AGM Speeches

CWRA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 17TH MARCH 2021

Our Chairman’s Tim Humphries speech followed by our Councillor Nigel Collin’s speech.

Tim Humphries, CWRA Chairman:

Since we did not have an AGM in 2020 due to Covid 19 and not having the experience up till then of holding meetings online or expecting our residents to be able to join us if we did, I shall report on the significant things that College Ward RA has been involved with in the past two years.

One of CWRA’s significant achievements over the last two years has been to put forward a petition to request a full Council meeting be held so that the Council can come up with a strategy regarding how best to meet the Conservative government’s home building targets of 579 dwellings pa.

1500 people needed to sign the petition for it to be accepted and 1815 people signed. The Council meeting was held on 18th December 2019 which resulted in the Residents’ Association Councillors issuing a statement on a new local plan and housing numbers. You can see this statement on our website, collegeward.org under Newsletters, the December 2019 issue.

In spite of the lockdown over the past year we have kept busy holding meetings online and we have continued to reach out to residents as well as we can legally. Planning in general is one area where we are always busy. We have actively supported residents in Links Road, Alexandra Road, Briavels Court, Burgh Heath Road to name a few.

Recently, as many of you will know, a new site tenant in the Chalk Pit site has produced a vast increase in noise and air pollution, which has affected residents mainly in Ewell Downs but also a significant number of residents in our Ward too.  It comes from huge aggregate sorting and crushing machines introduced by a new site tenant NJB Recycling Ltd, which has unilaterally gone ahead and industrialised a waste material handling process – without any planning permission from Surrey County Council.  A great increase in lorry movements along our residential roads; dangerous verge parking by workers in College Rd, and unsocial working hours six days a week, are further operational incursions that are affecting us all. 

Although the date for commenting on this application was last Monday 15th March, as of this morning Surrey County Council’s website was still open for comments.  Ref 2020/0159.

The developers of South Hatch have put in yet another application for a change in the S106 agreement. The developers wish to change the phasing of the building so that the RTE will not necessarily be built and complete before the residential blocks. The application can be seen on the EEEBC’s planning portal under 18/00308/FUL.

If you haven’t done so already please do comment on these applications.

  • The future of the old dairy in Alexandra Road or as it is now known as “The Aldi site” is still up in the air but the good news is that the preparation at the Lidl site has nearly finished. I recently phoned the Aldi management office to tell them that the Office World site could still be available and perhaps they should check it out.
  • Residents regularly use our webmail service – info@collegeward.org – to contact us about local issues.  This year we have answered various queries about parking, the future of Epsom General Hospital, Cyclists, yellow lines, postal voting, lorries on College Road, speeding on Alexandra Road to name a few
    We try to answer emails as promptly and effectively as possible and act on them or forward them to Tina Mountain if it is a Surrey County Council issue.
  • Last year in spite of the lockdown we managed one, socially distanced, litter pick. We are hoping to resume litter picks in 2021 once we are allowed to. If you would like to join us please email info@collegeward.org
  • We are currently looking for new people to join our committee.  Would anyone here be willing to join us? If you are interested in local matters or know of anyone who might be interested, please do contact us. No qualifications are required! just a desire to help the local community and keep our part of Epsom as attractive as ever.
  • In August 2019 Nigel Collin, Ruth Sharma and I gave a tour of the Ward to Kathryn Beldon, Epsom Council’s Chief Executive and one of the places we visited was Epsom College. The tour around the College and its grounds was presented by Alan Scadding was very enlightening He was due to give us a talk at the cancelled 2020 AGM but we shall invite him to a future AGM to tell us all the delightful history of the College.
  • We are currently supporting residents in College Road who are concerned about lorries using the road which due to its narrowness are likely to cause damage to parked cars or the walls in front of properties Nigel Collin will be bringing the matter up at the Local Committee this month. Another traffic issue is speeding in Alexandra Road. There is a community speed watch team but it needs more volunteers so if you would like to help please contact us via info@collegeward.org
  • At the end of this AGM I will be introducing to you our Surrey County Council candidate Steve McCormick.  In our Christmas 2020 flyer we asked residents to complete a questionnaire about what issues are important for them. If you haven’t responded we would still like to hear your views. The newsletter is on our website collegeward.org for you to see and we can always email it to you.

