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Membership of the Liberal Democrats locally has been growing fast with people joining from other parties and none.  Recently, our strength in the borough council has doubled – we now have 20% of the councillors and our party has moved from fourth place to second in the council.

We welcome anyone who wants a responsive and accountable local government. This can only be achieved when councillors work hand-in-hand with the people they represent. We value citizen participation. Our goal is a more open, personal and service-minded form of local government. We believe this is the key to enhancing the quality of life of all in Elmbridge.

Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

All we need is YOU!

We need your ideas, your input, your voice and your help.

  • Shape what happens to the town.
  • Influence and support ideas and plans.
  • Get support from the others and the council for for your own ideas and projects.

We will talk about:

  • The spaces we use.
  • How we get about.
  • How we support people and keep them safe.
  • Our local economy and business.

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.

Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.

Out of hospital services in North West Surrey

Residents of Weybridge have been invited by the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) to contribute their views on plans for out of hospital services in our area. The launch of this engagement is an event on Tuesday 2nd October, running from 3-8 pm at the Ship Hotel.

What services for Weybridge?

While the focus of the engagement goes beyond just the Weybridge Hospital rebuild, it is particularly pertinent for Weybridge. The CCG notice about the events says: “Following this engagement we will be better placed to determine the services that will eventually go into the new healthcare facility that will be built on the site of the old Weybridge Hospital.”

Register to attend

CCG staff will be able to give attendees a greater opportunity to put their views if attendance is spread out. People wishing to attend can sign up in advance and select a 30 minute time slot.

CLAYGATE TRAVELLER ENCAMPMENT FRI 3rd AUG 2018

Claygate residents are well aware of the recent traveller incident on the Recreation Ground. Here is my first hand account of what happened:

At approx. 5pm on Friday 3rd August 2018, I was driving down Church Road towards the Parade when I was halted by a caravan that was right across the road! A young man, accompanied by a boy were opening the gates that lead onto the Claygate Recreation Ground. I dialled 999 as I was telling them to stop but before I knew it I was surrounded, I returned to my car dialling 999 again as I felt so insecure. During that police call I could hear the sirens in the background and a number of local residents had also begun to arrive at the gates.

OVER 200 TRAVELLERS AND 30+ CARAVANS

As far as I could see down the road there was caravan after caravan. Already two caravans and trucks were on the land. Brave residents attempted to prevent further travellers gaining access and the situation got extremely intense. This is a ‘Civil Trespass’ and the police are not the lead agency. Private landlords and local councils are responsible for removing such groups from their land. The role of the police is to keep the peace.

The police superintendent that was present, then informed the local residents that in order to avoid an escalation of the dangerously unpredictable situation, the travellers were to be allowed onto the ground. After an hours stand-off residents eventually complied with police requests and indignantly witnessed over 200 travellers and 30+ caravans, access their recreation ground. 

POLICE AND BAILIFFS REMOVE THE TRAVELLERS

As the Claygate Recreation Ground Trust lease the land from EBC, it is, in the eyes of the law, private land therefore a more expedient action was agreed to get them removed. On Saturday morning bailiffs were instructed to come on site and remove the travellers. They arrived at midday but were unsuccessful as the travellers were resisting removal. Their second attempt with increased manpower and support from Surrey Police meant they successfully started removing the travellers and by 8:30pm on Saturday 4th August all the travellers had left our Recreation Ground. Various padlocks were found or borrowed to secure the gates once again.

FANTASTIC WORK BY VOLUNTEERS

The next morning more than 100 volunteers came to help clear the rubbish which was everywhere, even though some clearing up had been done the night before! At one stage a line of volunteers walked across the rec like a police forensic unit. This fantastic effort by the Claygate community meant the recreation ground could be opened again for the residents and by 11:15am the Church Road gate was re-opened by myself so the waste could be collected by EBC contractors.

DAMAGING BUSINESS AND TRAUMATISING RESIDENTS

The impact on the community, the local shops, pubs and restaurants was damaging as there were numerous thefts, businesses had to close and residents were genuinely traumatized. Money has been lost by all these local services and added to that is the cost of the police, welfare checks, court orders and the instruction of the bailiffs.

However the use of the law did not solve the problem as they simply moved a few miles down the road to Long Ditton. Neither is it a cause for celebration as this immensely expensive social problem will not change until the law does. We should be looking to Parliament to do something to protect us all from such threatening and criminal behaviour that currently goes unchallenged.

INTERIM PROTECTIVE INJUNCTION GRANTED

On Thursday 16th August EBC was granted a three month interim protective injunction at the High Court. This order bans the setting up of unauthorised encampments and fly-tipping on over 150 car parks and green spaces within Elmbridge. Officers are also working hard for a longer term proactive solution to this state of affairs, as are all of your Councillors and Surrey police.

IMMENSE COST!

