Supporting our community
Here's our latest infographic showcasing some of the ways we have been supporting our community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: https://bit.ly/2BKI3m0
View our last infographic update here: https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/news/supporting-community-0
Image courtesy of The Creative Pulse, an Epsom based design agency - www.thecreativepulse.com
Outdoor playgrounds and gyms have reopened
The borough's outdoor playgrounds and gyms have reopened. Please help us to keep them safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following the advice on how to use them safely, see advice here: https://bit.ly/2YTu1av
Remember to practice social distancing, carry sanitiser to clean hands and use wipes on equipment before use. Be kind and considerate when using these facilities.
Thank you to everyone following the advice to use our playgrounds safely to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Let’s get out and shop!
It's taken time and determination but slowly things are returning to a ‘new normal’. This is evident, as the buzz returns to our retail hubs in Epsom, Ewell and Stoneleigh.
Along with other areas, we were awarded a small grant from the European Union Regional Development Fund to assist safe trading to take place.
We developed an action plan and formed a task force to help support and ease the return to our local high streets. The high street task force consists of staff from our temporarily closed venues. They have the mission to observe, patrol and reassure. They make suggestions to us, the county council, local business and shoppers to enable safe access and queuing.
Working in pairs and walking the streets has, in their own words, been “a real chance to be out and about in the community making a difference and helping our area return to relative normality”. They have helped instill a confidence within Epsom High Street, Ewell village centre and Stoneleigh Broadway.
Any issues or changes they find are usually swiftly addressed by the council or our partners. For example redesigning outdoor/shop queuing systems and supplying information signage. The team has helped t reshape the layout of the Epsom market to provide increased social distancing. They have also highlighted to businesses how outdoor seating can be better placed. They even organised hedges to be trimmed to increase pavement space.
When asked how businesses, shoppers and others have responded to the changes, all the team members expressed how positive everyone is. One said “I am amazed by how shops have altered to the new guidelines so quickly, with the public happy to abide with the new way of doing things”.
Another noted that most people tend to avoid crowded areas, queue when required and maintain social distance with little to no (obvious) complaints!
When asked how they were adapting to working in a very different role from their normal employment, the team mentioned that the only downside is the rainy day patrols. Luckily there haven't been too many of those!
Further financial boost for borough businesses
Nearly £500,000 of business support grants have been awarded to small businesses throughout Epsom and Ewell in the last week, following swift action by the borough council.
67 businesses shared £491,000, with awards made through a fair formula based on each business' fixed property costs. The money was provided by the government under a discretionary grant scheme. With a large amount of freedom over how to distribute the funds, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council developed a simple, transparent, set of criteria to ensure that all awards were fairly made.
These latest awards will mean that, since April, the Council will have paid out 794 individual grants to local businesses totalling £10.4 million.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said:
“Yet again, we have proved that we can act effectively to get financial support where it's needed the most.
"The council is taking a central role in the recovery of our local economy. We are doing everything we can to help our businesses reopen and grow to be even stronger than before.”
These government grants were promoted on this website, social media and through our Business Brief e-newsletter. To receive future editions, please sign up - for free - on our Doing Business page.
Public toilets have reopened
Most of our public toilets reopened from Monday 20 July. Toilets will be monitored and regularly cleaned to help control the spread of the coronavirus. Please adhere to the signage at these sites to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
For more information on public conveniences please see our website: https://bit.ly/2OFTXk7
Ashley Road Cemetery opening hours extended
We extended the temporary opening hours at the Ashley Road cemetery, Epsom from Tuesday 30 June.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the council has responded to government guidance concerning the safe opening of cemeteries, and the need to maintain effective physical distancing.
This meant that the opening hours of the cemetery were reduced to allow burials to take place with dignity and respect for the families.
The current arrangement has now been reviewed following the relaxing of social distancing and new government guidance.
