Skip to main content

Newsletter - Wed 1 May, 2024

By David Grantham
In brief

Inaugural Reigate Summer Festival to take place in June

“Reigate Summer Festival is a celebration of the town’s creativity, a weekend of free entertainment for the local community and beyond. The festival pulls together the town’s abundance of creative and cultural talent into one unmissable event in and around the town centre.”

That’s what organisers are saying about this new event, set to run Friday 14 June to Sunday 16 June.

Music, dance, drama, film, comedy, literature, art, lightshows and historic displays will all feature.

There’ll be stages in Tunnel Road and at Reigate Methodist Church, while other venues include Pilgrim Brewery, Reigate Library, Everyman Cinema, Reigate Community Centre, Waterstones Booksellers and many of the town’s pubs.

Most of the events are free, and with more due to be added.

Details, including the schedule, can be found on the Reigate Summer Festival website (Opens in a new window).

The event has its origins in New Music Fest, the annual summer weekend event which was first put on in 2014, by not-for-profit organisation New Music Nights.

This year they’ve teamed up with Reigate College to instead provide a comprehensive arts festival in the centre of town, drawing on support from the borough council, Reigate Business Guild and community interest groups.

Organisers say (Opens in a new window): “Support for the idea was overwhelming. Local choirs, dance and drama groups, writers, poets, comedians and even historians jumped on the idea like they’d been waiting for it all their lives and we knew we had a festival on our hands. At the same time, Reigate venues expressed their desire to be involved, by putting on their own music, book readings, comedy and more.

“And so we approach the arrival of the inaugural Reigate Summer Festival, a celebration of the town’s creativity, taking the sum of many magnificent parts and presenting them as one irresistible whole.”

Thursday elections

Elections for Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Surrey’s Police & Crime Commissioner take place on Thursday, 2 May.

In the borough election, one seat in each three-councillor ward is up for grabs this year, except in Tattenham Corner & Preston where an additional vacancy means two councillors will be elected there.  

There are 15 wards in the borough.

A list of borough election candidates for each ward can be found here (Opens in a new window), and a list of police & crime commissioner candidates here (Opens in a new window).

Polling stations will be open 7am to 10pm.

There’s a guide to polling day, including how to vote and photo ID requirements, and how to hand in your postal vote if you’ve run out of time to send it, on the borough council website (Opens in a new window).  

Votes for both elections will be counted and announced on Friday, 3 May.  Reigate-uk will be providing coverage from the count via X (formerly Twitter) (Opens in a new window), starting at about 1.30pm on Friday.   For those not on X, the tweets will also steadily appear in a post on the reigate-uk homepage (Opens in a new window).

Trains: There’s industrial action by rail union ASLEF next week.  Strikes will take place on Southern and Thameslink on Tuesday 7 May, and Great Western Railway on Wednesday 8 May.   An overtime ban runs Monday 6 May - Saturday 11 May which may also affect services.  Details for all UK operators are here (Opens in a new window).

Lidl: Local social media has been abuzz with news that discount supermarket Lidl could be coming to Reigate and/or Redhill.  The discussion seems to be based on a recent list of towns (Opens in a new window) where the company wants to identify suitable sites.  While it’s true that the wishlist does include Reigate and Redhill, it also names more than 1,000 other places across the UK where the firm would like to hear about potential locations.   Lidl has said (Opens in a new window) that it plans to open “hundreds of new stores across the country”.  It currently has more than 960 stores, including in Dorking, Horley, Epsom and Leatherhead.

In Detail

Marks & Spencer looking to close Redhill store

Marks & Spencer is proposing to close its store at the Belfry in Redhill, saying shopping habits are changing and that it needs to have the “right stores with the right space”.

M&S has been at the Belfry since the shopping centre opened in 1991, where it occupies two floors with an offering that includes clothing, footwear, food and a cafe.

The Belfry’s management have expressed their surprise at M&S’s decision to look at closure, saying that the number of visitors to the Belfry has bucked the national trend and is now higher than pre-pandemic levels, with the centre receiving “constant” enquiries for new tenancies.

“Shopping habits are changing”

Marks & Spencer regional manager Graham Bennett said: “We have announced to colleagues our proposal to close the M&S Redhill store. Shopping habits are changing, so we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores with the right space, in order to deliver the best possible shopping experience for customers.

“Our priority now is talking to our colleagues about what this announcement means for them and should the proposal go ahead, we will offer them alternative roles at M&S wherever possible.

“In the last year, we have invested more than £12.5 million in our stores across the South East and we continue to invest in opening new stores such as our upcoming Guildford Ladymead foodhall.

“We are open to the idea of investing in a new M&S foodhall in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead in the future, subject to being able to find the right type of site.

“We appreciate this proposal to close will be disappointing news for some customers and we would like to thank all our customers who have shopped in the store over the years. We will keep working hard to serve them at our nearby Reigate and Banstead stores, local convenience stores and online at”

Belfry “surprised”

The Belfry said last week that it understood the decision was part of a project announced by M&S in 2022 to restructure its store portfolio, focusing more on its food-only stores.

In a statement (Opens in a new window) the centre said: “The Belfry is surprised at the timing of this announcement as the Centre has been enjoying a recent substantial lift. Visitor numbers to the centre continue to buck the national trend and are back above those experienced pre-pandemic. Footfall and dwell time in the centre both experiencing double-digit growth consistently over the past year, with most retailers benefitting. 

“The Belfry is receiving constant enquiries for new tenancies which in recent months has brought four new independent stores to the centre and one of Poundland’s most successful Wilko conversions. It was hoped that with their remaining long lease and their reported positive trading here, especially over the Christmas period, that Redhill would avoid M&S’ strategic closure of their mid-sized high street stores.”

Centre manager Andy Nash said:  “We are obviously sad to hear that M&S has made the decision to start the consultation to close their Redhill store, which has been much loved by our shoppers for the last 33 years.

“The Belfry has constantly evolved over the years as consumer habits have changed and it will continue to evolve with new stores opening all the time. Though it will be disappointing to lose M&S, the bigger picture for the centre remains extremely positive, with more visitors using the centre and staying longer. We have strong enquiries that we will obviously now seek to progress.

 “The Belfry is busier than ever and the town itself is thriving with hybrid working practices establishing and the opening of Redhill’s new Rise complex last year including The Light cinema and leisure. We wish all of the Redhill M&S staff well during the consultation process and beyond; and are confident of welcoming new tenants in time to the centre.”

Previous newsletters are here (Opens in a new window), and any feedback can be emailed here (Opens in a new window).

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and family. If you're receiving this newsletter from someone outside your household, please consider signing up for a free trial (Opens in a new window).

IMPRESS logo is regulated by Impress, the independent monitor of the press. Details of our corrections and complaints procedure is here (Opens in a new window).


Would you like to be the first to write a comment?
Become a member of and start the conversation.
Become a member