Voting for the Surrey County Council will take place on Thursday 6th May. If you are concerned about voting in person this year it is very easy to download a postal voting form from EEBC website. The closing date is 5pm, 11 working days before polling day.  

Now I’ll hand over to Tina Mountain, our Surrey County Councillor. All questions will be taken after our Borough councillor Nigel Collin has spoken.

Thank you – Tim Humphries

Nigel Collin, CWRA Councillor:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and fellow Councillors

After a period of 12 years, this May it will have been my privilege to have served as your RA Cllr for 2 years. I would like to pay tribute to College Ward Residents Association for the support I have received from the committee who have worked hard on your behalf.

It has been a challenging time for all of us and the impact of covid 19 has changed so many things. Since March I have had to postpone my monthly surgeries and it is hard to predict when I shall be able to resume these. Similarly, together with all other Cllrs I have been locked out of my office, the Town Hall, to protect the task force working within. Zoom meetings have been prolific and I wonder how we would have managed without this technology?

As many of you will know, I write a monthly blog on my Cllr activities to keep you updated on my Cllr cttee activities. These updates are posted on our web site and they are also available via a link on our Facebook page. I hope you find these informative.

I currently sit on the following committees; Strategy and Resources, Audit Crime and Disorder and Scrutiny, The Local Committee and the Twinning Committee, I am a member of the Financial Policy Panel and the Community Infrastructure bid panel. I also sit on the planning committee as a substitute member and am a member of the polling station review committee.

I have enjoyed my contact with residents over this period and the diet has been very varied ranging from waste collection, planning, parking and homeless matters to name but a few issues.

I was recently asked what my greatest achievement as a Cllr has been. This was a very difficult question to answer since I have derived most satisfaction from helping residents with their problems. However, the case which sticks in my mind relates to a frantic phone call from an estranged mother of a son who was very distressed about her grandchildren’s unsatisfactory accommodation, leaking roof, damp, inadequate heating etc. I was able to get the family rehomed and the grandmother was totally ecstatic and very generous in her gratitude.

In reviewing the past 2 years I must mention the landmark achievement in getting the first ever petition about planning debated in the Council. This was a singular achievement by CWRA, led by its chairman Tim Humphries. It was the first ever such petition to pass the threshold for a debate and the debate was well received by my fellow Cllrs.

Looking ahead we have the County Council election in May, and we have an excellent candidate in Cllr McCormack who will serve residents interests very well once elected.

There are several important matters ahead and these are as follows;

  • The unitary authority proposal by SCC which would mean the abolition of Boroughs and districts in the County. My fellow Cllrs and I are strongly opposed to this since we firmly believe that there is a need for local people to address local issues. The proposal is being contested and, although temporarily halted, it may be resurrected post the May elections.
  • This year the boundary Commission is to review the number of Cllrs needed in the Borough and it is likely that a new ward will be created with a reduced number of Cllrs in some wards.
  • The Local plan which is to be presented for consultation this year has caused considerable difficulty in its proposals. HMG has mandated that 587 new homes pa need to be built each year over the next 15 years requiring infrastructure, schools and surgeries etc. It is clear that our land supply cannot accommodate this and there may, sadly, be a requirement to use underperforming green belt to meet the target.  This flies in the face of HMG’s stated intention to maintain the green belt and indicates that there are difficult decisions to be made. I would urge you all to respond to the consultation when this is published.

I must mention developments at our hospital here in Epsom. I was saddened by the decision in July to locate a new hospital in Belmont and this is now a fait accompli. In so far as our hospital is concerned, I have received assurances that no services will be impacted prior to 2025 and thereafter there is a proposal to convert the hospital to District Hospital status dealing with routine day case treatments. I understand that 85% of current services will continue. A considerable amount of building work is being undertaken to upgrade the site which indicates a commitment that the hospital will continue to look after our needs. I will continue to maintain a weather eye on developments to monitor these to ensure that our current service levels are retained.

Tina thank you for your opening remarks. On a personal note, I would like to thank you for all your work in our ward  and I would like to wish you well on your retirement from local politics.

I would like to close by quoting Albert Einstein who said learn from yesterday, live for today hope for tomorrow which seems very appropriate in these times.

Thank you – Nigel Collin