Far From the Madding Crowd

Swans canoodling on the Broad Water.

If you want to explore a newly opened part of Weybridge, simply walk around the new Broad Water path circuit.  The walk is about three miles long and can be accessed in several places.  From the Thames Path at Cowey Sale car park, Shepperton and Thames Path opposite D’Oyly Carte Island bridge, Weybridge.  From Weybridge town centre at Grenside Road (turn right at the St Georges School barrier).  From Walton a couple of hundred metres beyond Walton Lodge, along Oatlands Drive.

The green line indicates the new public footpath alongside the Weybridge Broad Water.

It is not yet completely wheel chair friendly – which is the intention.  But you can cycle around it.  There is one bridge yet to be built but you can easily cycle across the temporary construction.  Two bridges over the Engine River still have steps but just dismount to cross. The western stretch from Grenside to Thames path has two kissing gates so a tandem will not get though.

Engine River Bridge

You have to cross Walton Lane at the western and the eastern end to complete the circuit but both crossings are in or near 20mph limited areas.

Its great for all the family and, for a while at least, it is a well kept secret.

The hidden entrance at the Walton end along Oatlands Drive.

If you have never seen Broad water field you will not be aware that it has goal posts – no jumpers for goal posts as in Churchfields Rec.



Tennis Courts Refurbishment


Concern has been raised regarding the newly introduced system for booking and charging for use of the borough’s tennis courts. See here for the full report.

However, we had reached a point where the borough needed to make a decision about how to secure the long-term future of park tennis courts and how to encourage more and different people to take exercise through playing tennis.

For over fifteen years, the courts have been allowed to deteriorate. The estimated cost of bringing the 12 most popular courts up to standard is £134,000 with a yearly refurbishment cost of £1,200 per court.  The cost of bringing all the courts up to standard, would be significantly greater and the yearly refurbishment cost would be £34,800.

The borough’s choice was:

  • do nothing and allow the courts to deteriorate even more
  • pay all upgrading costs from council tax and maintain free access to the courts at all times (and take away funds from other much needed projects)
  • raise the level of council tax for all residents
  • charge for use – with concessions for those in receipt of means-tested benefit

The borough charges for all sports: for example, badminton, swimming, football and squash. It would be difficult to single out tennis as the only sport that was free.

Different charging regimes will produce different effects, so the borough has to be clear about what it wants to achieve and charge accordingly.  The choices include:

  • maximize usage from whatever source;
  • steer particular types of user (old or young, frequent or casual);
  • maximize borough revenue; or
  • or any of the above in combination.

Your councillors unanimously, drawing on public health evidence, have chosen a charging and booking package which has worked successfully in other boroughs and which is designed to widen the range of people using the public tennis courts. This includes both annual membership at £36 a year for a family of five for frequent users and a pay as you go system for casual users. We do not yet have differentiation in charge levels to reflect the variability of demand at different times of the day, or the week, or of the year. With the current system it could be possible to have very low charges at off peak times. This would be part of any review undertaken following the experience in use.

Apart from revenue, one of the advantages of the new system is that people may book a court in advance and therefore know they have a court for when they arrive. They will also know, one assumes, that anyone already using the court has overstayed their booking.  The changeover would be rather similar to what occurs currently at the Xcel centre for those playing squash or badminton

If you want to read the report that was drafted by the borough staff for consideration by the cabinet and that was recommended by the cabinet for the approval by the full council – it is here.  If you want to read the full consultation report taking views from 196 respondents to the council’s on-line survey – it is here.

If you want to see the webcast of the short debate around the introduction of tennis court charges it is here – from 48 minutes.  You will see that there were no objections to the proposals.

Previous blog on tennis courts.

Mole Valley Conservation

Over the years the Lower Mole Partnership (LMP) has built up a large and enthusiastic volunteer group which has carried out a wide range of tasks to implement improvements to the local countryside, four days a week, including weekends, throughout the year.

LMP has also developed a broad spread of skills for tackling specialist countryside management work including landscape enhancements, woodland management and pond restoration as well as access initiatives such as the Thames Down Link footpath.

In 2011/12, as part of the then Conservative administration budget savings exercise, the borough’s grant to the LMP was reduced by £15,000.  The Liberal Democrat/Residents administration has decided to increase the borough’s grant to LMP by £6,280.  This action not only supports the active engagement of many people into nature conservancy but save the borough in task that it would otherwise have to take on itself.

Anyone for Tennis?

There are 29 public tennis courts maintained by the borough at twelve sites  These are currently available free of charge.  There was charging until 2001 but the cost of collection began to outweigh the court fees.  Whilst the courts are generally in reasonable condition and used to some extent, the new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration believes that more could be done to ensure people take up the challenge to lead more healthy lives and part of that is to facilitate an increase in tennis participation across Elmbridge.

From May 2017 the borough will introduce an on-line booking system – supported by the borough’s call centre service for those without access to the internet.  The courts will be made secure and the booking system will allow people access once they have paid.

The plan is supported by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) which is providing funding, assisting with the tennis development plan, communications plan and high profile tennis campaign to promote activity at the public courts.


There will be two simple payment options, both of which will provide good value for money when compared with the cost of other sports activities.

Family membership.  At £36 (up to 5 people living at the same address) and could be transferred from one family member to another and renewed annually.  Once the annual payment had been made, all subsequent court bookings are free of charge.  Members will be able to book up to seven days in advance and play up to two hours every day across all borough venues.

Pay & Play.  For £5 (£2.50 per court per hour for concessions linked to the More card) customers will be able to book a court three days in advance.

