Leader of the Council column

The Leader of the Council writes a monthly column for the CR3, CR6, RH8, RH9, TN16 series of magazines, as well as for the Tandridge Independent.

You can view the columns from the last few months below.

CR3, CR6, RH8, RH9, TN16

Good news on Tandridge District Council’s finances

At a time when many Councils are struggling to stay solvent and a number have declared bankruptcy, I wanted to reassure you that Tandridge District Council is not in that position and is doing ok. Having received a number of emails from residents who have read the news headlines about other Councils, some of them in Surrey, this seems a good time to set out TDC’s improved financial position.

On 12 September, the Council received a letter from the Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) stating: “The department recognises and commends the Council’s efforts to grip and manage its budget pressures, and the successful steps taken to deliver the transformation and savings programme in 2022/23 and in 2023/24.” 

We have been in discussions with DLUHC because, in May 2021, when we took over as the administration, we found that the Council was itself threatened with bankruptcy and a £920,000 annual hole in the budget was discovered due to a pension costs error.

The Council’s reserves had been run down to a low level and so, in August 2022, when the Council sold a property it owned in Nutfield, we asked DLUHC for approval to use the money to bolster our reserves. 

In its letter, DLUHC refused that request basically because we are doing too well, stating: “This decision reflects the department’s assessment of your overall financial position, including your current levels of reserves, and the steps taken and underway to transform the council and meet the budget pressures faced.”

 Although disappointing that our approach to using our own resources to increase financial resilience has not been supported, it is good news that the Council’s successful efforts to turn around the finances have been recognised.
The Council is aiming to make savings of £1.7m in the current financial year (2023/24), a major challenge when you consider the revenue budget for the year is £11.9m.

To protect services to residents and to avoid using our modest reserves, a programme has been established to develop and implement a series of changes enabling a significant reduction in the Council’s own operating costs – the Future Tandridge Programme. This is aimed at ensuring that expenditure no longer outstrips income. We have also brought in stricter accounting and reporting rules to improve the Council’s financial management.

Figures for the first quarter of the year (April to June 2023) show savings delivery on track with just over £1m of the savings target already achieved or confident of being achieved soon. 

We are also on track to balance the budget with no need to call on the reserves. However, we are aware of continuing risks around inflation, temporary accommodation costs, and planning appeals that need to be factored in and managed.  Future Government funding for Councils is uncertain, and so we are taking steps now to ensure that our financial position remains as strong as possible.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Councillor Catherine Sayer
Leader of the Council 

Rental properties wanted – no fees or commission

If you are a landlord interested in letting your property in the Tandridge district then the Council would like to hear from you. We offer a completely free lettings and support service with no fees, commission or other charges.

Landlords only need to pay for gas and electrical certificates, which is a legal requirement.
The Council is looking for properties in the private rented sector for tenants from the housing waiting list who may not be able to access the rental market independently because they cannot raise the deposit or pay rent in advance.

What sort of properties are needed?

We need one to four bedroom homes available for at least 12 months, although longer lets are good because many tenants would like to rent for a long time. Accommodation must be self-contained, in a good state of repair and have all the necessary safety certificates.

The Council works together with private landlords to get properties rented quickly. We can:

•    Draft the tenancy documents and inventory report for you (free).
•    Provide a Guarantee Bond as a deposit for the length of the tenancy to cover any damages and/or arrears. This is equivalent to five weeks’ rent.
•    Help set up housing payments through Universal Credit.
•    Offer continued support to you and your tenants to ensure the tenancy runs smoothly.
•    Find new tenants when necessary to reduce the amount of time your property is empty.
•    Assess the housing history of anyone we put forward for a property, but the final decision is always yours.

We also support tenants as they claim any Housing Benefit or Universal Credit they may be entitled to. We have specialist employment and training advice for tenants to help them keep their tenancy in the long run.

How much rent can I charge?

You can set the rent based on what you think the market is able to pay. Tenants are usually in receipt of some benefits even when working and so, to be affordable, rent payments need to be around or slightly above the Local Housing Allowance rates.

Housing officers can estimate what would be a reasonable rent for your property. They will pay the first month’s rent to the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy and help tenants set up their future rent payments to be paid directly to the landlord.

To find out more and complete our enquiry form, please visit www.tandridge.gov.uk/landlord.

A housing officer will get in contact to discuss the scheme and any questions you have. They will visit the property and if it is suitable, arrange for prospective tenants to view.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The Local Plan

By the time you read this, the Local Plan Inspector may have given his verdict on what is one of the most costly and controversial issues this district has faced.


A Local Plan sets out where development will go in the future and is used by the Council to decide planning applications going forward. All planning authorities are required to produce one. Targets for the amount of development are set nationally by the Government.

The Tandridge Local Plan saga began in January 2019 when the previous council administration submitted their Plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination (which is what the system requires them to do). A central part of their Plan was a “garden community” of 4,000 homes to be built at South Godstone. Delivery of the garden community hinged on improvements to junction 6 of the M25 and to the A22 and A264 Felbridge junction. Those improvements were reliant on a bid for £57m of funding made to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Unfortunately, the Council had not received a “yes” to the bid before submitting the Plan and, in April 2020, after the Inspector had held his examination hearings, the bid was rejected. There was no fallback position.

The Inspector then wrote to the council setting out his serious concerns about the Plan, in particular about the deliverability of the garden community. Nevertheless, he didn’t reject the Plan outright and allowed the council to continue with it and commission consultants to try to find a way to fund the necessary highway improvements. To date, no funding has been identified to mitigate the severe impacts of growth on the junction.

What we have proposed

It has always been my concern that the Plan would fail because of the problems with the garden community and that, without an up to date Plan, all of the district’s Green Belt (and it is 94% Green Belt) would be at risk from constant, unsuitable planning applications, some of which may get through at appeal.

In an attempt to avoid that, and the appalling waste of taxpayers’ money if the Plan is lost, the Council has now proposed amendments which include deleting the garden community. We have inherited the Plan and have repeatedly tried to find a way forward in the context of continuing uncertainty over the Government’s proposed changes to planning rules and severe financial constraints resulting from the Council facing a possible bankruptcy notice in 2021.

In light of our proposal, the Inspector, Philip Lewis, held a meeting with council officers on 27 July which was, in effect, a last chance saloon for the district’s Local Plan. The Plan has cost you, the taxpayer, £3.5m and if the Inspector rejects it, as well as that shocking financial loss, it risks opening the door to inappropriate applications on the Green Belt around the district. We believe what we put before the Inspector at the July meeting is a pragmatic solution.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Gatwick Airport has just submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate to convert its current emergency runway, the northern runway, into a second operational runway.

The application is to rebuild the runway, currently used as a standby and for maintenance, so that it can be brought into routine use for smaller departing aircraft.

The proposals would mean repositioning the runway further north by 12m to meet required safety standards; the expansion of both the North and South terminal buildings; other airport facilities including a replacement waste facility, a new hangar, and new fire training grounds; new office space (9,000m2 floorspace) and 1,000 new hotel rooms over three new hotels; and an additional 18,500 car parking spaces distributed across several new car park areas.

The proposal is considered a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) and as such, requires a Development Consent Order from the government, rather than planning permission from the local planning authority.

Tandridge District, together with nine other district and county authorities, is directly affected by the proposal and the councils have been working together to understand the airport’s plans and how they would impact on the everyday lives of residents and businesses in the district. The Council has also commissioned separate independent advice looking, in particular, at noise and air quality.

The developments being proposed by Gatwick, although outside the district area, are very close and have a range of potential impacts including:

  • Strategic transportation implications with the need for a strategy covering rail, bus and private car access to an expanded airport which, if not achieved, means more car journeys to the airport and potential congestion on roads around the district.
  • Noise from an increased number of aircraft overflying the district’s airspace and its settlements (such as Lingfield, Smallfield and Horne).
  • Increased risk of flooding, for example that surface water from the airport will be drained into the district’s rivers and streams.
  • Economically, particularly in respect of increased employment opportunities.
  • Increased demand for housing local to the expanded airport.
  • Pressure for expanded off-airport car parking development.

Next steps

The Planning Inspectorate is currently deciding whether to accept Gatwick’s application as properly made. If it does, Gatwick will then publish notice of acceptance of its application (a section 56 notice), which is when affected parties can make Relevant Representations to the Planning Inspector, giving them the right to appear at the public examination which is scheduled to run for the first six months of 2024, concluding at the end of June.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The new Council year begins after the May local elections and it provides a chance for the administration to set out its aims going forward. I thought it might be good to summarise our main priorities here:

  • First of all is to build on the work done during the last two years to put the Council back on a stable financial footing. I am delighted to say that we completed the last financial year with a total surplus of £595k, allowing us to set money aside to meet future challenges. That is against the background of what are staggering amounts of savings we have been forced to make to stay solvent.
    • For the year 2021/22: £2.7m.
    • For the year 2022/23: £1.1m.
    • For this current year 2023/24: £1.7m.
  • The figures are eye-watering given that the Council’s revenue budget is only £11.9m. To achieve the level of savings needed, we have had to embark on a programme of changes enabling a significant reduction in operating costs – this is the “Future Tandridge Programme” which hinges on attaining a leaner, more efficient council and commissioning some services previously provided by the Council. We will be continuing with that process in the coming year. At the same time, we recognise this has been, and continues to be, a demanding time for Council employees. 
  • Planning: residents tell us they are worried about the development pressures on the District and the seemingly relentless threat to the local environment.  We are working hard on building a robust planning department. Almost all staff in development management – that’s the area dealing with planning applications – are now permanent and not temporary employees. It has been a real achievement to recruit and retain talented planning officers because they are in such demand both from other councils and from the private sector. We will also be continuing to do our utmost to secure a Local Plan for Tandridge.
  • Council house building and providing affordable homes. We cannot solve all of the District’s housing issues, but we can work in partnership to influence new housing delivery, to deliver our own building programme, and to maximise the amount of affordable housing in new developments. Over the next five years, we have plans to build at least 200 affordable, rented homes with most of these being built on Council owned land.
  • Pushing forward with our drive to increase cooperation and the sharing of services with other local authorities, in particular with our neighbours in East Surrey. With the continuing reduction in core funding from central Government to local government and the need to reduce duplication and become more efficient, this must surely be one of the major opportunities to deliver high quality services to residents in the future.
  • Although Tandridge is one of the smaller local authorities, it has within it areas of valuable expertise and we are keen to use these to generate income. It is something we will be working hard on in the coming year.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The Council is currently considering installing electric vehicle charging points in our public car parks in Caterham, Hurst Green, Lingfield, Oxted and Warlingham and also on any other land the Council owns, where it would benefit residents to be able to access a charging point.

On 15 June, proposals are coming before the Council’s Community Services Committee and if agreed, the contract to proceed will be signed. Once agreed, the aim is for chargers to be installed in our car parks by the end of 2024. 

Increasing the number of public charging points is designed to support residents who would like to switch to an electric vehicle (or have already done so), but do not have a driveway to be able to install a charging point at their home. 

Charging points will be fitted at on-street locations in residential areas and key locations in the community, such as on high streets and in public car parks.

The UK has a legal target to cut greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. As part of its efforts to achieve this, the government has announced sales of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans will end in 2030 and the sale of hybrid vehicles will be banned from 2035. All new cars and vans will be expected to be fully zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035. This reflects what the government sees as an urgent need to clean up the transport sector as a source of greenhouse gas emissions and contributor to poor air quality.

After 2035, anyone buying a new car will have a choice of either battery-electric vehicles or cars fuelled by hydrogen. Whatever choice buyers make under the ban, one option they won’t have is that of buying a car powered by fossil fuels.

The rapid acceleration of the transition to electric vehicles can only be delivered if vehicle owners are confident they will have access to a comprehensive and convenient network and having an EV charging infrastructure is fundamental to delivering net zero transport. 

The lack of availability of charging points is seen as a key barrier for individuals and businesses in switching to an electric vehicle. 

The Tandridge initiative stems from a deal between Surrey County Council and provider, Connected Kerb, to install an estimated 10,000 new public chargers across the whole county by 2030.

The County Council has offered Tandridge, together with other Surrey district and boroughs, the opportunity to co-ordinate the installation and delivery of the charging points on Council owned land by using the same contractor. 

Users will need to download an app to pay for the charging. Connected Kerb has agreements with network roaming partners to enable broader digital access. 

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Gone are the days when you could stroll into a polling station, give your name and address and be handed a ballot paper. From this year, if you are intending to vote in person, you will have to prove who you say you are with photo ID. 

For the first time, voters coming to the polling station for the local elections on Thursday 4 May will have to show proof of their identity, otherwise they won’t be able to vote. If you vote by post you are not affected and won’t need to provide ID. 

The government brought in Voter ID in last year’s Elections Bill with the aim of preventing voter fraud and stopping the crime of pretending to be someone else when you vote. Voter ID, the government says, will protect voters from having their vote stolen. 

However, some people are concerned this change could reduce the turnout at elections and discriminate against people who are less likely to have the accepted forms of identification. 

To make sure you can vote at the next election your ID needs to be the original and not a photocopy and can be: 

  • A passport.
  • A driving licence (including provisional licence).
  • Blue Badge.
  • Identity card with PASS mark (Proof of Age Standards Scheme).
  • Certain concessionary travel cards.
  • Biometric immigration document.
  • Defence identity card.
  • National identity card.

If you have one of these IDs, but it is out of date, you can still use it to vote at a polling station if the photo on it still looks like you. 

If you don’t have any of the accepted IDs, you can apply for a free voter ID document known as a Voter Authority Certificate which allows you to vote, but that has to be done by 5pm on Tuesday 25 April. It can be applied for at voter-authority-certificate.service.gov.uk.

Voters in areas where Tandridge District Council and parish council elections are taking place will receive a poll card at the end of March. This will list the various forms of ID that can be used to vote at a polling station. 

If you have any queries, please contact the Electoral Commission on 0800 328 0280 or visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk. For information on other ways to vote, such as by post or by proxy, please visit the Electoral Commission website

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Looking for a fresh start? Try the Tandridge Job Fair on 9 March at the Tandridge District Council Offices.

If you are out of work or searching for a new career, dozens of jobs and training opportunities will be on offer at the Tandridge Job Fair being hosted for the first time by Tandridge District Council, in association with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Local businesses and other organisations will be offering information to jobseekers on 9 March, between 10am and 1pm, at the Council Offices in Oxted.

There will be a range of employers exhibiting from a variety of job sectors, including hospitality, retail, health care and many more.

You will have a chance to meet local employers face-to-face, to apply directly for vacancies and to discover a range of career, volunteering, and job progression opportunities.

Support and guidance will be available from the local Jobcentre, Oxted Job Club and the Council, together with advice on financial support for returning to work and support for refugees.

The Tandridge Job Fair is a free event and open to everyone. There is ground floor access to the Council Offices and Ukrainian translators will be available. Advisers from the National Careers Service will be on hand to help improve your CV and your interview technique. It is advisable, but not essential, to bring copies of your CV.

There is a free bus service to the fair being run by East Surrey Rural Transport Partnership for those who live in the Tandridge district. You can book a ride up until midday on 8 March by calling 07708 127861.

Whether you want to kick-off your career, learn more about various industries or embark on a different career path, it’s well worth a visit to the Job Fair to find out about the opportunities on offer.

You can just turn up on the day or you can get booked in via Redhill jobcentre or via Eventbrite (link below) or scan the QR code with your phone. The Council Offices are at 8 Station Road East, Oxted RH8 0BT. More details on how to get there are on Eventbrite www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tandridge-job-fair-tickets-507648619687.

For any employers who would like to get involved, please email Simon at gatwickdiamond.eas@dwp.gov.uk

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

One question that’s come up a lot recently is the state of the Council’s finances. It’s an understandable one given rampant inflation, years of government funding cuts and news that some councils are in trouble, with neighbouring Croydon Council declaring bankruptcy for a third time in November and Woking Borough Council forecasting a £2.4 billion debt.

In the next few weeks, we will be finalising the Council’s budget for 2023/2024. Balancing the budget and keeping the Council solvent and sustainable in the medium term, has been, and continues to be, one of the hardest issues we have faced since becoming a minority administration 18 months ago.

At that time, the Council was itself threatened with bankruptcy. We inherited a £920,000 annual hole in the budget due to a pension costs error which caused widespread concern. In light of that, a few weeks ago, a reporter from the local authority magazine, the Municipal Journal, came to see us to find out how we were getting on.

Some councils have avoided bankruptcy only through major cuts to services, while local government sector surveys suggest many will manage to balance the books this year by resorting to using up their financial reserves.

We did not have the option of using reserves because they had already been severely depleted. And we were determined from the start that we would not make major cuts to services.

Our remaining option was to cut the Council’s own costs and to do that, we have embarked on a root and branch review to reshape and slim down the Council, called the Future Tandridge Programme and to try to ensure expenditure no longer outstrips income. We have also brought in strict accounting and reporting rules.

In June, it looked like things were turning around with a £458,000 surplus reported in the revenue budget. But then came inflation. This time last year, inflation was at 5.5%, by October 2022 it was 11.1%. It means that the savings we need to make next year could be as much as £2.2m rather than the original estimated £1.7m – a huge challenge on an annual budget of £11.5m.

However, we are still aiming to avoid major cuts to services. Some fees are likely to rise but we hope to keep the increases to a minimum.

As part of the shape of things to come, we are working on sharing services with other councils, on digital innovation to give better customer experience and efficiency and on commissioning at least some services from outside providers to achieve better value for money.  

We have very much in mind the need to focus what resources there are on the services that matter most to residents.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

A network of warm hubs has been set up across the district to provide support in these tough times. You can drop-in, get warm, have a hot drink and meet others for a friendly chat. There is also the opportunity to get some free energy advice, which can help you make sure you are using your energy most efficiently and know where to go for support to help you to make any improvements.

All of us are affected by soaring energy bills and the rising cost of living, with many residents likely to be forced to make difficult decisions about whether to heat their homes properly or eat well.

A combination of bad weather, poorly insulated homes and having to turn off the heating because of skyrocketing bills, poses a real threat to people’s health. 

The Council has been working with volunteers, churches and community groups to open up hubs throughout the district and as with the response to Covid-19, all sectors of the community have come together to make this happen.

Here is the list of current Tandridge hubs. Many of them are providing free Wi-Fi, hot drinks and light refreshments. The list is being updated regularly and can be found at www.tandridge.gov.uk/warmhubs.


  • Westway Centre, 25 Chaldon Road, Caterham CR3 5PG: Monday to Sunday 10am to 3pm.
  • Caterham Valley Library, Stafford Road, Caterham CR3 6JG: Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am to 5pm.


  • St John's the Evangelist Church, 83 Dormans High Street, Dormansland RH7 6RA: Tuesday 9am to 3pm.
  • Claridge House Retreat Centre, Dormans Road, Dormansland RH7 6QH: Wednesday - 10am to 3pm.
  • Dormansland Baptist Church, 7 High Street, Dormansland RH7 6PU: Friday 9am to 3pm. A low cost community brunch takes place on the first Saturday of the month 9am to 12pm. 
  • Dormansland War Memorial Hall, 3 Plough Road, Dormansland RH7 6PS: Opening soon.


  • St Peters and St Pauls Church, Old Town, Lingfield RH7 6AH: Tuesday 10am to 3pm.
  • Lingfield and Dormansland Community Centre, High Street, Lingfield RH7 6AB: Wednesday 10am to 3pm.
  • Victoria Sports Social Club, 54 High Street, Lingfield RH7 6AA: Friday 10am to 3pm.
  • St Bernard's Catholic Church, Vicarage Road, Lingfield, RH7 6EZ: Saturday 12.30pm.

Oxted and Hurst Green

  • The Barley Mow, Tandridge Lane, Tandridge RH8 9NJ. Open every day 8am until 5pm.
  • Hurst Green Community Centre, 4 Oak Close, Hurst Green RH8 0BA. Sunday morning breakfast club.
  • Oxted Library, 12 Gresham Road, Oxted RH8 0BQ: Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am to 5pm.
  • St Agatha’s Hall, Greenhurst Lane, Hurst Green RH8 9DU: Thursday 1pm to 3pm.

More hubs in Hurst Green will be opening soon, with the support of Oxted United Reformed Church.


  • Warlingham Community Library, Shelton Avenue, Warlingham CR6 9NF: Wednesday 10am to 4pm.

Protecting the health and wellbeing of residents this winter is a key priority for the Council. We know we cannot solve all the problems on our own, so we are working closely with the community and our partner agencies to ensure as much support as possible is made available.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

This month, the Council is hosting a free “go green” event for local businesses designed to help them cut through the daily bombardment of sometimes confusing net zero messages and to reach net zero targets as cost effectively and simply as possible.

The event, which is sponsored by Love Oxted, the Oxted Business Improvement District and run by Surrey Chambers of Commerce is taking place on 2 November, from 5pm-7.30pm at the Council Offices in Oxted.

It aims to deliver some quick and easy wins and to:

  • Help businesses understand how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Support businesses to take actions to enable them to become a more sustainable business.
  • Provide the advice and support needed to move towards Net Zero.
  • Share best practice and learn from each other with case studies from local businesses already underway. 

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, small and medium-sized businesses account for 99.9% of the UK business population and around half of turnover in the UK private sector. So their collective climate change actions to help achieve net zero emissions by 2050 are critical. But smaller businesses often have less resources and limited access to capital and investment, so the route to net zero can seem overwhelming.

Following the go green event, businesses who attend will be able to receive additional free support to help them prepare a carbon reduction action plan to cut energy usage and achieve long term operating expenses.

There is also funding available from LoCASE (Lower Carbon Across the South East) to help local businesses with green projects. LoCASE can make non-repayable grants of up to £20,000 and fund up to 40% of the costs of the project. Examples of the kind of projects they help with are LED lighting upgrades, air source heat pump installation, solar panel installation, insulation and glazing and gas boiler upgrades.

Local organisations have already benefited from more than £370,000 of funding from the scheme. Applications are reviewed monthly and the fund will run until early next year. More details here: https://locase.co.uk/.

The Council, together with other Surrey councils, is working to reduce its own carbon footprint and we are also keen to host other green events.

We are awaiting approval for our investment plan for money from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and hope to use some of that funding to deliver a series of climate change workshops in the coming months.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The cost of living crisis is making things extremely tough for us all and, unfortunately, the impact is likely to increase as we head into winter. And so I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the help available, in addition to recent announcements on the cost of energy:

  • Every household will receive a £400 reduction in their energy bill beginning this month which you don’t need to pay back. If you pay your bills by Direct Debit or credit, the money will automatically be put in your bank account. If you have a pre-payment meter, the money will either be added to your meter or you’ll get a voucher to use for top-ups.
  • A £650 cost of living payment for households on means tested benefits, including universal credit and pension credit. The Department of Work and Pensions is paying it in two lump sums directly into bank accounts with £326 paid in July and £324 paid shortly.
  • Every pensioner household receiving the winter fuel payment will receive an additional £300, starting in November.
  • A new £500m Household Support Fund has been launched to support vulnerable households with the money being distributed by councils from this month. This is an extension of earlier Household Support funding, which has supported over 1,100 households in Tandridge so far this financial year, distributing £200,000 in total.
  • We have paid over 15,000 eligible households the £150 energy rebate payment covering direct debit and non-direct debit payers. If you have yet to apply, where you are eligible, the Council will credit the £150 to your council tax account.
  • We also offer a Discretionary Energy Rebate Scheme for households not eligible for the standard £150 payment.

You can find out more about the cost of living support available from this webpage: www.tandridge.gov.uk/support.

It’s tough for the Council too.  When we set the current year’s budget, it was assumed that inflation would be around 4%; that has subsequently jumped to 10% and is projected to increase to between 13% and 18% over the course of the year. 

The immediate impact on the Council is from contracts which include annual inflationary uplifts, for example in our arrangements for collecting waste.  We are working with contractors to manage the impact, but it is likely to cost significantly more than we expected when the budget was set.

Increases in the cost of construction will mean our budgets for council house building and other capital investment in infrastructure will go less far, with contractors facing challenges in delivering existing contracts and more risk-averse in taking on future contracts. This will add to challenges in meeting our targets for delivering council houses.

Inflationary impacts on partners, local businesses and residents will have a knock-on financial impact on the Council.  For example, we may see more residents needing financial support through our local council tax support schemes.

Inflation-related cost increases for 2023/24 are likely to equate to around 6% of our budget. Along with other pressures, a total savings requirement of up to 20% of the budget (£2m) is expected next year.

We are tackling this as part of a fundamental review of the way the Council delivers its services, to ensure we focus on delivering residents’ priorities and becoming a smaller, more agile Council in the process.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Residents around the district have been in touch with concerns about the reduced frequency of train services compared with pre-covid and the reduced number of coaches. As a result, I have contacted the train operator GTR (Govia Thameslink) and have had this recent update:

● From 5 September, there will be the addition of a 19:20 departure from London Victoria towards East Grinstead, extending the period at which trains run half-hourly through to 20:10

● In the longer term, we are looking towards reintroducing additional Thameslink services, potentially from December of this year.

● However, on the Caterham route, while the half-hourly fast services to London Bridge will be retained, with an additional call at Norwood Junction to improve connections with London Overground, the slow route via Tulse Hill will be reduced to run in the East Croydon to London Bridge section only. This will mean a change of trains at East Croydon for stations towards Tulse Hill and will mean that the frequency on the Caterham route is half-hourly.

● Generally we seek to run 10 carriage units on the busiest services, with 8 carriages at quieter times.

Financial challenge:

Govia say that passenger numbers have stabilised at approximately 75% of pre-covid levels for the week as a whole, and while the leisure market is fully recovered, the commuting market is flat at approximately 65-70% of pre-covid Tuesday-Thursday and quieter on Mondays and Fridays given the structural shift to working from home. For a railway such as this, commuting provides the majority of funding.

They add that the gap on break-even is approximately £350m-£450m per annum. The taxpayer is providing additional support but it does not close the gap. As a result, the railway is having to adapt to the effect of reduced commuting.

Govia start by protecting key services for schools and rural communities with no public transport alternatives. They then build the commuting service and use the remaining funding to run the largest off-peak service possible.

They say: “The 2022 timetables are, we hope, a starting point to stabilise and build from as passenger demand increases in the future. However, the Caterham route has shown that high frequency rail services, regrettably, do not in their own right attract sufficient numbers of people to public transport, with most services running at under 20% utilisation. While the usage is consistent with pre-covid, regrettably there is no longer the funding from other routes to provide the cross-subsidy. Public transport needs the support of policymakers to encourage people to leave the car at home.”

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The Council has just submitted a bid for £8.57m to the government’s Levelling Up Fund to help make improvements to Caterham. A major aim of the bid is to alleviate the flooding which has caused such problems over so many years. It’s been put together with tremendous local business and community support to help regenerate the largest town in our district.

The funding is crucial to attract investment, to help local businesses, to provide better infrastructure, to improve the quality of people’s lives and for the town to fulfil its undoubted potential.

Currently, Caterham is struggling with a declining economy, a gradual deterioration of the town’s appearance and appeal, as well as regular flash flooding which severely hampers efforts at revitalisation.

Our plan would help town centre regeneration including the repurposing of vacant and brownfield (previously developed) sites, improving pedestrian connectivity and electric vehicle infrastructure and most importantly, alleviating the flooding problems which should bring real benefits to existing businesses and raise confidence for those considering establishing businesses in the town.

It’s designed to provide local employment and to spur the development of an evening economy and opportunities for recreation. It would create an attractive town centre where people will want to shop and spend time, especially in the evening, so hopefully reducing the current high numbers of people commuting out of the area and increasing pride in the place we call home.

The government has developed an index of priority places for funding and has put local authorities into categories 1,2 or 3, depending on their identified level of need, with category 1 representing places deemed in most need of investment.

Unlike all other districts and boroughs in Surrey, Tandridge has been ranked as priority 2 rather than priority 3. This is a chance to level up that disparity and to drive prosperity and economic success in this less equal part of the county and in this less equal town.

The Council has been unable to invest as much as it would like in the renewal of Caterham due to budget constraints and the high cost of the necessary improvements. We have bought and refurbished the large high street office building, Quadrant House, which now includes space for start-up local businesses. Also, in partnership with Surrey County Council and the Caterham Business Improvement District we are progressing improvements for Croydon Road. But without additional financial assistance, we cannot fully address the fundamental issues that are holding Caterham back.

This is a wonderful opportunity to do that and to deliver a vibrant commercial and community hub, tailored to the needs of the local community, to visitors and to investors. We hope the government agrees. Fingers crossed...

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Planning is a hugely important council service and the subject I get most enquiries about from residents. Many people say they are worried about the development pressures on the district and the seemingly relentless threat to the local environment. They would like to see planning breaches dealt with promptly and firmly and I am keen to prioritise enforcement.

The Council has recently taken out High Court injunctions to deal with planning breaches, one involving a traveller incursion in Chelsham and the other involving the unauthorised use of a field in Oxted, for Gatwick parking. Both sites are in the Green Belt, which has greater protection from development under planning rules. Although it costs us money to go to court, it seems very important to send a message that we take the environment seriously and will not tolerate flouting of the planning rules.

Sometimes it can be unclear what is a breach and what isn’t. Examples of what does qualify:

  • Carrying out building or engineering works or the change of use of a building or land without the required planning permission.
  • Carrying out development not in accordance with a planning permission – this can be either failing to follow the approved plans or not keeping to the conditions attached to the permission.
  • The unauthorised felling or carrying out of works to a tree which is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or which is within a designated Conservation Area.

Examples of what’s unlikely to qualify:

  • Clearing land of undergrowth, bushes and trees, provided they are not subject to
    a Tree Preservation Order and are not within a Conservation Area or protected
    by a planning condition.
  • Stationing a caravan within the grounds of a dwelling provided that it is used
    ancillary to the dwelling, for example as an extra bedroom.
  • Operating a business from home where the residential use remains the primary
    use, no staff are employed there and visitors are kept to a minimum.

Then there is the “retrospective” application. It’s not always appreciated that where development has been undertaken without planning permission, the developer or land owner is legally entitled to try to put this right by applying for a retrospective planning application - even if enforcement action has been started. But any such application must be considered on its own merits, irrespective of the fact that the development has already taken place.

The Council deals with hundreds of planning enforcement complaints every year and initial enquiries are given a high, medium or low priority. High priority is for those cases, like those the Council has recently dealt with via injunctions, that cause immediate and potentially irreparable harm to the locality.

If you have any comments or questions, please just get in touch at Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Tandridge Independent

Funding for voluntary groups – apply by 30 November for small grants

Every year, the Council allocates grant money from its budget to local charities and voluntary groups and a key part of this process is making sure the money is distributed as widely and fairly as possible.

For the year 2022/23, a total of £249,143 was allocated in grants to community and voluntary organisations. This splits into two parts: £221,348 on major awards to voluntary sector organisations such as Tandridge Voluntary Action and Tandridge Citizens Advice Bureau and £27,795 in smaller grants to 20 organisations from the money raised by people buying tickets for the Tandridge Together Lottery.

To try to ensure the grant funding goes to the most suitable applicants and projects, in December 2022 criteria were drawn up against which applications are assessed.  

For the major community grants, the criteria that applicants are scored on include the number of residents supported by the service, evidence of need for the service and of financial stability, working collaboratively with volunteers and demonstrating how success will be measured.  

For the smaller grants of up to £2,000 from the Tandridge Together Community Fund, the money is for initiatives which will directly benefit residents in the district through one or more of the following activities:

  • Support people to be able to live independently for as long as possible.
  • Support people to improve their emotional and physical health.
  • Target services at under-represented and / or hard to reach groups.
  • Effectively safeguard people from abuse, neglect or poor treatment.
  • Reduce social isolation.
  • Help reduce reliance on alternative, higher cost state interventions.
  • Support and enable carers to carry on caring for as long as possible.
  • Support youth provision projects.

The Council is now inviting voluntary groups to apply for these smaller grants. The deadline to apply is Thursday, 30 November and details of how to do so are here www.tandridge.gov.uk/communityfund.

The allocations will be decided in January 2024 with £24,000 available to be distributed from the proceeds raised from lottery ticket sales. The Tandridge Together Lottery was launched in 2018. Tickets are £1 and there are weekly draws with a top prize of £25,000. 

So if you fancy a flutter, are aged 18 or over and want to support a local good cause, please do buy a ticket at www.tandridgelottery.co.uk

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

The long awaited improvements to Croydon Road, one of the key shopping streets in Caterham Valley town centre, are moving closer with the Council awarding the contract for the works to Walker Construction. 

The aim is to make Croydon Road a greener and nicer place to spend time and money, to attract new businesses to Caterham and to boost economic growth and employment opportunities.

The works include:

  • Extended pavement space to encourage people to stay longer - providing useable outdoor space near cafes and restaurants.
  • More greenery and seating in the town centre.
  • Improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists, widening some parking bays and clearly separating the road and parking areas by using contrasting materials.
  • Planting trees and introducing rain gardens and pocket parks. The rain gardens will absorb water running off the road and are being planted where they can have most impact on reducing flooding. There are currently a number of places in the street where rainwater accumulates during periods of high rainfall.
  • Encourage more active travel like walking and cycling and redress the current imbalance which favours car users.

How is it being funded?

The Caterham Business Improvement District (BID) kick started the idea, recognising the need to improve the area which has been in decline for several years, and to bring in local people and visitors to shop and spend leisure time there. The Council has allocated £950,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy to the project and has worked with the BID on the plans and to secure the rest of the funding. These organisations are contributing to the project:

  • Caterham BID (Caterham Valley for You)
  • Caterham Valley Parish Council
  • Tandridge District Council
  • Surrey County Council
  • Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership

Walker Construction won the contract after a two stage process with the invitation to tender scored on price and quality. The quality questions focused on the traffic management plan, access management, parking arrangements and the ability to minimise business disruption.

The Council, together with the BID and Surrey County Council, is now working with Walker Construction to prepare for a start on site in January 2024. The project is scheduled to take 9 months to complete.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

On Monday 18 September, from 10am, residents on low incomes can apply to the council for a grant through the Tandridge Household Support Fund to help with the huge rise in the cost of living.

The fund aims to support households most in need, anyone who is vulnerable or cannot pay for essentials. You do not have to be getting benefits to get a grant. If you get benefits, they will not be affected if you get a payment from the fund. You can apply even if you have received a household support fund grant before.

If you have any friends, family or neighbours in the district who may be struggling financially, please let them know about these grants.

Who can apply?

Applicants must:

  • Be over the age of 16.
  • Live in the Tandridge district.
  • Be struggling to meet the cost of essential items like food or energy or water bills for themselves or their dependents. You will need to submit evidence online such as bank statements or arrears letters.

How to apply

On Monday 18 September from 10am, you can apply online at www.tandridge.gov.uk/supportfund.

Support is available for anyone who wants help completing the form, the contact number for assistance is 01883 722000. Applications can be made by the applicant, their representative or a third party acting on their behalf. In addition, the Council is using community groups to support residents who cannot otherwise access the online form.

How much are the grants?

Eligible households with children will receive £350, households without children will receive £150.

How big is the Tandridge Household Support Fund?

The money is limited, so it’s best to apply quickly as the fund will close when all the money has been allocated.

Tandridge Council has a total of £316,000 to distribute by 31 March 2024. We’ve decided to do it in two phases, so if you miss out this time round because the money has run out by the time you apply, there will be another chance in the second phase which starts on Monday 11 December at 10am.

If you are eligible, ideally payments will be by BACS transfer to a bank account 10 working days after the date your application is approved, but it may be longer if checks are required.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

The Council has been awarded £50,000 for a feasibility study to look at how to make better use of land in public ownership in Caterham on the Hill.

The funding for the study has come from the Government’s One Public Estate programme, which is designed to help public sector bodies (such as TDC) repurpose and get more from their assets. This is with the aim of delivering more integrated, customer-focused services; creating new jobs and new affordable homes; generating efficiencies and reducing running costs.

The sites being considered are:

  • Caterham on the Hill library, which is owned by Surrey County Council (SCC). The building is dated and needs investment. In October 2020, SCC’s Cabinet approved a scheme to deliver a mixed used building to provide a library, family centre (including maternity services) and care leavers accommodation. Issues with the site prevented the development progressing.
  • Westway Centre owned by Tandridge District Council (TDC) is leased to a charitable trust, which provides an adult day centre facility. The building is costly to maintain.
  • Community Recycling Centre - TDC owns the freehold and leases the site to SCC. It is poorly located in a residential area and next to Hillcroft Primary School. The CRC also creates local traffic congestion. Aspirations have been to relocate the two local CRCs – Caterham (TDC freehold) and Warlingham (SCC freehold) – to a new single site, possibly at Godstone depot.
  • Caterham Community Centre is owned by TDC and leased to trustees who run the community centre. The building dates from the 1950s and needs investment.

The Council has now gone out to tender inviting proposals. Among the requirements are that any proposal must support the following services: library, family centre, adult day centre, community centre, care leaver accommodation, independent living (learning disability and mental health).

In addition, the Community Recycling Centre should be relocated to a more suitable site within the district and if residential is considered as part of a redevelopment of the estate, then a proportion should be affordable housing.

After considering the various proposals, it is hoped to appoint a consultant later this month.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Improving our parks and open spaces is a key priority for the Council. Our own funds are limited, but we have managed to obtain funding of £1m from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which we are intending to use across the district to improve facilities and encourage more people to use the open spaces we have.

Some of the money will have to go on rather unexciting things like more dog and litter bins and some on unfortunate necessities like addressing vandalism, damage to play equipment and other anti-social behaviour. The rest is targeted for positive developments such as encouraging wildlife and biodiversity and making the open spaces more attractive, welcoming and user friendly to stimulate greater usage. 

Parks and open spaces are the green oases that beautify our environment particularly if you live in a built up area. They are one of our most used publicly-funded services. They often form the heart of community life, providing space for residents to exercise, to improve their physical health and mental wellbeing and to relax. 

The Council has put together a plan called the Open Space Strategy which sets out how we intend to manage and improve our open spaces throughout the district. The aim is to make it easier to focus priorities so that resources can be targeted to what’s important, such as access to open spaces, maintaining their quality and management and maintenance to meet the needs of residents and visitors into the future.

For the Open Space Strategy, we came up with 249 projects and programmes, but the cost of delivering them all would be £4.7m, so we have had to prioritise the list. We’ve done so on the basis of taking forward those projects providing the widest benefits.

The strategy is a mixture of general themes some of which I’ve mentioned earlier, but also including exploring potential for future community events, promoting and publicising the spaces, better signage and refurbishing play equipment, planting more trees and shrubs, and reviewing allotment provision to ensure it meets demand. 

Most importantly, the money means we can take forward improvements to many specific Council owned facilities around the district.

The full list of all the Tandridge Open Space Strategy projects can be found on this website page https://www.tandridge.gov.uk/openspaces

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk.

Our vision is to secure the delivery of homes that can be afforded by local people and which provide a wider choice of tenure, type and size of housing. Achieving that aim is, of course, easier said than done.

We cannot solve all of the district’s housing issues, but we can work in partnership to influence new housing delivery, to deliver our own building programme, to maximise the amount of affordable housing in new developments and importantly to have an ongoing conversation with local people to try to ensure we deliver the right homes in the future.

The Council is busy building new council houses and finding suitable sites to be developed into affordable homes for residents on the housing register who cannot afford to buy or rent a home on the open market.

This year, these housing developments will become homes:

  • Auckland Road, Caterham - 3 homes
  • Bronzeoak, Caterham - 26 homes.
  • Rochester Gardens, Caterham - 5 homes
  • Town End, Caterham - 2 homes.
  • Windmill Close, Caterham - 3 homes
  • Uplands, Warlingham - 21 homes.

Over the next five years, we have plans to build 200 affordable, rented homes with most of these being built on council owned land. Subject to planning approval, our plans include:

  • Redeveloping a site on Stanstead Road, Caterham, to provide 4 three bedroom homes.
  • 35 new homes across Blindley Heath, Dormansland and Oxted.
  • Demolishing Pelham House in Caterham and building 10 family homes.

The Council is currently in the process of buying land from the Ministry of Defence in Grove Road, Caterham. The purchase would enable the delivery of a scheme of up to 16 new affordable family rented homes.

We have appointed an architect to evaluate the development of part of the Council’s depot at Mill Lane in Hurst Green to build 22 homes. This will be part of a public consultation later this year.

In addition, we will be buying back 10 ex-council owned homes, bought by tenants in the Right to Buy scheme.

The Housing Committee has agreed, with money from the government’s Local Authority Housing Fund, to buy seven properties in the district which will initially become homes for Ukrainian and Afghan families fleeing war. These homes will become part of our housing stock and in the future will be rented to residents on the housing register.

The Council works with housing associations, developers and landowners to secure sites and funding for new affordable housing which includes rented and shared ownership homes.

Our partnership working with housing associations will see the delivery of 48 new homes for affordable rent through Clarion Housing Group at the former Rose and Young site in Caterham and eight new homes through Mount Green Housing Association at Broadleaf Place in Caterham. There are also four Discounted Market Sale properties at the Chartwell Land and New Homes Oldencraig development in Lingfield, which are available at a reduced sale price for first time buyers either living in the district or with a strong connection here.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Balancing the budget and keeping the Council solvent, has been, and continues to be, one of the hardest issues we face. 

It’s absolutely crucial to get it right, as demonstrated by our neighbours in Croydon where residents are faced with a 15% rise in their Council Tax because the Council has gone bankrupt. 

In May 2021, when we became the administration, Tandridge Council was itself threatened with bankruptcy and a £920,000 annual hole in the budget was discovered due to a pension costs error.

Our 2023/2024 budget, agreed in February, had to address this inherited position, together with unprecedented economic pressures stemming largely from inflation and the uncertainties in central government funding.

I am really pleased to say the budget has been set without major cuts to services or cuts to the amount of money available for grants to voluntary organisations. We have also been able to keep free car parking around the district, including the 2 hours free in Ellice Road car park in Oxted. 

Some fees are rising, but increases for services to residents have been kept to a minimum. The Council Tax rise is 2.99% which is £6.90 per year for an average property (or 13p per week). We have also managed to bring in a new Cost of Living Fund to help residents in financial difficulties. 

For the current financial year which has also necessitated major savings, we can say 90% of those planned savings are on track and despite high inflation and economic volatility, we’re expecting to meet the budget. To be prudent, we’d built in a level of contingency and whilst it is likely we’ll need to draw on at least some of this, crucially we will not need to touch our reserves. 

To protect services to residents and to avoid using our modest reserves that have been run down in recent years, a programme has been established to develop and implement a series of changes enabling a significant reduction in the Council’s own operating costs – the Future Tandridge Programme. This is aimed at ensuring that expenditure no longer outstrips income. We have also brought in stricter accounting and reporting rules.

For 2023/2024, the Future Tandridge Programme has a savings plan of £1.7m, a major challenge when you consider the revenue budget for the year is £11.9m. 

We are working on sharing services with other councils, on digital innovation to give better customer experience and efficiency and on commissioning at least some services from outside providers to achieve better value for money.  

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Recently, you may have read about the inquest into the tragic death of Awaab Ishak. The two year old died in 2020, after prolonged exposure to mould in his house in Rochdale. The story was one that caused widespread shock across the country.

During the winter months, our homes can often suffer from damp and mould caused by condensation and I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the Council’s advice on how to deal with the problem.

Condensation happens when warm moist air released by everyday household activities such as cooking or having a bath, comes in to contact with a cold surface such as a cold wall or window. It’s estimated that the total moisture added in one day from these ordinary tasks can be up to 15.9 litres. If the moist air doesn’t escape through an open window, air vent or extractor fan, it settles and often leads to mould growth in corners of rooms, backs of carpets and inside cupboards. 

You can reduce the moisture in the air by ventilating rooms, drying clothes outside, putting lids on saucepans, not leaving kettles boiling, wiping down surfaces where moisture settles, making sure that air vents aren't blocked and, of course, keeping your home warm, although that may not be so easy given the high heating costs.

Many people use dehumidifiers to try and cure or reduce condensation in their home. However, dehumidifiers are expensive to run and will not solve the problem if the damp is caused by condensation.

Condensation isn't the only cause of damp. It can also come from leaking pipes or overflows, rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing or blocked gutters. Rising damp, due to a defective or missing damp-course, also causes mould to appear.

The Council has produced a leaflet with more details which can be found on the website at www.tandridge.gov.uk/condensation.

If you rent your home and are experiencing problems with damp and mould, please report this to your landlord as soon as possible. If the problem worsens, or you don't hear back from your landlord in a reasonable time, you can contact our environmental health team for help and advice by emailing envhealth@tandridge.gov.uk or call 01883 722000.

All landlords have an obligation to meet certain housing standards to ensure that their tenants' homes are safe, secure, clean and in good condition. You can find more information about these expectations and the standards that rented properties should meet on the website at www.tandridge.gov.uk/privatehousing.

If you do have concerns, it’s important to make sure that you take action as soon as you can.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

If you’ve been dreaming of a green Christmas and New Year, recycling more of the right things could make a difference to the environment and is cheaper for the Council to dispose of than rubbish. You can:

  • Recycle all cardboard food packaging. If you’ve accumulated more recycling than usual over Christmas, it can be put out for collection in clear plastic bags or in a cardboard box next to your blue lidded wheeled bin.
  • Recycle cardboard delivery and toy boxes by folding them down to make more room in your recycling bin.
  • Place all paper cards, envelopes and wrapping (except those with glitter, foil or plastic) in your recycling bin. Bows and ribbons can be kept for reuse.
  • Empty, rinse and dry all plastic food and drink packaging before it goes in your recycling bin – and place all items loose (not bagged).
  • Place items which can’t be recycled such as hard plastic storage boxes, polystyrene, bubble wrap and flexible plastic film in your rubbish bin. To find other recycling schemes to dispose of some of these items, please visit www.surreyep.org.uk/what-to-do-with-an-item/.

Christmas trees

Great if you can replant and reuse your tree next year. Real trees can be recycled and turned into chippings for use in parks or woodland areas, but they can’t be put into recycling bins.

If you’re a Green Waste Club member, please cut up your tree (maximum tree trunk 10cm diameter) and put it in your brown wheeled bin for collection.

If you’re not a Green Waste Club member, you can take it to the community recycling centres at Bond Road, Warlingham, or Chaldon Road, Caterham. Don’t recycle real wreaths or trees that have been sprayed, painted or contain wire you can’t remove. These should be thrown away. Plastic ones can be reused next year.

Artificial Christmas trees can’t be recycled, as they are made up of multiple materials, including metal and plastic.

Food waste

Our waste contractor Biffa’s 2020 Christmas recycling guide says two million turkeys and 74 million mince pies are left uneaten over the Christmas period in the UK.

You can always:

  • Freeze any cooked or uncooked food you didn’t get around to eating.
  • Put food that can’t be eaten, like bones, eggshells and peelings into your food caddy.
  • Donate unopened food and long-life products to food banks and in date fresh produce to your local community fridge.

Wrapping paper

Biffa also says 277,000 miles of wrapping paper goes to waste. For wrapping paper that can’t be reused, an easy way to tell if it can be recycled is the “scrunch test”. Screw up the paper and if it unfolds, it can’t be recycled, but if it stays neatly scrunched it can be put into the recycling bin.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Launched in March last year, the hub is designed to help target the increase in unemployment among 18-24 year olds across East Surrey, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, it’s been developed by Tandridge District Council, in partnership with Reigate & Banstead Borough Council.

It aims to:

  • Help people into employment or further education.
  • Work with local employers and training providers, to provide 18-24 year olds with access to training, work experience, employment and education opportunities.
  • Support applicants in getting started on their journey into employment.
  • Provide knowledge, contacts, skills and access to training to help develop confidence.

Meetings with the “hub team” can take place online or in person at Quadrant House in Caterham or the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill.

So far, the service has been used by 271 young people, with 164 of those supported into employment. A further 9 have gone into education and 29 attended a work trial. The support covers searching for a job, all the way through to interview preparation and is tailored for each person.

The team enlists the help of local employers to offer coaching, mentoring, work placements, apprenticeships and potential employment opportunities. Partnerships with local colleges and training providers also deliver vocational skills training programmes, focusing on areas where there are known skills gaps.

Employer support

We are very grateful to all the employers who have worked with us and supported our applicants. We could not run the programme without their help.

We have worked closely with ILG (East Grinstead & Salford sites) and Willis Towers Watson (Redhill). Both companies put on tours to provide an insight into life within the company, demonstrating the core values and benefits of being part of the team.

We have also worked with partners such as The Strive Group, which support our applicants to reach T Level qualification.

Take The Reins has given applicants a chance to learn about the horse racing industry and get experience at Lingfield Racecourse. The programme ended with interview opportunities, which was a great avenue into employment for some of our applicants.

Manor Collection hotels offered interviews and work trials to some of our clients at their hotels in Reigate and Betchworth.

Feedback from the applicants

Those using the service said they found CV support the most useful, followed by job search, interview preparation and interview practice. Officers are available to support you through the whole process, whatever stage you are at.

If you would like support with finding a job, creating your CV or exploring training and education options, please contact the Youth Hub at  youth.hub@reigate-banstead.gov.uk.

If you are an employer who can offer support and wants to get involved, we’d love to hear from you too. Please contact the Youth Hub with any vacancies you have and if you are able to provide a young person with the opportunity to gain work experience.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

The re-opening last month of Quadrant House, a prominent and key building in the heart of Caterham Valley, was a hugely significant moment for the Council and an important milestone in our plan to rejuvenate the local economy and town centre. 

It is three and a half years since the Council bought the building which was constructed in the 1960s and 70s and had become a tired and unattractive place, in truth a blot on the Croydon Road landscape.

With £4.9 million of investment, using grant funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership, Coast to Capital, it has gone through a transformation both internally and very visibly, externally with the fabulous living wall, which as well as giving a softer and eye-catching appearance to the building and to the High Street generally, should improve air quality. 

Quadrant House is a mixed use building with retail units and restaurants on the ground floor and approximately 38,000 square feet of office space above. It has been modernised throughout, with thermal insulation to the building fabric, replacement of windows and energy efficient heating and cooling systems to reduce carbon emissions. Apart from looking a great deal better, it is now much more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The building is already home to a growing number of businesses and everyone who works there can take a break and step out onto the giant roof terrace and enjoy the far reaching views across the valley and surrounding hills.

In Autumn 2020, a new business hub, known as The Workary, opened on the first floor. It offers affordable work space on flexible terms, ideal for start-ups, small businesses and remote workers.

The new Quadrant House is just one part of the Council’s plan to reinvigorate the local economy and town centre and attract more businesses. 

We are working with Surrey County Council and the Caterham Business Improvement District to regenerate all of Croydon Road. The next phase is aimed at increasing the environmental benefits and attractiveness of the area as more greenery and rain gardens are planted and safety improvements implemented for pedestrians and cyclists.

And on a larger scale, we are waiting for a government decision about our £8.5 million levelling up fund bid which has the potential to bring substantial improvements across the whole of Caterham.

If you are interested in renting modern and high quality office space in the transformed  Quadrant House, please visit Michael Rogers LLP www.michaelrogers.co.uk and contact David Smith 01737 230739  or Stiles Harold Williams Partnership at www.shwco.uk and contact Thomas Tarn 01372 840297.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

Last month, I visited the Westway Centre when they held an open house to explain the financial difficulties they are facing. The meeting was packed and there was obviously huge concern that this fantastic community asset might not be able to survive.

That same day, I received a letter from a GP requesting that the Council do all it can to help the Westway and to enable it to become self-sustaining for the future.

The GP said: “As a GP with experience in prevention and public health I know only too well how vital community centres are to the health and wellbeing of local people. Having had the privilege to visit many such centres across the South East in the last 18 months, I know that the Westway is an absolute jewel in the crown for Surrey – an exemplar we all have much to learn from.”

I would like to emphasise that the Council is totally committed to do all we can to ensure the Westway’s survival and is working to help it secure the essential additional funding it urgently needs. The Centre provides crucial health and social care support, likely to become all the more needed as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

The Council has provided funding and support for the operating costs of the charity since October 2019, when the Westway charity was first set up. The charity’s aim was to find additional ways of generating income to become self-sufficient. This has been difficult due to the pandemic and more recently the significant increases in energy and other costs.

We are changing the long-term lease to add more flexibility and security so that the charity can have confidence to go forward while it sources further income. We’ve also been able to find another grant to help with costs.

While the centre has managed to secure some smaller funding bids, it needs more support from a wider range of stakeholders to contribute to the running costs.

We are working with, and hope, that our partners in health and at Surrey County Council (the authority responsible for adult social care) will come forward now to help with some long term funding. Without the care the Westway provides, the pressure will be on them to fill the gap and it is in the interests of all that the charity should be able to continue its wonderful work.

Last word to the GP: “I have been particularly impressed by the nimble responsiveness of the centre to the challenges of the pandemic and have no doubt – if able to continue - the Westway would step up to the plate and help mitigate the huge potential human costs anticipated this autumn and winter in association with the cost of living crisis.”

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk

If your dog goes missing, help could be at hand in the shape of the Council’s animal warden.

Looking after the welfare of lost or abandoned animals is an important, but perhaps not so well known, service the Council provides.

One of the main jobs of the animal warden, which is a shared service with Mole Valley District Council, is to respond to notifications about stray dogs, collect them and return them safely to their owners as soon as possible.

If a stray or lost pet is collected during office hours (9am-5pm), as long as it is microchipped and has up to date identification details, the warden aims to return it home immediately with no charge for the service.

But sometimes things are not so straightforward, for example if the animal has been microchipped by the breeder and the new owner hasn’t registered their details, there can be delays and difficulties in reuniting pet and owner.  If they can’t be returned to their owner on the same day, the warden takes the animal to kennels, it’s given veterinary treatment if required and the owner will be charged the appropriate fee when found. If, after seven days, the owner can’t be traced, the dog is rehomed via a charity.

In addition to dealing with stray dogs, the warden enforces dog related legislation. This includes responding to reports of dog attacks on other animals (attacks on people should be reported to the police), animal noise nuisance investigation, dog fouling reports and animal welfare concerns. She works closely with other agencies such as the RSPCA, Trading Standards, Housing and Surrey Police.

Another part of the job is the licensing of premises, for example riding schools (working jointly with a vet), inspecting boarding establishments for dogs and cats to make sure they are suitable, dog breeders and pet shops.

The coronavirus pandemic led to a big increase in animal ownership and the warden is keen to emphasise how important it is people make sure their pets are microchipped and details are kept updated, so animals can be kept safe and reunited with their owners in the event they get lost.

To use the animal warden service during normal office hours, call 01306 879167. Out of hours, you can call the Council offices on 01883 722000 and ask to be connected to our contractor.

If you have any comments/questions, please just get in touch at: Cllr.Catherine.Sayer@tandridge.gov.uk