Last night was the bi-monthly meeting of the Windlesham Society committee. There were about 12 of us there, as usual. Lots of interesting topics were discussed in this open forum. Here are a few which particularly grabbed my attention:
Last Month’s Election
Since two of us were candidates in the election, it had been mentioned in passing at previous meetings. I congratulated Mike Goodman on being elected and wished him luck in his term in office.
We had a stall at the Windlesham Fête. Despite its unfortunate positioning beside the Tory Party stand (!), we did have lots of people joining up as members or buying raffle tickets. We raised some money, but more importantly raised awareness and listened to people’s concerns. About 300 households have signed up as members so far.
My Planning Updates
I’m the Society’s planning officer and there were quite a few updates since the last meeting I attended (I missed the April one). We talked about some planning applications which had come before SHBC Planning Committee:
The Windlesham Vets application was strongly supported by many on the committee.
The ‘publicly accessible parkland’ application near Snows Ride was rejected. We didn’t really have a consensus about this one, nobody felt particularly strongly. I attended SHBC when this was being discussed with an open mind. By the end of the debate I felt it would be an asset to the village but many nearby residents were against it. Anyway, I’m not a councillor so it wasn’t my decision, but I would have voted in favour.
We talked about the Site Allocations exhibition in April. I think it showed that there is an appetite for events where people can meet council officials and ask questions. I approve of more openness (which is probably why I’m writing this!). It turns out many houses didn’t receive the leaflet promoting the exhibitions. I live in a relatively dense area of Windlesham so I received one but many of my fellow committee members live in, ahem, less dense areas, so missed out.
The DERA site is always a subject of great interest at these meetings. A reminder of the petition on the RBC website to stop it being removed from Green Belt will be sent out to members soon. The closing date is 1 July. If we get to 1,500 signatures, this should be debated at Runnymede Borough Council on 18 July. The committee has voted to allow me to speak at the public examination of the RBC Local Plan next January.
My article in the May 2012 Windlesham Magazine. Click to enlarge.
There was a general discussion about how local people could have a say in shaping their community. I wrote an article about this for the Windlesham Magazine in May 2012. It had been on the Society’s website but was removed to prevent it influencing the election. Oh well, c’est la guerre.
I like what the West End Village Society have been doing with their Village Design Statement, which could be the way ahead for us. Chobham Parish Council are working on a Neighbourhood Plan which, if achieved, would be a very powerful way for people to participate in planning. NPs have to be driven by a parish or town council if there is one. Windlesham Parish Council would struggle to achieve this, for a number of reasons. Also, there is a ‘strong presumption’ that the NP would cover the entire parish area, ie including Bagshot and Lightwater. I think this could make it unwieldy and even less likely to be achieved. In the meantime, I would like to make representations on individual planning applications on behalf of the Society but only if we are unanimous on whether to object to or support them.
M3 Managed Motorway
We are still trying to work out why the public exhibitions were postponed. It was suggested that the Highways Agency haven’t completed a survey of the surface of the road yet which could completely change the plan depending on its results. I’ve written to the senior project manager but haven’t had a reply yet.
There are now, or shortly will be, five locations in the village where people can join or donate to the Windlesham Society: Ashleigh Martin’s Hair Salon, Windlesham Village Vets, Hillview Newsagents, the Post Office and the Half Moon.
We talked about what the membership fee should be. At the moment, it’s just £1 per household. I like this because there is little admin involved in collecting it and everyone can afford it. However, there are certain costs to cover, such as insurance, so it might be necessary to raise funds. We will discuss this further next time.
The Society has its own website, facebook page and twitter.
Lightwater Doctors’ Phone Number
It’s pleasing that, at long last, the Surgery have published a 01276 phone number. As usual, they have shown how not to deal with the public. Milking every penny out of their patients calling to make appointments for as long as they can will not endear them to local people. Now they need to remove their two premium numbers so that people do not ring them by mistake.
There has been significant media interest in this issue, including from national outlets. I think we need to confirm that the 01276 number works properly as a matter of priority.
Other committee members have tried to join their ‘Patients Participation Group’ and have been refused. There is a real impression that this practice act only in their own interests. I’ve already re-registered with another practice and encourage everyone who can to do the same. The Windlesham Society was re-formed last year due to the threat that this practice poses to our village. I hope we can find a way to have access to GPs in Windlesham again, from another practice of course.
Field of Remembrance
I’m the Windlesham Society’s representative on the committee of the Field of Remembrance. I updated people on their fundraising efforts, including the ‘buy a brick’ campaign where people can pledge £75 to have a brick in the new pavilion with their name and message on it. (I wonder what message I should pick for mine, any suggestions?).
I think there will be a fireworks display on the Field this autumn, which would be a great new tradition to start.
Rumours and News
There was a rumour that the dairy in the centre of Windlesham has been sold and will be redeveloped. I think this is potentially good news and could bring another service or facility to the village centre. I anticipate that whatever is proposed will meet with some objections, however.
We talked about the Windlesham Arboretum and the recent changes which have been made there. Hopefully we will be able to communicate residents’ opinions about this to those in charge.
If you live in Windlesham, feel free to get in touch with any issues you would like me to raise at the next committee meeting. In the meantime, don’t forget to join the Windlesham Society while it’s still just £1 per household.