This year Elmbridge has sustained large scale fly-tipping and funded the immense cost of clearing it all up. There has been damage to gates and barriers, lost parking income and large increases in the size and number of unauthorised encampments. Since April 2018 there has been a total of 27 encampments on public parks and open spaces, as well as others on privately owned land such as Painshill and the Birds Eye offices in Walton Upon Thames. The impact on our communities (as we witnessed here in Claygate) is substantial, as is the loss of our community facilities.

The Elmbridge Liberal Democrats have written to Dominic Raab MP. I have written to David Munro Police and Crime Commissioner and I also met with Superintendent Any Rundle to express residents very real concerns about this ongoing difficult social issue.

Trade Deals

Do you want to know what the British proposal is for handling customs after Brexit? Alright then here you go, it’s very simple really…..

If Britain imports something from outside the EU-27 and then that product is shipped into the EU-27 then the British government collects the EU tariff and pays it on to the EU once the goods have been exported onwards.

Say, for example, we import a Harley Davidson motorcycle valued at £10,000 into Britain and the EU has a 10% tariff then if that bike is then exported into an EU-27 country then we would pay the EU £1,000.

Let’s look at another example. Say we import 20 tons of beef from Argentina (at £1,000 per ton with a 10% EU tariff) and two tons are shipped into the EU-27 we would then pass on the tariff of £200 on the two tons.

See I told you it’d be easy.  Oh but wait…. what if we use ten tons of that beef as materials for making beef curry and then sell on that curry as a ready meal into the EU-27? We would have to calculate the proportion of the meal that matches the beef tariff from Argentina.

Oh and if we are importing vegetables in that meal from Asia then we’d have to look at the tariff on each ingredient and then calculate how much we owe the EU-27.

What about car parts? Say we export a car into the EU built by Nissan in Sunderland? Valued at £20,000 export price we’d have to identify the value of specific parts that came from the EU (with a tariff), identify what parts came from outside the EU (with different tariffs) and then when it’s exported into the EU deduct the tariffs on the parts from the EU and pass on the tariffs we collected on non-EU parts.

Getting more complicated now eh? Bear in mind that a car has 30,000 parts! We’d have to do this for all 4,500 plus product nomenclature (product groups) that we trade with the EU.  Bear in mind just one product group like steel plate has over 3,200 different grades of steel and you can begin to see the size of the complexity – and THIS my friends is the top suggestion that Theresa May is still trying to get all her Cabinet and party to agree on from the Body Bag Summit at Chequers, despite the fact that it’s already been ruled out by the EU as completely unrealistic and unworkable. And they’ve categorically stated that the EU will not allow a third country to collect tariffs and duty on its behalf. If there was a dispute then where would Britain as a third country go for resolution outside the EU?  The incompetence of this administration is simply astounding. It’s almost as if they don’t know what they are doing!

Chequers Accord

The Chequers Accord was dead before it was written and the cabinet should have known that after being told for two long years that it is illegal to cherry pick the four pillars/freedoms of the European Union (EU).

The very foundation of the four freedoms of the EU, freedom of movement of goods, capital, people and services are indivisible. If the EU decided that it was going to allow Britain to split these freedoms by permitting cherry picking for goods but not services then they would have to make these same allowances for fifty plus other countries too… because the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules state that you cannot provide a better deal for one nation that you do for others.

In order for the EU to accept the Chequers Accord they’d be in breach of their own international treaties. I suggest that this is a highly unlikely scenario as they’d likely have to start re-negotiating the Canada-EU deal and the Japan-EU deal amongst others.

Another key WTO rule is that if you want to trade favourably then a country must check, measure and control goods coming in and going out of the country. All members of the WTO have agreed this so that they can ensure the right tariffs and quota and quota are being applied.

However, the sovereign British parliament’s EU Withdrawal Act that recently received royal assent by Her Majesty the Queen specifically states in Section 10 that it would be illegal for a British government to do anything that creates new checks and controls on the border on the island of Ireland or damage the Good Friday Agreement. This means that if we crash out of the EU with no deal then we would be subject to the highest possible external tariff regime for every single country in the WTO.  And it would also be impossible for Britain to negotiate free trade deals to mitigate these extortionate tariffs. This would devastate British exporters. completely.

So where are we?  With six weeks of negotiations left before the conclusion of the Article 50 talks, the only proposal from the British government is to ask the EU to break its international treaties and agreements or we leave on the absolute worst possible terms for Britain. A situation you wouldn’t even consider in a nightmare. Or…. alternatively…. we could remain in the EU where we currently trade all around the world, make our own laws in Westminster while also heavily influencing the laws of the largest trade bloc on the planet, control our standards and quality, while also not bringing the country to a standstill. Did you know that between 1990 and 2016 the British economy grew by 68%? That’s faster than the G7! It’s already been damaged since the referendum to one of the worst on our continent.

It’s not too late. Stop Brexit and stop the damage – now before it’s too late.

