the place to be
Thursday December 3rd 2020

Bletchingley Parish Council May to November 2020 report

COVID 19

As many of you will be aware, the Chairman and Vice Chairman during the initial nationwide lockdown operated a system of registration of those households that needed to shield or go into temporary quarantine – connecting their needs (shopping, prescription pick-ups, transport) to a team of village volunteers.

Whilst the initial flurry of requirements significantly reduced during the summer the system remains in place and is now gearing back up again for the lockdown that at the time of writing this article (4th November) has just been announced.  We are grateful to all those who so willingly gave their time and have indicated their willingness to be involved in the coming months.

We also assisted TDC in contacting residents they had identified as being vulnerable (but who had not registered with us) when often the only information available was the postal address.  We would particularly like to thank Barbara Wantling, Thomas Sherlock and Richard Fowler for undertaking the not enviable task of knocking on doors and making the requisite enquiries.

Bletchingley United Charities (BUC)

At this point, we would also like to mention the great work being done by BUC over the last eight months and the volunteers that are supporting its activities. The first lockdown caused financial difficulties for some villagers and BUC were instrumental in assessing need and where necessary giving financial assistance. This included re-distributing food parcels to those in need. At one point it seemed almost impossible to persuade HMG that what was being sought was a supermarket delivery slot, not a food parcel, but at least resultant parcels went to households in need.

As we again go into lockdown once more, if you or anybody that you know is experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic please contact David Martin, Chairman of BUC on 01883 743144 or email sally.ray@btinternet.com.  We can provide food boxes to those in urgent need as well as providing residents with vouchers that can be spent in local shops to help buy food or pay utility bills.  This fund is not a substitute for more long-term financial support, but is short term emergency financial help during these difficult times.

Turning to more mundane matters :

 Allotments

 All allotments have now been let due in part to the first lockdown in the Spring where villagers had the time and inclination to start an allotment, many for the first time. At the time of writing we had a waiting list of 7 people.  When an allotment becomes vacant, it is offered on a “first come first served” basis to those on the waiting list, with precedence being given to Bletchingley residents.

The New Bletchingley Cemetery

 There was a progress report in Novembers Magazine concerning the new Bletchingley Cemetery which incorporates both an extension to the existing cemetery as well as a new woodland burial section.  The task that now lies ahead is the planting of a hedge to disguise the electricity sub-station and planting of the woodland area.  In order to complete the construction of the hard and soft landscaping, we are borrowing money from the Public Works Loan Board (as we did for the purchase of the Little Common Lane allotments) to be repaid over a period of 5 years.  We are grateful for the assistance (freely given) and feedback we have received from Alex Jones Funeral Directors.

Footpaths and Bridleways

These have been well used during lockdown and we hope this continues with residents discovering rights of way of which they were not previously aware.

Minerals and Environment

At the end of last year Mercers South Quarry (J & J Franks) applied for permission to increase lorry movements into and out of the site in Nutfield, more than 90% of which would head east along A25 to the M25 junction at Godstone. BPC sent two responses to the application raising concerns about the effect this would have on A25 and our village including increased congestion, damage to road surface, air quality and safety of village residents and road users.  Our thanks go to Jonathan Essex (neighbouring County Councillor) who argued at the SCC Planning Committee meeting on 3rd September in support of our concerns and objections expressed by others including TAG A25, QOG and Godstone Parish Council. However other SCC Councillors, including our local SCC representative Rose Thorn, dismissed all such concerns and the application was granted by an overwhelming majority.

Earlier this year Sibelco applied for permission to extend sand extraction at Pendell Quarry into an area in Brewer Street. This application is still ongoing. The North Park Quarry liaison meetings due to take place in May and November have not taken place due to the pandemic.

The Air Quality Monitor was reinstated at its location on A25 in Nutfield on 19th May following repair. Thus far readings have shown levels of PM10 particulates slightly higher than during the same period last year, although still well within the statutory levels.  Recorded levels of Nitrous Oxide (NOx) in Nutfield and Godstone this year also are within the statutory levels. However, during lockdown, a significant decrease in NOx levels in comparison to last year was noticed (i.e. Nutfield location recorded 13ug/m3 for May 2020 vs. 35 for May 2019). The November lockdown will present another opportunity to assess the effect of reduced traffic flow.

Sports Association

 The football pitch is being used by two football clubs  and we have even had one game of cricket.  A Just Giving page has been launched to raise funds for the repair of the skate ramp (https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bletchingley-ramp-rebuild-2020). This is a very popular and well used facility by all ages (well – not many older residents so far).

Transport

 Road usage for a few months was blissfully quiet but is getting back to previous levels;  however, cycling seems to have increased.

Gatwick airport has a new system for tracking aircraft (https//.webtrak.emsbk.com/lgw2) and we are informed that those airlines that have again started using the airport are deploying their newest planes.  We hopefully have seen the last of those very noisy 747s – both Virgin and BA no longer fly from Gatwick.  The Airport has announced that it will introduce a charge of £5 for drop-off.

Redhill Aerodrome appears to be in more frequent use than previously; however, a meeting of the Consultative Committee is overdue, so this may be a matter of perception, rather than fact.

Village Hall and Community Centre

At the time of writing the Village Hall and Community Centre are closed due to the lockdown. The Chair of the Village Hall Management Committee, Debbie Hale has resigned in October.  On behalf of the Parish Council, we wish to thank Debbie for her many years of dedication and hard work.

 Hevers Pond

The Parish Council is again intending to enter into an arrangement with B & H Estates, whereby the PC occupies the pond under licence.  The first step will be a survey of “pond life” which will be carried out by the Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group (SARG) in the spring, when “pond life” again resumes activity.

Annual Village Meeting

 It is still not possible to hold this given the current lockdown and we expect restrictions on numbers attending meetings for many months to come. As such we have taken the decision to cancel for 2020 but sincerely hope that by May 2021, we will be in a position to get together with you once again.