Wells Centre gets a new start in the community

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is to transfer the running and activity of the former Wells Centre to Epsom Wells Community Association (EWCA), a registered charity.

The Strategy & Resources Committee agreed at its meeting last night (29 March 2022) that the community group would take responsibility for the building and put it back into use for hire, a café, and a range of community-led activities.  The council will grant a lease of the site with an initial two-year rent-free period after which the rent payable will reflect the community use of the building.

EWCA have produced a viable business case that sees the existing building renovated, and long-term managed by the Wells residents at no short or long-term costs to the Council and council taxpayers.  The business case proposal is for a “reimagined centre” which will mix community group use, private hire, business hub and hot desk space with a community café.

It plans to reinvigorate the offering on the premises to deliver a modern, forward-looking, multi-generational community centre. The centre will support Epsom & Ewell’s “Future 40” plans, helping to make the borough an even better, brighter place.

EWCA propose to be responsible for the Wells site in its entirety and release the Council from any ongoing financial responsibility. In addition, the Council would receive rental income from the commencement of the third year of the lease.

Councillor Colin Keane, Chair of the Strategy and Resources Committee said “We have listened to the local community and worked with EWCA to enable them to develop a business case to run the centre.

“The Council is committed to enabling and encouraging EWCA to succeed and a revived facility would support the principle that enhances the Cultural and Creative opportunities in the Borough where people work together for all the community.

“Crucially, this plan will also remove any financial call on the Council’s resources to enable the Council’s other key priorities for residents to be pursued”.

The Wells is a 1930’s housing development within Epsom Common, built on the land around the well where the original Epsom salts were discovered. The area incorporated an underused council building that had been partly utilised as a community day centre. In 2015, to ensure continuation of community services, the council made the decision to transfer services to the Community & Wellbeing Centre (three miles away) which has become the borough’s flagship facility for its community and well-being services.

When the decision was taken to close the Wells, the community was offered an opportunity to propose an alternative use for the site. The council has a legal duty to obtain best value from its assets and no viable community proposals were offered that the council could support. The council proceeded with plans to redevelop the site for affordable housing alongside a community hall. 

The community objected and their elected representatives opted not to support the project via the Planning process. The council has now received a business proposal by EWCA offering an alternative use for the building that the council could support, and which would offer value for money for the council taxpayer. It is this option that has been approved by the Strategy & Resources Committee.


EEBC www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk

EWCA www.epsomwellscommunityassociation.org

Sutton Utd Papa John Bus Tour

This Sunday 3rd April Sutton United are off to Wembley in the EFL Papa John Trophy Final. Its the first time the club has been back to Wembley in a final since 1981 when they lost 1-0 to to Bishop’s Stortford and Adam Ant was top of the charts with Stand and Deliver. In total the club has been to Wembley 3 times so far but sadly leaving empty handed each time . Lets hope there be no robbery this time at Wembley and Sutton bring home the silverware.

Talking to Chairman Bruce Elliott I asked how he is feeling he replied

” I’m excited, obviously excited for everybody involved at the club and excited for all those people who’ve helped the club get where it is today. Because it’s a very special day out at Wembley and 41 years since we last did it. So why wouldn’t we all be looking forward to it”

When I asked how ticket sales are going he said ” We’ve been absolutely delighted so far with the response of the tickets. And at the moment, as things stand, we actually have sold more than Rotherham. But obviously, you know, the more people that can come along and support it. Will be great you know, for kids, it’s a tenner to go to Wembley to see a cup final. Such a good opportunity for all the locals to come and support their local club and let’s see if we can get the right result.”

Throughout the afternoon the players, manager and Jenny the Giraffe were on hand for photos and a chat. The trophy was also there for people to see and photograph. Former Republic of Ireland international striker Clinton Morrison, who played nearly 300 games for Crystal Palace, as well as playing for Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday, Colchester and Exeter was also there mixing with the players and fans.

