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Leisure centre plans in Egham

A swimming pool is to be constructed at the Egham Leisure Centre as well as a health spa. This could be happening soon if the Runnymede Borough Council signs an agreement needed for the project to come to life. This is a regeneration project that will be located at the site of the current building. This project is being planned by the Council and the experienced Places for People. The current Leisure Centre will remain open until the new one is fully constructed.

This project is expected to transform the town centre in Egham. The Council is currently carrying out keen consultations about town centre developments. It is only through consultations that the first phase of the project will be set out. The project has received a lot of support from different people. For instance the Group director of the Place-making and Regenerations at Places for People, Mary Parsons, said that this is a great example of how capital investments can be made by the Council with an aim to improve the facilities of the people in the town as well as create a profitable investment.

<p>Places for People is the right partner for the council to work with because they bring years of experience in the designing and making of mixed tenure and missed use developments. The Chief Executive of the Runnymede Borough Council Mr. Paul Turrell said that Places for People is experienced in both national and local projects having worked with other Surrey boroughs and he is glad that they will be working on this project. This company is one of the UK’s largest development and regenerations as well as property and leisure management companies. It is a not-for-dividend company and therefore is the perfect partner for a public project.

Also to be involved in the project is the company currently running the Leisure Centre, Achieve Lifestyle. A programme has been created which will ensure that the current centre they manage will remain operational till the new one is completed. In the new centre there will be many state of the art facilities including a swimming pool.

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HLF awarded a grant to Royal Holloway

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently awarded a grant to Royal Holloway, University of London. The grant amounts to £485,500 and will serve the ambitious Citizens project. Citizens is a £1 million project that aims to inform the populace of what is means to be a citizen. It has been developed from a partnership between Royal Holloway College, Egham Museum, and The Magna Carta School.

The project will take users on a history journey by employing community engagement activities, support materials, and digital resources. It will touch on some of the major historical events including but not limited to the sealing of the Magna Carta and the suffragettes. Through this, Royal Holloway College and the University of London hopes to better inform the citizens about the history of reforms, protests, and liberty. As such, they will be able to understand how these and other aspects shaped their lives as they are today.

The Principal of Royal Holloway College, Professor Paul Layzell reiterated the importance of the project to the institution’s history. He pointed out that the two founders of Royal Holloway College were themselves social reformers who sought to provide higher education opportunities to women. He added that higher learning is key to personal liberty, freedom of speech and recognising civil responsibilities.

The Citizens project’s goal is to further the education that commenced following Magna Carta celebrations in 2016. Other institutions that support the project include The Historical Association, The AQA Exam board, The History of Parliament Trust, People’s History Museum, The Parliamentary Archives and the National Justice Museum among others. The University will host an annual Festival of History beginning in June 2017.

The Citizens project will oversee the development of a number of forums and resources for discussing, debating and learning. These will include an educational website with video resources as well as a network of regional researchers and museum partners. Moreover, Constitutional Conventions will be held where the youth will be tasked with drafting clauses for a present-day Magna Carta after extensive debate. The drafts will be exhibited in the Supreme Court.

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Airtrack Update – Withdrawing

BAA today announced that they are withdrawing the application to build Airtrack,  citing   “concerns raised by local residents about the impact of Airtrack… including level crossings”   and  a failure  “to develop solutions which fully address these concerns”. 

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Airtrack Update February 2015

The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon. Philip Hammond,  who is also MP for Runnymede (and Weybridge) speaking to the Runnymede Business Partnership on 04 February  confirmed that Airtrack could not go forward in its current form if it led to an increase in down-times of Egham Level Crossings.  

Mr Hammond had met with Borough and County Councillors from the ruling party, highways representatives,  Network Rail,  BAA and the Rail regulator at the end of January.  Possible solutions were explored,  including abandoning the SouthWestern route. 

BAA have announced that it will be several months before they have made a decision about whether to proceed with the project.  However, it does not appear that any viable solutions were identified.   The option of improving the signalling regime to reduce down-time per train remains the Minister’s preferred solution, but he did not state whether Network Rail and the Regulator could see any way to achieving this.    

Mr Hammond was asked whether he would introduce legislation to redress the imbalance in rights between road and railway at level crossings, and although he wanted to change the balance, he did not plan to introduce primary legislation to effect this.

Mr Hammond also confirmed that he stood by every word of his article in the Staines and Egham News, in which he described BAA’s offer of  £ 11 million to Surrey County Council as a bribe.  

 

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Postponed by Department of Transport

The Airtrack website announces that Department of Transport has postponed the inquiry again. So there is even less excuse for Surrey CC to take the decision to withdraw their objection now. Once they’ve withdrawn it is probably irrevocable. Please write asking them not to

On 30 November the Cabinet of Surrey County Council (SCC) will meet and decide whether they want to withdraw the objection to Airtrack.

SCC have been negotiating with BAA what they describe as “a package of measures” which will not address the main objection to Airtrack, but will make it financially beneficial to withdraw the objection.

Although a feasibility study has demonstrated that a tunnel is technically feasible under the railway line at Vicarage Road, to replace Pooley Green level crossing, Surrey County Council’s Highways Department has said that it will not alleviate congestion in Egham because their (selective and incomplete) traffic modelling report appears to show that traffic from outside the area will be attracted if a tunnel is built.

SCC Highways have therefore been negotiating with BAA a deal where, for £ 11million, SPECIFICALLY NOT TO BE SPENT ON A TUNNEL, they will withdraw the objection, saving BAA from a proper public examination of the disaster that will engulf Egham.

The TWA rules allow negotiation to find solutions to problems that a project might cause. In the case of Airtrack the payments offered by BAA solve SCC’s 5-year-old problem of how to pay for work that is needed at the Runnymede Roundabout, which are not caused by Airtrack.

