Ashtead-Leatherhead Forum

Last evening was the third Ashtead-Leatherhead Forum I have attended – and the longest! 7.30 it started and went to 9.55 – and was it worth it, I ask myself?
“Sustainability in the Home” was competently presented by Graeme Kane. Is he doing this for each Area Forum? Anyone interested in sustainability can go to the MVDC website: http://www.molevalley.gov.uk/greener/

Then we were told about the refurbishment and management of the Leisure Centre. This went on and on and on; the presentation was rambling and not always easy to follow (or hear) – the main thing I learnt from the long and tedious presentation was that MVDC seems to be the only District Council in this area that’s offering free swimming to the over-60s. No doubt this presentation was made here because it is realized that people from Ashtead use the Leisure Centre as well people from Leatherhead.  But, hey, don’t we ever get people from Fetcham or Bookham as well?
As it was getting late by this time, it was thought that the Police report should be made at this stage, since Leatherhead High Street could wait (Where have I heard that sentiment before?). But weren’t we in effect,  hearing what’s reported, probably in greater detail, at the Ashtead, North Leatherhead & South Leatherhead police pannels?
Anyway, somewhere around 9.20 we came to “Leatherhead High Street”! I waited expectantly to see the plan the Council had for its latest refurbishment of the High Street, since at our AGM in March I recalled “All be revealed on the 22nd April.” Was all revealed? Was it like as heck! There was no overall plan presented; no detail of where seating areas or parking bays would be. As I understood it, each restaurant will have to apply separately for planning permission if it wants to retain outside seating after 4.30 pm – in other words, a piecemeal approach yet again.
Basically, I learnt nothing that I had not known before – except for the sort of barrier the Council would be recommending so that traffic wouldn’t accidently knock into happy diners!
An audience member from Ashtead pointed out that Leatherhead High street was of interest not only to residents of Leatherhead but also to those of Ahtead, Fetcham & Bookham as people from these places frequently come into Leatherhead to shop. That, said the Chair, is why it is being discussed at the Ashtead-Leatherhead Forum. But the cries of ‘What about Fetcham & Bookham’ were ignored.
But that is the point, isn’t it. This is something of interest to residents of all these places. Would not the more appropriate Forum for discussing this be the “Leatherhead and District Forum” (formerly the “Town Centre Forum’)? Yet the Council refuse to acknowledge that Forum. Is the Council afraid that it might learn what people really want from that Forum?
Why must we have the Bookham-Fetcham and Ashtead-Leatherhead Fora thrust on us? Very few, if any, in the north of Mole Valley wanted these Area Fora. Why cannot the MVDC consult directly with each of the four Residents’ Associations on matters affecting each community, and take part in the Leatherhead & District Forum on matters of common interest to the whole of the north Mole Valley area.

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