DECLARED IN MOLE VALLEY
At the Council meeting on 11 October, a motion by Cllr Claire Malcolmson (Liberal Democrat) and seconded by Cllr Patricia Wiltshire (Ashtead Independent) was debated and declared.
This declaration complements the Climate Emergency agreed in 2019, and will establish a Member Ecology Steering Group to propose targets for improvement, and require ecological impact implications to be included alongside those for climate change in appropriate council and committee papers.
The declaration will aim to ensure nature recovery is seen as a strategic priority and prepare proposals for consideration for inclusion in the Council’s Annual Plan for 2023-24.
Your Independent Councillors hope that this will lead to an increased commitment by the Council to address the deteriorating condition of the nature reserves and sites of nature conservation importance it owns, not least Ashtead Park.
We also welcome the increased attention being accorded to biodiversity issues in the new Local Plan now undergoing the last stages of inspection.
RECREATION GROUND PROPOSALS – LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
The strength of public feeling amongst Ashtead Residents has led to a delay in any decision being made by Mole Valley District Council’s Cabinet over Ashtead Football Club’s proposal to install an artificial pitch surrounded by 4.5 to 5 m wire fences which would cross the ground behind the club buildings almost to the footpath near the hedge (see “Public debate on artificial pitch hots up”).
Following an open public meeting held in St George’s church on 24 August, attended by 230 people, which included a presentation by the Football Club, a public petition was organized by concerned resident Steven Kershaw to request the Council not to proceed with the proposal. With the assistance of the Ashtead Independents, 1,166 signatures were obtained in just nine days – well in excess of the 800 required to have the issue debated at full Council; this was only the third instance of a petition gaining the required number of reports in the last 15 years.
In addition a leaflet was printed by Tina Mountain MBE, a former Epsom & Ewell Councillor, and distributed to 6,000 homes in Ashtead asking resident’s to e-mail Chris Grayling MP with their views for or against; Mr Grayling received over 200 e-mails of which 95% were opposed.
At the Council meeting on 11 October, following an eloquent and carefully worded presentation by Mr Kershaw, each of the five Ashtead Independent Councillors elaborated on different reasons for residents’ concerns; the proceedings were also webcast (here is the link to the webcast). Cllr Keira Vyvyan-Robinson responded for the Cabinet and said the issues raised would all be now be considered.
In consequence, the issue will not now go to Cabinet for final decision on 29 November, as had previously been announced by Cllr David Draper, and some issues regarding the lease to the Football Club were also found to be needed to be addressed. It is not yet known when the matter will now come to Cabinet, but we understand that is unlikely to be for at least 3-6 months according to Cllr Vyvyan-Robinson.
A follow-up meeting to brief concerned residents was held by Mr Kershaw at George’s church on 20th October attended by around 60 people. It was decided at that meeting to form a provisionally called “Ashtead Recreation Ground User Group” to include representatives of all users of the Recreation Ground; Ashtead Football Club, the Tennis Club, and Ashtead Rotary would be invited to join. That Group would be able to advise the Council on any issues concerning the recreation Ground.
Amongst those issues would be the proposal for a café on the site of the old changing rooms building in the south-west corner of the Recreation Ground which is strongly opposed by many residents but has yet to reach the Development Management Committee. All six Ashtead Independent Councillors are either members or substitutes on that Committee so must remain from making comments in public so as not to be open to criticism as being pre-determined.
RESCUING ASHTEAD PARK
Councillors are keen to move forward with restoration of Ashtead Park. On Wednesday 30th November, a volunteer working party made up of volunteers from The Friends of Deepdene volunteer group, and any Ashtead residents who care to help, will be carrying out some conservation work.
Do take a deeper look at the issues surrounding this magnificent natural habitat, and see if you too can help, by reading more - click here.
Independents Query the financial
'Black Hole' of Dorking
Given the vast sums of ratepayers’ money being spent on an empty building for over ten years, Ashtead Independent Councillor Chris Hunt questions why the ‘Black Hole’ of Dorking, Pippbrook House, is not being used.
