Borough Insight

News

Coronavirus COVID-19

Coronavirus is dominating the news and the coverage is getting more extensive.

Misinformation and fake news is rife on social media, so we’re pulled together the following information from the NHS and Public Health England. However the situation is evolving quickly and for the latest information you are advised to visit the Government’s information website page which is updated every day.
handwash
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

What is the treatment for COVID-19
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

How is COVID-19 spread?
Because it's a new illness, it is not known how exactly coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

Do I need to avoid public places?
Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.

You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.

How do I avoid catching or spreading germs?
There are things you can do to help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading.

Do

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don’t

  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

What do I do if I think I may have COVID-19
Visit the NHS 111 website or call 111 if you need to speak to someone.

Do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

How do I self-isolate?
If there's a chance you could have COVID-19, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
This means you should:

  • stay at home
  • not go to work, school or public places
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

Life's a beech

To mark the end of the borough’s annual tree planting season and as part of Surrey Tree Week, on Monday Councillor Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee, helped plant two copper beech trees in Alexandra Recreation Ground.tree

The borough’s established trees are under increasing pressure through disease, including Ash dieback, and increasing extreme weather events. The council manages a long term tree establishment programme to ensure excellent tree cover and the ongoing strong biodiversity of the borough that a good mixture of tree types brings. As well as planning for future tree loss, the programme aims to increase tree planting to sustainable levels.

As he helped plant the trees in Alex Rec, Councillor Dallen, said “maintaining a rich biodiversity within the borough is key within the council’s vision as a green and vibrant place. Trees in our parks provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, bats and beetles. They also have a positive impact on the look and feel of where we live and relax.

“Trees can have a positive impact on tackling climate change because as they grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are driving global warming and are so harmful to the environment”.

The Copper Beech is a slow growing, large deciduous tree, with elegant spreading branches and dark purple leaves which turn copper in autumn. The bark is often home to fungi, mosses and lichens. The tree can live over 200 years and because beech trees live for so long they provide habitats for many species such as hole-nesting birds and wood-boring insects.

 

Skills hub

We're aware that the affordability of local rented housing is a major factor in homelessness across the borough, and being in work is core to local households being able to afford to rent a home in the local area.

Whilst unemployment is low within the borough, there are many households living in council provided emergency temporary accommodation who just cannot afford the comparatively high housing costs of this area as they are either unemployed or in low paid or fragile employment.

Recognising we all need some help sometimes, we have announced the establishment of a new skills hub, hosted within the Epsom Job Centre Plus. The skills hub will deliver training and support in partnership with Surrey Life Long Learning. Those attending the skills hub will be able to access support and training, tailored to their specific needs to help them either get into employment or better employment.skills

A rolling programme of tutor led and/or online workshops will be provided and, depending on the individuals’ needs, these could include literacy, numeracy, language and digital training plus business start-up and self-employment guidance and money management coaching.

We have long recognised the need to assist households in seeking work. Our ETHOS project assists the unemployed and those at risk of unemployment to find suitable employment opportunities, creating effective CVs and developing their interview techniques. In developing the skills necessary for the workplace, the skills hub will support the work ETHOS does in getting people into employment.

Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee, said “residents of Epsom and Ewell live in an area with high educational attainment, fantastic employment opportunities and good connectivity with London and the rest of the country. We believe all our residents should benefit from the success of the borough and have the opportunity to access good quality employment. The skills hub initiative will help a small minority of residents who need additional assistance into better employment, helping to make day to day living costs, including the cost of accommodation, more affordable.”

It is anticipated that the financial investment in the skills hub will be more than matched by the reduced cost to the council of emergency temporary housing if just a few people gain meaningful employment and are able to afford the rent of a home in the borough.

Landlord issued prohibition order

In January, the we were contacted with concerns about a room rented out in a ‘house of multiple occupation’ (HMO) in Lower Court Road, Epsom. An HMO is a home rented out to at least three tenants who form more than one household and share a bathroom, kitchen and other facilities.

