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Save Newlands Corner

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Action Required NOW to Save Newlands Corner

The deadline for objections to the Surrey County Council Commons Consent application has now passed.  Thank you to everyone for the amazing response. Once we know how many objections have been received or have any further information we will post on this site.  

Thank you!!

You can still view the documents we produced regarding this application.

Click here to read How to Object and What you can say.

Also please remember to personalise your objection slightly.  Mention your emotional attachment to Newlands Corner and why it is important for you and your family.  This will then carry much more weight with the Planning Authorities. 

Thank you!


You will have heard about the significant controversy surrounding Surrey County Council’s (SCC) proposals to develop Newlands Corner.   We need to object to its proposals at every stage to stop this commercialisation.   SCC’s first step is to introduce car park charges and for this it needs to erect parking charge machines on the site.  On 14 September 2016,  SCC submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for the introduction of three parking charge machines onto the common.  They need to do this as Newlands Corner is registered common land.

This may not sound like much but the implications of this are very significant.

The Planning Inspector must be shown that this application is inappropriate, would lead to the degradation of Newlands Corner and is deeply unpopular.

Every single objection counts, so please send yours in by 21st October 2016 and encourage others to do the same. 

Please send objections:-  

By email to:        commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk

By post to:          The Planning Inspectorate, Commons Team, 3F Temple Quay House, Temple Quay, Bristol. BS1 6PN

The three documents below will give you more detail and some ideas on what to say in your objections.  (They are all in both Word and PDF format).

Action Required Now to Save Newlands Corner – Gives more detail of the situation:

    Action Required – PDF version            Action Required – Word version

Appendix 1 – Gives information about the application and suggests the sort of things you might want to object to:

    Appendix 1 – PDF version                     Appendix 1 – Word version

Appendix 2 – Gives you lots of background and sets out our concerns about all of the proposals:

    Appendix 2 – PDF version                    Appendix 2 – Word version

Planning Information – This document contains further planning background information

   Planning Information

 

 

 

Surrey County Council – Commons Consent Application!

URGENT – We have now heard that the first of Surrey County Council’s Commons Consent applications has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.  This application applies for consent for the parking infrastructure at Newlands Corner.  This is the start of the commercialisation of Newlands Corner! 

Action needs to be taken now and we are in the process of putting together details on how you can object.  We are also finalising plans to give the application much wider publicity.  This will all be completed in the next few days and we will put full information on this website.  Please encourage everyone you know to object!

The links below are to the various application documents.  

Pay and Display Signage Plan

Newlands Corner Proposed Location of Parking Meters

Area Map CL344

Additional Sheet to Application for Consent to Carry Out works on Common Land

Representation Notice

Signed Application

CL344 Register of Common Land

The State of Britain’s Dormice and their Newlands Corner Habitat

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species has just issued a report, ‘The State of Britain’s Dormice’, which describes the rapid decline of the hazel dormouse in Britain and says that they are vulnerable to extinction.  Newlands Corner is a known habitat for these shy, endearing creatures.  SCC’s proposals will bring noise, habitat clearance and a 50% increase in vehicle emissions.  Stopping SCC’s proposals will at least give the dormice a fighting chance.

Read more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37290176

 

Open Spaces Society Article

Under the heading “Space Invaders” an Open Spaces Society article has said the following:

“Surrey wants to make money from the beautiful Newlands Corner near Albury in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The proposed commercial developments there, which include a large visitor-centre (replacing the much-loved café), coach park and trail with artificial play-structures, are causing much local concern. Some of the structures would be on common land, needing ministerial consent. This sensitive site is not one to muck around with; we shall resist.”

The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 as the Commons Preservation Society and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It receives copies of all applications made to the Planning Inspectorate (which is part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for works on common land and plays an important role in advising the Secretary of State.  So, this is a real boost to the campaign.

It is interesting to note that the Planning Inspectorate recommends that the Society is consulted, on an informal basis, about any such plans.  Our understanding is that, as of two weeks ago, no informal approach had been made to the Society by Surrey County Council.  Yet these proposals first came to light in October last year!

Friends of Newlands Corner Proposal

Friends of Newlands Corner

Introduction

At a meeting with Surrey County Council (SCC) on 19 April 2016, the Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group (SaveNC) agreed to put forward alternative arrangements for the management of Newlands Corner. SaveNC believes that the site could be managed on the basis of a ‘Friends of Newlands Corner’ model in a much more cost-effective way than is currently the case. The ‘Friends’ concept would also retain the wild and open nature of the site and avoid the commercial proposals put forward by SCC.