The cemetery is now open to visitors on:
Weekdays 3.30pm – 6pm
Weekends 9.30am – 3pm
Councillor Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment & Safe Communities Committee said:
“We hope that the extended times will provide more flexibility for people to visit their loved ones who have passed away.
“We ask visitors to be courteous and patient around gravesides, ensuring that social distancing is maintained – as they would in other public spaces.
“The situation will continue to be constantly reviewed. Should local restrictions need to be introduced or Government guidance be further updated, we may need to change hours again to reflect the measures needed to keep visitors and our staff safe”.
For more information on the cemetery please see our website: https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/cemetery-services
Better Rainbow Leisure Centre reopens
Better Rainbow Leisure Centre, run on behalf of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, announced its plans for a phased reopening from 25 July 2020.
Following COVID Secure guidance, anyone wishing to use the facilities will need to pre-book a one hour time slot via the Better app or website.
In the centre, signage and floor markings will assist with one-way access and social distancing. Equipment within gym areas will be reduced to ensure that 2 metres social distancing between users is maintained, while some fitness classes will be relocated to sports halls.
Swim customers are requested to arrive 'beach ready' with their costume on under their clothes to save time and reduce pressure on change areas. Gym and studio customers will be encouraged to bring their own drinking water – and shower and change at home.
The play park, general bookings and spa will be re-launched after the initial phase of re-opening.
Staff will be adopting a new, enhanced cleaning regime, while customers will be asked to wipe down the equipment that they have used. Hand sanitiser will be available throughout leisure centre buildings.
All Better members will be given access to all Better facilities UK wide for the foreseeable future.
They will also be given the option to continue to freeze their memberships as will any members who don’t feel confident returning to the centres initially or who might have health conditions that put them at higher risk of infection from COVID-19.
David Hughes Partnership Manager, Better said:
“After nearly four months of lockdown, we are delighted to finally have the green light for reopening our leisure facilities in a phased fashion.
“Keeping people safe is now a shared responsibility and as a leisure operator we will be working in partnership with customers to ensure they have complete confidence when they return.
“We’ll be ensuring enhanced sanitisation of equipment and public areas. Customers can help by downloading our Better app, pre-booking their slot and arriving on time and dressed for their activity.
“The changes we are making will ensure we can maintain social distancing in centre and provide the best possible experience for customers.
“We recognise that some people may be worried about returning to their local leisure facilities, so we will continue to offer free access to online fitness and exercises classes via our Better app.”
“We look forward to seeing you soon.”
Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the council’s Community and Wellbeing Committee said:
“It is thanks to everyone who followed official guidance that we’ve reached this positive milestone in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic and are bringing local services back into operation.
“Reopening the Rainbow Centre will be a very positive step, especially for those people who have been missing their regular indoor exercise.
“We have confidence in the GLL team in creating a safe and positive environment for our returning leisure centre customers and that they are putting the necessary arrangements into place in the shortest possible time frame.”
Information about the reopening can be found on Better Rainbow Leisure Centre’s website
Changes to local government explored
In many parts of England there is one (unitary) tier of local government providing all the local services for that area. In most parts of the country, including Surrey, there are two tiers of local government with the county council (responsible for education, social care, highways, etc) and a district, borough or city council (responsible for rubbish and recycling collections, housing, parks, licencing, environmental health, etc).
In September the Government will publish a white paper on regional devolution and local recovery.
The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, stated earlier this month that this would include the government’s transformative plan “…with many more elected mayors and more unitary councils”. The plans have been described as possibly the biggest local government shake-up since 1974.
Surrey County Council has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, proposing a single Surrey wide council serving 1.2million people.
In a joint letter this week, the Surrey boroughs and districts joined together to highlight their concerns to the Secretary of State about the county council’s ambition. They have requested that government ministers keep an open mind on emerging proposals to change how local government works in the county. Borough and district leaders say that only by hearing all opinions can the wellbeing of residents be safeguarded.