After his many TV interviews I was lucky to speak to team manager Matt Gray. My first question is how he is feeling Matt replied

“Yes, probably just hitting home now because we’ve been so busy in the last month with a lot of games. The league campaign Saturday and Tuesdays. So suddenly now you’ve got those out the ways now as the weeks build up leading into Sunday’s final excited and I can’t wait to lead the team out”

We asked if there is any special preparation ahead of Sunday’s game and he said

“No, we’re just training as normal this week and the preparation be as normal as you possibly can make it obviously a few things that would obviously go with a Wembley Cup final. But yeah, as I say, it’d be as normal preparation as possible for us.”

Last question from us was about the team and if there are any injury problems his reply was

“We’ve been really hit with injuries over the last few weeks. It’s probably the lightest I’ve ever had a squad, but they all weren’t to bad and all are coming back into recognition for the game on Sunday.”

This is great for the club and great for Borough. I personally have a emotional link with the club as both my Father and Uncle played for the club back in the late 40’s and early 50’s so always look at the results. 

If you are going on Sunday enjoy the day and make sure you post your photos on our Facebook page. If you are thinking of going tickets are still available via Ticketmaster CLICK HERE 


Sandown Park Vaccination Centre Shuts Down

On Saturday 26th March the Sandown Park Vaccination Centre gave its last life saving covid jab. After being at Sandown for over a year it was time to move on. 

We were lucky to be invited for a tour on their last day and I was met by Alan Stirling the centre manager for the day.  On arrival I could see it was going to be a very busy day for them. The line to get into the centre was outside the building down the ramp and passed the marquee. 

The centre moved from Epsom Downs Racecourse in may 2021 and originally in the Esher Hall under the main grandstand. It moved down to large portacabin structure away from the racing and event crowds in late Summer 2021 and has been there until Saturday.

When I asked Alan on how many people have visited the site he replied ” I couldn’t put an exact figure on it but periods where it’s has been busy we’ve done some times up to 1,300 to 1,400 a day,and we also had quieter days with maybe just 100 a day”

People coming through the door on this day was a mixture of teenagers getting their first or second jab and  a large amount of over 75’s getting their Spring Booster jab. 

The system was the same as it was at Epsom Downs a well rehearsed chain of events make sure people are put at ease and dealt with as quickly as possible. Every member of staff knew their job and carried it out immaculately.

Another item I noticed, which played an important role for the staff morale, was the Post-it Note board at Sandown  called Cabin Fever. This board is for the staff to share their feels and memories with their colleagues. All were positive some were humours but most thankful for working with a great team.

This is not the end of the vaccination programme in Surrey. The centre is moving to its new home in Guildford. I asked Alan what do people in North surrey do to get the jab? he replied “There will be plenty of other locations. The high street pharmacies will still be doing a service and there will still be some drop in centers based around. So the best things that we could advise people to do is to look at the National booking system, see what sites are open that best suited their geographical area and book something accordingly. Walk-in should be readily available in many centers, not least of all the high street pharmacists. So your service should be fairly easily accessible,wherever you are”

If you are still to book your 1st, 2nd, Booster or spring booster jab CLICK HERE NOW AND BOOK

Thank You to all the staff and  volunteers for making this such a huge success in Surrey.


Switch off when stationary

Drivers who leave their engines running in Epsom and Ewell are being targeted in an anti-idling campaign.

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is to engage with drivers and, when necessary, will take enforcement action against vehicle idling within the borough.

Engine idling produces air pollution and increases the amount of toxic air that we breathe, which can have significant impacts on people’s health. Children and elderly people are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Improving air quality can help cut heart disease, reduce lung cancer and prevent asthma. 

Councillor Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee said “Idling is sometimes unavoidable but there are instances, such as waiting for a takeaway or when collecting children from school, when idling is not necessary.

“Our advice is to switch off your engine when parked or waiting for a minute or longer, to reduce emissions and help improve our local air quality; that’s a small change that can make a big difference”.

There is a borough-wide traffic management order in place which prohibits vehicle engine idling within Epsom and Ewell.

