Report on the Surrey County Council (SCC) Public Meeting of 9th March 2016

Firstly we want to thank every one of you who turned out on a wet and cold night to voice your thoughts in the SCC proposals.  We estimate that over 250 of you attended, a fantastic turn out and we filled the Holy Trinity Church hall.

The evening did not start well when the first of us to arrive were told by SCC that we would only be let into the church at 7.30pm, the start time of the meeting.  We, as you might imagine, made our thoughts known and were subsequently let in the side door.  We had to open the main doors ourselves to let other people in.  No signage was provided by SCC for the meeting so we posted two of our group outside to help people find the meeting.  There were too few chairs put out and these were quickly filled.  Again no help from SCC; we had to put out more chairs ourselves, although it was a meeting that SCC had organised!

The meeting started 10 minutes late as the panel, consisting of Lisa Creaye-Griffin from SCC, Councillor Mike Goodman (SCC) and Nigel Davenport from the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) were not ready to start on time.  SCC had organised an independent Chair to run the meeting, who they apparently had used in the past for council meetings.

Unfortunately the microphones on the night proved inadequate.  Both the Chair and Lisa Creaye-Griffin were almost impossible to hear, which caused frustration in the audience early on in the proceedings.  Additionally the roving microphone used for audience questions/comments was at a very low volume and it was very difficult to hear what any of the audience said.  All very frustrating and SCC appeared not to worry about this fact at all.  The meeting was ill tempered at times, both from the audience and also some of those presenting.  Tensions regarding these proposals were clearly running high.

Councillor Goodman made a speech about the SCC proposals, repeating many of the things he had said in the past. Davies White, the designers of the play structures, then made a presentation of an Option 2 with a reduction from 10 to 5 structures, and an Option 3 with a new structure in the current playground. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of people have said they do not want ANY new play structures at all, we think that the play trail options are just a tool being used by SCC to try to justify parking charges.

There followed many questions and comments from the audience about the proposals, both Phase 1 and Phase 2.  It was absolutely crystal clear that none of the proposals were wanted.  Over 10,000 people have signed the petition against the proposals, 250 people came to the public meeting to voice their objection face-to-face with Surrey County Council and the comments at the meeting made it clear that these proposals should be stopped.  At the end of the meeting one member of the audience asked for a show of hands to see who supported and who objected to the proposals.  Only one lonely hand was seen to go up in support, and it turned out later that he was a Surrey Heath councillor with close connections to Councillor Goodman, although he did not declare this.

Surrey County Council, you need to listen to those who have elected you.  Your job is to represent us and our wishes.  It is a VERY LARGE NO.

Please help the campaign by writing to as many councillors and involved parties as you can, remembering to go to the Davies White site and comment.  Details of who and how to comment are on our post ‘How Can You Help the Campaign’ .

Thank you to everyone for your support.  Keep Newlands Natural !