor play equipment, animal enclosures and walkthroughs close at 4:15pm something magical starts to happen at Hobbledown. At 4:30pm, until they close, on go the festive winter lights, throughout Hobbledown’s outdoor areas.

On Friday we were greeted by Father Christmas and his Elf just by the entrance leading towards the otters and meerkats. Father Christmas is very busy but every now and again he pops out for photos. 

Walking towards the outside play area there is a glow of lights all around you and we loved the tunnel with the glitter ball at the end. With the early evening mist and the smoke machine the spotlight on the glitter ball lights up the surrounding trees with, what looks like, stars. 

We don’t want to give to much away but up by the outdoor play areas there is smoke breathing dragon and you can meet Roo & Tod, their new reindeer.

Once we had walked around and saw the fairies, with their brightly lit wings, we headed back to the courtyard to watch the fire act. After the show we headed inside to the wonderful Imaginarium.

Part reptile house, part water play, part insectarium and part interactive jungle, the Imaginarium combines hands-on, messy play with live animals – all housed in a themed building with caves, tunnels and pools galore. I could have stayed and played there for ages. 

If you are visiting Hobbledown in the afternoon it’s worth staying on for the lights at 4:30pm. Hobbledown After Dark is on till the 3rd Jan 2022. For More Information or To Book CLICK HERE……

Mole Valley District Council Joins the ‘UK100’

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) has taken a public pledge to accelerate the delivery of ambitious local climate action. The UK 100 is a national network focussed on climate, clean air and clean energy policy. By joining, Mole Valley has promised to do everything in its power to rapidly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and work with residents and businesses to bring its wider communities’ emissions in line with Net Zero as soon as possible.

The national organisation UK 100 aims to support council leaders and councillors with working together to achieve their aims. It facilitates sharing information, collaborating and petitioning UK government to accelerate the transition to Net Zero. Within the pledge, MVDC has committed to a number of actions, including the following:

  • Have in place a commitment for council operations to become carbon neutral by 2030, and report on progress annually
  • Aspire to achieve a district wide net zero target by 2045 
  • Commit to limiting the use of offsets, and if used, to be a local as possible
  • Facilitate dialogue with national politicians and senior government officials via collective advocacy to national government

Councillor Claire Malcomson, Mole Valley’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change said, “Joining this national network underlines just how serious we are about tackling Climate Change. We are already committed to ensuring our operations and contractors will become carbon neutral by 2030 and to leading by example to achieve a district wide reduction. We will be working closely with Surrey Council to achieve these needed actions, as it is largely dependent on them taking action to achieve their County wide carbon neutral targets.  

“This is not just about saving the planet but about people, about improving their lives and the place they live. We have strong community support for action on climate change and we will continue to work towards a cleaner, greener environment for everyone who lives and works in Mole Valley.”

Covid Omicron variant confirmed in Mole Valley

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council

Statement from Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: “The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that we have cases of the Covid Omicron variant in Mole Valley. While it seems that scientific data specific to Omicron continues to build relatively slowly, it has become apparent that the speed at which this mutation spreads is the exact opposite. The government has set out ambitious plans to offer a booster jab by the end of the end of the year. If you are over 30 and it is two months (61 days) since your 2nd vaccine, you can now book your booster jab.  Those under 30 (18-30 year olds) can book their booster jab from Wednesday this week.

“It is not yet clear whether Omicron has more severe health implications to anyone who contracts this specific strain. With the government having enacted Plan B to slow down the spread last week, I am urging residents to take personal responsibility, get their booster jab and adhere to the restrictions now in place. Now is the time for action. Following public health advice is really important in order to protect ourselves and our friends and family over the festive period.

“Unless you are exempt, it is now mandatory for face coverings to be worn in all indoor public places such as shops, theatres and trains and buses. The only exception to this rule comes if you were to visit hospitality venues like cafes, pubs and restaurants. The rules now in force also mean that office workers who can work from home should do so. Anyone who cannot, should continue to attend their place of work and consider regular testing to manage their own risks to others around them. For more information about the Plan B measures now in force, visit the gov.uk website.

“If you have festive plans with friends and family, please remember to take a Lateral Flow test before meeting anyone outside of your household. Continue to report your result and, if it is positive, self-isolate immediately and take a PCR test. Letting in fresh air when meeting indoors can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 so please consider opening doors and windows regularly, even 10 minutes an hour can make a big difference.

