Some of you might have purchased annual parking charge permits for the car parks at Newlands Corner, Chobham Common, Rodborough Common, Ockham Common, Norbury Park and Worplesdon Common (even though charging machines were not activated there), which extended beyond 31 March, when charges were scrapped. Following enquiries made to us, we contacted Surrey County Council (SCC) to find out how to obtain refunds for purchased permits. SCC have confirmed that refunds are available. “For a refund on Annual Passes for the months after 31st March, please email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or write to them at District Enforcement Limited, PO Box 10418, Ashby de la Zouch, LE65 9EJ”. Remember to mention your vehicle registration number when you contact them and any identifying number on the permit (if there is one). Only contact SCC regarding a refund if you run into significant difficulties with District Enforcement, which cannot be resolved with them. SCC is under a great deal of pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We are so very pleased to confirm that, at the Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting this afternoon, approval was given to the removal of the parking charges in the Surrey Countryside Estate from 1 April 2020.
It was accepted that the scheme had not been a financial success, it had also deterred residents, and that times have changed with a new emphasis on health and well being.
The Council will remove parking charges at Newlands Corner, and it is hoped the landowner, Albury Estate, will then keep the site free to access. The Council will also remove charges at the sites it owns – Norbury Park, and Chobham, Ockham, Rodborough Commons, and Whitmoor Common where the charges had not yet started.
The Council said it wants to ensure the countryside is accessible to all, and there is a genuine desire to promote the health and well being of residents. It wants people to come back and enjoy the countryside.
The Council also agreed to develop proposals for the introduction of a voluntary payment scheme to help towards the costs of managing the countryside and public access.
Thank you so much to all the people who have helped to achieve this result.
Thank you also to Surrey County Council for a forward-looking decision.
The Surrey County Council policy proposal for the Cabinet meeting on 26th November 2019 is recommending that parking charges in the Countryside Estate, including Newlands Corner, cease on 1 April. This is excellent news. We hope the Cabinet accepts the recommendation.
Please write to your SCC councillor before the 26th and ask them to bring pressure to bear on the Cabinet.
The document does contain a comment about the Albury Estate having the right to charge but we would be hugely surprised if they did. We feel certain that this is just about ensuring that the Estate’s rights are not undermined by the SCC decision.
We will be certain to let you all know of the outcome from the meeting on 26th November.
At the meeting of the Environment Select Committee of Surrey County Council held on February 22nd this year, Cllr Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor for the Worplesdon division of Guildford, castigated residents and particularly the Save Newlands Corner group for having “rose tinted spectacles” and not facing up to reality when they criticised the Council’s attempts to commercialise activities on its Countryside Estate.
He particularly disliked the proposal that the Council should have “a strategy not focussed on money but on our environment” as though somehow that was a bad goal. A copy of his full transcribed statement can be found in the links given on this web page.
His ire was aimed particularly at those who sent e-mails, as members of the Save Newlands Corner group did prior to the committee meeting. He concluded by saying
“That’s what I get sick and tired of Chairman; emails from people who just oppose stuff and they never put forward any constructive alternative suggestion at all. Rant finished.”
However, the Save Newlands Corner Group actually did so, and put forward a proposal for management of Newlands Corner based on principles that had worked successfully for a decade at the Hurtwood Estate, which is run by a small charity “Friends of the Hurtwood”. The principle of the plan was that it would not require parking charges or commercial development of the site and would substantially reduce costs to the Council, if not removing them altogether. However, our attempts failed due to Council demands that parking charges be implemented no matter what.
A somewhat different story was told by Cllr Witham. He stated that
“Some while ago, the Newlands Corner Group did propose to look at a Friends Group, but would only consider setting it up if Surrey County Council dropped the idea of car parking charges. They prepared a plan that had not considered a number of legal issues and Surrey asked them how they were proposing to cover those. Then, of course they backed off and stopped talking about that.”
While the first part was completely true, the second part was completely false as can be seen from the last three e-mails, of an otherwise lengthy correspondence between the Council and the Save Newlands Group, also shown on this web page
An e-mail was sent by a friend of Save Newlands Corner to the Chair of the Environment Select committee, along with that correspondence, requesting that the false statement be corrected and formally minuted at a future committee meeting. Further, that Cllr Witham should apologise to those of the Save Newlands Corner Group who were involved. A copy of that e-mail is also shown here.
