Your Borough, Your Village, your say

An article by John Beckett, county councillor. 

We currently build 181 units per year in Epsom and Ewell.

The local plan is currently under review. Central Government has instructed local authorities to “significantly” increase the number of units they need to build.

The local plan must be completed or ” predatory developers” could use the lack of a plan to land grab sites that would not be usually available for development.

The demand identified as part of the strategic housing market assessment for Epsom and Ewell has been identified as 418 units per year for 15 years.

Land assessment exercise identified 3000 could be built on identified land excluding Green belt, woodland, SSI etc.

So that’s 3000 units short.

Central Government then published proposals in the housing white paper “fixing our broken housing market”

They are proposing we rip up our strategic assessment and use their new process.

This does not work well for Epsom and Ewell as we have recently built large numbers of units in previous years and also the value of properties against the national wage.

********They want 579 new homes per year.**********

The Conservative governments solution for Epsom and Ewell is build, build,build. Where are we going to put them? 418 was going to be tough but 579 over 15 years is 8685!!!!

The Borough Council is looking at:

- Re-designating Business land / commercial properties;

- Back land development in gardens;

- Moving open spaces, allotments etc into the green belt to free up land in urban areas;

- Releasing parts of green belt land to build 4000 shortfall and re- designating other areas as green belt.

Or

- Unclassify all green belt
Or

- Use the urban land at a higher density at 6 stories high

All of these are not 100% guaranteed to be honoured by Government as they in future years they could demand more and more even if we hit our targets – no reward for success!

What about infrastructure? Roads, Schools, Doctors, Dentists. We are already bursting at the seems!

Woking Borough Council have argued this as part of their local plan and the Government inspector indicated: ”What’s a few extra minutes stuck in traffic”.

With this type of attitude how are normal people going to change things.

Your Conservative MP’s, many of them are cabinet members, have shown their utter contempt for the residents of Surrey but not standing up to this. They have not even had a strong voice in the severe funding cuts that local authorities have recently been subjected to. Please write to your MP and ask for action.

You also need to fill out the local plan consultation or the place you live in will not be recognisable in years to come.

To go to the Epsom and Ewell consultation please click Here

Ewell Village Residents’ Association public meeting

We invite all our residents to attend our open meeting to be held on Wednesday 18th October at 20.00 in Bourne Hall.

We hope to have a number of presentations from councillors and external speakers on key issues facing us at the present time. This includes an update on the Epsom & Ewell Local Plan, which is only reviewed every 10 years or so. It is a process that will affect us all, and with government pressing for higher housing numbers will involve tough choices. A consultation is underway and we hope to encourage as many as possible to take part. Other topics may include Epsom & St Helier Hospital Trust’s proposals for 2020- 2030; water quality in the Hogsmill; this year’s Ewell Yule; keeping the streetlights on; and an update on various planning applications including The Star and the Lower Mill. But this is your meeting; so come along and set the agenda!

After a break for refreshments, when there will be an opportunity to purchase limited edition EVRA 90 mugs, there will be a question and answer session with your three Borough Councillors, Michael Arthur, Humphrey Reynolds and Clive Woodbridge, as well as County Councillor, John Beckett. We hope a representative from the Police will also be in attendance. If you have any issues you wish to raise with them, please do come along. We look forward to seeing you.

Streetlights – the fight continues

EVRA remains opposed to Surrey County Council’s decision to turn off the streetlights from 12 midnight to 5am, and is looking to step up the campaign to reverse the change.

One way we think we we can do this is by encouraging residents to lodge a request for their streetlights to remain on. RA councillors have continued
to raise the matter with Conservative politicians at County Hall, but at the moment they remain resistant to calls for a change in policy. Given this intransigence we are encouraging all residents who wish to keep the lights
in their street on to lodge a request via the appeal process on SCC’s website. This can be found here.

The process enables a resident to say why they want the lights on full time, including for example increased incidents of night time crime or sight problems, and it also asks for signatures of support from neighbours. One street in Ewell, Corbet Road, has recently submitted a petition signed by all residents, and others are encouraged to follow suit.

It is interesting to note that currently on the SCC website they state that they are experiencing a high volume of review applications, and those applications are currently taking up to nine weeks to be processed. That should tell them something about local concerns, and hopefully that will lead to a re-think

Our Autumn newsletter is out

We are happy to announce that our Autumn newsletter is out. It will start being distributed physically next week but available earlier online in the following link: Ewell Village Autumn newsletter

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In his issue we are inviting our residents to our Annual Public Meeting on Wednesday 18th October starting at 8pm in Bourne Hall and reminding everyone that it is the time of the year in which we collect our subscriptions.

We are also discussing the plans and consultation launched by Epsom and St. Helier NHS trust for the future of our hospital and the housing consultation by Epsom and Ewell council. We are providing updates on street lighting, Ewell Grove school development, new signs at Bourne Hall lake, plans for Mill Lane and Old School Lane development, the Christmas market and Ewell Yule, amongst others.

