Category Archives: Haslemere first

CALL TO ACTION: AONB land at Red Court under threat

Text of my letter published in The Haslemere Herald this week:

If your readers love Haslemere’s beautiful countryside, now is the time to speak up against its destruction!

AONB land at Red Court

Like so many, I moved with my young family to Haslemere nearly 20 years ago, attracted by its unique setting in the beautiful Surrey Hills countryside.  We share in the wonder of former resident Robert Hunter, who co-founded the National Trust here in 1895, with a mission to protect this special landscape for future generations. 

For the last forty years, the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has shared Hunter’s vision; its AONB in Haslemere is a legally designated exceptional landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are precious enough to be safeguarded in the national interest against large scale development.

It is absolutely shocking that the AONB land at the Red Court estate between Scotland Lane and the Midhurst Road is now under threat of destruction by a property developer who wants to build over 110 new homes, claiming this major building project is in the ‘public interest’ (and so should be permitted despite AONB status).  It would irreversibly damage the character of what should be protected landscape.  As part of the proposal, much of the avenue of mature trees on the Midhurst Road approach to Haslemere will be felled to create a new junction and access to the housing estate, forever changing the character of southern Haslemere.  

Your readers will be excused for being unaware how imminent the threat is.  The developer has appealed against Waverley’s rejection of “outline” planning permission that was submitted alongside actual planning permission for an initial two buildings and new access road (also rejected).  Even though no plans or details for the “outline” plan for 111 dwellings were available or open to proper public scrutiny at the first stage, if the developer is successful on appeal to the Planning Inspector and “outline” planning permission is granted, it means that the destruction of AONB is guaranteed, and the principle of development there granted.

If residents of Haslemere and its surrounding villages do not want to see the character of our protected landscape and biodiverse countryside destroyed, then they should make their views known as a matter of urgency – the window for sending comments to the Planning Inspector closes next Friday, 13th October at case reference number 3327643. More information at Haslemere South Residents Association

Preservation of our countryside is in the public interest – and therefore all the more critical that the public’s voice be heard loud and clear by the Planning Inspector!

Nikki Barton , Former Independent Surrey County Councillor for Haslemere and Grayswood, Independent Town Councillor, Haslemere South 

My Farewell

Dear Constituents,

Haslemere’s First Critical Mass Bike Ride

I have been touched by how many of you have contacted me to say they are surprised that I am not standing again for re-election this week as your local Independent Councillor. Your continued and growing support for me over the past decade has been invaluable – as Haslemere’s first Independent Surrey County Councillor and Town Councillor. As I turn to new ways to contribute both in and beyond our community, I offer a few reflections as I step down…

Over the years, I have often been challenged, ‘Why don’t you belong to a political party?’ and ‘Why vote for an Independent, what do you stand for?’ My answer is always clear- I don’t believe party politics should play any role in local decision-making. As your Independent Councillor, I have strongly believed my only focus should be to listen to your priorities and concerns as my constituents, and to serve you to my very best ability- quite simply to put ‘Haslemere First’.

My track record shows how effective an Independent Councillor can be (  Just some of my activities include being a founding member of Haslemere Vision which designed our Neighbourhood Plan, co-creating the Haslemere Community Rail Partnership (now expanded to SWR’s Rail to Coast Partnership) and Haslemere South Residents Association and teaming on the establishment of Haslemere Active Travel.  My role as an Independent also enabled me to successfully coordinate and advocate for many community needs, including: the new Stepping Stones school site at Hindhead, the saving of the Hunter Centre, securing funds for the installation of new conservation street lights, several pedestrian crossings and safety measures as well as a helping establish a number of community Covid initiatives, and Haslemere food bank’s Trolley Tuesday.  Lastly, I have been a consistent voice for you as my constituents when it comes to fighting to protect the environment and Haslemere’s special surrounding countryside. 

It has been a great honour to serve Haslemere and to have met and worked with so many exceptional people – Haslemere really is a unique and very special place!  I am excited to be embarking on new adventures focussing on environmental sustainability and the provision of youth services, both areas close to my heart.

I wish all candidates the very best this Thursday as they commit to serving you and the community for the next term.

Nikki Barton, Independent Councillor, 2013 – 2023

Surrey County Council Warm Hubs – Volunteers Needed

Please see the message below from Surrey County Council, who are looking to recruit volunteers to help at their warm hubs:

We are looking for volunteers to help run Warm Hubs across Surrey this winter. Thousands of our fellow residents, including those who have not struggled to pay bills before will face a challenging winter due to energy price increases. Warm Hubs offer a welcoming space for any resident – but particularly those in hard to heat homes – to warm up, get a hot drink and receive energy and debt advice free of charge. Dozens of churches, libraries, cafes, and community centres have teamed up to provide these warm spaces, but we need volunteers to staff them.