“For more information about who can get a booster and when, visit the NHS website.”

Seeking secret Santas to support young patients this Christmas!

Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity have launched their annual Christmas Toy Appeal, inviting local people to help spread a little more cheer among young patients during the festive season by gifting an item or two from an Amazon Wish List

Last year, thanks to the generosity of the local community, nearly 100 toys, games, and gifts of arts and crafts were given to the children’s wards across the hospitals. 

Staying in hospital or visiting for treatment can be difficult for children and their loved ones at the best of times, but even more so at Christmas.  So these toys and games really make a big difference and help staff keep their young patients entertained and relaxed. 

The Wish List has been put together by the hospitals’ Play Specialists – everything has been carefully selected not only to raise a smile and provide a welcome distraction, but also to ensure strict infection control standards can be maintained on the wards. Some items, like colouring books, pencils, and small toys, will make up individual ‘playtime packs’ while all plastic toys will be deep-cleaned and sanitised before used by another child.  

Play Specialist Emily King, said: “We know that coming into hospital can be quite upsetting for our young patients, especially at Christmas, but with your help we can make it a bit brighter! We do also appreciate that the festive season is already an expensive time of year and that Covid has impacted many people financially, so of course we’re only inviting people to support the appeal if they have something to spare.” 

Once you have selected the gift you would like to give (you can find the Wish List here:www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/366A7GXO1GJLA), please feel free to write a message, or to let us know if you have a preference for which children’s ward it goes to, otherwise we will ensure all gifts and evenly distributed. You can also contact the Charity Team at [email protected] or on 01372 735 262 to let them know about your donation!

Whatsapp Scam Warning From A What’s On follower

Over the years we have shared press releases from the police and Action Fraud warning of all types of online fraud. Today we like to share one of our followers, Jill, story. We have know Jill for many years via the great work she does in the community. Please read to the end.

My name is Jill  and I am sitting in work today still reeling from the shock of nearly losing £3,500 yesterday, nearly because I did not but I was only one click away from saying goodbye to £3,500, I feel so upset I want as many people as possible across our counties to know about what happened to a woman who for 40 years worked in the financial services industry, and if it could happen to me someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable in this field it can happen to anyone.

Yesterday 6th December I received a whatsapp message it started “ Hi Mum this is my new number . the old one you can delete . I have to go look for a new phone”

My response “ Is that you XXXXXXX” ( my daughter) of course the next response was “yes “ this lead to a long conversation which moved onto how she had damaged her phone and desperately needed to make an urgent payment that day, and would I do it for her and she would pay the money back as soon as her new phone was up and running.

By this point I had deleted her number and added in the fraudulent number . so could not speak to her , I tried on the fraudulent number 07503 847629 which produced a gurgling sound , they even messaged me saying “ could you hear me mum”.

The conversation went on and on until I agreed to transfer her the £3,500 . She promised to give it back to me tomorrow

I was being put under pressure “it needs to be done by 1.30pm”

My daughter is a business owner an extremely solid trustworthy person I am a Mum and trust her implicitly at this point I had no cause for concern.

Its hard to cut this story short but I will do my best.

When I tried to make the transfer my bank asked me to verify on a card reader which I did not have on me at work, Phew. However not to be deterred the pressure from the messages led me to drive home to get my card reader, to be greeted  by very level headed husband. He tried to convince me that this was a scam, but mums being mums I wanted to support my daughter, but on the way back to  work I started to think and before I pressed the switch on the transfer all set up on my online banking I challenged .

“XXXXXX I don’t think this you” and at this point the tone of the response changed and I knew it was not my daughter.

All of sudden  parts of the messages were being deleted i.e. the bank details, but I have them as I had written them down. I tried to call the bank accepting the transfer today to be faced with a message “ this number has been deactivated.”

So I have not lost £3,500 by the skin of my teeth because of my bank and my husband.

BUT…. this could happen to anyone in hindsight I should have picked up the triggers danger signs, being a financial services employee for 40 years I didn’t ,all I cared about was my daughter being in trouble.

