Work starts on Epsom Market Place
Temporary protective hoarding has been placed around Epsom’s iconic clock tower and the old planters in the Market Place have been removed as the major refurbishment of the Market Place gets underway.
The current paving is reaching the end of its life and, rather than simply replace it, in partnership with Surrey County Council, we're taking the opportunity to provide a comprehensive upgrade to the area to transform its appearance and make the area much more of a destination for customers and visitors.
Some of the upgrade will be highly visible, such as the relocation of the Evocation of Speed statue and the replacement of the trees that have struggled in inadequate tree pits, while other improvements are more 'behind the scenes' including a new power network to facilitate events and activities throughout the whole of the Market Place.
The improvements include the following:
- New paving
- New seating
- New power network and lighting
- New 'wayfinding' signs
- Up to 19 new trees and dedicated tree pits
- Installation of a new drinking fountain
- Relocation of the Evocation of Speed statue
- Creating a location for the proposed Emily Davison statue
- Renovation of the Richmond Cattle Trough and the time capsule stone
Temporary walkways around the works will be introduced to ensure safe access to businesses and to the market, including for deliveries.
The picture shows the hoarding being placed around the clock tower earlier this week to protect it during the works - access to the two businesses based in the clock tower is being maintained
This project s a major investment in the town centre by the borough council with additional funding from the county council and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The work itself is being managed on a day to day basis by the county council and undertaken by their contractor.
The market area and the retailers in and around the Market Place will remain open for business throughout the improvements.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee said “This is a positive commitment to the future of our town that will make the market area more attractive to visitors and businesses and will upgrade Epsom’s status as a town in which to shop, eat, work and do business”.
“At a time when many high streets across the country are in trouble Epsom is bucking that trend and, with these improvements, will do so in the future.
“We’ve been able to fund this project by utilising funds collected from developers that can only be spent on infrastructure schemes of this nature. The money for this work has not been diverted from the delivery of any council services”.
To follow the progress of these works, more information is available at www.A24.Today
Budget and council tax agreed
Council tax for the borough to remain one of the lowest in Surrey
Council tax increase of 11p per week
No services cuts despite external financial challenges
Ongoing investment in the borough’s future to continue
The council set its budget for 2019/20 earlier this week
In setting the budget, councillors have agreed a 2.99% increase to council tax (borough council portion) – this is the equivalent of 11p per week for the average band D property* and council tax for this borough remains below the average for Surrey.
The budget was set in the climate of ongoing Government reductions in council funding plus increases in the costs of the disposal of residents rubbish and recycling. Securing the budget has been achieved in part by the increase in income generated from the council’s commercial activities, but also efficiency savings of £593k in 2019/2020.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chair of the Strategy & Resources Committee, said: "We receive no Revenue Support Grant from the Government however, through efficiency savings and income generating policies, once again we have been able to produce a budget which sees no use of reserves and no cuts to services.
"Only 10% of council tax goes to the Borough Council which provides key services such as the weekly recycling service and the Community Wellbeing Centre.
"Last year we made several policy commitments to residents of this borough including continuing to keep them safe and support for our high streets. I am pleased to say that with our finances on a sound footing we will continue to prioritise both those commitments going forward".
Council tax funds three bodies, with 10% going to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, 76% going to SCC and 14% going to Surrey Police.
*Band D is used across England as the comparator band.
Council tax update
In 2019/20 a typical band D property* will pay £1,912.43 in council tax.
This will comprise
- £1,453.50 towards Surrey County Council services
- £260.57 contribution to Surrey Police
- £198.36 for all the services provided by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council.
Surrey County Council
(information extracted from Revenue and Capital Budget Report 2019/20, dated 29 January, the decision to approve the budget was made on 5 February)
The Surrey County Council precept for Band D council tax will be £1,453.50, which represents a 2.99% up-lift.
We have a strategy and plans in place that will ensure the council is on a stable financial footing. Through the programme of change we are undertaking, Surrey County Council will drive out inefficiencies and reduce costs, minimising the use of reserves this financial year and is anticipating not needing to rely on reserves at all for 2019/20.
The hard choices and tough decisions we are having to make about services and how we allocate our precious resources, having full and proper regard to consultation and engagement with residents.
This is a rise of 81p a week from 2018/19’s precept of £1,411.29. This includes £102.39 for the Adult Social Care Precept, which remains at the same rate as last year.
Mel Few, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Our focus has to be on ensuring that the county’s finances are in a sustainable position to meet the growing demand for essential services while also allowing us to improve them in years to come.
