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Friends of Epsom Town : Join us on Monday 23rd July, 7.30pm, Epsom Methodist Church

June 7, 2012 2:40 PM
Epsom town

Epsom Town

Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrat councillors are to launch a Friends of Epsom Town group. Suggested in the Portas report, they hope to facilitate a new group with its remit to be an important consultee on the economy of Epsom Town and possibly Ewell Village and other shopping parades in the Borough. Chief Executive Frances Rutter will be the one of the main speakers at the event to be held on Monday 23rd July at 7.30pm at Epsom Methodist Church.

The council has recently been awarded a £100,000 grant by central government to be used to reinvigorate the economy and there's soon to be a new Business Forum bringing together all key traders. The hope is to encourage key businesses to match the grant which would mean £200,000 to invest.

The Lib Dems have always wanted to appoint a Town Centre Manager, a post suggested in Plan E - the long-term planning document concerning the town centre. There are signs that the grant could help fund such a post.

Councillors say that a great deal of effort has gone into promoting the market but would like to see more. Other issues which the new group could address might be pedestrianisation of part of the town centre, changes to car parking .... the topics are endless.

The meeting is open to everyone. Friends of Epsom Town will not be a political group - and it won't be run by the Lib Dems who merely wish to facilitate its launch, much as they did with Local Agenda 21 some 10 years ago. The hope is that individual residents will step up to the mark and drive the organisation forward.

Cllr Julie Morris said "There are a number of Friends groups already and we hope that many of those people will be interested in a new entity dealing entirely with our economic situation and restoring its vitality. We have a University in Epsom but how many shops are geared toward this trade? We have 'Friends of Parks' groups and 'Friends of The Parade' : hopefully some of those people are keen to have their say on Epsom. Some Friends groups only pop up when there's an issue but our economic vitality and sustaining it is a permanent issue and Friends of Epsom Town could be a key consultee when it comes to spending the grant money. Businesses have their say, but there's nothing for individual people who shop and visit. We need to have their ideas and know what they want and how we can encourage more people to use our shops."

Cllr Alison Kelly, councillor for Epsom Town, added "There are differences of opinion on how the night-time economy should be managed. There's no real opportunity for the people of say, northern Ewell, to have their say on the principal town in their borough. We want people from Ewell to come to this meeting as well and tell us what they think. How can we attract better shops and more people to use them. It really doesn't matter where you live, as a resident of the area you are welcome to become a Friend of Epsom"

The market place has been well used in the past year and the Sunday markets are still being developed. A speaker has been invited to the meeting who will be able to advise what plans are in store for the market place for the next 12 months.