Council Enforcement Officers will approach drivers where they observe engine idling and request that they switch the engine off whilst stationary. If the driver refuses to switch off the engine, they could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (£20 raising to £40 if not paid within 14 days). Exemptions exist where the engine is required to power specific functions of the vehicle, such as refrigeration units.

Councillor Dallen added “We don’t want to issue fixed penalty notices, and it will be a last resort, but we do want to enforce the new anti-idling regulations effectively to improve air quality”.

How to keep your pet safe from hidden dangers this spring

As spring is now officially here, we can expect lighter evenings, warmer days and a colourful array of seasonal blooms. Many of us will have an added spring in our step, finding increased motivation for getting the house spick-and-span and spending more time outside.

Our pets will also relish the opportunity for more time playing in the garden, and we know there are plenty of benefits to enjoying the great outdoors, both mental and physical.

However, a new season also brings with it some hidden dangers that can pose a risk to our four-legged friends. PDSA Vet Nurse, Shauna Spooner, has shared some of the things pet owners should be aware of this spring.

Beware of toxic flowers

“Our pets are curious creatures, often keen to explore plants and trees, but some can be toxic, or even fatal, if eaten. Whatever the season, it’s important to be aware of the hidden hazards that some of the beautiful new blooms can pose for our pets. Types to watch out for during springtime include azaleas, daffodils, hyacinth, cotoneasters, geraniums, tulips and irises.  

“For avid gardeners, installing fencing will help deter your four-legged friend from areas with lots of plants and bulbs – but be sure to still keep a close eye on them while they’re outside. If you spot your pet eating a potentially dangerous plant, or they suddenly become unwell after being in the garden, contact your vet as quickly as possible.  

Spring clean with caution

“As well as enjoying the seasonal changes outdoors, you may find yourself spring cleaning your home too – but it’s important to keep four-legged friends away from any toxic products. Many household cleaners such as bleach, oven cleaner, dishwasher tablets and laundry detergents can be very dangerous for our pets – the harsh chemicals can cause burns to wandering paws and can even be fatal if ingested. The good news is that there are plenty of safer alternatives that are also kinder to the environment, such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice – using these will help you create a gleaming and fresh interior, while posing much less of a risk to your furry friend. 

“If you do use stronger products, it’s essential to follow instructions and dilute where necessary. Wipe down floors and surfaces with fresh water after using chemicals to ensure your pet can walk around safely, and don’t forget to empty any mop buckets as soon as you’ve finished. Be sure to store products well out of reach – if your pet has mastered the art of opening door handles, it’s worth fitting a child-proof lock on your cleaning cupboard!  

Keep Easter treats out of paws’ reach

“Humans aren’t the only ones tempted by a chocolatey treat or hot-cross bun – our pets can sniff them out even when concealed in packaging. Having chocolate in the house can pose a real danger to our precious pets – it contains a substance called theobromine, which can be life-threatening to animals if consumed.   

“Signs of chocolate poisoning include excessive thirst, vomiting, a tender tummy, drooling and restlessness. These symptoms can worsen over time, affecting an animal’s heart rate, temperature and breathing. As well as chocolate treats, raisins, peanuts and coffee beans can also be a real danger. I’d always recommend storing chocolate in the same way you’d store medicine – well out of paws’ reach! If you want to give your pet a treat, offer a tasty low-fat snack such as a small piece of carrot. Alternatively, indulge in a new toy, a nice long walk or an extra-long playtime!” 

 For more information on keeping pets safe this spring, visit pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/all-pets/pet-care-in-spring.

Mole Valley Community Infrastructure Levy

On 22 March 2022, Mole Valley District Council’s Cabinet will consider proposals to change how Community Infrastructure Levy is spent.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a levy placed on development in the district. The size of the levy paid to Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) by a developer depends on the size of that development. The money received can be spent by MVDC on a wide range of infrastructure. The Cabinet is committed to ensuring that future investment in infrastructure using CIL funding aligns with the needs of residents.

