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16th February, 2016

Chairman

– the Chairman opened by saying that this time last year we were waiting for the opening of the Waitrose/Travelodge complex, which are now both up & running and seem to have settled into part of Egham life, and the results of the SCC consultation on High Street pedestrianisation, which was overwhelmingly in favour of retention, although work to date on control mechanisms has been heavily delayed & the system is abused daily by many motorists. Work on the first accommodation buildings under the Royal Holloway Masterplan has commenced up Egham Hill & the next major work in the Town will be the Egham Gateway development (which John Rice of RBC has updated us on). The Runnymede Roundabout revamp is due to commence construction this summer & is likely to increase congestion during the 12 month building phase.
– of particular concern is the recent proposal (yet to be detailed) to relocate Virginia Water Football club to Mrs Caddeys Field, with 7 pitches, stands, car & coach parking and floodlighting – this would have a major impact on Whitehall Lane & surrounding area & must be against the spirit of the field, which was left for community use not development?
– Keep Britain Tidy is currently organising a “Clean for the Queen” campaign to clean up Britain in time for the Queen’s 90th birthday. The clean-up weekend is 4-6th March & an ERA litter pick event is planned for 5th March – please contact Adrian Skelt if you would like to help.
– on social events, these started with the coach trip to St Albans in April, which was a very enjoyable day. Many thanks to Adrian Skelt for organising these trips & we look forward to this year’s trip to Gloucester on 16th April. Next was Magna Carta Day in June, when the High Street came alive to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing. Thanks to the ERA & Chamber of Commerce reps on the MCD Committee for putting together this event, especially Cynthia Reilly, & to the helpers on the ERA stand. At the Egham Royal Show over August Bank Holiday the ERA stand was again a success, with good weather on both days & a high attendance at the Showground. We did well, thanks, in no small part, to our very loyal band of cake bakers, Graham Basset who added to our offerings by providing apples & to all those that manned the stall over the 2 days. The Barn Dance on the Saturday evening was again a great success, with over 160 attendees of all ages. Thanks to our continuing sponsors, Proctor & Gamble and Chivers Cladding. The Community Fair in September, held again here in the United Church, was a success helped by the re-appearance of the Apple Press in the High Street – thanks to Isabel Mullens & Kim Callaghan for organising the event. The Quiz Night in October was a fun evening organised by Cynthia Reilly who was also an excellent Quizmaster – thanks again to Seakens Solicitors for sponsoring the prizes. The ERA stall at the Egham Christmas Fair on 12th December was a success & thanks to all who manned the stall. The Christmas Lights again brought some cheer to the High Street & the annual costs are now jointly funded by us & the Chamber of Commerce. Our carol singing project was re-started this year in a different format & was ably run by Julian Richardson & his choir, with the proceeds going to the local Dyslexia Action charity.
– the Egham Town Team, with its aim of “revitalising the town centre and strengthening community pride in the town by building on Egham’s heritage, location and educational links”, continued to operate but has yet to have a major impact on the Town by way of initiatives..
– last year also saw many meetings regarding the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, with Cynthia Reilly & Moreton Moore being Charter Bearers on the final leg of the river relay down to Runnymede on 14th June. On 15th June the major event on the Meadows, organised by SCC, saw the dedication by Prince William of 12 jurors chairs and an upgrade of the American Bar Memorial. Sadly there was very little press or TV coverage of this important milestone in the history of liberty & democracy. On a local note, however, thanks go to Egham Museum for the great display of banners & information boards in the United Church until last August.
– on Runnymede Borough Council issues, a continued thank you to our 3 Independent Councillors (Alan Alderson, John Ashmore & David Knight) for all the time & effort they put in on our behalf. In addition we would like to thank Moreton Moore for his sterling efforts (through RAGE) on the seemingly never ending saga of gravel raising at Milton Park & Whitehall Farm, where it is now 7 years since Hansons submitted their application!
– on the Committee, thanks go to all those who helped the Association, especially to Adrian Skelt, for all the considerable time & effort he puts in both as Secretary & Newsletter Editor – the latter is now a very professional publication. Also thanks to Aneesh Gupta for taking over keeping the accounts, Cynthia Reilly, our Membership Secretary, and to Chris Fisher for keeping up with planning issues in the Town. Finally, a special thanks to our Area Reps & all who help distribute our quarterly Newsletters. Also all the other members of the Committee who he hadn’t named were also to be thanked for their time & effort in keeping Egham as a great place to live (& for keep the flag flying for the Egham Residents Association).
– Adrian Skelt offered a vote of thanks for Jim’s continuing efforts as Chairman, which was resoundingly supported from the floor.

