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Effingham Eye: Normality Creeps Back, Together With Its Problems

Published on: 12 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 15 Jun, 2020

Following recent events in Effingham (click here) Chris Dick offers his personal view on another Gypsy or Traveller incursion, the ongoing joys of video conferencing and how villagers pulled together to open a new convenience store.

Travellers encamp on development site

On Tuesday, May 17, there was another Traveller incursion, this time onto Effingham Lodge Farm (ELF), opposite the Howard of Effingham School off Lower Road. About 15 caravans and sundry other vehicles spread out in small groups around much of the site.

Travellers at Effingham Lodge Farm, Lower Road, Effingham

Berkeley Homes own the site which has outline planning approval for 160 homes and a 2,000-pupil secondary school.

The usual protracted process of evicting the travellers from private land started with Guildford Borough Council fixing a notice outside the entrance to the old farmland. Then somewhat unexpectedly, Surrey Police told the travellers to leave ELF by 0900 hours on Thursday, May 28 or face immediate eviction.

Using police powers to move the travellers on is an unusual action and may have been prompted on the grounds of public health.

Running north/south, alongside the Vineries Garden Centre, there is a public footpath which can be made out in the above photo between a group of trailers and the glasshouses. The path is said to have been used by the Travellers as an open latrine and has had to be closed.

Yet again, it seems, Gypsies or Travellers have failed to observe the simplest of hygienic practices. Two years ago, this happened on Effingham Common and again close by on the King George V recreation grounds. Guildford council sent a team to clear much of the waste on the common, but local residents, including Effingham Parish councillors, cleared the faeces and burnt the rubbish.

Surely digging a latrine hole and covering up is not difficult. But leaving human waste for others to clear up is disgusting, disrespectful and a health risk to all, including the travellers and their own families. The majority of the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) community would not dream of behaving like this.

Not many years ago Gypsies sought and were granted use of Effingham Common to stay for a couple of weeks every year during the Epsom Derby. It’s hard to imagine any council granting permission in today’s world with the rubbish and human excrement costing thousands of pounds to clear up after these visits.

What does Malta, Margate and East Horsley have in common?

Social distancing has brought a strange benefit to many, near and far.

St Lawrence Church Effingham remains closed

On Sunday, May 31, at least 65 people came together from as far afield as the island of Malta for a Zoom service.

Young and old joined Revd Mandy MacVean for what was for some, an unusual church service, conducted from the Effingham rectory, supported musically from a family in Margate and managed by another family who actually live in Effingham.

To see people in their home-surrounds created a feeling of camaraderie. The atmosphere was enhanced by including one of the very elderly members of the congregation, bedridden and supported by a carer. And yet quietly in the background was Ming, the rectory Siamese cat, who clearly wanted her breakfast and was not prepared to be silent until her wishes were fulfilled.

Muting of the congregation was both frequent and essential. The final verse of each hymn was a free-for-all and, as one member of the congregation said afterwards: “It sounded like badly made scrambled egg.” That was being generous.  Group singing didn’t fair too well but the Leonard Cohen solo by Moragh (the Margate contingent) was truly magnificent.

If you would like to join in on Sunday and be greeted by Revd Mandy between 0945-0955 hours, Zoom in with Meeting ID: 950 053 4101 and Password: 695933. You would be most welcome.

Other groups also use Zoom

As reported before, Effingham Parish Council is now proficient in using Zoom.

Its Annual Meeting went off without a hitch (May 26). Before the usual items about planning, highways and other matters got underway, the chairman and vice-chairman were re-elected and much of the meeting was devoted to the roles of councillors and financial matters.

The dates for all monthly council meetings for the year ahead were agreed. The latter can be found on the agenda. It is interesting to note that EPC has been given approval to continue holding meetings using video conferencing technology until 2021.

Similarly, Effingham Residents Association held its AGM using Zoom (May 28). It was a pity that there was no guest speaker this year. But the meeting was well-chaired and lasted half an hour before general questions time.

Travellers’ incursion on Effingham Lodge Farm. Picture taken shortly before they departed.

Much of the latter was centred around the latest traveller incursion at ELF. In fact, the travellers had all departed that morning and Berkeley Homes had secured the property against further incursions.

Normality creeps back into village life

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions it was good to see Loolabell’s kiosk reopen for refreshments. The kiosk’s new look was welcoming. New shutters, a new roof and effective social distancing arrangements have gone down well with residents.

That said, the King George V car park, which serves a range of users including Loolabell’s customers, wisely remains closed. (See above regarding traveller incursion). Large tree trunks have been placed immediately in front of the entrances to reinforce the gates.

One or two users of the grounds have complained, but the trustees appear to have sensibly weighed up the access to the car park versus the inevitable legal action and clean-up costs in the event of an incursion.

The Community Store

It’s good to see the new temporary village store breathing some much-needed life back into the shopping parade after the fire closed the supermarket and butcher’s.

Volunteer storekeeper Paddy MacVean seen here ready to welcome customers

We hope to welcome back Layla’s Cafe owners when it reopens in early July. At this point, it’s expected the temporary community store will move to the church hall.

A community store spokesperson said: “We’ve talked about this and the best option would be for us to move to the St Lawrence Church Hall. There are pros and cons in going there. Good parking and a defined entry and exit making social distancing easier.

“On the other hand, we must expect the original hall-users to wish to return there after restrictions are lifted. But the community shop is very popular so we will try to keep it going until Bala reopens his Village Supermarket, hopefully sometime  in September.”

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