CPRE takes optimistic view of Surrey’s future

CPRE takes optimistic view of Surrey’s future

Over 200 members of CPRE Surrey attended Members’ Forums over the last two weekends.

 

The CPRE Surrey Members’ Forums were held at Shalford Village Hall (for members in the west of the county) and Reigate Town Hall (for members in the east).

 

At both Forums the message was distinctly upbeat. Tim Murphy, Chairman of CPRE Surrey, announced that its active membership had grown to over 2,000, making it the third largest CPRE branch in England. It was increasingly listened to and its advice followed by local authorities – and even by developers, he said.

At both Forums, Tim Harrold, Vice-President of CPRE Surrey, emphasized the positive outcome of work with which CPRE had lately been concerned. Major successes, he said, included the “undergrounding” of power cables in the Surrey Hills, and Surrey County Council’s programme to replace 85,000 orange street lights across the county with downward directional white lights which would reduce the problem of “night blight” and help restore dark skies. Both of these achievements had been down in large part to effective CPRE campaigning in Surrey.

 

One major initiative with which CPRE had been heavily involved in recent months was the work to persuade Natural England, the Government body responsible for the English countryside, to expand the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Natural England had agreed to look at redrawing the boundaries, Mr Harrold said, and it was hoped that as a result of this work the Surrey Hills AONB would soon be extended to absorb some of the surrounding countryside and thus expand the amount of Surrey landscape with nationally-designated protection similar to that in the National Parks.

 

Another speaker at the Shalford and Reigate Forums was Colin Davis of PRIAN who spoke on “Safe Highways and Village Character”. He described how a pilot project that would improve the appearance and reduce “street clutter” in the village of Shamley Green, whilst also improving road safety, had secured the support of Surrey County Council, Waverley Council and the local Parish Council. It was hoped that the Shamley Green scheme would become a model for other similar “public realm” activities across the county to enhance the appearance of our villages.

 

Heather Hadfield, Surrey “Stop the Drop” campaign coordinator, outlined the work being done to counter fly-tipping and litter in the Surrey countryside, including local CPRE campaigning directed at Network Rail which had already brought positive results at Leatherhead station and elsewhere. She was currently working on coordinating the activities of local Litter Action groups across the county. This was an issue “dear to the heart” of CPRE National President, Bill Bryson, she said.

 

At the Reigate Forum the audience heard from Trevor Sokell about how the group Bookham Vanguard was getting the local community directly involved in a major project to draw up a “neighbourhood plan” for Bookham, under the Government’s Localism legislation.

 

At the Shalford Forum, Anthony Isaacs, Chairman of CPRE’s Waverley group, referred to a diverse range of victories CPRE had helped secure in recent years including the defeat of plans for mineral extraction at Eashing in the Surrey Hills. There were still many challenges, however, and CPRE needed to be “vigilant” at all times for threats to Surrey’s countryside, villages and small towns.

 

For further information on the work of CPRE Surrey, please call the Branch Director, Andy Smith, on 01372 362720, or email cpre.surrey@btconnect.com.

 

-ENDS

 

For further information please contact Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey Branch Director, on 07737 271676, or email cpre.surrey@btconnect.com

 

 

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