I have the full email trail  the name of the recipient (Fraud criminal) bank account numbers and even the name of the bank, and have passed onto the police. I want people to see how easy it is to get sucked into a scam.

So many people will not be as lucky as me , this is a terrible scam hitting high numbers of innocent people across our counties.

The simple solution never accept someone telling you they have changed their phone numbers.

Thank you for reading this story , I feel stupid and embarrassed but I don’t want this to happen to other innocent families and worse still vulnerable people. It is a very cruel crime .

Jill was a lucky if her husband had not been at home or she had a card reader with her she would have been another victim of of a cruel crime. Jill was doing what any mum would do to help her daughter in a time of crises. 

Next time you get an request from a strange number Stop and Think is this Fraud.

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

They provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. People are scammed, ripped off or conned everyday and they, like all of us, want this to stop.For More Information CLICK HERE

Epsom and St Helier midwives join calls for parents-to-be to have their jabs

Expert midwives at Epsom and St Helier hospitals have teamed up with the Department of Health and Social Care to urge pregnant people to have their Covid vaccine.

In a new video campaign that has just launched, Liz Cullen, Head of Midwifery at the Trust, explains that the vaccine is safe for pregnant people and their baby, and that parents-to-be should not put off having the jab. The film also features three new mums, whose first-hand experience of catching covid while pregnant is a stark reminder of just how vital the vaccine can be.   

Liz said: “The vaccine is safe for pregnant women and is the best way to protect yourself and your baby from Covid-19. Evidence shows that being double-vaccinated works: across England, no pregnant woman that has had both vaccinations has been admitted to hospital due to Covid.  

“You can receive vaccination at any time in pregnancy. Sadly, unvaccinated pregnant people risk becoming severely unwell as a result of Covid – this film is a stark reminder of the devastating impact Covid can have on women and their babies.” 

Much of the film was shot at Epsom Hospital’s Maternity Department, including an interview with Professor Asma Khalil, Professor of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine, speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

You can be vaccinated against COVID-19 if:

      • You’re pregnant or think you might be 
      • You’re breastfeeding 
      • You’re trying for a baby or might get pregnant in the future.

Vaccines cannot give mothers or their babies Covid.

You can watch the video via Youtube below. 

For more information click here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/pregnancy-breastfeeding-fertility-and-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination/ 

Vaccines can be booked here: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine

For more information about Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust, visit www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk.  

Car Park Refurbishment Works Update

Having completed extensive refurbishment works to Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall towards the end of 2019, the coronavirus pandemic paused Mole Valley District Council’s vision to modernise its car parks. Plans to resurrect this programme of works in 2022, starting with Southside car park in Dorking, have been proposed.

Councillor Clayton Wellman, Mole Valley District Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Economy and Security, said: “After such a strong start to our ambitious refurbishment project, and the comprehensive improvement measures put in place at Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall car park, the fact we were unable to build on this success straight away because of the pandemic has been frustrating.

“Even now, we are not able to proceed as we would wish. The pandemic has impacted individuals, businesses and whole industries in ways no one could have imagined, and the construction sector is no different. In addition to skills shortages, the cost of materials has increased immeasurably, as has the availability of those materials.

“It is with that in mind that we are having to reassess how we proceed with this programme of works and the timeframes involved. We are working closely with contractors to propose a revised programme of works starting from next year – to avoid the extremely busy Christmas period – and it is our ambition to begin with Southside car park in Dorking, subject to positive results from ground surveys. We anticipate we’ll be able to announce more news early next year.

“Despite the challenges imposed on us by the pandemic, we have still been able to successfully progress works at St Martin’s Walk, Dorking and the Swan Centre car park in Leatherhead in the past year. We carried out an extensive rewiring programme of works at St Martin’s Walk to improve the lighting provision at the car park. We have also installed new payment machines on each level of the Swan Centre to allow visitors to be able to purchase a parking ticket using a convenient contactless card payment system. Both projects have without doubt improved the user experience at both facilities. 

“Please do not forget that if you’re not walking or cycling in to one of our towns or villages in December – perhaps to do some Christmas shopping – it will be completely free to park in any one of our car parks on the first three weekends. On the 4 and 5, 11 and 12 and 18 and 19 December, you can park without charge and help support local businesses during what has been a hugely challenging couple of years.”