RECREATION GROUND PROPOSALS
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.
Since greater scrutiny is being put on the Football Club’s plans, a number of councillors and residents are highlighting in the increasingly concerns about the potential dangers to health of the use of artificial turf. Much of those concerns are documented in articles from respected publications which can be seen below.
Lobbying by the tyre and recycling industry and the EC - de Volkskrant
Fully Charged Live discussion with Eunomia at Silverstone last Summer - Eunomia
'Objectors call for plans for new 3G pitch plans to be withdrawn amid cancer link fears' - The Yorkshire Post
'Global demand for 3G pitches is booming but difficult questions about recycling and disposal remain unresolved' - Pitchcare