Surrey Highways call the package “A Good Deal for Surrey”. It is certainly a good deal for Surrey County Council and their Highways budget, but not a good deal for the people of Surrey, and a disaster for the people of Egham.

We need to persuade SCC that they are not acting in the best interests of Egham in withdrawing the objection.

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Airtrack Update – Save Our town

A petition signed by 969 people was been formally presented to Surrey County Council, appealing to the Council not to withdraw its objection to Airtrack. The petition was started by Egham residents outraged by the news that BAA had offered the Council £ 11.4 million in exchange for withdrawing its Objection when the public inquiry considers the project.

Airtrack is the project, sponsored by BAA / Heathrow Airport ltd to build a railway link between Heathrow and Staines, providing direct rail links to the airport from Waterloo, Guildford and Reading. If built, the project will result in 8 extra trains an hour between Virginia Water (where the Guildford and Reading lines merge) and Staines, doubling the number of trains passing through the 4 level crossings in Egham. Local residents are furious that the Council has been negotiating with BAA for money to reduce congestion at the Runnymede roundabout, which links the M25 to the A30, but has no plans or proposals to prevent 3 Egham level crossings being closed for 30 to 45 minutes per hour.

Residents and businesses in Egham have been campaigning since 2008 a bridge or tunnel in Egham if Airtrack goes ahead.

Surrey County Council now claim that though technically feasible, a tunnel cannot be financially justified by the saving in waiting time and have proposed withdrawing the objection in exchange for funding from BAA for their longstanding project to reduce congestion at the Runnymede Roundabout.

Please ring or write urgently to Council Leader Cllr. Andrew Povey and to the cabinet member for Transport Cllr. Ian Lake appealing to them not to take this irrevocable step.

The full County Council has to endorse any decision. Full Council meets next on 22 March 2011. Please contact your councillors to emphasise the damage to Egham of allowing the project to go ahead without a tunnel in Egham.

Before then we would like you to complete our surveys: for local residents and for people who work in the area.

Please help to save our town.

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Airtrack update – Local Area Committees

On 28 September Surrey CC agreed that their Local Area Committees should consult further before the plan to withdraw the objection is voted for by the meeting of the full council (80 members) in December.
On 07 October the MP for Egham, Philip Hammond, wrote in his column in the Staines and Egham News that “the amount of barrier down-time at these crossings is already intolerable, and the increase that Airtrack would entail is a show-stopper for this scheme”. Solutions will be costly. “But a solution there must be if the scheme is to go ahead. No solution, no scheme”.
He was, he says “dismayed when Surrey County Council made a serious error of judgement in grabbing a £11million bribe laid on the table by the scheme promoters…”. As a local MP with a constituency interest, Mr Hammond must leave any ministerial decisions about Airtrack to others, but Runnymede Councillors have been assured by Mr Hammond that the Department for Transport will look carefully at the model that was used by Surrey C.C. to justify its proposal.
Egham Chamber of Commerce is concerned that the model used is not adequate to reflect the complexity of the situation in Egham, where the level crossing downtimes impose costs not only on drivers (congestion costs) but also on residents, pedestrians, home-owners, businesses, employers, educational institutions and users of the emergency services, health services and public transport. We are reassured that the task of assessing this will be done by the Department for Transport.
it is to be hoped that BAA / Airtrack and Surrey County Council will both realise than when the Secretary of State for Transport takes a personal interest in the flaws in their scheme, these have to be remedied.

Airtrack Update, 02 October 2010
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet will recommend that Councillors should withdraw their objection to Airtrack at the Council’s meeting in December, in return for a contribution of £ 11.4 million towards highways improvements in the Egham area.
In a concession to the people who will be most badly affected, the Council’s “Local Area Committees” and the environment and transport select committees will be consulted before December, but the cabinet is not required to take any notice of their discussions. (Dates for the Local Area Committee meetings should be on SCC’s website) Surrey has modelled the traffic flows that they expect after Airtrack is built. According to the model, which is an approved Department of Transport model, the tunnel therefore cannot be justified, since the cost of a tunnel will exceed the monetary benefits of reducing additional congestion in Egham caused by Airtrack.
The council’s report does not state whether any other benefits were modelled. SCC’s cabinet member for transport has stated that the data input into the model was not derived entirely from Airtrack’s figures, but Surrey’s transport department has conceded that the downtimes in Egham which were provided by Airtrack are based on a best-case theoretical timetable which is unlikely to be achievable in practice.
Surrey have conceded that the money offered by Airtrack will not reduce queues and waits at Egham’s level crossings, but they hope that by making improvements to roads around Egham, they can reduce average congestion (for people who aren’t actually in or visiting the town). They intend to spend a significant amount on the long-delayed work to improve the Runnymede Roundabout, which will help traffic between the M25, the A30 and Windsor.
At the meeting on 28 September, cabinet member (and local resident) Cllr Mary Angell spoke out to demand that full transparency from the Transport department so that the information in the model can be examined, and the county councillors for Egham Hythe and for Englefield Green both made strong cases that the situation in Egham would be unacceptable if this policy was followed.
We expect that Runnymede Borough Council will look at the model outputs and conclude that they should come to the same decision, to withdraw their objection in order to save the money that would be spent presenting Egham’s case at the public inquiry. So far we don’t know whether this is on the agenda for RBC, and if so when they will debate the matter.
Egham Chamber of Commerce will continue to lobby Surrey County Council strongly to continue to fight for mitigation measure which will actually help local residents and businesses in the town, rather than taking Airtrack’s money to make it easier for outsiders to bypass the town.