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Effingham Eye: Good Parish Council Meeting With Some Healthy Disagreement

By Chris Dick

January was a Blue Moon month for Effingham Parish Council (EPC). It was the only month in the year in which there are two public meetings. We live life on the edge here.

The most recent was another good meeting with plenty of audience participation and some healthy disagreements between councillors. This meeting started with a discussion about some of the damaged roadside verges, of which there are plenty. Surrey County Councillor Julie Iles was in attendance and noted the concerns of those present. As always it will probably come down to whether there is enough money in the “austerity” budget to cover these repairs in the coming year.

The council then discussed the Howard of Effingham School’s aspirations to close a footpath that crosses their playing fields off Lower Road. The footpath designated “FP75” is shown on Ordnance Survey maps scale 1:25,000 and 1:50,000. It is worth noting that in England and Wales a public footpath “right of way” refers to paths on which the public has a legally protected right to pass and re-pass. Closing any such footpath is likely to be contentious.

The majority of councillors, whilst wishing to support the school, were concerned about closing a public right of way and wanted to consider alternatives. The obvious solution, which would be to erect a fence had been dismissed by the school in their circular that said: “It is not practical to fence in the footpath in its entirety as the playing field, as a whole, is used for school activities.”

“FP 75” crossing Howard of Effingham School
playing fields.

Some councillors doubted the strength of this argument whilst another wanted to support the school on the basis that the Neighbourhood Plan stated the council would support the school.

Since the meeting, Effingham Residents Association have written about the matter and stimulated several comments on their website.

Simon Bisson a local resident, who had written a comment on the residents association’s website, told The Guildford Dragon NEWS: “I am perplexed by the actions of the school. People can wander onto the grounds without hindrance, so closing FP75 isn’t going to change this and the student safety bit is clearly bogus.

“Even if FP75 was a real issue it could be resolved by fencing, as others have pointed out, but the school won’t entertain this for some unknown reason. So what is going on?

“The school knows it is very hard to close a footpath even with a very compelling case, which they don’t have. They know residents will object to it as I believe they have in the past.

“It is far too late to influence the Berkeley Homes appeal. Can it really be this is just a hissy fit to piss the village off just because the appeal may fail? I would hope not but we will see.”

SCC© map showing FP75 running northwest to southeast on the boundary with and just inside the Mole Valley District Council’s area to the east. (click images to enlarge)

The school had occasionally expressed concern about public footpaths across the King George V playing fields when they had used the fields during the past 40 years. That concern now seems to have shifted to their own playing fields off Lower Road.

Anne Persson told The Dragon: “We have been continuing to look at ways to safeguard the students on the school playing field, and I am attaching a proposal for limited closure of the footpath, during school hours. The proposal has been circulated for initial informal consultation, and the school is very keen to work with the local community to find a solution which is widely acceptable.”

Howard of Effingham proposal for limited closure of public right of way.

Looking forward, residents will have a choice on February 22 to vote whether or not to approve the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan.

In a further press release, Guildford Borough Council (GBC) said: “Residents of the Effingham ward and parish have until midnight on Tuesday, 6 February to register to vote if they wish to participate in the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan referendum, which is planned to take place on Thursday 22 February.”

Residents should note other key times and dates:

You will need to ensure that GBC receives any new postal vote applications and alterations to existing absent voting arrangements by 5pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. And any new proxy vote applications need to be with GBC by 5pm Wednesday, February 14.

As previously reported, the referendum will ask for a “Yes” or “No” answer to the following question: “Do you want Guildford Borough Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Effingham to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?” To find out more information about registering to vote, go to: www.guildford.gov.uk/electoralregistration”

In other news, Manor House School hosted the Watoto Ugandan choir. The event, that took place to a packed audience on January 17 had been organised by St Lawrence and All Saints Churches. It raised £2,000 for the charity which runs schools for orphaned children in Uganda.

Watoto choir at Manor House School.

Over Christmas, a different charity raised several thousand pounds through the sale and delivery of over 10,000 stamps and cards which were delivered by volunteers. The Bookham, Fetcham and Effingham Christmas Charity Post (CCP) charity raised £3,500 to fund projects in developing countries. Readers may be interested to know where the money will be sent:

£1,500 will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee for their support of member charities providing temporary shelter, emergency healthcare, food, clean drinking water and sanitation services to the Myanmar Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

£1,000 will go to Medecines Sans Frontieres for their work in Yemen.

And £1,000 will go to Practical Action for water projects in East Africa. This will be matched by DFID [Department for International Development], thus making the amount donated £2,000.

Leaflet re All Saints choir

Michael Agius, Chairman of CCP said: “This is a fantastic result which hopefully indicates that the downward trend of the last few years has been halted. The total contributed to such projects over 34 years is nearly £100,000 with over 450,000 cards delivered.”

The Sherpa Chamber choir will sing the Faure Requiem and some other short pieces at All Saints Church Little Bookham at 7.30 pm on Saturday, February 17, 2018. The event has been organised by Jon and Kate Hargreaves to raise money for the St Lawrence Lighting Appeal and MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship).

And finally, a well done and thank you to Effingham Village Recreational Trust and EPC for reinstating the young childern’s play area tower. Pictured below the ground has since been recovered with a protective rubber surface.

Young childern’s play area situated on the King George V recreational grounds behind Barnes Wallis Close.

Via recent leaflets, through our letterboxes, residents will have seen that fundraising is ongoing for the refurbishment of the remaining children’s playground equipment as well as the surrounding fencing. It is hoped that the entire project will be finished by the summer. Those wishing to support the project can find out more on the Residents’ Association website.

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