Treasurer’s report (Aneesh Gupta)
– examined accounts as @ 31/12/15 were circulated at the meeting and Aneesh summarised the key points, which showed a continuing trend of declining profits over the last 3 years, with 2015 actually showing a loss of £1,425 & giving general funds at year-end of c.£7,100. This loss, however, includes a one-off donation to MC8C of £1,000 & other aspects of expenditure (esp. printing costs) & income (with subscription fees increased this year) are under review to improve the situation.
– with no other queries, the 2015 accounts were adopted unanimously from the floor, following proposing by Ian Henderson & seconding by Isabel Mullens. Thanks were also expressed for Aneesh’s efforts as our new Treasurer & for our “examiner”, Anne Baker.

Election of Officers & Committee (Adrian Skelt)
– the Secretary ran through the officer & committee member nominations that had been received and was happy to report that all the officers wanted to stand again, as did all the Committee with the exception of Kate Adamek. After proposing by Carole McGirr & seconding by Anne Baker, all the nominations were unanimously supported from the floor.
– as a result the following personnel were elected for 2016/17:

Position Candidate Proposed by Seconded by
OFFICERS
Chairman Jim Pearcey A.Skelt B. Bessant
Secretary Adrian Skelt G. Basset J. Pearcey
Treasurer Aneesh Gupta C. Fisher M. Moore
Membership Secretary Cynthia Reilly A.Skelt J.Pearcey
COMMITTEE
Planning & Transport
Coordinator Chris Fisher A. Gupta C. Reilly
Other Members Graham Basset J.Basset J. Pearcey
Bill Bessant J. Richardson G. Basset
Patrick Macavoy A. Skelt J. Pearcey
Isabel Mullens W. Burgess C. Reilly
Julian Richardson B. Bessant G. Basset
Geraldine Rodrigues J. Pearcey A. Skelt
Glenda Thisdell A. Skelt G. Basset

Councillors reports
– with John Ashmore absent (due to family illness), the 2 other Egham Independent councillors on RBC gave their annual reports :

a) Alan Alderson, who is now Deputy Mayor & will be the Mayor of RBC for 2016/7, reported on budget & finance issues & advised :

i) RBC budget – process has now been seriously upset by removal of the central government grant over 3 years instead of the budgeted 5. This means that service provision is under review, especially non-mandatory ones such as the yellow buses & voluntary grant donations. RBC’s new Citizens Panel are also providing valuable input to this review.
ii) Council Tax – where RBC’s increase for 2016/7 will be £5 or 3.46%, which is higher than normal as RBC are a low cost borough (6th lowest in the country & lowest in Surrey). SCC are increasing their element (over 75% of the total) by 3.99% (including 2% specifically allocated to adult social care) & the Police (somev 13% of the total) raising their precept by the maximum 1.99% (before needing to hold a referendum)
iii) High Street Pedestrianisation – noted that SCC have been very slow in implementing the agreed changes (with many complaints from the audience), with revised signage taking much longer than necessary (thus delaying parking enforcement) & delays on the new gate/bollard system (although funding has now been secured for the 2016/7 year & construction should occur in April/May). Members of the audience also commented on the continuing abuse of the system by cyclists & motorcyclists.