We undertook a formal inspection and identified a bedroom that was unsafe in several aspects.Stairs

The room was an unauthorised conversion within the loft space, accessed via an unlit narrow corridor and an almost vertical wooden stairway. The room’s only window was accessible by leaning over the stairwell. The window opening was not restricted and was three storeys directly above a concrete path.

A number of other deficiencies were noted within the property during the inspection which was undertaken by our building control and environmental health teams alongside specialists from Surrey Fire and Rescue.

On the same day of the inspection, an Emergency Prohibition Order was served under the Housing Act 2004 preventing the use of the bedroom as sleeping accommodation.

We also served an improvement notice in relation to fire safety, requiring the owners to improve fire safety provisions within the whole property. A hazard awareness notice was also served on the same landlord regarding damp and mould.

Councillor Barry Nash, Chairman of Community and Wellbeing Committee, said “As a result of our intervention, current and future tenants of this property will be living in safer accommodation which meets required standards.

“We will not hesitate to take any necessary action to protect borough residents against landlords supplying hazardous accommodation and who put profit ahead of the welfare of their tenants”.

Our young champions!

Many young people give up their time and effort to make Epsom and Ewell a better place. We think it’s important to recognise these special individuals.

The winners of the 2020 Epsom and Ewell Young Champions were announced at a ceremony at Epsom Playhouse on Monday 24 February.

Kathryn Beldon, our Chief Executive of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, thanked all the nominees and winners for their positive contribution to the borough, adding “The Epsom and Ewell Young Champions Awards are about recognising the outstanding achievements of the brilliant young people in our borough.

“When we think about role models, we tend to think about historical figures, celebrities or individuals who have spent decades honing their skills. But there are young members of our community who have already made a positive impact and are some of the most important role models within the borough who should be celebrated”.

The winners of each category were presented with a trophy and special certificate.

Young champions

Fundraiser Award
sponsored by What’s On In Epsom
This award is given to an individual or group who has made a fantastic effort to raise funds for a good cause in an innovative and creative way.
Winner - 8/14th Cub Pack
The Cub Pack decided to not have a Christmas party and instead spent weeks preparing games and activities to entertain friends and family and raise money for a local charity called Rianna's Fund. They raised over £485, a fantastic achievement.

Environmentalist Award 
sponsored by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
This award is given to a young person or group of young people who have provided a service to improve the environment for the benefit of their local community.
Winner - Joshua Webb
Joshua willingly gives up his lunchtime every day to work in The Vale Primary School eco garden.

Community Spirit Award
sponsored by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
This award is given to a young person or group who has provided outstanding community and voluntary service, or has made a significant contribution to the life of a fellow resident.
Winner - Epsom College Service programme
Epsom College students dedicated over 13,500 volunteering hours to local projects in over 40 different placements. This is in addition to the 994 hours of volunteering last term, which has also supported 25 Duke of Edinburgh students. Placements are organised by the school’s service coordinator, who creates weekly one-hour placements as part of the pupil’s timetable, or as a one off project.

Carer Award 
sponsored by Home Instead

This award is given to a young person who regularly goes out of their way to help other people or has caring responsibilities and has demonstrated outstanding care for a family member or friend in need.
Winner - Abi Harvey
Our winner is a friendly and caring young member of Epsom and Ewell Phab club. She is always willing to help at the club with those who are younger or who have particular special needs. At home she provides care and support within her family This was particularly important when her Mum was in hospital in London for a long stay. Abi remains cheerful and positive throughout whatever comes her way, with a great attitude and maturity way beyond her years.

Sports Person Award 
sponsored by Wilsons
This award is given to a young person who has excelled in their commitment to sport through hard work and determination as an individual, also overcoming personal challenges.
Winner - Chloe Seeley
As Sutton and Epsom's under 15's captain, Chloe has led a successful campaign at her school, Blenheim High School, to have rugby introduced to the curriculum for girls. Chloe showed initiative and passion and fought for equality at her school so that her fellow students could enjoy the sport she loves so much, no matter their gender. Her achievement has seen England Rugby recognise her efforts.