SCC said ‘we remain open to discuss any thoughts or proposals you may have’. SaveNC welcome this opportunity to submit our outline ideas for an alternative way forward and the reasoning behind them.

At the time of the meeting, critical information about vehicle figures and maintenance costs was still awaited. Much of that has information has recently been provided, but further clarification is being sought.

This report is, therefore, correct to the best of our knowledge. It was completed in a short time frame and we acknowledge that much more work needs to be done to firm up on the proposals.

Click here to read the full proposal.

Fact Sheet – Summary of the Situation at Newlands Corner

We have put together a Fact Sheet, which details the main points covering the situation at Newlands Corner.  It is complex so we felt it important to put as much information as possible in one place for everyone to read.  Fact sheet latest update: 15th october 2018.  The new version is linked below.

This will be updated regularly as situations change so do keep looking in for changes.

Please click this link to read the Updated Fact Sheet.

Please feel free to let us know your thoughts via the ‘Contact Us’ section and remember to ‘Follow Us’ so you receive our latest posts via email.

The links shown in the document are shown below so you can connect to them direct from here.

 

Dodgy Figures Exposed

Dodgy Figures Exposed

Councillor Goodman, leader of the project that wants to commercialise Newlands Corner, has stated, on many occasions, (including to support his business case to the SCC Cabinet), that 122,000 vehicles visit Newlands Corner every year.  Campaigners have challenged these figures consistently, believing them to be far below the reality of the situation.  Now, under the pressure of a Public Question at the Cabinet meeting on 26 April, he finally admitted that Newlands Corner is visited by 255,000 vehicles a year.

Why is this important?  We don’t agree with parking charges at all but if they are to be imposed, this means that they do not need to be anywhere near as high as initially proposed to achieve the amount of money Councillor Goodman wants.  In fact, they should be less than half of what he is proposing.

This is yet another example, in our opinion, of these proposals being put forward on the basis of very questionable statistics and a misplaced ideology.

 

What the Save Newlands Corner Group Seeks to Ensure

What The “Save Newlands Corner” Group Seeks to Ensure:

  1. Newlands Corner continues to be one of very few publicly accessible countryside sites free of charge to visitors, consistent with the enjoyment and understanding of the countryside and its flora and fauna – such understanding contributing to the well being and good mental and physical health of people of all ages, abilities and means. In particular, in the absence of regular public transport to Newlands Corner, the introduction of car parking charges would present a deterrent cost to those of limited financial means, including the elderly.
  1. The conservation and management of Newlands Corner keeps it in as natural a state as possible to retain its special character recognised by its status as in an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” to include maintenance of the existing “all weather” paths, the car park, café and toilet facilities without extension or expansion of these.
  1. Nothing is done to restrict or impede the views from the present access roadway and car park, this including any location selected for coach parking.
  1. Newlands Corner is kept free from any more commercial activity or development than is presented by the current Visitor Centre, Café and toilet facilities. “Save Newlands Corner” opposes the introduction of parking charges to in any way subsidise commercial ventures that should to be entirely self-funding.
  1. The existing environment continues to present the best possible experience for all, including and play value for the young by encouraging use of imagination, resourcefulness and direct understanding of nature. Man made recreation facilities and equipment, perhaps based on natural materials, may be of value in urban locations but their use at Newlands Corner is not needed and would detract from the very understanding and enjoyment that nature provides better for itself. Additionally, the cost of such equipment would only add unnecessarily to ongoing maintenance and future renewal costs

We continue to work hard in many areas to achieve the above goals.  You can contact us using the ‘Contact Us’ link on the web site top menu.  We welcome your feedback and thoughts.  

County Council and Wildlife Trust Deal To Be Scrutinised

County Council and Wildlife Trust Deal To Be Scrutinised

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.

See an article about this in the Guildford Dragon by clicking here.

How Can You Help the Campaign?

TIME TO ACT – WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW!

Many of you have asked how you can help the campaign, so we have put some suggestions together on this page for you. Thank you again to everyone who has supported it so far.

