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Letter: Background to the Extended Closure Of Effingham’s KGV Car Park

Published on: 31 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 31 Jul, 2020

James Nicholls displays the grinder he used to cut the chains.

From Howard Manton

Effingham Village Recreational Trust

In response to: Angry Resident Cuts Chains That Kept Effingham’s KGV Car Park Closed

I will not comment on this specific issue for legal reasons, but residents should understand the background to the lengthy car park closure and the ongoing risk reviews by the trustees, often at extremely short notice. Some of what happened has been explained in a post on the EFFRA website, but a fuller description might help residents realise the trustees were not being deliberately difficult in preventing access to the car park.

With hindsight, would we have done things differently? Of course, but the trustees took decisions based on the facts as they presented themselves at the time. Our intention is always to enable residents of Effingham to enjoy access to the grounds and to use the car park.
When the Traveller incursion occurred at Effingham Lodge Farm, the trustees acted to secure KGV. The risk review involved considerable volumes of email and Zoom exchanges due to the lockdown making face-to-face meetings impossible.
We knew the chain on the main gate was not a significant deterrent to a determined intruder and the wooden gates at the entrance off the A246 were weak. We considered the inevitable anger by residents about an incursion and paid for heavy logs to be placed across the entrances.
The trustees obtained various quotes to install extra security, retractable bollards behind the main car park gate to be raised in the event of an imminent threat and replacing the wooden gates off the A246 with a heavy-duty steel gate and pedestrian entry.
An application was made to the Police and Crime Commissioner for a grant to offset some costs because EVRT does not have the funds for such an exceptional expense.
In mid-June, after the Travellers had been moved on, we considered removing the logs. But then, a break-in at the garage resulted in theft of equipment and a resident witnessed a night-time attempt to cut the chain on the lock to the main gate. So the trustees decided it was still not safe to open the car park and to retain the logs in place.
On June 19, a grant was agreed by Surrey PCC and the order for the bollards and heavy-duty gate was placed which was said to take three to four weeks. Due to the Epsom Derby week in early July and further potential threat of Traveller incursion, the trustees decided to keep the car park closed.
The bollard installation was scheduled for July 13 and the logs were removed. But due to manufacturer delays caused by the lockdown, the installation date was put back twice.
If the trustees had known that the installation would not take place until July 23, we would probably have re-opened the car park on July 13 and then managed the subsequent disruption to residents of a later closure.
On July 21, the manager of KGV posted on the EFFRA website that the gate would be open on Saturday the 25th. On July 22, an Effingham resident cut the chains, padlocks and gate with an angle grinder.
In recent weeks, some trustees and staff have faced verbal abuse and online attacks about the car park closure. The trustees are all volunteers who give up many hours of their time to make KGV a treasured asset to the community. The trustees and manager are constantly risk-assessing and no end of threats and dangers are averted before they can become real without residents ever realising.
Sometimes, as here, difficult decisions need to be taken, balancing the need to keep the site safe, as against temporary inconvenience, with an eye always on minimising expenditure.
EVRT is creating a new website, again a job requiring an immense amount of time and effort by volunteers. The timing of having no website to publicise news is very unfortunate but not of our doing. Once the new site is up and running, the trustees plan to be in more regular communication with residents to explain developments.
At present, the trustees are considering how to make the Hall safe for future use while complying with government guidelines. This is also a laborious and time-consuming task, but we are nearly there.
To repeat, we would have done things differently if we had known about the delays. But that is with the benefit of hindsight. We are sorry for the inconvenience but want to stress that the wonderful grounds at KGV have remained open throughout and have been maintained to a high standard for the enjoyment of all residents. We are grateful for the expressions of support we have received.

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test One Response to Letter: Background to the Extended Closure Of Effingham’s KGV Car Park

  1. Jana and Derek Sims Reply

    August 1, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    I would like to thank all the trustees of KGV for their caring and successful support of our playing fields.

    They are much appreciated.

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