News in Brief – December 2023

Tandridge leisure centre boost

Tandridge District Council has been awarded £197,000 towards keeping its swimming pools and leisure centres open. The money, which comes from the government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund, will help cope with rising operational costs, such as maintenance, heating and pool chemicals. The council will be working with Freedom Leisure, which operates both Tandridge Leisure Centre in Oxted, and Caterham’s de Stafford Sports Centre, to continue to provide swimming and other leisure activities. 

Blowing the whistle on shoplifters

Shops in Oxted have found a new way to tackle the rising problem of shoplifting. Love Oxted (the Oxted Business Improvement District), as well as signing up to the police-approved crime information sharing system DISC and setting up a WhatsApp Shop Alert group, has issued shops in the town with green whistle, trialling a simple deterrent and warning system. Any staff member who witnesses somebody leaving without paying for goods will step outside and whistle, alerting other stores and drawing attention to the shoplifter.

Oxted Parish Council, in collaboration with Limpsfield Parish Council and Love Oxted, has also arranged for CCTV to be installed in Oxted town centre.

Community Energy Fund helps sustainable projects

People who wish to set up energy projects that benefit their community may be eligible for a grant from the new Community Energy Fund (CEF). Similar to the previous Rural Community Energy Fund, the CEF has a £10million pot available to empower applicants from urban areas, for initiatives such as electric vehicle charging point, small-scale wind farms, rooftop solar partnerships, fuel poverty alleviation schemes and battery storage. 

Find out more by searching ‘community energy fund’.

Employers needed to support future workers

The new Surrey Careers Hub is looking for business representatives to support its work with the county’s schools and colleges, helping young people plan their future. It connects with Surrey employers from all industries, connecting young people with business and workplace experiences, aimed at improving their employment outcomes. Volunteers can offer help in a variety of ways, from giving strategic support to a single school or talking to young people about their experiences. If you can help, email Careers.Hub@surreycc.gov.uk.

 £10,000 funding available for artists

Arts Partnership Surrey (APS) has launched a fund for Surrey artists who would like to collaborate with them on new projects. Grants of up to £10,000 are available for around five individuals or organisations for one-year projects to be delivered from April 2024. Proposals should meet certain criteria around health and wellbeing, economic development or community empowerment, and APS are keen to hear from artists from diverse or underserved backgrounds. Find out more here

Help Surrey’s grazing heroes

Surrey Wildlife Trust is appealing to residents for help raising £50,000 to increase its grazing herd, which helps to protect the biodiversity of the county’s grass and heathlands. There are currently 250 Belted Galloway cattle which can be seen on nature reserves such as Thundry Meadows, Norbury Park, Ashtead Common and Wisley Common, and a flock of 70 crossbred sheep have just been introduced to Caterham’s Quarry Hangers. The money will be used, among other things, to expand the grazing areas and cover the increased costs of feed, veterinary care and overwintering. You can donate here

Become a Festival Friend

The Festival Theatre at Hever Castle has just launched its new 2024 Festival Friends membership scheme. It allows subscribers unlimited discounted theatre tickets, plus money off meals and drinks on performance days as well as the chance to meet the artists at selected events. The three levels of membership start at £29. Join before 1 February 2024 and you could win front row tickets to a show of your choice. Visit the website for more details. 

SCC introduces paid carers’ leave

Surrey County Council has introduced up to five days’ paid leave in a 12-month period for staff with caring responsibilities. Earlier in the year, the government passed new legislation guaranteeing working carers the right to five days unpaid leave, but SCC has now introduced leave without loss of pay. The move was championed by their Carer Network. Details of other support available to carers is at surreycc.gov.uk/carers.

Crack down on telephone scammers 

Vulnerable people in Surrey can apply for a free trueCall device from Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards (BSTS) to help prevent scam telephone calls and nuisance callers. In summer 2022, 41 million people in the UK received a suspicious call or text message. BSTS estimates that 48,000 calls across the two countieswere blocked by trueCall devices, which are provided by the organisation free of charge and with no ongoing costs to those who are vulnerable and susceptible to unsolicited calls. For information and advice, visit surreycc.gov.uk/business/trading-standards.

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