Epsom Phab is under threat due to actions being taken around the Linton Centre.
On Friday 16th December we found out that Surrey County Council had plans to sell the ‘long leasehold’ they have at the Linton Centre. The freehold is held by a development company (Linc Epsom Ltd). The long lease means that even if the owner develops the site – which they are planning to do – they have to provide a Youth club on the site unless they build a new, purpose built centre. If Surrey County Council sell the Lease back to the development company they do not have to provide a new centre and our club will have nowhere to meet. The decision to sell the lease was to be decided at a meeting of the Cabinet of Surrey County Council on Tuesday 20th December in a private section closed to the public.
Obviously we were keen to be represented at the meeting to at least hear what was going to be discussed, however with short notice and all of the adult volunteers at work, we couldn’t arrange it. However, this was not a problem because as soon as our members heard about it they decided to attend. They were outraged that nobody has asked the young people if it was OK to sell the centre. Zoe Giles checked with the local Youth Forum YELL but they hadn’t heard anything. Zoe contacted the council to ask if they could have their say at the meeting and the chairman agreed to waive the rules about giving 7 days notice to speak. 12 teenagers went to County Hall for the meeting, without any of the adult volunteers.
For the statement made by Zoe at the meeting, webcast and audio recording see the link ‘Cabinet Meeting’
At the same meeting on 20th December a decision was taken to introduce a new way of running Youth Centres across Surrey. Instead of the Linton Centre being run by Surrey County Council directly, it will be run by Surrey Youth Consortium. This may have in impact on the club from April 2012, both financially with potentially increased hire charges and with the services provided.
How Can you help?
Everybody who has been to visit our club is aware of the benefits it brings to the individuals and the wider community. We have already received some great support. Do you have any direct contacts with people who may be able to help – in Epsom, in Surrey, in campaigning, in the press? Please let us know and we can invite them to see Epsom Phab in action.
One way of ensuring that the Lintons Centre or an equivalent facility remains open in Epsom is for it to be used as much as possible so that we can clearly demonstrate its value to Surrey County Council. If you know of any group that might be interested in using such facilities, please encourage them to get in touch with us.
Are you able to write a few words/short piece on what the club means to your family? As we get a clearer idea of how the Task group will progress we may well ask you to submit your thoughts about the club to the appropriate decision makers.
We would be keen to understand the importance of continuity. We ensure club keeps running throughout the school holidays as we aware of how important it is to have the club available every week. In the past when the Linton Centre has been temporarily closed and we have had to meet at the Ebbisham Centre or Rainbow Centre this has caused a problem to some members. If the centre closes we want to ensure a new facility is provided before we have to move without a break in service.
Sign the petition
We have set up a petition for you to sign to express your support for Epsom Phab.
A paper copy is available if required.
Keep In touch:
We will endeavour to keep you in touch with progress via email and the website. We would like to keep members/young volunteers updated at the short meeting at the end of each club evening. This is important as they are key to the success of the campaign. It is the young people themselves who have already had a great impact. Please encourage members to stay for this brief update.
Click here for details on the background to the campaign
Thank you to all the parents who have introduced us to new supporters and written to share what Epsom Phab means to their family. Thank you to all the supporters who have come to visit our club.
In the media this week, we have had a great article in the Epsom Guardian. This has produced a lot of interest from members of the community sympathetic to our cause and keen to help us in our search for an alternative home for the club. As a result of the publicity, more families are aware of the services offered by the club and our waiting list has grown.
However, despite assurances by the SCC spokesman that ‘No provision will be lost’ we have been informed that one of the rooms at the Linton Centre, used each week for the youngsters to participate in inclusive dance and drama, is to be used as office space. Desks and office furniture have already been moved into the facility and one of our most popular activities has now been severely restricted.
We are very disappointed to report that we are still awaiting an invitation to the Steering Group being set up to monitor and consult on the centre.
Once again we have to report that we have yet to receive any written communication from Surrey County Council in respect of the decision to sell the Leasehold of the Centre.
In addition, an email sent by Zoe Giles, on behalf of the members on 20th December, has not yet received a response.
Our greatest concern was that we would only have only 12 months to find a replacement centre. Due to the lack of response from Surrey we may now have just 11 months.
Despite the lack of communication from Surrey County Council we continue to actively lobby a wide range of interest groups and are receiving a great deal of support, for which we are very grateful.
We are pleased to report that there has been some movement from Surrey County Council.
Zoe has received a response to her email to Surrey County Councillor Kay Hammond, asking how the young people would find out the final decision on the Linton Centre and the original question posed at Cabinet meeting in December (Why have you not listened to our views when deciding to sell the Linton Centre? ) as follows:
Thank you for your email concerning Lintons Youth Centre. I appreciate your concerns and can assure you that Surrey County Council is committed to securing suitable alternative premises for Services for Young People and other user groups providing for young people.