The former public library has lain empty since the County Council moved out from the Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) owned building ten years ago and moved into a new state of the art public library elsewhere in Dorking.
Since that time the old Victorian building has lain empty and is costing MVDC up to £70-£75,000 a year to maintain. When these figures were revealed by the LibDem run council in September 2020, it was suggested that the costs would rise over time. Back then, the council suggested that the building would be leased to a community group. However, to this day, the building remains empty.
Councillor Hunt said that he recognises that Ashtead ratepayers have to pay their fair share of the burden of spending on those council run facilities that serve residents beyond their immediate localities with the leisure centres in Dorking and Leatherhead being good examples. However, what was more questionable was for local ratepayers having to support what he described as the “black hole of Dorking” into which Ashtead residents, along with the rest of Mole Valley were having to support.
Councillor Hunt is therefore submitting a question to the next full MVDC Council Meeting on 6th December asking why Pippbrook House remains a burden on ratepayers given even after ten years have elapsed since the old library closed.
“We understand that we in Ashtead have to pay our fair share of council spending. However, whether you live in Ashtead or elsewhere in Mole Valley it is important that the Council spends money wisely, particularly at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch because of the cost-of-living crisis,” said Councillor Hunt.
“Residents need to know just how much money has been spent and why there appears to be no urgency in getting the building occupied. I would hate to think that even more work has become necessary to maintain the building.
The Ashtead Independents say they are trying to inject greater urgency among the Liberal Democrats who control MVDC, particularly given the tenth anniversary of the building being vacant has, on 1 November, just been passed.
The sad tale of Ashtead Pond
Ashtead Pond is in a mess, but according to Independent councillor Patricia Wiltshire "we seem to be getting there" and that within a year to eighteen months, the area should be transformed and once more be a pleasant place to visit.
Councillor Wiltshire said, "The pond declined into a miserable, overgrown, smelly, shady feature through lack of proper maintenance. We must make sure that this does not happen again."
For the full story of the history of the Village Pond and what has been happening in recent years and months read, please read more of the story below or just click here.
GREEN LANE RAIL CROSSING FINAL DECISION
NOT EXPECTED UNTIL 2025
Surrey County Council's SCC’s attempts to confirm the public right of way for the Green Lane pedestrian rail crossing in Ashtead has been delayed because of an objection from Network Rail, which means the decision - which was secured with the help of the Ashtead Independents - has to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination and that could mean a wait until 2025.
For the full story of what's been going on read the story below or simply click here.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
Supporting Ashtead Village Traders support You
In The Street, over 40 local traders met recently to discuss the forthcoming Christmas late night which runs from 16:00 to 20:00 on Tuesday 6th December. Your Independent councillors have requested free parking for the event. The all-day free parking at the Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall and Grove Road car parks will take place on the three Saturdays before Christmas.
Representing the three Ashtead Wards on Mole Valley District Council and Surrey County Council ... ... and with good reason!
Ashtead Independents are registered with the Electoral Commission to enable them to be identified and use a logo. Our Constitution and Rules make clear each vote independently with no whip.
We, the majority of Ashtead residents and the Ashtead Residents’ Association consider that National party politics has no place in local councils. It creates unnecessary antagonisms and divisiveness, and tends to prevent a proportion of members of the Council from being able to exercise full influence on behalf of their constituents.
In this site we introduce ourselves and try to keep you up to date with current issues affecting Ashtead. Please use it to contact us to ask questions, to ask for help, to offer assistance in our campaigns, or especially if you would like to join us!
Alley Action Group Christmas invitation
For all those interested in the voluntary work of the Alley Action volunteers - whose effort aim to ensure the alleyways around Ashtead are keep free of weeds and litter - do come and celebrate their work on Saturday, 3rd December. You can find out more about the group's work on our website by clicking on this link. You will also find the invitation to the event where you can fill in the form should you wish to join the party.