The councillors, representing every part of Surrey, called upon Robert Jenrick to give them a fair hearing if the county council is asked to submit a more detailed proposal.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman Strategy & Resources Committee said “The county council bid to take on responsibility for all services for Surrey’s 1.2 million residents, means that as Epsom and Ewell local councillors we need to work urgently with other Surrey District and Borough councillors to a set out the case for the retention of local democracy and locally accountable decision making.
“It is difficult to understand why the Government is in such a rush to re-organise local government at time when all councils are focusing on their key role in supporting the COVID-19 recovery.
“Our focus will be on ensuring that any changes to local government in Surrey continue to provide for local democratic accountability, decision making at the lowest level commensurate with effective delivery, efficient and cost effective service delivery, and local councils with a clear understanding of their people and place”.
Funding bids welcome
Community and voluntary groups are being given a further opportunity to help shape the future of their local area by submitting bids for funding from our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
Bidding originally opened in the spring and was suspended as the council prioritised the COVID response and council staff were moved to ensure vulnerable residents had the necessary support.
The bidding reopens in August and proposals, including endorsement by a councillor, must be received before the end of September.
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee said “We are pleased to be able to make the latest round of funding available and we hope local community organisations will take advantage of this opportunity.
“While the COVID situation remains, this is a further demonstration of the council supporting local initiatives for the benefit of the local community and economy. CIL funding must be used for infrastructure projects, so this particular funding cannot be used for other worthwhile causes.”
CIL is a levy payable by developers and is charged according to the size of developments. 15% of CIL is set aside for community bids and, for 2020/2021, there is £250,000 available to support a range of projects, both large and small.
Bids must have the support of a borough councillor and it’s advisable for groups to discuss plans with their Ward councillors and the relevant council departments to help shape their bids before submission.
The scheme has been running for two years and successful schemes include, funding for new children’s playground equipment, restoration of footpaths in Horton Country Park (see image) and additional street lights. Funding in 19/20 was also agreed for improving community clubs, including a boxing club and scout premises.
The closing date for 2020/21 applications is 30 September.
Bids will be evaluated by a panel of councillors in two stages, bids successfully passing the first stage will be asked for more detailed information before the successful schemes are selected. Winning bids will be announced in January.
For further information and to download application forms, please visit our website – here
Decision on The Wells Centre deferred
The decision on Epsom & Ewell Borough Council’s application to redevelop The Wells Centre has been deferred, following a virtual Planning Committee meeting held on 9 July 2020.
“We have noted the committee’s decision and feedback from the meeting,” said Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee and representing the council as the applicant.
“The application provided a vision for much needed additional housing, a new playground, a new purpose built community centre, as well as affording protection to public rights of way, so there are specific elements of the scheme which we are still keen to pursue. We will now reconsider the overall design, taking on board feedback from the committee and community.”
Councillor Clive Woodbridge, Chairman of the Planning Committee, said:
“I am grateful to all of the members of the public who joined the virtual committee meeting. Even in the midst of the pandemic, we have shown that the democratic process is alive and well.
“Our borough needs to balance the provision of new homes and community facilities with maintaining its unique character. It is our duty to objectively consider all opportunities put before us and ensure that developments coming forward keep this delicate balance in mind.”
Future of local acute services decided by NHS
NHS Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group have announced that they have selected the Sutton location for a new hospital, consolidating the area’s major acute services.
Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the council’s Community and Wellbeing Committee, greeted the announcement with mixed feelings.
He said: “Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has lobbied extensively for this borough’s residents to have access to state-of-the-art healthcare. Our view was that the best location for the provision of emergency healthcare was within this borough.
“Whilst I welcome the news of the significant investment in local health care and that local residents will have access to a world class modern facility with the latest equipment and highly trained specialist personnel, I’m disappointed that the new unit will be outside our borough.