Surrey County Council is establishing a task group to identify options for re-provision. The task group will include Surrey County Council Members, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council Members, some user groups, young people, Surrey County Council officers and Epsom and Ewell Borough Council officers. The task group will also engage other organisations in its work to ensure wide involvement in the identification of future options.
The task group will start its work by mapping current provision and identifying future requirements. This mapping will include consideration of the facilities required by Services for Young People and other user groups providing for young people. The task group will also start to identify alternative options from an early stage and I would welcome any suggestions on this front. Consideration of alternative options will include available facilities, location and suitability for the range of users.
The task group will be planning its work with the expectation that there is sufficient time to identify options, plan and manage the transition of provision.
I am committed to the involvement of young people in these discussions and can assure you young people will be closely involved in the work of the task group.
We have now received an invite to the first meeting of the Task group on 5th March. Surrey are preparing a report on our needs to be reviewed at the Task Group. Representatives have visited to see the club in action and have been very impressed by what they've seen. Further visits are planned over the next few weeks. We have submitted our own statement of facilities requirements and a research paper supporting the work we do. These are both available on the link above. Thank you to all the parents who have written to share what Epsom Phab means to their family. These have also been submitted to the Council.
We are very grateful for the support we are receiving from members, families and the wider community, particularly the support over the last few weeks of local Councillors and the media.
Susie Kemp, Assistant Chief Executive at Surrey County Council, has visited to discuss the issues and understand the background. Susie will be chairing the Task Group set up to identify options for re-provision. We are looking forward to attending the first meeting of this group on 5th March.
On Friday evening Lavinia Sealy, Chairman of Surrey County Council and Eber Kington, Epsom Borough and Surrey County Councillor, visited our club. They were very impressed with what they saw. Eber commented on how sensibly and creatively the members use the freedom and independence they are given to move around the building and the activities.
If you would like to show your support for Epsom Phab please sign the petition:
If you would prefer a paper copy, please let us know.
Firstly, a huge ‘Thank You!’
Thanks to the parents who have written to express their support and share with us what Epsom Phab means to their family. Also, to the members, parents and volunteers who have shared the information regarding the Linton Centre across the community, with MPs, local businesses, newspapers, radio stations, schools and other community groups. We are creating an email list of those people who would like to keep in touch with what is happening.
In the media this week, we have had articles in the online Surrey Advertiser and the online Epsom Guardian plus they have sent a photographer for photos to support an article in their paper this week.
We have also had our opportunity to have our say on BBC Radio Surrey. For all articles/broadcasts in the media, see the link. ’Press Page’
During the Radio interview, Kay Hammond from Surrey County Council stated:
‘Lintons Lane site is going to be sold but the recommendation was very clear. The officers be authorised to identify and provide suitable and alternative accommodation for the Youth service and other users including Phab in full consultation with the service and relevant cabinet portfolio holders that ensure service continuity.’
This was the first time we had heard the decision from the meeting, despite Zoe (who spoke at the Cabinet meeting) having asked directly on 20th December to be informed of the outcome. We have yet to receive any written communication from Surrey County Council in respect to the decision.
Whilst extremely disappointed that Surrey County Council should have taken the decision without any consultation with the Young People, our greatest concern is that we may have only 12 months to find a replacement centre. This is not going to be easy. We need a site with floodlit facilities outside, a sports hall plus access to around 4 other rooms, large storage areas, in a secure environment without access from the general public – and of course it has to be totally accessible for people with a variety of needs. It has to be available on Friday evenings throughout the year including the holidays, close to Epsom Town centre, with plenty of parking and at a similar cost to the Linton Centre.
We await an invitation to the Steering Group being set up to monitor and consult on the centre.
We would like to assure all of you that despite the huge distraction of this threat to our club, your volunteers are continuing to provide a full and varied programme for the coming year. As well as meeting each Friday evening for the rest of the year (except Good Friday when we will be on Phab Holiday) we are planning a Jono Harvey sports evening in February, visit for the older members to see John Kelly in ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful the Musical’ at the Hackney Empire in March, Club Holiday to Bendrigg Lodge in the Lake District at Easter and several visits to the Paralympics in September. We also hope to have exciting news about a visit to Chessington World Of Adventures, a Phab Festival in the summer, Watersports day at Thames Young Mariners and club holiday in 2013.
Update 11th March for Parents, Members, Volunteers and Supporters
The first meeting of the Task Force took place on 5th March at Lintons Centre. It was chaired by Susie Kemp, the assistant Chief Executive of Surrey County Council (SCC) and was attended by representatives of all the user groups at the Lintons Centre as well as local councillors, youth workers and Frances Rutter, Chief Executive of Epsom and Ewell Borough Council.