As of the date of this publication we are not aware of any action that will be taken to correct the false statement given to the committee and Cllr Witham has point blank refused to apologise for making his false statement.
Click on the links below for the details:-
A concerned member of the public has researched the vehicle data used by Surrey County Council (SCC) in its car park charging plans and that research appears to show a pattern in how vehicle parking numbers prior to charging were reported and used by the Countryside Estate.
When the case for car park charges at Newlands Corner was first presented to SCC cabinet in Oct 2015 it was stated that there were 122,000 vehicles each year parking there. Following a Freedom of Information request, SCC eventually admitted that the actual figure, based on vehicle counters, was 255,000 in the year to January 2016.
Similarly, when the case for car park charges was presented to SCC cabinet in Jan 2018 for the other commons, at Chobham, Whitmoor, Rodborough, and Ockham & Wisley and Norbury Park, it was stated “..monitoring figures suggest that there are 446,000 cars visiting the sites annually”. However, analysis of the raw data from parking counters provided in an FOI request indicates the actual numbers parking at the 5 commons was likely to have been closer to 900,000.
The results of the analysis were sent to SCC along with a covering e-mail on 7 December 2018 raising concerns. So far, there has been no response to that e-mail.
Why would low numbers be used? Was it to make the car park charging scheme look better in the event of a catastrophic drop in the number of people using the commons after charging was introduced? You can make your own mind up after reading the analysis of the parking counter data and accompanying e-mail. Links to these documents are below:-
The Countryside Estate has resisted all requests for vehicle figures and income from parking charges since the scheme was introduced.
The fight against parking charges at countryside car parks continues with Surrey Live wading in to support the scrapping of the charges. Click below to read the article.
Please lend your support to the petition, which is on the Surrey County Council web site:
and also to the other petition mentioned in the article:
Be aware – penalty notices are now being issued at Newlands Corner. Remember – you must still take a ticket if you are going to be there less than 20 minutes, otherwise you risk being issued with a penalty notice. All you have to do is go to the machine, press the green button for a ticket and put the ticket on your dashboard. Please don’t get caught – for your sake and to stop these people getting a profit from the site.
We are very sad to say that cashless parking charges have today, 9 July 2018, started at Newlands Corner despite our best efforts to stop them.
These charges are not democratic, economic or efficient. They also discriminate against people on lower incomes and those who cannot pay by card or smart phone.
The document linked below sets out our reasoning against parking charges at Newlands Corner. We believe our case is unarguable. Surrey County Council (SCC) thinks it can make a big profit. Time will show it is wrong.
We are pleased, however, that, to date, we have managed to curb the worst excesses of SCC’s ambitions. We have stopped SCC developing a huge restaurant, shops and coach park across the view and a series of large artificial play structures through “one of the four most important ancient woodlands in Western Europe”. This ancient woodland is home to 3 out of the 12 most threatened mammals in Britain. SCC has not dropped these ambitions.
We will continue to challenge the legal and financial issues. Parking charges have been imposed against the wishes of the vast majority of local people and with a complete lack of common sense.
Our vision remains the same – Newlands Corner should be free to access, with its countryside left unspoilt and in a natural state. We will stay on the case.
Coordinator of the Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group
Please Support our Petition
Protect Common Land in England and Wales Block the Legal Loopholes
We are writing to ask for your help to strengthen the legal protection given by the Commons Act 2006 to registered common land in England and Wales.
Common land is under growing threat from urbanisation and development. Moreover, land owners and managers are ignoring the requirements of the Commons Act and the Planning Inspectorate is powerless to do anything about it. The results are being seen at Newlands Corner, and other commons in Surrey, which are being exploited by Surrey County Council.
Please support our petition to highlight the deficiencies of the legislation and to call for change.
Our petition is at:
The background note linked here and below, sets out where we consider the Commons Act 2006 needs to change. We want to draw this to the attention of politicians and government departments
We ask you to forward this link and the background note to colleagues, friends and family.
We want the commons, and the flora and fauna that exist there, to have the full protection of the law. We believe the vast majority of people want the same. Our petition seeks to achieve the necessary changes which will protect all registered common land in England and Wales. We need your help to do this.
Please sign the petition