Volunteer Award
sponsored by Epsom Rotary
This award is given to a young person or group who has made a difference in their community through giving their time and best efforts voluntarily for the benefit of others.
Winner - Miranda Pratt
Miranda is a volunteer at Stoneleigh Community Library on Saturday mornings. She has shown real commitment towards her role, which has been exceptionally challenging for her as she is on the autistic spectrum and therefore finds social situations more difficult than other young volunteers.

Hero Award 
sponsored by McDonalds
This award is given to a young person who has shown courage, bravery, determination and strength during unimaginable circumstances and is an inspiration to others.
Winner - Lewis Houghton
Lewis was diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkitts Lymphoma in February 2015 and subsequently underwent six months of intensive chemotherapy. Since his treatment, he has supported The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and amassed over £125K, generating the construction of a new garden at the hospital to ensure children get the outside space they need during treatment, which wasn’t available when he was ill.

Disability Champion Award 
sponsored by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
This award is given to a young person who has overcome adversity and has worked through disability with a positive and inspiring attitude on those around them, or a young person who has contributed to improving the lives of those with disability.
Winner - Dom Dawson
Dom has developed strengths and skills to get around and get on with life due to being born with Spina Bifida. He is an inspiration to able-bodied and mobility impaired people with whom he comes into contact. He had to compete for one of ten borough spaces at the world scout jamboree in the USA against 49 nominees by showing leadership and scouting skills and knowledge. 45,000 scouts attended from around the world. When there he impressed the mountain bike course organisers and other wheelchair users by his prowess on his mountain trike.

There are more details on our Young Champion Awards on our website: www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/young-champions

Council Tax to remain lower than the Surrey average

This month, your elected councillors agreed a 2.5% increase for the borough council portion of the annual council tax - the increase is equivalent to a rise of £4.95 a year for ‘band D’ properties or 9.5 pence per week.

The borough council portion of the council tax is the smallest element of the council tax, which for 2020/21 includes an increase from Surrey County Council (3.99%) and an increase from Surrey Police (3.84%).

76% of council tax goes to the county council, 14% to Surrey Police and 10% of council tax is allocated to fund all the services provided by this council.

The council tax for 2020/21 for a band D property within Epsom and Ewell will rise to £1,985.34, with the borough council receiving £203.31.

Councillor Eber Kington, chair of the Strategy & Resources committee said “Epsom & Ewell’s Council Tax will remain well below the average in Surrey. We have agreed a budget which, despite ongoing financial pressure, sees no withdrawal of the frontline services on which residents depend and that that allows us to continue to invest in in one of the best places to live and work in the country”.

Did you dough?

FlourFlour produced using traditional milling methods does not go through the necessary steps to remove possible pathogens (that can cause disease). It is possible for pathogens such as E. Coli and Salmonella to survive all the way to the finished flour.

Last month our Environmental Health team undertook samples of different types of flour from a range of retailers across the borough as part of a Public Health England national flour sampling survey.

The samples were sent to a microbiological laboratory for testing to check for bacteria in these products – we are pleased to report that all the samples came back clear.

The Food Standards Agency state that baking, cooking, frying and boiling products containing flour will remove any potential pathogens. However, eating flour, raw dough or raw batter that is intended to be cooked, using flour in items that are not intended to be cooked, such as milkshakes and ice-cream, or adding flour to products after cooking are all potential areas where pathogens can be consumed and should be avoided.

The future of Epsom Hospital residents meeting - update

Around 60 borough residents attended the meeting held on Wednesday 26 February at Bourne Hall, in relation to proposed changes to the provision of healthcare at Epsom Hospital. EH_publicmtg

Following the changes highlighted in a proposal by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for the co-location of several critical and emergency care services to be delivered from a new facility at one site, at either Epsom, St Helier or Sutton, the meeting was for Epsom and Ewell residents to hear about hospital provision in our borough. 

Panel members at the meeting included representatives from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Improving Healthcare Together Programme and the Clinical Commissioning Groups. 

Residents had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, on how the proposal may affect services specific to borough residents and to ensure that they had the opportunity to put their questions, views and concerns forward. The meeting also provided an up-date on the current works being undertaken at Epsom Hospital to improve patient care. 