“In addition there is a need to minimise our use of reserves to avoid them becoming too low, so unfortunately there is no choice for us but to recommend an increase in council tax of 2.99% this year.”
(News release from the Office of the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, 4 February)
The Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro’s proposed rise in council tax for policing in return for 100 extra officers in Surrey has today been approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel.
The decision will mean the policing element of a Band D Council Tax bill will increase by £2 a month – the equivalent of around 10% across all bands.
In return, the PCC has pledged to increase the number of officers and PCSOs in the county by 100 by April 2020.
Surrey Police plan to double the number of officers in the dedicated neighbourhood teams supporting area policing teams across the county while also investing in specialist officers to tackle serious organised crime gangs and drug dealers in our communities.
The rise, which will come into effect from April this year, was unanimously approved by the Panel during a meeting at County Hall in Kingston-upon-Thames earlier today.
It means the cost for the policing part of the council tax for the financial year 2019/20 has been set at £260.57 for a Band D property.
Epsom & Ewell Bough Council
Please see the budget article in this issue.
*Band D is used across England as the comparator band.
Park life (continued)
The Friends of Rosebery Park had a session working in the fenced off wildlife area earlier this month. They re-pollarded some willows that were shading the small pond which is fed by a little spring. They reported that a good indication of how dry it’s been this winter is that the spring is not flowing at all and the pond is completely dry - last time they performed the same task, four years ago, the pond was brimming!
Staying with the theme of Rosebery Park water, now the main pond has settled down following its refurbishment, we have been able to plant vegetation to increase the pond’s biodiversity. Coir rolls have been placed along the edge of the pond to provide some vegetation and an enhanced growing medium (the matting will also help conceal the gabion baskets). Our countryside team are hoping that this new wildlife habitat will encourage a number of critters, including dragonflies.
Outside of the town centre, the Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Councillor Neil Dallen, joined the Friends of Court Recreation Ground to check out equipment newly installed in the children’s playground.
The new play equipment, a track ride and a wheelchair accessible roundabout, were made possible from the neighbourhood portion of funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy. The Mayor was keen to try out the equipment and having commented positively both on the items themselves and also on the playground rubber safety flooring under the track ride, he declared “outside play at a young age is the first steps to exercise and social interaction and I’m pleased to see the Council investing in the youth of the borough in this way”.
Janet Wolfinden from the Friends of Court Recreation Ground said “We love this park and the continuing investment that it receives are crucial for this green space in the heart of Epsom". Michael Ball added "the Friends have an ongoing dialogue with the Council and with individual councillors to raise issues for the improvement of Court Rec and for its users”.
Friends of Parks
Most of the parks in Epsom and Ewell have a Friends group, with some more active than others. A Friends group is made up of local residents and other interested parties who dedicate their time and knowledge to improve their local park or open space. Anyone can join a friends group, you don't need to live in the immediate area to be a member and it is up to you how much time you commit. To get in contact with a Friends group contact the Council and mention which park you are interested in assisting.
First licence issued under animal welfare regime
Last year, the government introduced new welfare rules for animal based businesses. The new regime provides licensing authorities with additional powers for safeguarding animal welfare, as well as severe penalties for those carrying out a business without a licence.
The rules are set nationally, under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.
A licence is now required for five commercial activities involving animals:
- selling animals as pets
- providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
- hiring out horses
- breeding dogs
- keeping or training animals for exhibition
Premises will be inspected by trained council staff and will be awarded between one and five stars based on meeting the new minimum or higher standards. This information will be displayed on the licence and determine the duration of the licence, as well as the frequency of further inspections. Existing licences will be assessed under the new regime before their current licences expire.
We have issued our first licence under the new rules to EQUUS Equestrian Centre in Horton Country Park who were inspected under the requirements for a licence for hiring out horses. Due to their high welfare standards they were awarded 5 stars, the highest score possible.
Councillor Graham Dudley, Chairman of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee, said: “Under the new regulations, previously exempt activities, such as dog day care, are now included and require a licence from the council. If you are buying a new pet, it should be from a licensed vendor who can demonstrate they are meeting the requirements of the new regulations. This means that an advertisement for a puppy for sale, for instance, should now include the breeder’s licence number issued by their local council. If in doubt ask - a responsible pet vendor will always welcome a potential buyer or client asking questions about animal welfare”.
Later this spring, we’re going to start work on the extension to the Ashley Road cemetery.