“Various issues were raised by borough residents during the Improving Healthcare Together public consultations. Major concerns were expressed about the journey time for emergency vehicles and others from Epsom and beyond to reach a Sutton location. The council will continue to engage with the Improving Healthcare Together and the NHS to ensure these concerns are addressed.
“We have assurances that Epsom Hospital will continue to provide the vast majority of its existing services, including an Urgent Treatment Centre and that investment in Epsom Hospital facilities will continue”.
How to dispose of face masks safely
Face masks are a new normal essential, you already need to wear one when travelling on public transport and from 24 July you need one when visiting a shop or supermarket.
If you’re sporting a disposable face mask, after use, you will need to place it in your rubbish bin as it cannot be recycled.
If you’re self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus, then you will need to double bag your face mask, along with any other personal waste and put it aside for 72 hours before placing into your rubbish bin. More information on what to do with your waste when you’re self-isolating can be found here.
Disposable masks can be worn only once so to help avoid waste, opt for a reusable mask instead. Reusable masks are much better for the environment and come in a range of different designs, you can even make your own with this handy guide.
Litter, litter, everywhere
We're launching a new social media campaign over the summer months addressing the increases in littering and anti-social behaviour that have been seen since lockdown eased.
The campaign, developed by Keep Britain Tidy, comes after a new survey carried out by the environmental charity shows that more than half of the country’s parks have had to pull in extra resources to deal with the issues, including litter and anti-social behaviour since lockdown was eased.
Of those, 81% have had to spend more on clearing up litter, 79% on bin emptying and 72% on maintaining public order or enforcing lockdown rules. Councils also reported clearing up on average 57 tonnes of additional waste from their parks.
Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Committee commented “Our largest parks, especially Nonsuch, have seen huge numbers descending on them and even our smallest parks like Elizabeth Welchman Gardens in central Epsom, have seen a marked increase in visits.
“Normally this use of the borough’s green spaces is something we are delighted to see; however, the levels of litter and waste being left by members of the public has reached unprecedented levels. Council staff with many years of experience working in parks, claim they have never known a period as bad as this.
“Thankfully, the community spirit of the army of local volunteers, who give up their time to undertake litter picks in our green spaces, along with our own street cleaning team and Park Rangers, have managed to keep the huge tide of litter from completely defiling one of the borough’s greatest assets”.
The new campaign, under the umbrella of ‘Love Parks’, uses behavioural insights that show people respond better to messages from individuals and features images of real parks staff and park users, with quotes that talk about how anti-social behaviour makes them feel, with each one urging people to ‘be kind’ to their park.
Richard McIlwain, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “The UK was the birthplace of the public park and their value was recognised by many people during lockdown as a haven of greenspace, for exercise and relaxation.
“But, as lockdown measures have eased, we’ve seen a significant minority of people abuse these treasured spaces, with shocking scenes of anti-social behaviour, including littering, people using parks as toilets and abuse of parks staff.
“This campaign, which has been made available to every local authority in the country and which is based on behavioural science, will act as an effective nudge to actively encourage people to treat our beautiful parks – and the amazing staff who work in them – with respect this summer.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “As the coronavirus lockdown has eased, the amount of litter being left in parks, green spaces and beaches across the country is unacceptable. I wholeheartedly support Keep Britain Tidy’s new campaign to tackle this issue.
There is simply no excuse to leave rubbish behind, and councils can issue fines of up to £150 to those caught doing it. If you are unable to dispose of litter, then please take it home so you don’t destroy what you have come to enjoy.”
The best is yet to come
Looking to disguise the wear and tear on your dining room chair? Grab a paintbrush. Fresh flowers but no vase? Grab a jam jar. Whether you are seeking to update a piece of furniture or are searching for a new use for those empty tins – upcycling is the best way to splash some new life into old items.
So, enjoy a more sustainable summer this year and create less waste. With more time at home why not repurpose items that may have previously been thrown away? By choosing to reuse, you can help the environment and save money.