To view the presentation from the meeting by Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust please click here

To view the film that was show at the meeting please see: https://improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/consultation/watch-the-videos/

This meeting was not part of the public consultation being undertaken by the Improving Healthcare Together programme. For info on the consultation please see: https://improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/consultation/

Oh, yes it is!

This year’s Epsom Playhouse pantomime, Peter Pan, has made the shortlist for the ‘best show’ in the national Great British Pantomime Awards.

Produced by Spillers Pantomimes, Peter Pan played to packed houses and was the most popular panto ever staged at the Epsom Playhouse.Pan

Peter Pan will be competing against Robin Hood (Lincoln), Jack & the Beanstalk (Loughborough), Aladdin (Shrewsbury) and Sleeping Beauty (Swindon).

The judging team visited over 200 pantomimes across the country during December and January, visiting in excess of 750 performances. The judging panel included current and retired industry professionals; theatre academics as well as media and communications professionals. The performances were marked against a number of criteria and quality benchmarks.

The winners will be announced in April.

Bev Berridge of Spillers said “All of us at Spillers Pantomimes are delighted to have picked up, not one, but two nominations at this year’s pantomime awards. Going up against all the theatres in the UK we are so excited that our production at the Epsom Playhouse has been selected. This goes to show that the team work and effort behind the staging of this year’s Peter Pan really paid off. This year’s pantomime was a very challenging production and much hard work went into creating this complex show. Luckily there is a fabulous team at the Epsom Playhouse, not only all the cast, but the backstage crew, the juvenile dancers, the management and even the fabulous stewards. All these people working together with one aim, to give the people of Epsom a fabulous fun Christmas show and it has paid off. To be nominated for the award for best pantomime in the country is really beyond our wildest dreams.  Pan again

“Well done and thanks, to everyone who was a part of this real success story. Special congratulations must also go to our fabulous Tinkerbell, Kate Richards. This year’s cast where all super talented but Kate has deservedly been nominated as best Pantomime Fairy in the UK”

Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the council’s Community and Wellbeing Committee, said “This is the first time one of our pantomimes has made it to the short list and illustrates the strong reputation of our theatre, the Spillers name within the industry, the talent of the cast and crew and all of the hard work of our Epsom Playhouse team.

“The success of our commercial shows enable us to support community activities at the Playhouse and the large audiences attending good quality shows like Peter Pan, generate business for local restaurants bars and shops”.

A tale of two benches

Market place memorial bench

In November 2017 a legacy was given to the Epsom and Ewell Royal British Legion Branch by Michèle Donald in memory of her late father, Adam Donald, an Epsom resident.

Adam lived from 17 January 1895 to 21 August 1974 and served in both World Wars, in the Scots Guards from 1914 to 1919 and the Royal Artillery from 1925 to 1945. During the 1942-1945 campaign he fought alongside the Gurkhas and received the Burma Star when his regiment was stationed in South-East Asia.  Adam was also a very fit man and competitive cyclist, winning many medals. Two display cases of Adam’s memorabilia can be seen in Bourne Hall Museum.Bench

When the Second World War ended Adam returned to civilian life in Epsom. Michèle, his only child, lived with her parents in Epsom until she moved to London in the 1950s to train as a physiotherapist. She subsequently became one of the top practitioners in the capital.  

After working in Harley Street she started her own private practice and later joined BUPA as one of their main physiotherapists. Over many years she also helped many injured soldiers regain their mobility during convalescent periods in hospital. 

Michèle left a legacy for the Royal British Legion Epsom and Ewell Branch and the Committee spent time trying to find a suitable way of spending some of the money locally. A significant part of the legacy has been given to the nearest Royal British Legion care home, Mais House at Bexhill-on-Sea.   

Some of the legacy money has been used by the Royal British Legion to place the new memorial bench in the Epsom Market Place.

Rosebery Park

Ben lived in the Borough and went to a local school. In July 2019, at the age of 14 he passed away from a heart condition. His passing has left a huge hole in many lives, and particularly his friends.

