Surrey becomes the first county in England to provide free period products – POSTED BY SCC ⋅ MAY 26, 2021

On Friday 28 May, on Menstrual Health Day 2021, Surrey County Council is proud to be launching a ground-breaking initiative with charity Binti International, to provide free period products in selected locations across Surrey and be the first county council in the UK to start eradicating period stigma.

Donation bins and collection boxes where residents can help themselves to pads if needed, can be found in selected libraries across Surrey.

A Binti app is also available to download so residents can find the nearest location where free period products are available to collect and where you can donate. The app is available to download on the Apple app store for IOS users or the Google Play store for Android users.

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council said: “I’m delighted this initiative is launching and it’s something we’re very proud to be a part of. Period products should be available to anybody who needs them, and it’s great that Surrey is leading the way in making this a reality.

We would hate to think anybody would suffer in silence without access to these products for fear of shame or indignity. That absolutely should not be the case, and we hope that this initiative is an important step towards eradicating that stigma.”

Katie Stewart, Strategic Lead for Equality Diversity and Inclusion at Surrey County Council, said: “Surrey County Council is proud to be involved in this initiative in partnership with Binti International to provide equal access to pads so no one need suffer the indignity of managing their period without period products.

We hope that Surrey residents will support this great initiative by donating products, and that businesses across the county will do so by providing products for their employees, so that more and more collection and donation points across Surrey can be provided. It’s time for period dignity across Surrey”.

Binti International founder, Manjit K Gill said: “As we celebrate our 7th year, we are delighted to announce this new campaign with Surrey County Council. As the first period charity in the UK, our grass root level conversations have taught us that deep rooted barriers to breaking stigmas attached to periods, are shared by all communities in one way or another. It’s been good to see organisations raising awareness of period poverty in the UK and offering free pads, especially in the pandemic. However, the provision of free period products satisfies the immediacy of the need, this isn’t a catalyst for change if it’s not partnered with normalising the period discussion. We have to be brave enough to challenge the reason behind the shame that leads to so many women and girls suffering in silence – not talking about it.

Our Dignity At Work campaign is ground-breaking because on the one hand we normalise the provision of period products in all public spaces and secondly, we encourage conversation about the big elephant in the room. Let’s end period stigma and expect period products everywhere“.

For more information on how to donate and collect and ways to get involved, visit our Surrey Matters article or the Binti website.


Editors notes

There will be donation bins and collection boxes where residents can help themselves to pads, in selected libraries across Surrey: Ash, Ashford, Ashtead, Addlestone, Banstead, Bookham, Camberley, Caterham Hill, Caterham Valley, Chertsey, Cobham, Cranleigh, Dittons, Dorking, Egham, Epsom, Esher, Ewell, Farnham, Frimley Green, Godalming, Guildford, Haslemere, Hersham, Horley, Horsley, Knaphill, Leatherhead, Lightwater, Merstham, Molesey, Oxted, Redhill, Reigate, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Walton, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Woking.

There will also be donation bins and collection boxes available in Surrey County Council buildings at Quadrant Court – Woking, Consort House – Redhill, Fairmount House – Leatherhead, Woodhatch Place – Reigate and Ashley Park House – Walton-on-Thames.

Public Space Protection Order No.3 (Anti-Social Behaviour) 2021.

At last night’s very long 6-hour meeting at Waverley Borough Council, the recommendation to approve and make the Public Space Protection Order was agreed. This is what I said.

“In October 2018 I chaired a packed meeting in St. John’s Church, Farncombe, attended by over three hundred local residents. This Order is the result of that, and it addresses the concerns expressed at that time. It allows for the use of appropriate powers as and when there are issues of anti-social behaviour, and as Sgt. Claire Sutherland says, ”It is a tool in the toolbox”. But, it should not be the only tool – it should be one of many.

These problems, of course, are exacerbated by cuts made by Surrey County Council in the Youth Services programme and this Order will provide additional controls but it will not solve the problem. This will require investment. Investment in time, talents, and money in the Youth Services so that our younger citizens do not feel that they are a problem but rather that they are an integral, vital, and valued part of our community.

Together we are better!

And so this is Christmas …

Today the Tory administration at Surrey County Council used its own amendment to vote down a Lib Dem motion that would have prioritised child food poverty in Surrey. If approved, the original, proposed by Cllr Fiona White and seconded by Cllr Will Forster, would have committed the Council to taking the small, albeit valuable steps of ensuring the availability of breakfast clubs in Surrey schools as well as the lobbying of central government for changes to the welfare system.

