The Epsom Wells Community Centre Left Derelict by the Cruel Residents
The Epsom Wells Community Centre Left Derelict by the Cruel Residents' Association

19 April 2019

Shaken but unmoved, the RA carries on ripping the heart out of the Wells.

It is now several months since Wells residents raged outside and inside Epsom town hall only for shaken Residents’ Association (RA) council leader Eber Kington to dismiss out of hand everything we were demanding.

Ian Strutt writes: Our protests insisted on: (1) The re-opening of the Wells Social Centre. (2) The abandonment of the RA council’s horrendous plan to demolish this building. (3) The RA’s scheming to replace the Wells centre with an over-large cruise liner-style block of four/three storey flats.

My protest presentation on the council chamber floor of photographs demonstrated that this block would not in any way fit in with the post-war architecture of the Wells – even more so being far from the sea and in the middle of wonderful green belt land.

Kington remained silent for a while, but then dismissed my presentation and, also, those of the three other angry Wells residents who had been allowed by the RA to ask one question each.

I had displayed photographs of the different styles of homes surrounding what RA leaders see as a building site, but Wells residents covet as their social hub going back generations.

Questions council planners should be asking.

Claims by the RA that design clues of Wells buildings were used in developing plans for the ‘cruise liner’ would be absolutely laughable if not so serious

How could a century-old country house – first occupied by the Governor of Epsom, who cleared vagabonds off Epsom Downs so that horse races could be viewed in safety – compare with a new building of three/four stories having mildly sloping and flat roofs?

Could the pointed roofs of chalet bungalows, which would be in the shadow of this ‘cruise liner,’ have any relation to it whatsoever?

It obviously can in the minds of RA council leaders despite me showing them picture after picture of Wells housing. Kington was quite unable to respond to our presentations except to state that the building plan goes on regardless.

Even Stamford Ward’s RA councillor Martin Olney has admitted that this block of 23 flats had been planned to be of the very maximum size allowable on the area of the Wells Centre.

That did not exempt Olney assisting Kington and co in ‘selling’ the scheme of these flats at what was billed as a council consultation with Wells residents. Now, Olney and the RA are again asking for your votes in May 2’s council elections.

Plenty of alternative building plots are available.

In a town where council planners have identified some 350 build-ready plots, why is the RA embarking on this totally unsatisfactory construction plan?

There are several main reasons:

  1. The council owns the Wells land;
  2. The Conservative Government is harrying councils up and down the country to build more homes;
  3. The RA is scared stiff at the Conservative government’s threat to take over town planning if houses are not built to its diktats; and
  4. The Conservative government’s programme of austerity has robbed the RA of funds

The Conservatives have taken away from councils so much of their grant income that they are absolutely desperate for cash to maintain even their most basic responsibilities.

Austerity is not over yet by any means despite the highly questionable claims made by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.

I’m not against building homes, but there is a time and a place for everything. Building homes by taking away social and educational facilities does not make sense.

Are we all just to sit on our settees and watch TV? What would this do to social cohesion and the personal advancement of infants to pensioners?

So, why have RA council leaders put off advancing the planning permission application to its own planners for this cruise liner block of flats?

Remember, the plans of these flats show ‘decks’ of balconies which seem to have been modelled on these floating giants of the oceans.

I can’t be sure, but I can speculate. Local council elections are looming on May 2nd. So, why would the RA want to further upset the residents of Stamford Ward when it needs their votes?

A delay in asking for planning permission until after voting day suits the RA nicely!

Being more cynical, this controlling council will have a cohort of new and inexperienced councillors to railroad into doing its bidding no matter how unpopular it will make them personally.

Are RA councillors railroaded? Hands shooting up instantly from underneath their dusty cloaks whenever the RA calls for a vote suggest to me that they are…

We get only one chance every four years to meaningfully express our feelings about how our council operates. Don’t waste your opportunity on Thursday, May 2.

Grab your voting card and go around to the Wells Social Centre to register your disgust – and all of the Wells’s – at the RA. After all, this is likely to be your last chance to visit before the RA calls in the demolishing wrecking balls..



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