Following Ben’s passing his friends started to congregate in Rosebery Park, around a large tree, where they created a makeshift shrine for him.  In November 2019, the Council were approached about a memorial for Ben, and it was hoped something could be done in time for Ben’s birthday in February.

Our Operational Services team suggested of refurbishing some old redundant benches perhaps by Ben’s family and friends, so they could feel part of doing something.  The family and friends took the project on, and in February 2020, three refurbished benches were installed for all Rosebery park users.

Bench 3

Wrong thing, wrong bin?

We need your help! If the wrong stuff’s in your green recycling bin it makes it tough to get the good stuff recycled. Our load's may be rejected and cost you more. Recycling plant

In the last week we’ve found amazing wrong things in green recycling bins, like an intravenous drip, a car brake disc, disposable nappies, full-size suitcase and event a microwave oven! And we’re seeing lots of food and clothing being thrown into green bins too.

Your green bin’s only for certain things.

If too much of the wrong stuff goes into your green bin it risks a whole load being rejected, because the recycling companies simply don’t want the cost of sorting them out. And that includes plastic bags – put your recycling in loose, not bagged, because the recycling companies may reject plastic bags even if there’s good stuff in them.

We don’t want to lose valuable recycling. Recycling helps the environment.

Please Use our guide to put the right thing in the right bin.

RightThingRightBin

Do you feel guilty for wasting food?

Food wIt’s estimated that one in five bags of food shopping goes to waste each week. Across the borough that adds up to a substantial amount of food, but also money wasted.

Did you know that an average family of four could save £70 a month simply by reducing the amount of food they waste?

Recycling your food waste by using a caddy is great; but reducing the amount of food waste we produce in the first place is the real solution.

Surprisingly there are some small, easy changes we can make to our daily habits that could make a world of difference.

Three simple tips to reduce food waste

Save food, money and the planet by:

  • Freezing food near its ‘Use By’ date
  • Making meals from leftovers
  • Planning meals and avoiding over-buying – why not try a food shopping app?

Find out more at: surreyep.org.uk

Help your plants and the planet

Water canAs the nights get lighter and the air begins to warm, there is no better time to grab your gardening gloves and head outdoors.

This spring, you can enjoy lush green grass while helping new things to grow by making your own supply of nutrient rich compost. Not only is composting the most environmentally friendly way to recycle your garden waste, it will also help to improve soil and make your plants flourish.

It’s easier than you think to compost at home, you just need a 50:50 mix of green nitrogen rich ingredients, to add moisture and brown carbon rich ingredients that create air pockets in your compost bin. Green ingredients include grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds. While brown ingredients can be dead leaves, branches and twigs.

Surrey residents keen to make a start can buy a discounted compost bin for just £13. They can also buy a discounted food waste digester from £65 which can be used to make compost from all types of food waste.

Visit surreyep.org.uk for more composting tips and details about the discounted bins and other ways you can recycle your garden waste.

Broadband news

The broadband Universal Service Obligation means that from Friday 20 March, residents and businesses have a legal right to request broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps (megabits-per-second) or more.

Individual homes and businesses can contact BT and find out if they are eligible. Visit the Ofcom website for more information
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/broadband-uso-need-to-know.

Broadband

In a separate initiative groups of two or more residential properties or small/medium businesses (SMEs) could be entitled to vouchers to upgrade their broadband if they are only able to access download speeds of less than 100 Mbps on not gigable-capable infrastructure.

Connections to single properties aren’t eligible, and there may be costs for property owners. However, as the vouchers are worth £1,500 per residence and £3,500 per SME, the more properties involved will help reduce the cost.

Residents and businesses benefitting from these vouchers are required to take up a service delivered on gigabit-capable infrastructure with a minimum of 30 Mbps download speed or at least double their current speed.

Anyone interested in this scheme should work with neighbours and other homes and businesses in their area who are interested in improving broadband speeds. Then visit the rural gigabit voucher scheme website to find suppliers who work in the area – they will be able to advise on eligibility https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-residents/suppliers/

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