Instead a lengthy amendment, which set out largely the strategic actions already being taken by the Tory Council, was supported by its own group members, who currently enjoy a huge majority, although it was opposed by those from other political parties. In order to get the motion through, most of those who voted against the amendment voted in favour in the second round.

Following the recorded votes Cllr White said: “I am very pleased that we initiated a discussion on child poverty in Surrey. While it’s disappointing that we had to support the Conservatives’ watered-down version of our original motion to get it through and that the Tories removed most of the more robust actions we proposed, it is at least better than nothing. So many fellow councillors spoke powerfully on this issue and recognised that while there is some good work being done in the background, what we as Lib Dems were looking for was some practical steps that would have an immediate impact on Surrey’s children in need.”


There was a lot to read before the Planning and Regulatory meeting at Surrey County Council, in fact about 400 pages. The main part of the meeting was to decide the application to construct and operate a well site to drill for oil and gas at Dunsfold. (MINERALS AND WASTE APPLICATION WA/2019/0796 – LOXLEY WELL SITE).

This application was debated for over 4 hours. Having read and heard all the speakers I proposed refusal for the reason that if oil or gas were to be found over the next 3 years, then that might be of benefit to the nation but this would be outweighed by the likelihood of significant adverse impact on the locality – on the countryside, on existing local businesses and also that it would actually drill directly under Dunsfold Garden Village.  This proposal was seconded by Cllr Andrew Povey and supported by 4 others as you can read below.

Mr Tim HallConAgainst the motionMole Valley
Mr Saj HussainConAgainst the motionWoking
Mr Keith TaylorConAgainst the motionGuildford
Mrs Rose ThornConAgainst the motionTandridge
Mr Ernest MallettIndependentAgainst the motionElmbridge
Mrs Bernie MuirConFor the motionEpsom and Ewell
Dr Andrew PoveyConFor the motionWaverley
Mrs Yvonna LayConFor the motionRunnymede
Mr Tim EvansConFor the motionSpelthorne
Mr Stephen CookseyLibDemFor the motionMole Valley
Mrs Penny RiversLibDemFor the motionWaverley

The full meeting has been recorded for your delight and delectation at ….

Planning and Regulatory Committee – Friday 27 November 2020 10.30am – Surrey County Council Webcasts (

‘I have never been so proud of being a town councillor as I am now.’

  Posted: 14.10.20 at 08:30 by The Editor on Facebook

Penny Rivers at last year's Remembrance service

Penny Rivers at last year’s Remembrance service

UP CLOSE: With town mayor Penny Rivers.

For all of us, this has been a year like no other. But what is it like to be a civic leader in such trying times?

Nub News spoke to Godalming Mayor Penny Rivers, who, as the town’s first citizen, has found herself facing unprecedented challenges as the town battles through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Penny is well into her fourth stint as mayor – no-one has held the office more times than her since the local government reorganisation of 1972 – but this year has been, on paper, her quietest. Yet in reality it has been her most trying.

“Last year as mayor I had 136 engagements,” she told Nub News.”This year I’ve had eight!”

The reason for that, of course, has been Covid, the cancellation of dozens of events and the lockdown that has seen us all behind closed doors, and subject to restrictions, since March.Penny was the guest of honour at the official opening of Nightingale Flowers in Farncombe during the summer.

For Penny, more accustomed to cutting ribbons, making well-received speeches and providing a glamorous civic presence at events as diverse as church services and football matches, it has been a challenge.

Yet, she says, she looks back on the year so far (her term will end in May) with huge pride.

It isn’t just pride at a job well done – although she has undoubtedly played her part in keeping the spirits of the town bouyed as we navigated our way through hitherto uncharted waters. It is pride, she says, at the way the community has rallied round.

From the major projects such as the Community Store and the work of the St Mark’s Foodbank to the patient and stoic manner in which residents have adopted and adapted to the government’s rules, she says she has never been prouder to be part of our community.

A Liberal Democrat, Penny has been a town councillor for 16 years. She represents Farncombe and Catteshall ward on both Godalming town and Waverley borough councils, and serves as a Surrey county councillor for Godalming North.
She was previously town mayor from 2001-2, 2004-5, and 2019-20.

She only stepped back into the hot seat in May 2019 when the local elections saw the designated successor, Andrew Boulton, lose his seat.

“To be mayor even once is a great privilege – and as the Annual Public Meeting could not be held this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was even more unexpected that I would remain mayor for a fourth time,” she says.