Write to or email Surrey County Council. We suggest:-

The Council Leader David Hodge: david.hodge@surreycc.gov.uk and;

Your local Councillor. Click here for details

Write to or email Surrey Wildlife Trust.  info@surreywt.org.ukto Chief Executive Nigel Davenport

Write to or email your Guildford Borough Councillor.  Click here for details.

Write to or email to your MP. They are not part of this process but will take note of your opinionsClick here for details.

We have just heard from a lady who tried to email the Surrey County Council Newlands Corner project team on 12th May that SCC say they are no longer accepting emails to this address regarding the project!  May we ask you all, however, to continue to write to SCC, they have to accept letters still!  Follow the link above to find your local councillor and also write to Surrey County Council, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames.  KT1 2DN

Write to or email your Parish Council.  Click here for details.

Look at the play structure plans here.  Click here for details.

Follow our web site. Click on ‘Click here to Follow’ (bottom right of the home page) so that you automatically receive an email copy of our latest posts.

 

Below is some wording that you might like to add into your letters/emails. Please feel free to amend the wording and add in your own thoughts and comments.

Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust propose developments at Newlands Corner including parking charges, trails, a coach park and large cafe/shop/visitor centre.  

I/We write to record a formal objection to the proposals and ask the Council not to go ahead. 

I/We believe Newlands Corner should remain an unspoiled open greenspace, without parking charges. It is part of our heritage and culture and not a marketable commodity.

(You may want to add your own experience of Newlands Corner and thoughts on the current proposals for parking charges, 10 adventure play sites and new building.)

If you support these changes to our countryside, please write and tell me why.

Yours sincerely

 

 

Difference of Opinion!! Who is the Determining Authority?

Difference of Opinion – Who is the Determining Authority?  SCC or GBC?

There is a very interesting situation developing.  We hear that Surrey County Council (SCC) believe that they have planning permission for the proposed changes at Newlands Corner, this includes changes put forward in both Phase 1 and 2.  This does not sound right to us!

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has been approached, at a high level, for their opinion and for clarification of who should be the determining authority.  

In summary, GBC is of the very strong opinion that SCC do not have a legal basis for giving their own approval for these changes.  We expect that the two councils will now be having some intense discussions to resolve this major and important difference of opinion.  

Below is a bullet point summary of GBC’s comments. We are sure you will find them of great interest! 

  • The GBC officers (both in the legal and planning departments), Leader of the Council and interested members of the Executive do not agree with Surrey County Council’s reasoning as to why SCC should deal with either phase of the proposals.
  • In relation to the first phase, (play equipment, play trail and associated elements); Having taken advice, GBC are firmly of the opinion that this element and the visitor centre fall to GBC to determine at District level.  The reasoning for this is set out below: 
  • Firstly, Newlands Corner is not owned by Surrey County Council and is owned by Albury Estate. GBC accept there is an access agreement and there is responsibility for SCC with regard to maintenance, litter picking etc. but believe the County Council would need to have a significant interest in the proposal to be able to claim jurisdiction.  Whilst GBC appreciate SCC advise about Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations, this is normally associated with educational use or unitary functions and usually presents itself as the overreaching educational authority, which is clearly not the case here.
  • It is GBC’s opinion in this particular case that it is unusual for the County Council to try and maintain jurisdiction over this proposal. GBC officers don’t believe that the County Council’s interest is sufficiently significant to ensure jurisdiction. SCC is not the landowner meaning that the interest is insignificant, ergo the strongly held view from the GBC perspective is that the power to determine both phases (I and 2) should remain with GBC.
  • The issue of transparency also concerns GBC. It would be unusual for SCC to fund/develop and determine phase I of the proposal, when the proposal is a discretionary function that would normally be determined at District level.  As everyone knows, there is a lot of heat and interest around this proposal.  Members of the public, Parish Councils and Councillors simply do not understand why SCC should fund/develop this proposal and not surprisingly some have reacted badly.
  • Further, it would be seen, by many, as a potential conflict of interest, given SCC’s involvement in promoting, funding and delivering the project. This opinion is strongly held at the highest level at Guildford Borough Council and by the ‘Save Newlands Corner’ team.

We will be following this with interest. 

Easter Bank Holiday Weekend

Groups of us will be out over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend at Newlands Corner.  We have leaflets to give out and hope that we will see and be able to speak with lots of you there whilst you enjoy the scenery.  We have created a survey so that we have a better understanding of how everyone uses Newlands Corner and for how long.  This will all build as evidence for us to approach Surrey County Council (SCC) with some facts!  The surveys they keep quoting are old and not relevant to the Phase 1 and 2 proposals.