The Warm Hub network will operate between 1st Nov – 28th Feb. Volunteers may have the opportunity for enhancing their skills, with free safeguarding training available via Surrey County Council (SCC), as well as NEA Energy Debt Training, which provides a City & Guilds level 2 qualification. Volunteers will need to be DBS checked, and Surrey County Council will cover the cost for successful volunteers who don’t have existing DBS checks.

Warm Hubs will be in 62 locations across the county.  Working alongside regular members of staff and other volunteers, your responsibilities will include:

  1. Making visitors feel welcome, and providing a friendly ear for those feeling isolated
  2. Providing hot drinks to visitors (and perhaps soup or warm meals in some locations)
  3. Organising and distributing ‘grab bags’, containing winter essentials such as flasks and hot water bottles
  4. Signposting visitors to SCC’s energy advice tool which provides information tailored to residents’ personal circumstances, and helping visitors to navigate the easy-to-use tool if they have obstacles to engaging with it
  5. Potentially leading activities at some of the spaces with a Warm Hub Plus offering

You can do as much or as little as you like!  For any further information or to register your support please contact

Sustainable Warmth Grant

Please see below details of the Sustainable Warmth Grant available to Guildford and Waverley residents.

The grant is for residents on low incomes, which often means fuel poor, especially with the current costs of energy. The grant provides them with an opportunity to have energy efficiency measures installed (such as insulation) within their homes for free.

Letter from Chair, Haslemere South Residents’ Association to its members

Dear HSRA Members

I wrote to you before the Town Council met to consider what action to take over trumped up charges against two Haslemere South Ward councillors, Nikki Barton and Kirsten Ellis.  I am totally shocked and extremely angry at the outcome of the council’s so-called process.  The decision to bar Nikki Barton from any meetings of the Planning Committee and any meetings related to the Neighbourhood Plan is outrageous and was orchestrated by a collection of Conservative councillors who have spent the last three years supporting the development of large housing estates on protected countryside at Red Court and Longdene. 

What is worse, is that the Mayor and a group of councillors seem to have succumbed to the bullying pressure by the developer and, in turn, decided to bully our local councillors, seeking to apply the most disproportionate sanctions on them.  The so-called breaches seemed inadvertent given the unclear rules to do with registration of memberships of organisations like HSRA and the National Trust that are not political parties but include in their activities the desire to help protect the countryside – how many other councillors have fallen short of these technical requirements?  At least one of the councillors: our own ward’s Simon Dear who called for the ban, but had himself failed to register his own financial interests for several years, a much worse breach to be honest.

You may have seen in the Haslemere Herald’s letter page over the past couple of weeks (copies of letters attached) the outrage of several members of the public at the way the council has conducted itself on this.  I asked Councillor Barton for her view of the situation and this is what she said:

“First of all, let me say that if I failed to register my membership of HSRA and the National Trust, it was totally inadvertent.  To be honest, the rules were not clear and the meeting where the issue arose was not a planning meeting about Red Court, but a meeting on the whole town’s Neighbourhood Plan where nobody declared any interests. However, what is incredible is how my independent approach to standing up for the community has been a red rag to a bull.  Neither the property developer nor an influential group of Conservative councillors could help themselves coming after me in what might even have been a coordinated two-pronged attack so that their plans to build houses (or to allow them to be built) on protected countryside at Red Court and at Longdene could happen.
Just to be clear, the developer has successfully got Waverley, as the planning authority, to spend thousands on a three year investigation culminating in removing me from the meeting to consider their plans to build 200 houses on ALGV and AONB – does that sound the right outcome for being a member of HSRA at the time, something I never hid?!
I have always maintained my independence.  So of course in 2018 I rejected the developer’s cynical attempts (including an offer of land) to try and persuade me as a councillor to promote his housing estate plans.  I have no idea what he did to persuade two Conservative councillors to move the Settlement Boundary before he bought the land at Red Court; nor what he did to persuade our own Haslemere South councillor Simon Dear to repeatedly back his plans, ignoring over 530 public objections (most from Haslemere residents); nor what he did to persuade 2 other Haslemere residents to join him in harassing me and complaining against me when I voted for a Neighbourhood Plan that kept the Settlement Boundary where it was; nor what he did to persuade two councillors and the Mayor to convene an Extraordinary Council Meeting in order to ban me from Planning Committee meetings the day before the Planning Committee was due to review plans to increase the Red Court scheme to nearly 200 houses.
Whatever the outcome of the pending judicial review of the decision to ban me from the Planning Committee (which was taken with total disregard for the council’s own procedures), I am keen that my local constituents understand obvious concerns surrounding the developer who is currently applying to extend his plans for up to 200 houses on protected countryside from Red Court to the Midhurst Road.  This is a developer who apparently will stop at nothing in order to push through his plans.  Since the beginning of the vexatious complaint brought against me, which was made by the developer’s lawyers, he has been trying everything he can.  His property agents tried to use the complaint as an argument for their planning appeal last year.  His lawyers even wrote threatening legal letters to the council before the Extraordinary Council Meeting and the next day’s Planning Committee… all designed purely and simply to exclude me and Councillor Ellis from being in the room when his planning application was due to be considered.  That the council has countenanced this type of intervention in the proper functioning of the democratic bodies set up to represent you the constituents, is gravely worrying.”