There will also be preferred coaching scheme to deliver a high quality, inclusive tennis programme for all ages and abilities across the borough’s courts to encourage greater participation. The successful coaching providers would be appointed through a formal competitive procurement process and would be required to hold and maintain LTA accreditation for the duration of the licence period.

“Little Foodies” fully catered for at the 2015 Elmbridge Food Festival

Elmbridge Food Festival LogoLocal children’s entertainers will join the bigger and better ‘Little Foodies’ area to ensure the whole family has a great time at this year’s Elmbridge Food Festival.  Face-painting, balloon modelling, art and crafts, drama and ball skills will all be part of the free entertainment on offer on Saturday, 26 and Sunday, 27 September.

There will be a wonderful variety of entertainment on offer during the Food Festival including; a treasure trail, bug hunt, Tudor style sweet making and much much more.

More than 9000 people attended the 2014 inaugural food festival and based on this year’s line-up of activities, a similar strong attendance is expected. Entry and car parking for all visitors to Painshill will be free over the course of the weekend. Gates will open each day at 10:30 and close at 5pm.

The Food and Drink Theatre will be the hub of the festival with live demonstrations throughout the weekend, while music from around the county will fill the air.

A detailed line up of stalls, food and drink theatre events, music acts and children’s entertainment is available from the borough’s Food Festival webpage

Elmbridge Youth Service – Have your say

youth workSurrey will be making changes to the Community Youth Work Service (CYWS) shortly.  CYWS helps young people to be more employable by building their resilience, developing their skills and improving their wellbeing through youth work.

Youth work is voluntary and helps young people to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence so that they can reach their goals. It is available to all young people, especially the ones who need support the most.  Surrey will work in partnership with other organisations to provide more activities for young people.

There is less money available for services for young people overall which means that Surrey needs to find a way of delivering youth work that makes the most of the money that it has.  It wants to use the money it has for youth work to make the biggest difference to young people, particularly helping them to prepare for work and their adult life.

Surrey wants to find out what you think about their plans and your ideas of how it can do things better.

The consultation for Elmbridge has been published on the Surrey Says website.  You can quickly and easily provide a response online by following the instructions on the website.

Surrey is also holding a series of public consultation events in each area to better understand the views of Elmbridge people.  The consultation will be running until 21 August 2015. Information about these events is again available through the website.

Côte Brasserie comes to Weybridge

Cote  Brasserie-01The restaurant chain has applied for planning permission to combine two shops: Sevenoaks Sound and Vision and the Nail Company beauty salon into one to provide a larger retail unit.  One of the problems for Weybridge has been the lack of larger retail units, so that combining neighbouring units might be a way forward – as Boots, Laura Ashley and the Slug and Lettice have done in the past.

If Côte Brasserie opens then 41, 43, 45, 47 and 47 Church Street will be a row of restaurants.  We do like eating out in Weybridge.

Update on Cowey Sale Loos

Cowey Sale loosAs part of the Walton Bridge rebuild, Surrey undertook to build a new cafe and loo facility on Cowey Sale.  The building was built on behalf of Surrey by Costain and before it was handed over to Elmbridge our staff found that there were a number of outstanding problems that meant that it couldn’t be opened to the public.  These problems have turned into on-going discussions between Surrey and Costain.

Elmbridge employed an independent building surveyor to inspect and report on the condition of the new building.  They have now reported their findings, which echo and support our concerns on the outstanding defects that we have identified and which Surrey has relayed to Costain.  Although the liability for rectifying the defects remain with Surrey and Costain, Elmbridge’s staff assure me that they are doing their utmost to remedy the situation as soon as possible.  Whilst Elmbridge is reliant on Surrey following its proper contractual processes, Elmbridge staff continue to chase it for its contractor’s programme of works.  The independent surveyors will be retained to oversee, inspect and approve all of the works undertaken by Costain.

While the repairs are being carried out and in response to feedback from local residents, Surrey has installed temporary loos which it is intended will remain in place until the new building’s facilities can be fully opened.

Sports Centre Approved

Xcel Leisure Complex 2Last night Elmbridge Planning Committee unanimously gave approval to the application for a new football stadium with spectator seating and facilities that meet all necessary modern requirements and governing body standards. The stadium will be available for use by Walton Casuals, Walton Casuals Juniors Football Club and Walton & Hersham Football Clubs. The facilities will also be available for casual use and hire.

There will be new astro turf and grass pitches designed to cater for junior and senior football and youth development.

It is also intended that an eight lane all-weather track athletics stadium with a spectator stand and all the necessary modern facilities will be ready in time for the World Athletic Championship 2017 which is to be held in London.

In addition to this there will be an enhancement of the existing park to provide a new multi-use recreational space as well as a children’s play area which was lost when the new Xcel was built.

Because the development is over 1,000m2 and in the green belt, the final planning decision is with the national government.  In any case the decision to build the sports centre together with the costs and funding for the project will be made later this month with the intention for it to be operational in 2016.

Xcel Free Family Open Day

Xcel Leisure ComplexSixteen local teams will compete for the Elmbridge Cup,  in support of Sparks, the Elmbridge Mayor’s charity.

The Barclays Premier League trophy will be on display at Xcel Leisure Centre on 18 July from 9am to 4pm.

Free fun activities will be available all day including trampolining, badminton, soft play, swimming and a big ‘Aerobathon’. There will also be a BBQ from 12pm – 3pm.

For more information visit the Elmbridge website.