The money received through CIL payments is divided into a number of funds that MVDC allocates as required, including a strategic fund, a fund for Parish Councils and neighbourhood CIL. The strategic fund has been set aside for the provision of infrastructure to support development put forward in the Local Plan. Now the Local Plan has been submitted for examination, the Cabinet will be asked to allow bids for that money to be made; prioritising schemes that address education, highways, flooding and health.

Parish Councils can decide what to spend their allocation of CIL funding on, provided it is related to infrastructure. The neighbourhood CIL allocation is reserved by MVDC for small-scale projects. The Cabinet is set to consider a new method of bidding for those funds to help ensure money is allocated in a more flexible manner on infrastructure that meets the needs of residents and wider communities in areas that requires it as a result of an increase in the number of homes.       

Councillor Keira Vyvyan-Robinson, MVDC’s Cabinet Member for Project, said: “Currently, spending of CIL money has probably not reflected broader priorities or sufficiently met the requirements of residents. We want to change that and make funding work better, providing key infrastructure to support the development currently putting pressure on existing infrastructure; be that pedestrian and cycle routes, public and community transport, road safety measures and improvements to green space.

“We want to ensure that a broad range of bids for CIL funding can come forward and they can be considered with a renewed collective understanding of the needs in our communities. We believe the best way to do this is by changing the way we govern the allocations of the funds we hold.”

Future for The Wells – a Community Proposal

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council will be considering the future use of the Wells site at the Strategy and Resources Committee on Tuesday 29 March 2022 Click here For Details  

In 2015, to ensure continuation of community services, the council decided to transfer services to the improved Community & Wellbeing Centre (three miles away) and close the Wells Centre.  The Centre had experienced prolonged underuse and was placing an unsustainable financial burden on the borough’s council taxpayers.

The council has held a number of public meetings and consultations over the last five years to consider residential and community options for the site.  Despite the additional challenges of the time frame imposed by COVID-19, the council has worked with the Epsom Wells Community Association (EWCA) who have produced a business case that could produce a solution that sees the existing building renovated, and long-term managed by the Wells residents at no short- or long-term costs to the council and council taxpayers.

After careful consideration, and with community involvement, the Strategy and Resources Committee is therefore being asked to provide the time to develop their plans to see whether the financial plans are feasible, and the longer-term success of the plan can be assured.

The EWCA proposal would involve the group taking responsibility for the building and putting it back into use again for hire, a café and a range of community-led activities. 

The Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee Councillor Colin Keane states “We have listened to the local community and worked with EWCA to enable them to develop a business case to run the centre. Now that a viable plan has been received by the Council, I am confident that it is the right time for the Strategy and Resources Committee to consider this option for the future of the centre”.

The council is committed to enabling and encouraging community effort and supporting community success, and a renewed facility would support the principle that enhances the Cultural and Creative opportunities in the Borough “where people work together for the benefit of the community”.

Crucially, a successful plan will also remove any financial call on the council’s resources to enable the council’s other key priorities for residents to be pursued.

Let’s get Active this April

Getting moving and getting outdoors as much as possible is great for physical and mental wellbeing, which is why Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is challenging residents to get Active this April.

from 1 April 2022, the council is asking residents to share their active photos, videos or stories on social media, using the hashtag #ActiveApril and tagging the council, or sending them to [email protected]. They are encouraging all ages, abilities and activities to take part and enter into a prize draw to win a £50 sports voucher.

The council’s Active April initiative is a great opportunity for residents to make simple adjustments in their daily routine to increase their physical activity. Whatever the circumstances or physical limitations, people can find their own ways to be a bit more active – this is for everyone.

Councillor Alex Coley, Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Committee said “We don’t need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to take care of our bodies; whether that’s going for a walk with the family, taking the stairs rather than the lift, walking a bit further to get to work or school or even trying out the outdoor gym equipment we’ve installed around the borough with your mates.