If you are as outraged by this as I am, then I strongly urge you to write to object to the expansion plans of the developer, Redwood (South West) Ltd, to build another ~150 houses on top of the 50 already approved at Red court.  Go to Waverley WA/2022/01887.  Your objections need to be submitted by October 30th.
Best wishes
Howard Brown
HSRA Chair.

Herald Letters 1. Farzana Aslam 2. Peter Aucamp 3. Nigel Pyke

Press Statement re. Waverley Standards Panel appeal

This is my press statement to The Haslemere Herald regarding dismissal of the Waverley Standards Panel appeal.

Having served Haslemere as an independent Surrey County Councillor and Town Councillor over the past 9 years, I have been committed to serving the local community.  It is right that all councillors are held accountable for their conduct and I accept that I inadvertently failed to include on the council’s register of interests the fact I was a member of my local residents’ association.  I had not considered this to be an organisation which required to be registered, but did so in 2020 having been advised it may need to be.

The Panel made no finding that I acted in anything other than good faith and there was no finding of personal gain or conflict of a pecuniary nature.

However, I do not accept the Panel’s finding that, as a councillor, being a member of my residents’ association meant that I could not be objective when voting on the town’s whole Neighbourhood Plan in November 2019 and that therefore I was in breach by taking part in the debate and vote.  This bizarre finding means that I have had to withdraw my membership of the Haslemere South Residents’ Association (HSRA).

It is quite simply incredible that Waverley have seen fit to spend tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a complaint of this nature. Surrey Association of Local Councils considers it a minor type of breach.  The non-declaration happened at a meeting where the Neighbourhood Plan, prepared on the back of years of work in the community, was approved virtually unanimously.  At no point did Waverley make any genuine attempt to seek an earlier resolution to the matter.

What is even more staggering and the most disturbing thing about this case is the fact that the complaint (which Waverley has invested so much money in) came from the lawyers of the property developer who did not like the town’s carefully considered Neighbourhood Plan; it would make it harder for him to build his housing estate on protected countryside.

From my point of view, not only was the complaint driven by a property developer, but it was brought by the same developer who, in breach of all principles of good conduct, had tried to induce me to support his plan publicly as a councillor.  Of course, I had rejected those inducements in the same way I hope any other councillor in my position would have done.  I am still totally perplexed as to why Waverley would give the time of day to this type of complainant.

Lastly, the irony is that the developer only challenged my voting at the meeting where I voted for a version of the Neighbourhood Plan which displeased him and not my voting at the meeting six months earlier when I voted for the previous version of the Plan which he liked!

Neighbourhood Watch – Free Webinars About Scams In July

July has a month of weekly online webinars to expose the truths behind scams, hosted by Neighbourhood Watch.

The webinars are FREE to attend and are open to anyone who would like to know more about scams, the psychology behind scams, prevention and how a fraud case is investigated.

The webinars bring together experts in their field relating to online fraud, a topic which we are all too familiar with and can affect anyone and everyone, as our lives are played out more digitally.