In the upcoming weeks we will be featuring most of the articles directly in our website and facebook. But most of this issues will be part of our discussions at the public meeting, so we encourage all our residents to attend.

Old School lane update

We have received an update from Graham Walker, Chairman of Abbeyfield Southern Oaks. He reports that their solicitors are now working with their lenders and Trustees to prepare the various funding and construction agreements, with a view to achieving financial close by or before early November.

They hope that it should be possible to undertake some preliminary works on the Old Schools Lane site in the second half of October. If this timetable is achieved, they expect the main construction programme to start in November, and for practical completion of the Extra Care facility to be achieved by June 2019.

“Our chosen contractors will be communicating with all our neighbours before the preliminary works are started, and before the main programme is started. We look forward to involving the local community ever more closely throughout the period from the commencement of works until the opening of the new building in  early Summer 2019.”

Public meetings: The future of our hospitals

As a result of the increased interest in the past meeting held at Bourne Hall, and many of our residents wanting to understand more about the hospitals’ trust. We are sharing in our site the dates of the upcoming meetings in which Daniel Elkeles, chief executive of the trust, and his team, will be presenting their plans and consultation papers.

Date Time Organised by Venue
26/09 17:30 – 20:00 Merton Healthwatch Vestry Hall, Mitcham
27/09 19:30 Belmont & South Cheam Residents Meeting

 

AvenueAcademy, Avenue Road, Belmont, Surrey
28/09 19:30 Belmont & South Cheam Residents Meeting

 

ChilternChurch, Chiltern Road, Belmont
28/09

8a, 11 am 4pm 7pm (1 Hour)

Sutton Healthwatch Epsom Downs Racecourse
29 /09 18:30 – 19:30 Public Meeting – Reigate and Banstead Banstead Community Hall, Park Road, Banstead, SM7 3AJ
3/10 19:30 – 21:30 Ashtead residents Association Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
4/10 19:00 Tom Brake Public Meeting Venue to be confirmed
4/10

 

19:00 – 21:00 Merton Park Ward Resident’s Association MertonParkPrimary School, Erridge Road SW19 3HQ

 

​6/10 19:30 Leatherhead Residents Association Abraham Dixon Hall, Leatherhead Institute

Government’s housing consultation – more houses to be built?

This week the Government published its latest consultation on further measures set in the Housing White Paper to boost housing supply in England.    ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’  (see here) sets out a number of proposals to reform the planning system to increase the supply of new homes and increase local authority capacity to manage growth.

Of most immediate concern is the inclusion of a standard methodology for calculating local authorities’ housing need.  Attached to the consultation is a  ‘Housing need consultation data table’ which sets out the indicative housing need for each local planning authority using the Government’s proposed methodology, how many homes every authority in the country is currently planning for, and, where available, how many homes they believe they need.

For our Borough the Government’s data provides an indicative calculation which estimates that there is demand for 579 new homes each year.  This is an increase of 39% above the demand figure of 418 new homes per year that were identified in the Borough’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which was published in 2016.  Officers maintain that our SHMA was robustly prepared and utilised the most up to date information at the time.

Officers are considering the consultation document and drafting a response.  A special Licencing & Planning Policy Committee meeting will be held on the 26 October to agree the Council’s response to the consultation.

It is a concern that the govt wants to force councils to accept higher numbers of housing, without saying how these will be supported, or how this can be achieved without damage to green belt.

We will continue to publish updates and follow this matter closely and we urge our residents to take part in the consultation.

Discussion with Chris Grayling re: Future of Epsom Hospital

As part of our ongoing debate regarding the hospital and trying to understand what the future our our hospital should look like we engaged in discussions with our MP for Epsom and Ewell, Chris Grayling.

On 21 August 2017, Mr. Grayling issued a letter to its constituents with an update on the issue of the hospital consultation, (see here). “I have always said that I support improvements to healthcare for our area, and I have also always said that if there were a genuinely credible plan for a new hospital, it would at least merit a serious discussion locally. But this exercise is not that credible plan. Crucially there is no commitment from the NHS to the principle of funding a brand new hospital in SW London, where in recent years the push has been to reduce and not increase the number of hospital sites. There are a whole range of other unanswered questions about the detail of this.”

We are also including below a short extract from an email conversation between Chris Grayling and our chairman, Brian Angus (see here). In these conversations Grayling concludes “My position is that Epsom should be a Surrey hospital, and should not be caught up in debate about the future of St. Helier and hospitals in SW London. I think the integration between primary and secondary care at Epsom offers a path to create a new kind of local healthcare system, and that what is being done there is very encouraging.”

 

Hospital meeting at Bourne Hall

EVRA members and councillors attended yesterday the meeting in Bourne Hall organised by Epsom and Ewell Borough Council in relation to the future of Epsom and St. Helier Hospitals. We had a presentation by Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive of the trust, and his team, and an extensive Q&A. Below a summary of the key issues discussed.

