NEWSLETTER – AUTUMN 2020
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have not been able put together and, most importantly, distribute the Summer issue of our Clarion Magazine and will, with regret, not publish an issue, as is usual, before Christmas. I and the committee have therefor assembled a brief Newsletter to update our members on several important matters relating to our Village.
I trust you and your families are keeping well and safe during these frustrating and challenging months.
Keith Bendall - Chair EGVRA
ENGLEFIELD GREEN VILLAGE NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM
Your Village Needs Your Views!
Solid progress is being made with your Forum but we need you to do all you can to support this forward movement as it is vital to getting the Neighbourhood Village Plan into place as soon as possible.
Please go to www.egvplan.org.uk and click on the link to the questionnaire today if you haven’t done so already!
Englefield Green Village and the surrounding Area have a significant number of competing and often conflicting development drivers; In parts of the Area there is demand for prestige high end houses, whilst the general need is often for Affordable Housing; The urban area is almost fully developed, yet it is surrounded by important and essential Green Belt land leaving little room for further development; There is a disproportionate demand for rented accommodation caused by the presence of students from the Royal Holloway University; The Area has a number of important landmarks and popular tourist destinations, and two through routes for traffic, yet the Village itself suffers more from the traffic than benefits from the visitors that pass through it.
We cannot pretend that a Neighbourhood Plan can fully address these and other problems raised during the consultation process, but it can go some way to providing guidance as to what type of development we wish to see in the Area, and aspirations as to how we wish to shape the future of the Area.
The Englefield Green Village Neighbourhood Forum, covering an Area comprising both Wards of Englefield Green was formed with the determination to resolve these and other conflicts and providing a road map for the future development of the Area.
The Forum was ratified by Runnymede Borough Council in November 2019 and in December a Forum Steering Committee of a number of volunteers was formed, and work was begun on formulating the Plan.
The Steering Committee first sought to understand the Area and its merits and demerits through studying its History and Demography. These reports can be found on our website, www.egvplan.org.uk where you can also join the Village Forum if you wish to vote on the final Plan once it is prepared.
Last July, a detailed questionnaire was issued, and all residents and workers in the Area are entitled to and encouraged to complete it. I urge you, if you have not already done so, to spare 10 minutes of your time to complete it on our website and to encourage other residents (including members of your family) and anyone you know who works in the Village to do so as well. This effort has been hampered by the Covid-19 restrictions on personal contact, but recently we have boosted our advertising with banners, placards and notices in the village, and shortly there will be a leaflet drop to all households.
Through September to November, the Committee has been undertaking a Housing Audit, which involves undertaking a full photographic survey of the whole area to determine what housing stock there is and what buildings are considered valuable historically or aesthetically.
We have also recently engaged AECOM, an international Infrastructure Consultancy Group to prepare Design Codes for the Area. These will be informed by the History and Housing survey and will provide guidance as to what design of buildings we would prefer to see in which areas of the village.
Finally, work has just been started on preparing the first draft of the Plan, and next January we intend to engage consultants to assist in shaping up our draft into something acceptable to RBC, the Inspectors and you the Forum members.
Meanwhile there is a huge amount of work still to do in preparing support documentation and a very limited number of volunteers on the Committee, all of whom only have limited time to undertake assignments. If you wish to volunteer we would be very glad to hear from you. The time it takes to produce this very important Plan is directly dependant on the number of people who help assembling it! You can contact us by email at email@example.com and make a difference.
Mike Kelly – Chair EGVNF
RHUL / Strode’s College
When the students returned at the end of September RHUL provided additional guidance to both students living on site and those living locally, this included this Welcome Letter. Additionally there are weekly newsletters to students from the university and Students’ Union which remind students of the importance of engaging with their Playing your Part Coronavirus campaign. Any suspected breaches follow their Student Conduct Regulation and the College Covid-19 Code of Practice. There are currently circa 11,000 students though not all are on site., roughly 50% of their lectures are online. RHUL has a mobile Test and Trace facility on site for both Students and Residents, there is no walk-in facility but can be booked online via NHS. During week ending 10 November 0 members of Staff and 14 members of the Student body of the Royal Holloway Community are self-isolating after testing positive for Coronavirus. Every Wednesday RHUL provides an update on Coronavirus.
Following issues with Strode's students congregating at lunchtimes in Egham high street Strode’s management started to keep an eye on off-campus activities and now an Egham Town/Strode’s Charter has been set up which RHUL has also signed up to.
Surrey and Runnymede
In Surrey during the period 31/10/20 to 6/11/20 there were 1,472 new cases and 125,700 in England. In Runnymede there were 126 new cases in the same period, an increase of 32 compared with previous week. Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 1,001 cases in Runnymede. Information about Surrey, including all districts and boroughs, can be found HERE.
Christine Welsh-RHUL Lead EGVRA
SURREY UNITARY AUTHORITY?
The government was due to publish a Recovery & Devolution White Paper in the Autumn which would have encouraged counties to be governed by unitary authorities (ending the county council & borough council arrangements). For Surrey this would have meant the 11 borough & district councils (B&DCs), including RBC, would be scrapped. SCC’s initial proposal was for a single unitary authority covering Surrey, arguing that it would reduce the “complexity of governance & reduce costs to the taxpayer”. However, this had not been consulted upon & at the end of July the leaders of Surrey’s 11 B&DCs wrote to the government outlining their views against SCC’s proposal (which would be the largest unitary authority in the country, with 1.2 million residents). This was followed up in August by the Independent Councillors across the county launching a Residents Against Surrey Single Unitary (RASSU) campaign to force debate at SCC & set up a petition that it was keen for residents to sign (at https://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/unitary). Alternative proposals were being suggested (e.g. Labour has already suggested Surrey be split into 3 authorities - see above picture) & RBC and other councils were to agree that KPMG consultants should come up with a range of options for the B&DCs to jointly pursue with their residents & the government. “This is not just an argument about saving money but about building on what works well”. However, late in September, & in the light of considerable adverse reaction, the government announced that they were not now prepared to progress a local government restructuring as part of the White Paper. This clear U-turn means that the SCC proposal is currently dead, & it is reported that the White Paper will be watered down & then delayed until the Spring (with no compulsion to instigate unitary authorities)? However, whilst RASSU could claim a victory, they now anticipate that SCC may reintroduce the unitary proposal after the SCC elections in May 2021? Keep watching this space…………
With acknowledgement to ERA
ENGLEFIELD GREEN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
We have decided against having a Christmas tree this year due to the restrictions around Covid-19 of placing it and that we would not be able to gather near it. However, we are in communication with RBC to see if we can have some illumination of a couple of trees near the entrance gates to the cemetery.
We hope that this, along with Christmas lights on a number of shops/businesses in St. Jude’s Road and Victoria Street, will give a good atmosphere to our village during the festive period and help us move forward to what we hope will be a safer 2021.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and good New Year.