Many local residents will be aware of the Lower Mole Countryside Project and the good work it achieves through volunteers to maintain, preserve and enhance some of the best parts of our local countryside. including Epsom and Ashtead Commons.
For may years the Project has been funded by a number of local authorities working in partnership. Surrey County Council has taken the lead with the largest single contribution and also by dealing with the HR and payroll aspects for the small number of paid employees without whom the project could not function.
As part of the recent budget process, two of the authorities concerned, namely Kingston-upon-Thames and, more significantly, Surrey County Council, have, without any prior consultation with their partner authorities, cut their funding allocations to the project. That is bad enough, but the project could continue, albeit somewhat curtailed, without this funding. What is worse is a plan by Surrey to withdraw from “hosting” the project – that is they wish to cease the administrative work involved in employing the staff. This is on the pretext of saving costs, although such a saving would be minimal if it exists at all because what difference would four fewer employees make to Surrey’s payroll workload? Surrey think that the administration should be transferred to a Charity – but there is no suitable charity available, and clearly no such charity could be formed in the short timescale envisaged by the budget review.
If you agree with us that this plan should be scrapped (even if the funding cuts continue) to enable the Lower Mole Project to survive, please sign the online petition at http://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/Countryside. The deadline is 2 June 2011.