Over the next few days, residents, community groups, church communities and local businesses will be putting the finishing touches to their plans for the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III & Queen Camilla.
For most of us, this will be the first coronation in our lifetimes. It provides a wonderful opportunity to get together with our friends, family, and neighbours, and to share in the joy and jubilation that comes with such a glorious occasion. Do take this opportunity to check in on your neighbours who might feel lonely over the bank holiday weekend, to see if they would like to get involved in your celebrations.
I’ll be heading to every corner of East Surrey over the long weekend to take part in as many Big Lunches, street parties and volunteering events as possible. I hope our celebrations mirror the fantastic community spirit that was on show during Her Late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee last year.
Many of us will know Sir Richard Stilgoe from his fantastic collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, but for 25 years he has been helping to run the equally fantastic Orpheus Centre in Bletchingley to boost the confidence, skills, and self-esteem of young people with disabilities.
When I visited the centre recently I saw first-hand how much it means to its students, who often need a bit of extra support with their learning. Sir Richard mentioned that when the students perform in shows, they will be beaming with joy and walk off stage feeling ten inches taller – what a wonderful way to leave your mark on the world. I couldn’t be more proud to have such a stellar organisation in our community.
I also visited the UK’s premier bonsai tree nursery, which is right on our doorstep on the outskirts of Lingfield. Over the past forty years, Peter Chan has developed Herons Bonsai into an oasis – now complete with a fantastic community room for hire which looks out onto their perfectly pruned Japanese garden. Peter has also become somewhat of an internet sensation over the last few years, where he has been sharing his expertise with a global audience of millions on YouTube – and welcoming visitors from all over the world. I couldn’t resist walking away with a bonsai of my own, but whether I can keep it healthy for long is a different matter…
This year’s bidding round for funding through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is now open and closes on 12th May. The CIL is a charge on new development in order to fund infrastructure improvements and reduce their impact on the local area, and local community groups can submit an expression of interest form to apply for a portion of the £2 million available. All the details can be found on the Tandridge District Council website.
Finally, the campaign against the ULEZ had its first big win recently, when the High Court ruled that there is sufficient evidence that the Mayor of London’s expansion plans may have been unlawful. This came after Surrey County Council united with four other councils to launch a legal challenge against the scheme. Surrey residents were not consulted on the scheme yet could face a daily charge of £12.50 just for driving to hospital or to do their weekly shop, so I will be following the outcome of the trial closely.