There were four public questions. The questions and responses were published in a supplement to the agenda.
James King thanked the council for the road works undertaken at the weekend and the response provided by the Cabinet Member. He further asked if the council was able to give a timeline on when UK Power Networks would have completed their part of the work and if possible, if other councillors and the local community could be kept informed of any progress. The Cabinet Member for Highways and Community Resilience explained that the council did not have the ability to refuse the emergency works on the highways but always negotiated with the utility companies to ensure high quality repairs were not dug up immediately.
In response to her main question, Jenny Desoutter asked the Cabinet Member how the operation at Sheepleas SSSI had been supervised and if the risk assessments undertaken were fit for purpose. The Cabinet Member for Environment stated that the decision to remove the trees at Sheepleas had not been taken lightly and had been supported by a number of partners including Natural England, Surrey Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and local ecological groups. The Cabinet Member explained that the council’s ambition was to plant trees and not take them down. Every tree was checked before being removed and the council ultimately had a public safety responsibility. The council had been informed that the dormice boxes were empty. When the one box had been found, the council referred itself to the rural police. The council would be reviewing the situation and would be holding workshops with relevant parties to understand what is being seen in the countryside.
In regards to his main question, Robert Whitcombe explained that Fetcham Residents Association (FRA) had missed the communications regarding the LCWIP consultation because of the death of their Chairman last year. The association welcomed the further consultation offered when specific cycling and walking infrastructure proposals were taken through feasibility and design stages. It was explained that shortly after the July 2022 Consultation on the Mole Valley LCWIP there had been two developments significant to the LCWIP and the extent that it served Fetcham. First, following sheet-piling work by Network Rail to strengthen an embankment alongside an important Footpath (16) linking Fetcham and Leatherhead and second, SES Water had generously agreed to a new combined footpath-cycleway across its land in Fetcham, which would by-pass the current footpath and provide a safer route with less impact on a Priority Habitat. The FRA recognised the LCWIP as a key planning tool to guide long term investment and asked the council that this new footpath-cycleway is factored into the "Final" Mole Valley LCWIP before sign off. The Cabinet Member for Transport, Infrastructure and Growth stated that FRA could submit any information they wanted as part of the LCWIP consultation prior to it going out to public consultation in the summer. The Cabinet Member also agreed to a follow up meeting with the FRA, Clare Curran and Tim Hall to discuss feasibility of the other proposals mentioned.