We are always happy to have help with everything we are doing, so if you wish to join in you would be very welcome, just speak with one of us at Newlands or use the ‘Contact Us’ page on this web site.

We were very concerned to read in the Surrey Advertiser last week that SCC claimed that they have met with some of the Save Newlands Corner group about the designs for the play structures.  This is absolutely not the case and we are very concerned that SCC felt it appropriate to say this in a press release.  We are following this up with SCC as you might imagine!

We hope to see lots of you enjoying time at Newlands this long-weekend.  We hope that you all have a wonderful Easter!

Report on the SCC Public Meeting of 9th March 2016

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 !

 

SCC Public Meeting About Newlands Corner

Come to the meeting on 9th March 2016 and make your views known!!

Wednesday 9th March 2016 from 7.30pm to 9pm

Holy Trinity Church, High Street, Guildford, GU1 3RR.

Campaigners and local residents have been pressuring Surrey County Council to hold public consultations on the desirability and nature of any changes to Newlands Corner.  We understood that this had been agreed by Cllr Mike Goodman at the Albury drop-in session on 9th February, however, it was announced at the SCC Cabinet on 23rd February, in response to a question from the campaign group, that an information meeting would be held in Guildford on 9th March 2016.  This is apparently to take the form of a short presentation on the proposals, followed by a question and answer session to members of the Project board.  A subsequent SCC poster states that the meeting is to ‘find out more about the changes and improvements’ at Newlands Corner.  SCC and Surrey Wildlife Trust appear to be trying to make this a PR exercise and not the public consultation needed for a development of this nature. 

The SCC poster also states that the online consultation for parking charges and the play structures under Phase 1 closes on 8th March, the day before the public meeting!

Our group asked a series of other questions to the SCC Cabinet on 23rd February 2016 and we will post a report on the meeting here soon.  We are keeping up the pressure on your behalf!!

 

 

Questions Asked at the SCC Cabinet Meeting of 23rd February 2016

Various members of the campaign group attended the Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting of 23rd February 2016 and presented questions to the cabinet.  These questions were in addition to those that we had submitted to the Cabinet meeting of 2nd February 2016.

You can read the questions asked, and answers submitted by SCC on the day, by clicking on the link below.  We feel the SCC responses are not adequate.  Rest assured that they will be followed up.

Questions to Cabinet – 23rd February 2016

 

Drop-in session Merrow – 24th February 2016

Surrey County Council held a second drop-in session to view the play structure plans for Newlands Corner 24th February at Merrow Village Hall.  More than 200 residents came along to view the plans for the ten play structures and to share their thoughts on the proposals with Surrey County Council/The Surrey Wildlife Trust.  There was overwhelming opposition to Phase 1 proposals for parking charges and the ‘play trail’, with an estimated 85% of the visitors opposing play structures in the woodland.

It was good to see some of our local councillors in attendance, listening to the views of the Surrey residents.  As with the drop-in session in Albury, many strong views were shared in opposition to the plans.

Campaigners and local residents have been pressuring SCC to hold public consultations on the desirability and nature of any changes to Newlands Corner.  SCC appear unwilling to arrange such consultations but have announced a Public Meeting.  (See SCC Public Meeting about Newlands Corner).

 

Submit Your Views on the Play Structure Plans

The two play structure drop-in sessions are now complete with well over 250 of you attending in Albury and Merrow to share your views.  Over 85% of those who visited were against the trails!  

View the proposals here.  The architects web site will no longer aceppt comments but you can still write to others to make your views know.  Please see the link below to the How Can You Help the Campaignpage for more suggestions.

Every single voice counts, so please do write if you can.

Thank you!

 

Press Coverage

Our group is working hard to keep the message regarding the high level of opposition to the Newlands Corner proposals in the press and public eye.  We have been been very successful in spreading the word and have been on local radio, BBC radio and have received extensive coverage in the press.  Please click on all the links in our ‘In the Press’ section on the right of the web site to read the articles.  We are continuing to keep up the pressure both behind the scenes and in public!