Part of the meeting was used to brainstorm potential premises that could be used by the user groups instead of the Lintons Centre. Frank Offer from SCC will lead a review of these sites in order to determine which ones met the requirements of each of the user groups.
It was agreed that different solutions would be found for the different user groups though it was likely that the same solution would suit both Disability Challenge and Epsom and Ewell PHAB. It was also recognised that finding a solution for these groups would be the hardest and hence should take priority.
It was agreed that a meeting between SCC, Disability Challenge and Epsom and Ewell PHAB to discuss a short list of potential sites, would be held before Easter (expected to be on 26th March). A meeting of the full Task Force will be scheduled for the beginning of May (expected to be 9th May). The dates of these two meetings will be agreed by the end of next week (16th March). They will be held at the Lintons Centre, starting at 6.30pm.
It was recognised that finding a solution for Epsom and Ewell PHAB by the end of May would allow good time for transition to the new premises and the group undertook to make every endeavour to achieve this.
Update 8th January for Parents, Members and Volunteers
We are still trying to find out exactly what has happened. It appears that the decision may still be to sell the Linton Centre and it may have already been sold despite the young people’s representation. As a result of the meeting, Surrey County Council are setting up a Task group to monitor and consult about the centre. However, we have not yet been invited to anything.
Update 20th April for Parents, Members, Volunteers and Supporters
Here is an update on the Task force meetings :
We've had some further meetings with Surrey County Council to discuss likely long term solutions and the one option that is emerging is the Harriers Centre in Ewell. This has many advantages including an existing floodlit area and appropriate parking. However it would require some work to reconfigure the existing rooms and to extend the Centre so that it is not only large enough to accommodate us but also to provide some new facilities for the local community. There are a number of steps that need to be completed before this can become a reality including applying for and receiving planning permission from Epsom and Ewell Council (who also own the site), securing the funds and then completing the works. Consequently the Harriers Centre may not be ready by the end of the year, when we would have to leave the Lintons Centre. Surrey County Council are therefore investigating whether we could use one of several possible local school sites as a temporary home, keeping the impact on PHAB to a minimum. Our next meeting is scheduled for 16th May to discuss the various options which are now being worked up in more detail
We are delighted that the change submitted by Courtney in the National Union Of Students ‘I Am The Change’ competition - to ensure an accessible Youth club facility in Epsom - has been chosen as the National winner!
A group of our members and young volunteers spent a very interesting and inspiring day at the NUS learning how to ensure the vision is turned in to reality. Courtney has been invited to speak at the NUS conference in Sheffield next week – a real opportunity to spread the word about Phab nationally. Thank you to all of those of you who voted for the change.
You may be interested in watching the attached video on YouTube ‘So Much More Than A Friday Night’ which expresses how many people feel about our club. If you enjoy it, please do pass it on to your friends.
Thank you all once again for your continued support…
Update 21st May for Parents, Members, Volunteers and Supporters
Here is an update on the Task force meetings :
We had a good meeting with Surrey County Council on 16 May at which several PHAB members gave a great presentation on potential new sites that we could move to. Three were identified, the Harriers, NESCOT and Horton Chapel. All of these have the potential to provide a future home for PHAB but will require varying degrees of development to make them suitable.
Surrey County Council officers are now working to gain the appropriate approvals for the agreed way forward and we will be able to give you a further update in a few weeks time once these have hopefully been given.
Thank you to all the members who put so much effort into developing the presentation and representing the club so well on the 16th
Save Epsom Phab Update 9
The trustees and representatives of the young people at Epsom Phab have been working with the Surrey County Council task group since March to find alternative sites for Phab to meet. To date, the group has failed to find any alternative sites that are readily available. However it did identify 3 sites, an extension of the Harriers in Ewell, a remodelling of an area at NESCOT and a conversion of Horton Chapel. SCC has agreed to negotiate with the Lintons Centre's buyer to push back the deadline for vacating Lintons but so far has only reached agreement to allow an extension to 31st March 2013. None of the identified options could be made suitable within this time frame.
Phab therefore still has no guaranteed home.
However, the Epsom Town Centre development plan, Plan E (recently approved after extensive consultation) clearly states that any redevelopment of the Lintons Centre must include a reprovision of the facilities currently provided, somewhere on the current Lintons Lane Site. As no alternative site can be confirmed, the young people have stated to the Task Group that they are requesting SCC to honour its obligation under Plan E to delay the sale of its interests in the Lintons Centre until a reprovision of these facilities on the site has been agreed.
They have told SCC that we are staying at the Lintons Centre.
The young people will be presenting the petition to the next Cabinet meeting, where they will also make a speech.