In 1869, the council established the Epsom Burial Board to find a solution to the shortage of burial spaces for local residents. The following year the board purchased five acres of land between the roads now known as Downs Road and Ashley Road for the site of a multi-denominational cemetery.
The first interment took place in 1871. This was Elizabeth Dorling, the mother of Mrs Beeton, of household management fame.
In 1923 the first extension of the cemetery took place and over the years there have been a series of extensions moving ‘up the hill’ towards the racecourse.
There are now over 30,000 people buried in the cemetery, with an additional 170 interments each year. It is anticipated that the latest extension will serve the borough for the next 25-30 years.
Access to the new area will be introduced from the current cemetery. As well as pathways, the council is going to undertake a planting scheme of native trees to increase the biodiversity of the area as well as to ensure the new cemetery retains the peaceful and pleasant environment so many visitors appreciate. This initial programme of work should be completed by late summer.
Council approves funding for community initiative
A statue of the celebrated suffragette Emily Davison could grace Epsom’s rejuvenated Market Place after the Strategy and Resources Committee voted to help fund the project.
A group of local residents are leading a campaign to raise money to install a memorial to Emily Davison, who died in Epsom, four days after being knocked down by the King’s horse during the 1913 Derby.
The Emily Davison Memorial Project was formed at the beginning of 2018 (the centenary of women gaining the vote) with the aim to install a life-size statue of Emily Davison, sitting on a contemporary granite bench, in the Market Place. The team has been busy selecting and commissioning an artist and interacting with the various bodies necessary. They have also been fund raising, with the aim of securing the £50,000 required.
The project has been a community initiative and Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has supported the proposal; agreeing a possible location for the artwork (with Surrey County Council) and also agreeing to take ownership and maintain the statue once it is installed.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee explained “despite a very active and positive funding campaign and widespread support, the Emily Davison Memorial Project has experienced difficulties in securing high level donations. At committee, it was agreed to use developer funding money, which can only be used for environmental improvements in the area in and around the town centre, to support the fund with a donation of up to £20,000, enabling the Emily Davison Memorial Project to unlock additional larger funding contributions to the project.
“The artwork will be an important monument in our town centre, referencing a key moment in Epsom’s history. I think it’s a piece that will engage the community and it will add to a number of statues of suffragettes installed nationally in the past few years”.
Sarah Dewing, Chair of the Emily Davison Memorial Project said “It is time that Emily Davison is properly recognised for the part she played in securing women’s right to vote. It is due to her sacrifice and that of many others that women today have equal rights in law and opportunities to fulfil their potential that Emily’s generation could only dream of”.
Public donations to the Emily Davison Memorial Project can be made via www.emilydavisonproject.org
Across England, local electoral turnout, apart from occasions when local and parliamentary elections coincide, has declined and fewer than four in ten of us will vote in this May's local elections.
But local councils matter – they control everything from A to Z (abandoned car removal to zoo licence approval), including your bin collections and your local park. They set your council tax rate and decide what it’s spent on – and how. So if you have a vote, use it.
Not sure what this council does? Check out the Key Facts section in this newsletter.
Within this borough, all councillor seats are up for election this May, as we operate an all out system every four years.
Ahead of the local elections, the Electoral Commission has launched the campaign, 'Got 5?', to encourage people to register to vote.
The campaign highlights that voters can quickly register in five minutes while using time that may otherwise be wasted, like waiting for the kettle to boil or for the spin cycle to finish. It encourages those who aren’t already registered to take these five minutes, go online and complete a form - emphasising its quick, simple and really important. For more details see www.gov.uk/registertovote
What a load of rubbish
Any business, large or small, has a legal responsibility to safely contain and dispose of its waste.
In 2018, businesses across Epsom and Ewell collectively recycled 300 tonnes of waste which would otherwise have been sent to landfill sites or burned expensively as rubbish.
Callum Atkins from our waste services team hopes to continue this record-breaking streak. He said "Our newly branded commercial waste collection service, Business Bins, helps hundreds of local business owners dispose of their waste safely and efficiently. Our experienced team are here to help. We are looking forward to working closely with our commercial partners, reducing waste and making a real difference as the year progresses".
And there’s benefits for residents too… encouraging local businesses to think about their waste management and recycle more will help keep the borough’s streets clean and green, while the additional throughput from businesses helps keep the weekly collection service sustainable.
To find out how your business can save money and recycle more, visit www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/businessbins or call 01372 732000 to book a no-obligation consultation.