Fringe Box



Letter: Chantries Campsite Remains Closed Despite Council Leader’s Claim

Published on: 6 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 6 Mar, 2019

Chantries Camp Site

From Catherine Fowler

In response to Cllr Paul Spooner’s letter, Provision for Camping Should Be Included in Any Agreement on the Chantries, I look forward to the reinstatement of my booking for this summer, which was cancelled back in January when the council announced the closure of the campsite.

The council leader is now saying that the council never, in fact, closed the campsite, it was all a misunderstanding, and it’s still open, “do book and use the site in the coming months”. It is incredible to hear him make such a claim.

Perhaps he might like to re-read:

(1)  GBC press release (10 January?) “The Council’s Executive agreed provisionally at their meeting on 8 January that Chantry Wood campsite in the Surrey Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), should accept further forest school use as well as closing the campsite to use by the general public.”

(2) Exec Report 8th January

Page 2 “1.2 This report seeks Executive approval to implement the most advantageous option identified, which is to cease operating the campsite and lease the area to a forest school provider.”

and page 16  “9.11 This report recommends that the Executive agree to developing Option D which is to cease operating the campsite and lease the area to a forest school provider”

(3) email 21st Jan from GBC to me and other campers saying it was shut:

“The Chantry Wood campsite is now closed following a decision made by the Councils Executive on 8th January 2019.

“The council will not accept any bookings at the campsite with immediate effect.”

(4) Screenshot of the campsite landing page as of 3rd March, still saying “we are not taking bookings”

(5) Screenshot of the campsite booking page, as of 3rd March, still showing “Page Not Found”.

Despite Cllr Spooner saying publicly in his letter to The Dragon that the campsite is open and urging us “do book and stay over the coming months”, the campsite’s webpage has now been updated, since Cllr Spooner’s letter, to say: “We cannot take public bookings for the campsite at the moment due to maintenance work taking place.”

I phoned the Parks Team at GBC this afternoon (March 5). This is an extract from the conversation:

Me: When does the refurbishment finish, so that I can book the campsite?
Parks: it’s not due to reopen as a campsite.
Me: Has the refurbishment actually started yet?
Parks: I believe not. They’re still having meetings about it.
Me: What is the scope of the refurbishment?
Parks: I’m not sure.

Enough of the gaslighting already. The campsite is actually closed. We know the council don’t expect it to reopen. It’s the council’s prerogative to take unpopular decisions, but can they please stand by them and defend them, rather than just repeatedly claiming black is white and nothing has changed in order to damp down opposition.

Despite what the council say, the campsite remains closed, it can’t be booked and it’s not going to reopen. I urge people to write to the council, ask them to stop spreading disinformation, and ask them to ensure the campsite remains open.

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Responses to Letter: Chantries Campsite Remains Closed Despite Council Leader’s Claim

  1. John Redpath Reply

    March 6, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    We really need a more balanced council. One that has to listen to and understand the views of the residents they are supposed to serve.

    What an unnecessary mess the “two-man” Executive have got themselves into again.

    For the sake of Catherine and her growing family, I’d hope that this crazy decision to sublet the site can be reversed.

    John Redpath is a prospective Independent candidate at the forthcoming borough council elections.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    March 6, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    The usual GBC newspeak.

  3. Gordon Bridger Reply

    March 7, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Not another mess up? Why is Cllr Bilbe dealing with this Geoff Davis is our ward councillor?

    I asked him about the mysterious £225k in the budget for a campsite in September 2017. He never answered. I asked again in July 2018. No answer.

    Then, when he found out that it was an Executive item he promised to get it delayed so that locals who knew the Chantries could have a say. The promise was ignored and the Executive approved it although saying there would be consultation. Which there was not. What a way to run a council?

    It’s time for change.

    Cllr Davis (Con, Holy Trinity) responded on March 7:

    Gordon Bridger will know that this matter is being put back on the urgent Executive agenda for this evening. There is a full report, which answers such points.

    In any event, I am copying in my Executive colleague Cllr David Bilbe, who leads on this.

    I did try to delay it at the previous Executive, but I was outvoted.

    We think the council is being run very properly and Mr Bridger can, of course, attend the Executive meeting tonight.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      March 8, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      Surely the wise Hon Alderman Bridger has been dealing with the Executive long enough to realise that their idea of “consultation” is rather different to most of us.

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