In this first instalment of our series of blogs titled ‘Memories of The Wells’, Ian Strutt talks to Melanie Evason, a long term Wells resident, and jogs a memory of his own.
New generation being deprived of the Wells Centre
Long term Wells resident Melanie Evason has attended events at the Wells Social Centre since the days when it was just a wooden shack, writes Ian Strutt.
Now, she has a new generation of grandchildren who are being deprived of using the present centre’s facilities since it was closed by Epsom and Ewell Residents Association Council some five years ago.
Melanie clearly recalls all of the events that were held at the Wells centre in her younger days. She attended the centre for Brownies, youth club, the playground, film nights, birthdays, summer and Christmas fairs, along with a long list of other events.
These events even included holding her wedding reception at the centre, which is conveniently situated just around the corner from her home.
“I would go to many events, functions, meetings and sessions, also Women’s Institute, being held. This includes voting in council and government elections, also discussions on matters affecting the Wells such as the former RA councillor’s ridiculous yellow lines application that was rebuffed.
“I loved everything about the place. It was just our centre and we did everything there. It would be great to see the centre re-open. It was always so well attended.”
Jogging a memory
The reference Melanie Evason made to having held her wedding reception at the Wells Social Centre prompted me to remember a conversation I had with Epsom Council’s former Head of Venues, writes Ian Strutt.
He was guarding the doors of the centre to stop Wells residents entering during a rowdy protest outside against its closure. I have to report that I was not at all impressed by him.
I asked him: “Why are there no longer any wedding receptions being held at the centre?”
He lamely replied: “There are too many wedding venues in Epsom.”
I got the feeling that wedding bookings were being diverted to other council-owned properties.
The next time I encountered this Head of Venues was not long afterwards at an equalities meeting in the council chamber. He was giving a report on the closure of the centre which mostly amounted to a justification of the council’s actions.
He talked about there being a lack of members, but it appears that the majority of Wells residents had never been asked to become members. Certainly, there were no membership forms available on the reception desk when I attended.
Wouldn’t expanding membership have been one of the roles of the Head of Venues?
However, he gave away the Wells Centre’s actual monthly attendance figures. From memory, these were six or seven times membership. So, the council was simply pulling a ‘fast one.’
I’m told this Head of Venues no longer works for Epsom and Ewell council.
Meanwhile, the council-owned Bourne Hall is reported to have increased its losses from £500,000 to £750,000 a year.
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