My activity update to 31 May 2021 as College Ward’s Residents Association Councillor by Cllr. Nigel Collin.
CWRA’s May zoom meeting was held on 5 May. The Committee reviewed the election activity and felt that there were lessons to be learnt for future elections. The Chalk Pit disruption was discussed, and the Committee noted that Environment Agency Inspectors had visited the site on numerous occasions in recent weeks. Inspectors had confirmed Licence Breaches in respect of both dust and noise and operators had been told to undertake remedial action within 28 days.
The RA group met on 10 May and considered the following matters. The group reviewed the SCC election results and lessons learnt would be carried over to the Borough elections in two years’ time, preparations for which need to commence as soon as possible. Members noted the consultation in respect of phone masts and agreed that a policy on mast sizes both below and above 25 metres needs to be drafted for inclusion in the local plan. The graffiti removal policy was considered at length with various options discussed. The group agreed to ascertain neighbouring Councils’ policies before finalizing a recommendation. Enforcement action generally and especially within planning was considered and the group recognized the need for improved enforcement within the Borough. This matter would be raised with the Chief Executive. Preparations for face to face meetings were discussed and, as a result, May’s Council meeting took place, socially distanced in the Playhouse.
On 12 May a Planning meeting was held in the Council Chamber for the first time in over a year. Members wore masks and were socially distanced unless speaking but it was nevertheless a milestone event. Two major applications were considered namely the Hospital multi storey car park and the 24-28 West Street development. Both were complex applications and the car park application was refused due to its mass scale and adverse heritage impact and the West Street application was deferred since the report was incomplete in respect of several relevant matters impacting on traffic flow and disabled parking. In the absence of the missing information members were unable to consider the application fairly.
On 13 May a Strategy and Resources meeting was also held in the Council Chamber under similar Covid secure conditions. This was the 11th meeting in the year which in a normal year has only 4 meetings and indicates the exceptional need to deal with the pandemic. The items on the agenda were provision of a gypsy traveller transit site in Surrey, the actions arising from the LGA finance peer review and the Covid 19 recovery plan. Members noted that all 11 Districts and Boroughs in Surrey were contributing equally to the transit site’s establishment and that it would enhance the police’s ability to deal with unauthorized encampments swiftly. Members approved all the recommendations.
Due to social distancing regulations, a Council meeting was held in the Playhouse, on 18 May. The election of the new mayor, Cllr Peter O Donovan and the new deputy mayor Cllr Clive Woodbridge was agreed. In addition, the Council approved the Borough’s Constitution and the calendar of meetings for 2021-22. Committee appointments for the current year were also agreed. My Cttee appointments this year are; Audit Crime & Disorder and Scrutiny (Vice Chair), Planning, Financial Policy Panel, Local Cttee, Twinning Cttee, Local Citizens Advice Bureau-Cttee of management, CIL Panel and the Borough Heritage Champion. Epsom and Ewell have a rich historical heritage and I would like to have suggestions for things which need to be added to the heritage asset list. As well as properties, there may be several smaller items such as letter boxes, lamp posts, tunnels etc. which may have been overlooked, any suggestions are welcome.
On 20 May, the newly appointed RA group leader, Hannah Dalton, met with Cllrs to outline the key objectives for the year ahead and to propose an improved way of working. Members endorsed the proposals.
In the evening of 20 May a planning briefing evening was held for all planning cttee members and substitutes. The lengthy meeting outlined the planning process for both members and officers in detail and members sought clarification on several points.
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