“There have in Godalming been a few councillors who have been mayor a few times, but I don’t think anybody has been mayor four times.”

But this has been a year different from all others. A graphic illustration of just how different it has been lies in the figures: in a normal year the town mayor will carry out around 150 engagements: this year, as Penny says, there have been eight.

“Normally there is music and drama and sports – that, of course, is just not happening,” Penny says.

“Eight engagements look as if I have been twiddling my thumbs, but absolutely not. It’s been busy, but in a different way.”

Since the pandemic struck Penny has found a role encouraging and supporting those who have stepped forward to help others: the Community Store and the extra work being carried out at the St Mark’s Foodbank are just two of many examples that have sprung up around the town.

People have banded together to check on their neighbours, run errands, collect prescriptions and go shopping for those who were isolating during lockdown. People have formed groups to make face masks and hospital scrubs, and set up rotas to make phonecalls to people living alone.

“It’s about making a connection between people who need help,” says Penny.

“I have never been so proud of being a town councillor as I am now. Also of the way in which the town council has reacted – it has been exemplary. The town clerk has worked extremely hard to make the High Street a safe shopping environment. People have stepped up quite remarkably, and the volunteers associated with the coronavirus support group have been just magnificent.

“What this pandemic has made us reflect on is our interdependence, our need for each other.”

One of the few visits Mrs Rivers had made in person this year was to Broadwater School to congratulate pupils who received their GCSE results this summer.

She is already a familiar face at the school, having made visits as chairman of the Farncombe Community Team.

She said: “We think that we teach young people: believe me, there is nothing like sitting back and listening to them. They are inspirational. I was absolutely bowled over. It was a great pleasure to go and see them on results day.

“I very much feel that as a community we are able to recognise each other, and we depend on each other. We need to support each other and enjoy each other’s company.”

Other meetings have had to take place online, such as a recent meeting with a local WI group, the Godalming Theatre Group AGM and a delightful harvest festival organised by St Hilary’s School – all arranged over Zoom.

She will be busy in her mayoral capacity at Christmas too: “The message is that the pandemic has not cancelled Christmas!” she says. “There will still be lights!”

Penny will be switching those on as usual this year, although the event will have a different format from previous years.
The town council is busy finalising plans agreed by councillors at a recent meeting. Fear not though – Santa will still be making an appearance!

And she urges people to support local retailers, especially through these trying times and in the run-up to Christmas.

“We need to shop local and support Farncombe and Godalming,” she says.

On reflection, “It’s been a serious year,” she says. “In a normal year there is a lot of fun. Maybe it’s not had quite the fun, it’s been a bit more serious, but I think it has made me reflect on what’s of value.

“We know we need hope, light and encouragement in dark times. The support is still there. We do have to hold on to each other as best we can – even if it’s only by Zoom.”

Thanks, Toots, for your music and may you rest in peace and rise in glory.

So sad to hear of the death of Fredrick “Toots” Hibbert. He gave the world reggae and shared its soul. The first Toots and the Maytals album was released in 1962 – the year Jamaica became independent – and he has been part of the world’s music since then. Toots described his songs as “a message of consolation, a message of salvation”.

With millions of others my family has rocked along with Toots for many, many years. We were in Jamaica when Bam Bam was chosen as the Festival song and three generations of us saw Toots at Guilfest – my father’s one and only gig!

Dreams and nightmares

It was 57 years ago today, on August 28th, 1963, that Martin Luther King Jnr gave his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial on the culmination of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

That is history, yet his inspirational words and his dream of equality, of racial justice, and message of hope endure. Martin Luther King was killed because he and those he spoke for lived a nightmare of injustice and inequality.

Black Lives mattered then and Matter now. If you question this, ask yourselves why the term “Afro-American” is prevalent when no-one uses the term “Euro-American” for those with European ancestry. And in the UK, why are Dianne Abbott, Lenny Henry, Clive Myrie, Benjamin Zephaniah and many, many others asked to go back to where they came from? They were all born in this land of hope and glory – “born of thee” – so are they not also free? Free from the fear of being stopped by police; free to walk the streets, as we who are white feel free?

Martin Luther King ended his speech with “Let freedom ring. And let us all join hands, and sing in the words of the old spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

We must seek to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, where no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Listen to Benjamin Zephaniah and his re-imagining of Martin Luther King’s speech …

Pride in Godalming

Godalming gave Pride in Surrey a warm welcome today! During this time of C19 we have all used the rainbow as a sign of hope – to be whole, beautiful and effective the rainbow needs all its colours and variety