And as an added incentive, the Surrey Environment Partnership (SEP) has launched an exciting new upcycling competition.
Taking place throughout July, Surrey residents will simply need to submit a photograph of a recently completed upcycling project for a chance to win a zero waste hamper of goodies donated by Fetch’em from the Cupboard and Pedrick’s Zero Waste Shop.
For more information on the competition and for some upcycling inspiration visit the SEP website.
Serve up some savings by reducing your food waste
It may be simpler than you think to save some money this summer. Reducing your food waste will not only keep the pounds in your pocket but will help the environment too.
While recycling any food that cannot be eaten is good for the planet, throwing away less in the first place is even better. Save more and waste less by trying these three tips:
- Plan your food shop in advance so you only buy what you need.
- Freeze food before it reaches its ‘use by’ date.
- Use up your leftovers by trying out a new recipe.
Make reducing food waste even easier by downloading an app that helps you to plan your shops or donate excess food to your neighbours. With the money you save you could also buy some items to donate to your local food bank.
Surrey Environment Partnership (SEP) chairman Councillor Neil Dallen said: “More time at home means Surrey residents are buying and cooking more food than ever before. We should use this time to think more about what we buy and how we can waste less.”
Discover leftover recipes, storage tips and app recommendations on the SEP website.
Don’t lose your voice
To ensure your electoral registration details are up to date, we've launched the annual canvass.
With elections for Surrey County Council and the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner both taking place in May 2021, this is an important opportunity to ensure you can take part.
The annual canvass ensures that we can keep the electoral register up to date, identifying any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to do so. This year the format of the canvass is changing and we will be contacting residents by email, post and phone. For more information on the Annual Canvass this year, please see our website: https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/council/elections-and-voting/annual-canvass-register-electors
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee said: “Please do not lose your right to vote. It’s important that residents respond to our canvas communications, so we can make sure we have the right details on the electoral register for every address in Epsom and Ewell. To make sure you are able to have your say at the elections taking place next year, simply follow the instructions provided.
“If you’re not currently registered and need to register, the easiest way is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, or we can send you information explaining how to do this in the post if this is easier for you.
“This year’s canvass, which we have to carry out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. We are working to ensure that we take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing.”
People who have moved recently are particularly encouraged to look out for the voter registration messages and check the details. Research by the Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those who have lived at the same address for a long time. Across Great Britain, 92% of people who have been at their property for more than sixteen years will be registered, compared to 36% of people who have lived at an address for less than one year.
Melanie Davidson, Head of Support and Improvement at the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s really important that everyone who is entitled to vote is able to do so. Making sure you provide the necessary information to your local authority when it is needed will ensure the process runs smoothly. This is particularly helpful in the current public health situation, as it will help avoid the need for home visits from canvassers.
“There’s lots of helpful information about registering to vote on our website www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter .”
Any borough residents who have any questions can contact the local registration team at email@example.com
Making Surrey a better place to live for people with autism
Surrey has launched a public consultation to gather feedback on how to make Surrey a better place to live for people with autism. This feedback will be used to form a new all-age autism strategy for Surrey.
For more information see: https://news.surreycc.gov.uk/2020/07/13/surrey-asks-what-would-make-the-county-a-better-place-for-the-1-in-100-people-living-with-autism/
Visit www.surreysays.co.uk/csf/autismstrategy to view the survey and take part.
Beat the Heat
Coping with heat and COVID-19 - for more information visit www.nhs.uk/heatwave
Stay active safely this summer
If you’re heading outside with the family this summer ensure they have enough to drink and wear sunscreen. Remember to keep up that social distance too! https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/seasonal-advice/summer
Heading to rivers and lakes is tempting in hot weather, but make sure you maintain your social distance. Wear sunscreen, avoid alcohol and always stay safe near the water. https://www.rlss.org.uk/safety-on-holiday