- About us
- Through Time
- What's On
A Surrey County Council (SCC) Cabinet decision to endorse a new agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) for the management of SCC’s countryside estate, including Newlands Corner has been “called in” for scrutiny.
This is another stage for the SCC proposals to make “improvements” to the popular visitor site near Merrow and follows on from an angry public meeting at Holy Trinity Church on March 9th.
A report was presented by Cllr Mike Goodman (Con, Bagshot, Windlesham and Chobham), lead councillor for environment and planning to the SCC Cabinet on March 22.
The report recommended endorsement of a new agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) for the management of SCC’s countryside estate.
Both the chair of trustees of SWT, Chris Wilkinson, and its finance director, Roger Wild, were present. Mr Wild detailed ways in which SWT hoped to increase its income stream in future years.
Members of the Save Newlands Corner campaign group spoke during the meeting and claimed commercialisation of Newlands Corner is the cornerstone of the new proposed deal.
The agreement was endorsed by the SCC Cabinet, although the vote was not unanimous.
Later, on March 31, the Cabinet’s decision was ‘called in’ for scrutiny by SCC’s Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Board on the basis that: “The endorsement of the Surrey Wildlife Trust decision and requirement that the strategic director ensures the business plan is delivered prevents the possibility of any further scrutiny”.
This unusual move required a request from three councillors, from more than a single political party.
The scrutiny meeting is to be held at County Hall, Kingston, on Thursday April 14th, at 10.30 am. The public can attend to listen, but not to speak.
Save Newlands Corner leading organiser, Sally Blake said: “This is a positive step forward for the campaigners, and we are hoping that the decision will be referred back to Cabinet with a recommendation to find alternative ways of raising the money to run the Countryside Estate.
“The proposals for Newlands Corner are particularly excessive, and people have shown, indeed are showing, massive opposition to £1 per hour parking charges, artificial play trails/structures and a huge commercial development that includes a coach park.”
If the decision is not reviewed, campaigners fear that it will lead to further commercialisation of the Newlands Corner site.
Sally Blake continued: “Will it stop at Newlands Corner? Probably not. Many of us feel that we must fight these, what David Hodge, the leader of SCC, calls, ‘improvements’, and keep Newlands Corner wild, free to access, and unspoiled for future generations.”