Please do all you can to circulate and encourage people to sign the online petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-epsom-phab/
Save Epsom Phab Update 10
The young people from Phab presented a petition to the SCC Cabinet on 24th July. For the statement made by Zoe at the meeting and the webcast see the link ‘Cabinet Meeting’
In a pre-prepared response to the presentation of the petition, without listening to the views given or answering the questions , Cllr Kay Hammond stated that SCC would be selling the lease in the next few weeks. She indicated that the date we would need to vacate the Linton Centre had been pushed back to December 2013.
Kay Hammond also stated that an alternative venue had been found and that it would be Nescot. The development at NESCOT is almost entirely funded by a central government grant with the purpose of expanding the facilities available in Epsom and Ewell rather than just replacing those currently available at Lintons. Reviewing the option to use Nescot is at the very early stages and in no way can be considered to be a confirmed way forward meeting the assurance that Cllr Hammond gave earlier this year of ‘ensuring service continuity’. Indeed, the haste with which the sale is to be agreed compared to the rate at which the options have been considered over the past few months is astounding. It took SCC 10 weeks to simply set up the first task group meeting. There was no acknowledgement in the statement from Cllr Hammond that signatures had been received from 760 people. The young people feel that there was a complete lack of respect for their views and an unwillingness to engage in genuine consultation.
In her speech Zoe refers to Plan E , the local plan for Epsom Town Centre which was agreed in 2011 and states
The Council will work in partnership with Surrey County Council and the landowner to ensure that community uses are retained on site, either in their current form, or as part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the wider site. (Policy E15)
Despite raising this at a Task group meeting on 10th July and specifically asking for a response, we have not had any explanation from SCC about how they intend to meet their commitments under Plan E. In Kay Hammond’s statement after Zoe's speech she made no reference to Plan E. We do not believe it is appropriate that SCC is ignoring Plan E . Zoe has written directly to Cllr Hammond, asking for a prompt response so that she can share it with all of you.
Save Epsom Phab Update 11
Parents, Members, Volunteers and Supporters,
First, we would like to confirm that the date on which we have now been told that we need to leave the Linton Centre is December 2013.
At the Cabinet meeting on 24th July 2012 Cllr Kay Hammond stated that Nescot would be an alternative venue for Phab due to a Central Government grant of £1.3Million towards a new education facility for Learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. Cllr David Hodge, leader of the council, has also written to everyone who has sent a ‘Save Epsom Phab’ postcard to him indicating the same. They have stated that on that basis they will sign away the lease of the Linton Centre.
However, we have now met with NESCOT and representatives from SCC and seen the final plans for the LLDD centre, on which the £1.3 million grant would be spent. Although it will be a great addition to NESCOT, we came to a joint agreement that it would not be suitable for Phab. There is no large area in which the young people could participate in sports, dance or drama. The proposed outside area would not be linked to the LLDD centre.
We discussed other alternatives on the NESCOT site but although they have potential, they are currently just ideas. We are working closely with SCC and NESCOT to evaluate these as quickly as possible to establish, by the end of October, whether they represent a way forward.
As such, we believe that it is not reasonable for a member decision to be taken to sell the Linton’s Centre at this stage and have asked Kay Hammond for her views.
We have also met with Chris Grayling MP, who has agreed to facilitate a face-to-face meeting between Phab and Kay Hammond, which is what we will need to do if they are insistent on signing away the Lease even though there is no re-provision identified.
Saved Epsom Phab - Update 12
We are delighted to announce that a new home has been secured for our club from December 2013.
Following intensive discussions with Nescot and Surrey County Council we have been able to agree a fantastic area for Epsom Phab to meet every Friday evening at Nescot (College for Further Education) on Reigate Road, Ewell. On Thursday 22nd November the young people from Epsom Phab made a further visit to County Hall and have secured funding of over £0.5 Million from Surrey County Council for this scheme. The building work and adaptations will ensure the area meets the criteria they stated a year ago:
very safe, particularly for members with learning difficulties so it cannot be shared with members of the public
A variety of indoor spaces including a big sports hall
A big area outside for inclusive sports and events
In a good location in Epsom
Affordable so that everyone can attend despite money issues
Ideally the club requires a larger outside area than is currently allocated, however, Surrey have agreed to continue to work with the club in securing funding and planning to allow this further development to happen.
Nescot have been extremely welcoming and together we hope to increase the activities and opportunities available to young people at the club on Friday evenings.
We'll be announcing how you can get involved in helping with our move to NESCOT in the near future.
We need to thank so many people for their hard work in making this happen and over the following weeks and months we will be sure to do this.
However, top of the list have to be the young people who have worked so hard for the past year. Zoe Giles, Courtney Giles, Sophie Golding, Luke Giles and Joe Gallagher have led a great team of activists who have remained so positive, despite numerous frustrations and have achieved a great victory.
Thanks to all of you for your help and support over this difficult time.
You can all now proudly say ‘I Saved Epsom Phab’
For the latest article in the Epsom Guardian (written shortly before the day of the decision) please clic