The dates of the webinars and their topics are as follows:

6th July, 5pm
Exploring the psychology behind scams and how scammers are so effective at their crimes
Paul Maskell, Fraud & Cyber Crime Prevention Manager, Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU)

14th July, 5pm
Insights into how a fraud case is investigated and how not to be the next victim

Ben Hobbs, Detective Sergeant; and Catriona Still, Head of Fraud Prevention & Training, Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU)

23rd July 5pm
Scams awareness training from the Friends Against Scams initiative
The National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTSST)

30th July, 5pm
Don’t get hooked by scammers! What you need to know about flubot and phishing scams
Christopher Budd, Senior Global Threat Communications Manager, Avast

How to book your place
You can click on the links within this message on each of the webinars topics to register your place or you can go to: and click on the webinar that you wish to attend, you can attend all of them if you wish and so make sure that you complete the registration page for each of them.

We look forward to seeing you all there.

Best wishes


Cheryl Spruce | Head of Membership and Community Engagement

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Neighbourhood Watch Network is a charity registered in England & Wales, CIO no: 1173349

Flexi Season tickets now available for South Western Railway customers

  • A new Flexi Season ticket is available to buy from today and can be used from Monday 28 June. 
  • This new product will offer SWR customers more flexibility – enabling people to travel on any eight days in a 28-day period – and could lead to significant financial savings.
  • From today, SWR customers also can change advance ticket bookings to a different date or time for no extra cost.

South Western Railway (SWR) customers who split their time between home and the office are set to save money and enjoy more flexible travel thanks to a new ticketing product which is available to buy from today.

The new Flexi Season ticket will replace SWR’s Carnet tickets and enable customers to travel on any eight days in a 28-day period. From Monday 28 June, customers will be able to enjoy unlimited travel between the same two stations on their chosen days, with the product being valid across the SWR network and beyond.

Part-time commuters could benefit from the new product through significant financial savings. For example, a Flexi Season ticket holder travelling between Woking and London Waterloo on two days a week would save over £250 a year when compared to the cost of daily tickets.

Flexi Seasons will be entirely contactless, meaning customers will need to obtain a SWR smartcard before purchasing the new product through the SWR app, website or a ticket office. To activate one of their eight day passes, customers are required to place their smartcard on a gate or smartcard validator, allowing them to travel between their chosen stations.

SWR is urging customers to check a new season ticket calculator to confirm which type of ticket is best for them. This tool is available here:

In line with the rest of the industry, SWR is also taking part in the new ‘Book with confidence’ initiative, which allows advance ticket bookings to be changed to a different time or date fee-free, until 31 December 2021. The change, which is also introduced today, means that SWR customers can book train tickets safe in the knowledge that that they won’t be out of pocket if plans or circumstances change.

Commenting, SWR’s Commercial Director, Peter Williams, said:

“We are delighted to be able to offer the new Flexi Season ticket, which is on sale from today and available to use in a week’s time.

“This product will offer the flexibility and value for money that so many of our customers need in the aftermath of a pandemic which has fundamentally altered working patterns.

“We are also pleased to be part of the ‘Book with confidence’ initiative, which enables our customers to change the date and time of Advance tickets for free. We have all got used to plans changing quickly and unexpectedly, and we want to do all we can to ensure that our customers don’t lose out when they do.

“As these and other improvements show, we are determined build back a better and more flexible railway, fit for the post-pandemic world”.  

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Our railways work best when they are reliable, rapid and affordable.

“As we kickstart the biggest reforms to our railways in a generation, flexible season tickets are the first step. They give us greater freedom and choice about how we travel, simpler ticketing and a fairer fare.

“With a season ticket calculator to see which option works best for you, and a book with confidence guarantee to make journeys stress-free, the future of fares is flexible”.

Contact Information

Toby Williams

Notes to editors

Flexi Season ticket – pricing:

  • Flexi Season tickets have been priced relative to the options passengers already have on their route.
  • That means they provide better value and convenience for most commuters travelling two to three days a week, compared to existing daily tickets or traditional season tickets.
  • The Flexi Season ticket will offer a minimum 20% discount on the equivalent monthly season ticket.

‘Book with confidence’:

If your plans change, you can amend date and time of Advanced tickets fee free up until 6pm the day before you travel, and until 31/12/21. Fare price difference may apply. Advance tickets purchased online can be exchanged for a voucher for future journey. Fee free changes also apply to Off Peak and Anytime tickets, up to the date of departure.

For more information on Flexi Season tickets, visit:

HCLT – Call For Sites

The Haslemere Community Land Trust has just launched a Call For Sites in Haslemere.

Sadly, not the sparkling jewels of a traditional treasure hunt, for Haslemere Community Land Trust is on the lookout for hidden-away plots and places with 24-carat potential. Forgotten sheds and barns, old tennis courts – areas that need some love, possibly with owners who aren’t sure what to do with them or who are wary of the profit hungry waters of commercial development.

Please read more information here.