The trust has decided that the time is right for the hospitals to seek investment on their development going forward. Contrary to the view of some of the local people, they see Epsom and St. Helier as one hospital in two sites, and this is how the future is being looked at, rather as two individual hospitals. They are currently facing three main issues:

  • Buildings – there is an extensive infrastructure backlog and most of the buildings have been deemed “not fit for purpose”.
  • Clinical sustainability – There are simply not enough doctors, it is difficult to recruit and they end up having to use very expensive agency staff.
  • Financial sustainability – They need to find ways to reduce costs and make savings in line with NHS guidelines and to be viable for the future they need to reduce the deficit and try to operate at break even.

What are the options and how much will they cost?

As a result there were several alternatives discussed and three are now being put to the public to gain support that investment is needed. In all three options the proposal is to build a new acute facility. The services to be brought together include major A&E, inpatient paediatrics, maternity and neonatal services and complex emergency medicine. This new unit is either going to be located at Epsom, St. Helier or in the old Sutton Hospital site next to the Royal Marsden Hospital. In order to do this they require an investment of between £300-£400 million from the NHS or private funding.

When asked what is the cost of each of the options, Lisa Thomson, director of communications and patient experience, mentioned that building the facility at Epsom is in the lower end of the scale, nearing £300 million, building a new facility in Sutton would costs nearer to £400 million and building it at St. Helier would be somewhere in between.

Why is land at the hospitals currently being sold?

In any of the options 85% of the services will remain at the hospitals and they hope that they can restructure the buildings and bring them up to a good standard. The current need for infrastructure investment is split 40% to Epsom and 60% to St. Helier. And the trust has now secured the sell of land in Sutton with the council that will 100% be reinvested in St. Helier. They are also expecting to receive £80 million funding for infrastructure backlog.

What happens to the old hospitals once the new unit has been built?

There are no plans to close any of the hospitals, we were told. In the 7 years that will take to have the new unit in place they expect capital investment, both from the NHS and land sale, would have been made to bring the hospitals to standard.

There would be 1000 beds in the two sites and only 500 required, so the wards could be reconfigured to bring better service to the patients that will still be treated at the hospitals’ sites.

 Why can’t we keep acute units at each of the hospitals?

We were told that there are not enough doctors to provide 24hs service to our most acute patients. As an example Daniel explained that to provide 24hs obstetrics they need 20 consultants’ obstetricians in the rota. Currently between the two sites there are 22, so they have enough doctors in general but not to be able to provide the service at both sites. In addition it is not financially viable, even if they managed to recruit them.

How will they secure the money?

They will work towards securing the money from the £3 billion NHS infrastructure budget. Daniel mentioned that the hospitals haven’t received significant funding in a long time and it is now “our time”. However failing to achieve this private funding (bank loans) will be considered.

Are transport links being considered?

The trust is aware of the difficulties that some residents would face in getting to the new site, in the different locations. Transport will be considering in choosing the preferred option once the project is approved as viable by the government.

However they understand that there is no one solution that will suit all, and what they are asking is for people to make the effort of having, in some cases, to travel further to receive services, or visiting relatives in hospital, in order to receive better care than the one that they are able to provide now.

How can I find out more?

The trust has uploaded a summary leaflet, the presentation document and a video to their website, where more details about the proposal are available here. And there are several meeting still scheduled in the area.

What is EVRA doing?

Our councillors and our Chairman, Brian Angus, are keeping in close contact to the developments. We have issued a letter to the Trust that you can find here. And have maintained communications with Daniel Elkeles and the MP for Epsom and Ewell, Chris Grayling. You can find copies of these communications here.

We will keep our residents informed of any progress, and put pressure to ensure the most favourable outcome for our residents. But we also need your views and inputs on the matter and residents to get involved by sharing their views.

Letter from Chief Executive of Epsom & St. Helier hospitals

We have received a letter from Daniel Elkeles in response to our previous letter regarding their 2010-2030 campaign (see here). We are very pleased to have received such a lengthy response to the matters raised. You can see the full text of the letter here (Letter from Chief Executive ESH trust). We have summarised a few key points below:

Daniel reiterates the trust’s commitment to Epsom hospital and to “our patients and our staff”. He mentions that this year they are in the process of a major programme of improvements at Epsom Hospital, including:

  • Bringing the first floor of Woodcote wing back into clinical use as an outpatient suite;
  • Bringing back part of the ground floor of Langley Wing back into clinical use as a new children and women outpatient suite;
  • Expanding A&E department for which they received £1 million of additional capital from the Department of Health;
  • Replacement of the washers and sterilisers for the Endoscopy suite;
  • New theatre admissions suite;
  •  Refurbishment of Northley Ward.

Much of this investment is being funded through land sale. But he points out that “whilst all this investment will enable us to keep running for now and means we will be able to honour our commitment that at least 85% of patients will always be cared for at Epsom, it will not provide the appropriate accommodation for the sickest and most at-risk patients.”

In relation to maternity services he notes that “Out obstetricians and midwifes firmly believe that if we had a single site for all 5,000 births we would be able to provide 24 hour a day 7 days a week on site cover from consultant obstetricians and anaesthetists so that we can ensure all of our women have access to the very best and safest care possible. We would locate a midwife led birthing unit along-side the medical led unit.”