“We’re fortunate to live in one of the best boroughs in the country for opportunities for physical and recreation activities with lots of parks, open spaces, and sports facilities all on our doorstep.

“Take a picture of yourself being more active and send it to us – walking, cycling, playing sports, practicing yoga, at the gym or even doing the gardening. Any and all physical activity counts, and you could win £50!” 

Active April wants to get everyone moving more in Epsom and Ewell this spring – join in with the fun. There will be tips and hints, suggestions and ideas of what to do and where to go

Recommendations are that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, or around 20-30 minutes a day in any time frame throughout the week and it’s also recommended to take part in some form of activity every day, like going for a walk.

Mole Valley Life hosts Digital Transformation Event

In readiness for the nationwide analogue to digital upgrade, Mole Valley District Council’s Lifeline Alarm and Technology Enabled Care (TEC) service provider, Mole Valley Life, hosted a digital transformation event in partnership with UKTelehealthcare, at Dorking Halls in Surrey on Tuesday 15th March.

The event was well supported with 100 plus delegates, over 30 exhibitor stands and guest speakers from the NHS Transformation Directorate, the Local Government Association, Mole Valley District Council and Surrey County Council. During the course of the day, visitors had the opportunity to meet with experts in their respective fields (including national communications providers), network with health and social care colleagues and receive the latest digital transformation guidance.

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: “With the national digital communications upgrade already in motion and set to complete by the end of 2025, we were delighted to be working in partnership with UKTelehealthcare to host yesterday’s informative event, which shone a light on digital transformation.

“Mole Valley Life and Surrey County Council’s presentation on their proactive and preventative ‘Enabling You with Technology’ pilot demonstrated how digital technology can be harnessed to empower individuals to live safe and well at home for longer. With an ageing population and a stretched health and social care system, it is vital that we continue to work together and utilise the opportunities presented by digital technology to better support individuals.”

UKTelehealthcare’s Managing Director, Gerry Allmark said: “We would like to thank Mole Valley Life for hosting this important Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) event in Dorking, which gave TECS providers, suppliers and other health and care professionals the chance to engage with the communications providers to help plan for the safe transfer of telecare service users from the old analogue lines to the new digital services.”

NHS Transformation Directorate, DHSC/NHS E&I Joint Unit’s, Michael Swaffield said: “NHS Transformation Directorate was keen to support this event as it brought together service providers and suppliers to discuss the opportunities for telecare and the vulnerable people who use those vital services.  We are also co-ordinating a Telecare Stakeholder Action plan for the digital switchover which will outline work by a range of partners and be available in the next few weeks.

Mole Valley Life (MVL) is operated by Mole Valley District Council and provides the Lifeline Alarm and TEC service for Mole Valley. MVL also works in partnership with Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Tandridge District Council to deliver the Lifeline Alarm and TEC service for Reigate & Banstead and Tandridge residents. In addition, MVL monitor for and respond to all alarm activations made by Crawley Borough Council and Horsham District Council’s Lifeline alarm users, equating to MVL monitoring a total of 15,000 Lifeline alarm connections.

In 2017 MVL became one of the first Technology Enabled Care (TEC) providers and Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) to fully meet standards and achieve the new Quality Standards Framework (QSF) from the industry body the TEC Service Association. MVL have continued to fully meet the required standards at each of their annual audits. The QSF offers TEC service providers and suppliers a way of demonstrating quality and it gives commissioners much needed assurance in an otherwise unregulated industry.

In 2020, MVL’s ARC in Leatherhead became one of the first ARCs in the country to upgrade their monitoring platform to digital. Ensuring that during the pandemic they were able to switch to remote working, guaranteeing critical continuity of service for 15,000 vulnerable and older people, whilst also allowing staff to be protected.

MVL’s ARC takes on average 5,000 calls a week and responds to 97.5% of calls within 60 seconds, with an average call answer time of just 9 seconds.

In addition to its Lifeline Alarm and TEC service, MVL also provide Community Transport and Social Centres for the older and vulnerable within Mole Valley.


