At the recent Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) Strategy & Resources meeting, councillors voted unanimously to grant Epsom Wells Community Association (EWCA) a long term lease of the Wells Centre building and land.
A long time coming
This decision comes at the end of a five year campaign by local residents to re-open the centre. When the Wells Centre originally closed, a small group of locals, plus Borough and County Councillor Bernie Muir, decided to find out exactly what local residents thought of the closure. It became clear that there was not just a desire for the centre to re-open, but a desperate need for it, to.
The group found; isolated lonely people, families with nowhere to go within walking distance, entrepreneurial returning-to-work mothers who now had no premises, young people no longer able to access youth groups, and many more.
This motivated the core group of residents to form the Epsom Wells Community Association (EWCA), we created this website, ran campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, petitioned the council, joined marches, wrote and distributed an information booklet, ran a poll, knocked on many many doors, until we had satisfied ourselves that a newly-opened centre was a viable business idea. Along the way, we had been joined by likeminded residents from the wider Epsom & Ewell community and we officially became a charity last year.
Once we knew we had a good business case, we approached a small group of Epsom & Ewell Borough councillors to see if we could initiate a meaningful dialogue with the council at large. Four councillors were happy to talk with us, one from each of Labour, Liberal Democrats, the RA and Bernie from the Conservative party. This group gave us advice and helped us to navigate opening a dialogue with the council.
Eventually we presented our first business plan to council officers, who were extremely helpful in guiding us to the final result we have today.
The fact that we won the vote is still sinking in. It also heralds the beginning of the ‘real’ work in bringing the centre back to life and realising our vision for how the centre can be.
Seeing the reports of the decision in both the local news and political press brings the reality that we won home to us and we can’t wait to begin, with your help, the next stage of the process.
Ways you can help
- Spread the word – we know that not everyone who will want to get involved is on social media. Please tell your neighbours and friends the news that we won and that we are looking for people to join us.
- Join our email list – we will need the help of the whole Epsom and Ewell community to get this done. Please join our email list here so that we can keep you up-to-date.
- Get in touch – if you have skills to donate, or want to help out, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to say a heartfelt “Thank you” to the councillors who advised us, the council officers who took the time to listen to our vision and point us in the right direction to make it happen. Thank you especially to the big-hearted local residents who have spent days of their free time on a project that up until the vote, was purely theoretical, and lastly to Bernie Muir, without her early adoption of our cause we would have felt completely alone.
To get in touch with the EWCA team, please use our contact form and drop us a line.