After 20 years Peter Seaward retires as BRA Chairman

Peter (right) is presented with a photo montage by Simon Edge,  of images from Bookham Common taken by Eddie Hyde of the Bookham Camera Club
Peter (right) is presented with a photo montage by Simon Edge, of images from Bookham Common taken by Eddie Hyde of the Bookham Camera Club

Simon Edge - our new Chairman pays tribute to Peter  Seaward

I’ve known Peter since 2016.  I very quickly saw what an untiring force for good Peter is across the Bookhams; and how respected he and the BRA was, and still is, by MVDC and SCC officers and members, and other local groups alike.  His knowledge of the Bookhams and the North of Mole Valley, as well as his list of contacts is encyclopaedic.  He is also a skilled and determined ‘arranger’ – which explains why I’m standing here now!

Peter’s retirement marks the end of an era for the BRA. Clare Curran remembers Peter took on the chairmanship in 2003 and the energy and enthusiasm he brought to the role.

Peter forged new partnerships in the village and across the district, joining forces with Residents Associations in Fetcham, Ashtead and Leatherhead to form an umbrella group known as BLEAF which became a powerful and articulate mouthpiece for residents in the north of Mole Valley, interacting effectively with MVDC and SCC on a number of issues especially planning and highways.

Peter drove forward relationships with council officers - he was behind the creation of the consultative group called LIMBRA (Locally Involved Members with the BRA) which met with SCC highways officers and drove forward highways improvements in the village, including the safety improvements in the High Street and the drainage work at the Squareabout (although that did take a few years to actually get done).

Peter was also instrumental in the creation of Bookham’s Neighbourhood Development Plan.  Working alongside Trevor Sokell who chaired the neighbourhood forum, Peter oversaw the drafting, agreement and adoption of the plan, approved by a village referendum in May 2017. It may be the case that the influence of the NDP has not been as great as those who spent many hours in producing would have liked, but Peter has put used the plan to really good effect for the benefit of the village in all the work he has done since on the draft Mole Valley Local Plan and the proposals for the future of Bookham.

We should also recognise Peter’s contribution to - the Village sign; his support for the new Youth and Community Centre and for the redevelopment of the Howard of Effingham School; saving the Garsons’ triangle; the regeneration of Lower Shott (still work in progress); use of neighbourhood CIL for a number of projects in the village, like the notice-boards and the renovation of the many benches; the renovation of the War Memorial; the closing of the roads for the annual Act of Remembrance; and working with the Bookham Traders especially on the Christmas Lights and Hanging Baskets.

Peter has consistently maintained a strictly apolitical position, insisting that when elected councillors work with the BRA, they do so collectively as representatives of all Bookham residents and put political differences aside.

Peter has been an exceptional local leader as chairman of the Bookham Residents Association.  He has been completely committed to the role, ambitious for the village, professional in his approach to every task and always positive and enthusiastic.  He has raised the profile of the BRA as a community organisation, raised the bar for civic pride and participation in our village and brought together others locally in a powerful community partnership.  He has put Bookham on the map and deserves our wholehearted thanks.

What an act to follow! 

On behalf of the Bookhams.

Thank You Peter!


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