 

 

Report from the Drop-In Session at Albury – 9th February 2016

Report on the Surrey County Council (SCC)/Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) Drop-in Session on 9th February 2016

Over 80 people attended a ‘drop-in session’ from 3pm-7pm on 9th February at Albury Parish Hall. This session was called by SCC to enable the public to express views on the Phase 1 Play Trail designs.  Councillor Mike Goodman, Lisa Creaye-Griffin and Keith McKain attended for SCC, with Richard Hunt and Karen Guest for SWT.  Adam Hunt for Davies White (the designers of the play trail) presented the designs for the 10 climbing elements that make up the Play Trail.

Anger was expressed that the meeting had been called at less than a week’s notice, in working hours and with little publicity.  Also that the meeting was intended to comment on design details for the large play trail only, when the public had received no opportunity to comment on whether or not the parking charges, play trail or other parts proposals should go ahead at all.

Widespread opposition was expressed towards a Play Trail in the unspoiled surroundings of Newlands Corner, especially given the lack of any evidence of demand for it. The plans shown depict large climbing areas that would clearly negatively impact on the surroundings. Click here to see more details of the plans and click here to feed back your thoughts to the designers.

We look forward to seeing you at the next drop in session on Wednesday 24th February, from 3pm to 6pm at Merrow Village Hall. As soon as we have information about the public event that Councillor Goodman mentioned, we will let you know and also add a post on this site.

Shown below are some brief notes on items of information that emerged from presentations and from discussions with SCC/SWT/the design teams. We will, naturally, be following these up as appropriate!

  • Cllr Goodman announced that in response to public demand a public meeting on the proposals would be held before 8 March.
  • They stated that changes were needed at Newlands to pay for upkeep of the countryside. There would be no charge to the Council/taxpayer from Phase 1 because the £400,000 cost would be paid back over 8 years by the Newlands parking charges.
  • Finance was being sought for Phase 2 and its future and nature were uncertain. Cllr Goodman said that the published Phase 2 masterplan submitted to Cabinet on 27 Oct 2015 was indicative not final.
  • The cost of the Play Trail sites would be £210,000 plus the cost of re-surfacing the trail itself.
  • The Play sites were also aimed at wheelchair users, people with dementia and adults to share with their children.
  • They say there would be no restrictions on dogs and no interference with bridleway access.
  • For safety, a ranger would be at the play trail sites in working hours.
  • SCC are targeting young families with children so they state that there should be no increased traffic pressure because children’s usage would be after school from 4-6 pm.
  • Play site designs will be adjusted in the light of public comments. There was a lot of negative feedback during the drop in session about the size and volume of the 10 climbing structures.
  • Consultations on the Play Trail will close on 8th March. Public comment until then was welcome. Click this link to go to the consultation pages.
  • Ecological studies would be carried out from 1st April, focussing on intended play sites, and Commons consent would be sought.
  • The play sites should be finished by September 2016.
  • Parking charges would not be applied until the play trail was ready to use.
  • Differing views were held about planning permission requirements for the play trail sites.
  • Assurances were given that the play sites would not be fenced in and no charge would be made in the use of the trail or sites.

We will be following up on these and other points and look forward to seeing you at the next drop in session on Wednesday 24th February, from 3pm to 6pm at Merrow Village Hall. As soon as we have information about the public event that Councillor Goodman mentioned, we will let you know and also add a post on this site.

 

 

Further Notes on the Cabinet Meeting of 2nd February 2016

Surrey County Council (SCC) Cabinet Meeting of 2nd February 2016

Approximately 25 people who are opposed to the SCC/SWT (Surrey Wildlife Trust) proposals for Newlands Corner attended the SCC Cabinet meeting at County Hall on 2nd February 2016. Cabinet is the Surrey County Council 10 member group with executive powers.

The group had requested that the petition be officially presented to the cabinet. This was undertaken by Sally Blake who made a permitted three minute speech, summarising the points of opposition on the petition.

Further questions regarding the proposals had been submitted to the Cabinet by Allen Johnson, Julie Brown and Sue Darling with written responses circulated by SCC just before the meeting. You can find the text of the questions by following this link.

Julie and Sue also asked follow-up questions:

Julie asked whether a week’s notice of the proposed 9th February drop-in session was adequate for a public consultation.

Sue pointed out the negative effect that parking charges would have on those of low income and the elderly and asked the Cabinet to confirm or deny that their policy was to develop the countryside as a revenue stream, including sponsorship at Newlands Corner.

 

 

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