Ukrainian refugees, Chalk Pit and Local Flooding issues

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on support for Ukraine and a number of local issues.  I hope this is helpful information for constituents. 

Ukrainian refugees

Firstly on the tragic situation in the Ukraine, following a meeting on Friday night, we have now formed a group locally to prepare for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in the area. Some will be staying with their families, but there will be a need to provide homes or accommodation for those without local connections here.

The process is being co-ordinated by the local Refugee Network, together with a group of local churches, myself and one of the Borough Councillors.

Anyone who wants to be a host for one of these people or for a family group will need to go through a formal vetting process. If you are interested, please do bear in mind that this is a commitment that could last for more than a few months. Clearly we hope people can return home soon, but there is no guarantee of this as you will know. So please only offer if you are willing for this to be a pretty long term thing.

In order to register, please go to the website of the charity Refugees at Home, which is doing the processing of offers for us. It is at https://www.refugeesathome.org/host-application/

You will then receive a call from one of the volunteers who are working for the charity to talk through and check your offer with you.

If you are registering, please could you also let the local refugee network team know so that we have an idea of how many are putting their names forward and so how many people we can help locally. The email is [email protected]

If you are an experienced social worker, GP or Occupational Therapist with experience of doing home visits and checks, the charity will need more volunteers to do this work. If you are willing to help, you can register to do this at https://www.refugeesathome.org/hv-description/

Finally the local team are collecting details of people with teaching experience who can help any children who come to the area. In particular they are keen to find a former senior member of a teaching staff or head teacher who is willing to volunteer to lead a new team to do this.

If you are willing to offer to do either of these and you have the relevant experience, either current or before you retired, please contact [email protected]

They are also keen to hear from anyone else willing to train as a volunteer or indeed just to make a donation to support their work. In addition if you are local landlord interested in finding out about renting to a refugee family then please contact the network to find out more.

Local donations for Ukraine

A reminder that a local team has set up a collection centre for local donations in the old H&M unit in the Ashley Centre. That’s the original unit near House of Fraser and not the double floored one which has closed recently. They have an organised plan to move donations out to Ukraine.

Their biggest ask right now is for donations of medical supplies, and in particular things like bandages, as well as over the counter painkillers like Ibuprofen. If you have items that you do not need, or are willing to buy some and drop them off there I know that would be very welcome.

Details of the charity doing this and what it is collecting are at www.surreystandswithukraine.org

They are also asking for donations to help pay for fuel costs to get van loads of supplies to the Polish/Ukrainian border, and are able to take cash or card donations at the centre in Epsom as well as on their website.

National Appeal

If you want to donate to the national appeal being organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee/Red Cross, the link to the appeal site is here.

Your donation is being match funded by the Government.

Chalk Pit Epsom

On separate issues, firstly many of you will be aware that the County has approved the retrospective application for the expanded use of the Chalk Pit in Epsom as a recycling centre. I am profoundly unhappy about the decision, but it has to be ratified by the Planning Inspectorate and I am seeking to get it blocked. The Committee considering the plan did so without key information and I am working with local residents to get its decision looked at again. If you live in the area, you will be getting more information about what we are planning to do.

Property flood resilience events

For those of you who have been affected by the regular localised flooding in the Nork and Tattenhams area and in Worcester Park, Surrey County Council has agreed to host two property flood resilience events for affected residents. This will provide residents with the opportunity to talk with flood experts and visit the floodmobile trailer to better understand what options are available to them and improve their resilience to flooding.

As those of you affected will know, a lot more needs to be done to work towards a long term solution, but these events will hopefully provide some short term ways to respond to the problem. The events are:

Date: 28th March 2022
Time: 11:00 – 17:00
Venue: The Mound Car Park, Tattenham Corner, Epsom, KT18 5PR

Date: 29th March 2022
Time: 10:00 – 15:00
Venue: Car Park of St Georges Field Auriol Park, Worcester Park, KT4 7AR

I hope all this is helpful.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling