News

Don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of The Ashtead & Leatherhead Local magazine from Ashtead and Leatherhead libraries, as well as the customer service desk of Sainsbury’s Leatherhead.


WHAT'S GOING ON IN MARCH? Click here...

ASHTEAD SPRING CLEAN - SATURDAY MARCH 21ST - 10TH ANNIVERSARY.

Over 10 years, we have dramatically reduced the amount of litter in and around Ashtead, so that our village looks well cared for. Our annual Spring Clean focuses on footpaths, alleyways and verges and also on hedgerows where litter can build up and remain unnoticed until the foliage dies back.

  This year, the government is following the example of our own annual Ashtead Spring Clean and is holding a nationwide community clear up & Spring Clean day on the same Saturday. Come and be part of Ashtead’s contribution to that event as well.

To join an Ashtead Spring Clean group near you, please go to one of the meeting points listed below where an ARA Committee member will be on hand to brief you. Most of our District Councillors will be involved as well. There are two meeting time options.

At 09:50, please meet at any of the following places:
· Ashtead Station car park
· Outside the Football Club, near Ashtead pond
· Outside The Greville Primary School in Stonny Croft
· The corner of Barnett Wood Lane and West Farm Avenue
· Outside St Andrew’s School in Grange Road
· The corner of Craddocks Avenue and the A24

OR

At 10:20, please meet outside Ashtead Peace Memorial. Please wear strong shoes, and bring thick protective gloves. We will provide bags and litter pickers. The rubbish bags will be collected and brought back to the APMH car park, or if you are working in the centre of the Village, please bring your bag back with you to the APMH car park.

  Of equal importance is working in your own area of Ashtead
· Either on your own, or with a group of neighbours, here are some suggestions for the kind of things that can be done:
· Clean your street name and any other signs with a bucket of water and a scrubbing brush.
· Cut back front hedges or shrubs to your own boundary to leave the pavement clear.
· Offer to do the same for elderly or disabled neighbours. Please ALWAYS make sure you have permission, before you start cutting back someone else’s front hedge or shrubs.
· Tidy verges that have overgrown, or been churned up.
  · Litter pick your local roads and alleyways - if you choose this option, please could you let us know in advance so that we don’t send other people to the same place, when it has already been done. Please see contact details below.

Coffee Special

Beverley, the Landlady of our village pub, The Brewery Inn, has very kindly offered, once again, to host a get together in the upstairs room of the pub, for anyone who has taken part in the Spring Clean. Tea or coffee will be served from 11:45 free of charge. Please join your ARA Committee members and Local Councillors there, after the work is done, and meet all the other Ashtead residents who care about the Village.

  Please put the date in your diary now: Saturday March 21st

To contact us about the event, or if you have any queries, please telephone 273393 or email springclean@ashteadresidents.org.uk

  Christine Kerton ARA Spring Clean Organiser  


LINK GROUP HELPS FUND A HEARING DOG.

Link Group meets at St. George’s Church in Ashtead and welcomes ladies to its meetings on the second Thursday of each month at 8pm.

We have just completed another successful year of fellowship, listening to interesting speakers and doing regular fund-raising for our chosen charity. Two representatives from the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People came to Link Group recently to receive a cheque from us for £1100. This was made possible by our members holding raffles, several produce stalls and a Summer Tea Party.

The money raised will go towards the training of Link Group’s own sponsored cockapoo dog, called Merry. Once trained he will be given a home with a deaf person to help by doing some everyday tasks such as alerting his owner to the doorbell and telephone ringing. He will also be good company and hopefully help to make his owner feel more independent. Link Group has been delighted to help this very worthy cause.

Ann Goulder - 01372 813994  


LEATHERHEAD COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION - SPRING WALKS.

We are already now nearly in March and looking forward to warmer and longer days. Peter Humphreys at the LCA has been arranging 'short' walks, 'longer' walks and 'strolls' for several years now and always welcomes new faces. Non-members are welcome. The walks are free-of-charge and easy paced. The 'short' morning walks of 3-4 miles are usually on the first Wednesday of the month and last about 2 hours with time for a snack at the end. The 'longer walks' cover 4-6 miles on the second Wednesday of the month with a lunch or picnic break. The 'strolls' usually take place on the third Wednesday of each month are easy and flattish, and cover less than 2 miles in about 1-1½ hours.

  Over the next 3 months the 'short' walks are on 4 March at Chilworth, 1 April in Bushy Park and 6 May in Teazle Wood. The 'longer' walks are on 11 March on Reigate Heath, 8 April at Rusper and 13 May around Albury and Blackheath. The 'strolls' take place on 18 March at Claremont Gardens, Esher, 22 April at White Down, Effingham, and 20 May in the Rhododendron Dell at Leith Hill. All the walks start at 10.30am from a specified meeting point and each one has a designated Walk Leader. Lifts can usually be arranged, if desired. If you are interested in any of them, long or short, Peter would be very pleased to give you more info, please ring him on 01372 378347.

  You can find full details about each walk in our latest LCA newsletter. Please call into the Letherhead Institute, at the top of Leatherhead High Street, and pick one up. This also gives information of the many activities and events which are arranged throughout the year by the LCA; or please ring Sarah, the LCA Administrator, on 01372 360508 with your questions.

  LCA membership only costs £5 per year and our website is www.leatherheadca.org.uk where you can find all the information to become a member of the LCA.  


PENSIONS RULES AND CHANGING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

If you’re confused by drawdown, annuity, tax wrappers and pots, you are definitely not alone. It sometimes feels like politicians are being deliberately obtuse - why don’t they use plain English when talking about pensions so we all know where we stand on this important issue?

Although other choices are available, including property or stocks and shares, saving into a private pension does offer the following tax advantages:
• The government pays tax relief on your payments
• You’re not taxed on the money in your pension pot (up to certain limits)
• At pension age you can withdraw a percentage of your pension as a tax-free lump sum

But what about the State Pension – won’t that provide the income I need in retirement?

State Pension rules are set to change from 2016 when a weekly flat rate will be introduced. These are some of the new rules, should you reach State Pension age on or after April 6th 2016:
• The full pension amount will be a minimum of £148.40 per week (the actual amount to be decided upon in late 2015)
• At least 10 qualifying years are needed to receive the new State Pension
• The total number of qualifying years for eligibility has increased from 30 to 35

Auto enrolment

Auto enrolment is new legislation that obliges employers to offer eligible employees a workplace pension. The new scheme, which was introduced in October 2012, is being rolled out to include all UK employers by February 2018.

Currently, if you earn a minimum annual salary of £10,000, are aged between 22 years and the State Pension age, and work under a contract of employment in the UK, you are entitled to automatic enrolment on a workplace pension.

New legislation regarding annuities

Until recently, when you retired you had no other option but to use your pension fund to buy an annuity. Annuities provide you with a fixed income for life, and even though the legislation has now changed, this product may still offer the most stable income for you in retirement.

The 2014 Budget saw changes to pension legislation. From 2015 you will not be forced to buy an annuity with your pension fund, but can use the money in other ways. As a general rule, people choose the ‘income drawdown’ option, an annuity, or a mixture of the two.

What is income drawdown?

Income drawdown is an alternative to buying an annuity. You buy stocks, shares and other investments and take a regular income by cashing them in over time, with 25% of each ‘drawdown’ being tax-free.

If you are not risk averse and you have a larger pension pot of £100,000 or more, the rewards can be greater.

Income drawdown is a complicated option with high fees and charges, and it will not be right for everybody, but there is a middle-ground that offers the security of an annuity with a little more flexibility.

An investment-linked annuity

There are two types of investment-linked annuity:
• Unit-linked: these depend on the performance of stocks, shares and other investments
• With-profits: these retain part of your return in high-performing years for use if investment performance declines
Charges and fees for pension products can be high, and serve to reduce the overall value of your fund. That’s why you need the advice and guidance of a professional financial expert to cut through the jargon, clearly explain what you are buying, and tell you the true cost of the product.    


ASHTEAD COMMUNITY VISION - ASHTEAD'S HOUSING CRISIS REVEALED.

Whether Ashtead actually has a “housing crisis” is up for debate amongst us residents, but if evidence brought forward by ACV is concerned then the village certainly has some challenging issues.

  As part of the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) process, ACV’s housing sub group has been pulling together the evidence to support policies that will go into the NDP. And by the time you read this article the NDP’s controlling body, the Ashtead Neighbourhood Forum will have had agreed and/or amended the sub group’s report, which will then inform the NDP and its public consultation exercise.

  So what does the report say? Well it does not talk about a ‘crisis’ but it raises some quite serious housing concerns that many families here in the village will already be familiar.

    For example, the highest demand for homes in Ashtead is for two or three bedroom houses – the sort that young people often aspire to when seeking to bring up their new families (I’ve been there and ‘have the tee-shirt’). However, there have been only 17 new homes of that type built in the village over the past three years and, as we all know, many 2/3 bedroom homes have been redeveloped to become 4/5 bedroom homes so the actual number of available properties of this type has decreased rather than increased. So one could conclude that Mole Valley’s District Council’s policies to ensure a ‘good mix’ of house aren’t actually working.

  Death and taxes are two of the certainties of life, a third is getting older and that too has revealed huge shortcomings in Ashtead’s housing stock. Retirement properties tend to be smaller and are in short supply. Bungalows – an obvious target for those seeking to spend their retirement at ground level - are becoming even scarcer – particularly as many are seen as ‘land greedy’ and have been redeveloped with higher density lower cost housing – which many may argue in this debate is a positive outcome. Equally, developing sites for large executive houses could be seen as a negative outcome for such sites – it all depends on the site and the pros and cons of each development proposal.

  The ACV’s report suggests that building on Green Belt could help overcome the shortage problem but as we all know, that is highly controversial and some would say unnecessary as many higher density homes continue to emerge through redevelopment of sites – Warren Court on the A24 being one good example.

  The use of the term ‘crisis’ might be better focused on the issue of accommodation for those over 75 years of age as Ashtead, with its ageing population, has less than 50% of relevant guidelines concerning appropriate accommodation for this age group. So, without doubt, the Neighbourhood Development Forum is going to have to make some interesting calls when putting together its NDP which, of course, then has to be put to the local community for approval via a local referendum.

  You can find out more about ACV and the Forum’s work at: www.ashteadcommunityvision.org.uk/, www.facebook.com/pages/Ashtead-Community-Vision/, https://twitter.com/AcvComms

  John Morgan ACV member  


MOLE VALLEY POLICE - HOW BEST TO PROTECT YOUR HOME AGAINST BURGLARS.

When considering what to write about this month, it would have been so refreshing not to feel the need to focus on an issue that still continues to cause immense distress to people when it happens. I am speaking, of course, about burglaries of domestic dwellings - as well as thefts from garages, sheds, outbuildings and from motor vehicles.

  Sadly, it is so often the case with burglaries that many homes remain regrettably insecure. One in three burglars do not have to force their way in – they gain easy access through an insecure door or open window. In most, if not all, cases we find that access has been gained at the rear of a property at ground floor level. Even when rear windows and doors have been locked – but the keys have been left in the locks or clearly visible nearby - we have found that burglars have gained easy access simply by breaking some glass and turning the key!

  Whilst it is impossible to prevent this type of crime from happening in every situation, there is so much that householders can do to make their property a less attractive target to a would-be burglar. Apart from the obvious guidance to ensure that homes and property are locked up securely, it is often the case that a property that looks unoccupied is a more vulnerable target than a home that looks as if there is someone at home.

  That is why I emphasise, once again, the benefit of using timers to bring on lights when you are not at home. Ideally, you should have lights coming on in different rooms at different times to mirror, as much as possible, your normal patterns of movement. Basic timers are relatively inexpensive (I have seen three for £10 in one local DIY store recently) and can make a big difference in creating an impression of occupancy within a home.

  Also, I would reiterate that, as the dedicated Crime Reduction Advisor for Mole Valley, I can offer free, impartial and cost-effective advice that can help to protect your home and property and make it more secure. That is probably the most rewarding part of my job and I feel strongly that it is important to help people make their homes and property more secure and less vulnerable to being targeted by a burglar.

  All you have to do to contact me is to call 101 and ask to be put through to me by name. My extension number is 30809. Alternatively, you can call my direct line on 01483 630809 or email me at Neil.Clarke@surrey.pnn.police.uk . I always focus on practical advice that is cost-effective and relevant to each individual’s situation. I do not endorse specific companies but can guide you towards what should meet your needs.

    Neil Clarke, 13363. Crime Reduction Advisor - Eastern Division. PO Box 101, Guildford, Surrey GU1 9PE

    To contact Neil Clarke direct, please call:
Tel:  101 Extension 30809 or
01483 630809 / 07467 3367783 or email:
neil.clarke@surrey.pnn.police.uk

    To contact Surrey Police, telephone 101. In the event of a crime being in progress or in an emergency – call 999
For more crime prevention advice visit www.surrey.police.uk
Call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you have information about a crime and don't want to leave your name.    


SHOPMOBILITY LEATHERHEAD.

If you have difficulties with walking and are finding it a problem to go shopping, we may well have the solution for you. We are Shopmobility Leatherhead and we provide powered mobility scooters for people like you to use around Leatherhead town centre. The scooters are up-to-date, safe, comfortable and very easy to operate – you don’t need to have had any driving experience to be able to use them.

  We’re based on the second floor of the Swan Centre car park, where there are plenty of disabled parking spaces. Our office has a blue Shopmobility sign just outside. There you’ll find a friendly volunteer on duty who’ll show you the scooters and how to operate them. You can have as much time as you need to try them out within the car park before you venture into the town centre.

  The office is open from 11.00am to 2.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and this is when you can borrow scooters. Joining the scheme only involves completing a simple form, producing some proof of identity and paying £20.00 for your first year’s membership.

  We also have manual wheelchairs which members can hire for extended periods. You could use one of these at home if for example you have a temporary injury affecting your walking or you have a disabled relative or friend staying with you.

Our scheme is a registered charity staffed entirely by volunteers which has been running since 2003. Our members really appreciate the benefits. Here’s what one of our enthusiastic customers has to say:

  “The motorised scooters are very comfortable and easy to use and the independence they give you is amazing. My husband and I use them weekly and were virtually housebound until we heard of Shopmobility’s existence. You can generally take them into the shops and the shopkeepers and staff are very welcoming. You can call ahead to book your scooter and it will be waiting for you outside the office”.

  If you think that our scheme could help you why not drop in to the office? We’d be pleased to see you, to show you our scooters and to answer any questions you might have. Or please leave a message on 01372 362400 and we will return your call.