Cranleigh Labour Party opposes the Boundary Commission’s proposal to incorporate the electorate of Cranleigh in Surrey into a new Mid Surrey constituency. We believe that the proposals fail to take into account important geographical, economic, health and cultural ties for maintaining the village of Cranleigh within the Guildford constituency
A link defined by geography
Cranleigh sits in a gap in the Surrey Hills that runs from Guildford to Horsham. Cranleigh’s links are all with Guildford and Horsham. The Surrey Hills (rising to up to 1000 feet, the highest in the South East) form a geographical barrier between Cranleigh and the towns of Leatherhead and Dorking to the East, and a barrier to Godalming to the west, whereas the journeys to Guildford and Horsham are the natural journeys in the gap in the Surrey Hills.
There are no good road links running east/west between the present Mole Valley constituency and Cranleigh. It is impossible to make the journey to Dorking or Leatherhead by public transport; buses run only north/south between Cranleigh, Guildford and Horsham, with a few veering north-west to Godalming. Cranleigh has always been linked to Guildford and Horsham, rather than any other towns.
To force contacts between these other communities would be environmentally unsustainable as journeys would have to be made by car on minor roads often in a state of disrepair. Economically, bearing in mind the costs of petrol today, this would also be disadvantageous to people living in Cranleigh. On the other hand, the lie of the land makes the link between Cranleigh and Guildford a natural one with better roads and public transport links.
The world beyond Surrey
Guildford is the natural destination of people in Cranleigh, for access to the national rail system and road system and even airports.
For jobs Cranleigh people look to Guildford if they are to go out of the village. The University of Surrey is a major employer, as are shopping centres and local government jobs as well as the health service jobs at local hospitals. Dorking and Leatherhead have little to offer for employment and few contacts for economic reasons are made there.
The new NHS structures mitigate against any division of the two settlements. Cranleigh is a major part of the Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group. Cranleigh people are involved in the patients’ groups which contribute to the development of the CCG. They have no contact with groups to the east in the proposed Mid Surrey area.
Cranleigh people and medical practices are linked to the Royal Surrey Hospital Trust in Guildford. Indeed many Cranleigh people are part of that Trust. There is not another major hospital accessible to local people– Redhill is miles away with no good transport links.
No pupils in the Cranleigh area have contacts with schools in the Mole Valley constituency and the whole education set-up is different – with sixth form colleges instead of schools in Cranleigh, whereas the schools in the Mole Valley area have built–in sixth forms.
At present there is easy access to meet the constituency MP to raise issues. This would not be the case with offices based far away in Mid Surrey. As for local government, the complications would be manifold, having to look east for the national elections and west for the local ones. The electorate would be justified in feeling that their councils were remote and unconcerned about local issues.
The churches in Cranleigh lie within the diocese of Guildford and have close ties with it and each other. This would be another broken link.
Culturally Cranleigh looks to Guildford for its wider cultural events in the theatres, cinemas, museums; the book and music festivals. The University of Surrey is a major attraction, where Cranleigh people are used to participating in a multiplicity of events. Little of the sort exists in Mole Valley.
As well as culture, local sporting activities, football, cricket, bowls, darts even, are in leagues which do not pertain to Dorking and Leatherhead.
Different types of community
Cranleigh is a Surrey village surrounded by countryside. Its needs and aims are similar to the other market towns in Waverley borough, whereas much of the northern part of the present Mole Valley constituency is London commuter terrain. Leatherhead lies on the M25 – Leatherhead is very near to Chessington which is the London Borough of Kingston. They are much more likely to be dormitory towns for London.
An alternative suggestion – a much more natural division
A more natural solution would be to add Horsleys/Effingham/Clandon into the proposed Mid Surrey constituency. There is a long-standing historic route from Guildford to Leatherhead and there are consequently much better links with Mole Valley. There is a train between Clandon/Horsley to Leatherhead every half hour direct. You can get to Dorking by changing at Leatherhead and there is a good road A246. Many school pupils from those areas attend Ashown School. There would not be the same amount of disruption and mismatch with this solution. Whichever way it’s looked at Horsleys/Effingham/Clandon have a lot more ties with the present Mole Valley constituency than Cranleigh does.
We believe that although the numbers may add up in the proposed solution, there is no other mitigating reason to change the status quo and break the longstanding, natural links between Cranleigh and Guildford.