b) David Knight reflected on the following issues :

i) Flooding – the good community response to the severe issues in 2013/4
ii) LHR – where RBC had now changed their position to one of opposing a 3rd runway
iii) Gravel extraction – which is still delayed by noise, air quality & flood risk concerns
iv) Litter collection – where he has built up a good relationship with RBC service providers

c) Chris Fisher looks after planning issues for the ERA &, in John Ashmore’s absence, gave a brief update on the main planning events over the last year, including :

i) RHUL Masterplan – still upset about the implementation of this plan as it effectively helps change the character of Egham & Englefield Green
ii) Mrs Caddeys Field – severe concern expressed over a developing plan for Virginia Water Football Club to take over the field & install all weather pitches, stands, floodlights, clubhouse & car parking. The audience were vehemently against this idea & agreed that a campaign to oppose should be mounted as the proposals are firmed up.
iii) Local Plan 2035 – RBC are slowly updating this to include a Green Belt review, although no impact on Egham Town but there is a possibility of the Mayflower Nursery site being taken out of the Green Belt?
iv) RBC Councillor planning “training” – following a review of a planning application for 40 High Street, which was overturned by the Planning Committee against the officers recommendation, members of the RBC Planning Committee have been required to undertake training on planning law etc. The whole way planning applications are reviewed at RBC, with applicants discussing with officers with little local community input at the early stages, was considered wrong & this view was strongly supported by the audience.

RBC Election (5th May) – following a positive introduction by Alan Alderson on David Knight as a local Councillor, David advised that he was prepared to stand again & this was very much welcomed by the audience. A motion for adoption of David as candidate for Egham Town was proposed by Moreton Moore, seconded by Chris Fisher & unanimously supported from the floor.

Any Other Business
i) South West Trains – noted that their franchise is up for renewal in 2017 & that Transport for London are reportedly planning to bid, which may increase the train flow through Egham??

Jim Pearcey noted that ERA notelets, mugs, tea towels (& now bookmarks) were available for sale at the back of the hall & concluded the meeting at 9.45pm with an invitation to join in cheese & wine (kindly provided by Isabel & Willy Mullens).

GUEST SPEAKERS

“The Egham Gateway Development – regenerating Egham Town Centre”
John Rice, Project Director, RBC

In a slide presentation John Rice advised that RBC has been aggressively acquiring properties in Egham for the last few years & is now in a position to propose 3 sites (Gateway 1, Gateway 2 & Egham Leisure Centre) for redevelopment over the next 8-10 years. The plans for Egham Gateway 1, covering Station Road North, are for shops with residential properties above (likely to be student accommodation or private rental flats) with a planned start of work in mid 2017 & completion by mid 2019.

The Leisure Centre review is looking at a refurbishment or rebuild on the same site as at present, with continuity being provided during the construction phase (& the football pitches being retained). The specification for the new centre includes an 8 lane, 25m swimming pool & the overall cost target is c.£10mm.

RBC’s desire to improve the appearance of Egham Town Centre was welcomed by the audience, with specific support for the long-argued case for a swimming pool. The main points raised in a Q&A session were :

i) Public consultation – this will be scheduled once bids are received under the usual planning application process

ii) Shops vs food outlets – general request from the floor that Egham needs more shops & less food outlets. Rice advised that RBC will be in control of the development & can thus determine the retail “offering”.

iii) Pedestrianisation – Rice advised that the Gateway 1 area may become pedestrianised but this is dependent on developers’ proposals. There was some concern expressed by the audience that this would mean a further loss of parking spaces?

iv) Egham image – view expressed that Egham should not just become another Woking or Addlestone, with large multiples shopping, but should build on its heritage & support independent shops & businesses where posible

v) Library – the redevelopment does not currently envisage moving the Library into the Town Centre or Egham Gateway options, as this is an SCC responsibility (although RBC are open to discuss the possibility).

“Community Emergency Planning in Runnymede”
Aisling Brophy, Community Resilience Lead, RBC & Sarah Bouet, Community Resilience Adviser, Environment Agency

In another slide presentation (supported by leaflets & publications) Aisling & Sarah went over what “community resilience” meant & emphasised that it covered not just flooding but emergencies in general (weather, power outages etc).

In terms of forming Community Resilience Groups, they advised that RBC has been working with Voluntary Support North Surrey (VSNS) to get individuals to pre-register their interest. To date there are 17-20 such groups across Runnymede but there is not one specific to Egham Town at present.

In terms of the size of such groups they advised that there is no minimum but they are normally 10+ volunteers per group. In response to a comment from the audience, such groups were likened to a community version of the Neighbourhood Watch. In a subsequent discussion at least 1 member of the audience volunteered to help coordinate a new Egham Group.