Opinion & Analysis – ‘Brutopia’ – A Demonic Raabid Vision

By ‘Sam Vete’
The boundary of Esher and Walton reveals a peculiar ‘ménage à trois’ between Hampton Court and Thames Ditton; the historical figures Thomas More and Thomas Wolsey cohabit with Dominic Raab.
Thomas More wrote ‘Utopia’, criticising the politics of belligerent European nations while imagining an island nation fulfilling liberal political ideals. The English language and social thought were enriched. Wolsey and More collaborated to reject Lutheranism, putting all their eggs in Rome’s Catholic basket. They became devilled eggs when Henry VIII chose Anne Boleyn above religion.

David Starkey’s TV series erroneously portrays the Reformation as ‘Tudor brexit’ (peering penetratingly, troll-like, from behind a tree). Yes, Henry wanted to take control from Rome for selfish reasons. Similarly, hard-core brexiters want ‘Henry VIII powers’, passing laws ignoring EU liberalism. That does not parallel the historical events as Lutheranism spread throughout free-thinking states. Elizabeth I put things right in England!

Where do Raab’s demonic diatribes fit this religious triangle? His referendum sermons preached a fundamentalist belief in brexit; scorning basic economic theory and playground savvy – ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. A ‘Brutopia’ which ignores the detrimental implications of economic separatism and autocratic legislation, preferring cronyism to a fair, progressive broad church. Since brexit myths have been exposed as lies, many have changed their minds. Polls show Raab’s views are now seriously out of step with the UK majority. They have NEVER been in step with the pro-EU majority of his constituents. Brexit is not the dish-of-the-day, démodé!

Where else do Raab’s views clash with his constituents? In another modern religion – air travel. He ignores technological progress and the economic and ecological errors of building a Heathrow runway. Video conferencing replaces air travel. Businesses with an internet presence can make decisions quicker than ordering an airport taxi. Progress in flight technology means that runways can be shorter, lightweight carbon-fibre planes (powered by electricity rather than polluting kerosene) will carry more passengers, better booking systems will increase seat occupancy, and additional airport infrastructure will be a white elephant.
Similarly, Dominic Raab; his ‘Vim’ has been scrubbed out! Meanwhile, Theresa May is no Gloriana!

CLAYGATE TREASURE HUNT

Part of my remit as an Elmbridge Borough Councillor is to promote our shops and businesses in Claygate. This is an ongoing responsibility supported by the Elmbridge Business Network (that supports businesses and start-ups in many ways throughout the Borough).

On Saturday 21st July we had our annual Claygate Treasure Hunt. Twenty exotic birds were placed in participating shops. Entry forms could be collected from Ceramica or from Nathans Bakery and every child participating received a free lollypop. Colourful balloons were placed along the Parade and so the hunt began, bringing parents and children into the village shops.                                                                                    From 10.00am – 4.00pm they could search for the colourful birds and discover what a wonderful Parade of shops we have in our village.

The winning family were the Winterfloods who won £50.00 to spend in one of the participating shops of their choice. Dexter (7) and Maxwell (6) along with their mum Sarah chose Fruit World, where mum has been buying their fruit and vegetables from Mick since her boys were babies.

YOUR PLASTIC FREE PARADE

Boomerang bags, have reached Claygate! All thanks to two local working mums, using fabric scraps and volunteers, Pippa Moody and Maxine Falconbridge have created shopping bags and are helping to reduce single-use plastic in our village of Claygate.
It’s a huge community effort, volunteers make the bags to supply the shops which are given free to their customers to return or re-use.
A small grant from Claygate Parish Council, means the duo have bought a Claygate Boomerang Bag stamp, as well as printed leaflets, instructions and tags.
They have harnessed the enthusiastic eco drive of Elmbridge Borough Councillor, Mary Marshall, who further helped the pair engage with the already motivated local shopkeepers.
Mary has also managed to source an excellent fabric supply in the process.
These ladies still need more volunteers but you don’t have to be able to sew! Needed are fabric donations, washing fabric, cutting out, ironing and making up kits.
The bags are helping people to chat, make friends, up-cycle materials and shift our society’s poor throwaway mentality towards re-use.
Please visit www.boomerangbags.org for more information. Find them on twitter @bagsclaygate and Instagram: claygate.boomerang.bags or contact Pippa Moody pippakmoody@hotmail.com

Weybridge Town Meeting

On Monday 2 July, about 60 people met in the Weybridge Centre for our first open town meeting.

The idea behind this meeting was to provide a space where issues, suggestions and improvements to the town could be discussed. And where the agenda was compiled by the participants and not by local politicians or interest groups.

And that’s what happened!

How did it work?

People suggested topics which were captured on a chart: 25 topics in under 5 minutes. Too many for a meeting but there were overlaps and obvious connections. We bundled together similar topics and we got down to six clusters.

What did we discuss?

People formed groups to tackle the topic they were most interested in and the meeting set off to have conversations about:

  • Traffic and parking
  • The High Street and development
  • The Weybridge allotments development proposal

What the groups came up with

Traffic and Parking

Participants described a range of interconnected traffic and parking issues, often differing from road to road:

  • residents disrupted by school run traffic and parking
  • residents not finding overnight parking in roads with limited capacity
  • dangerous rat run traffic through residential roads
  • insufficient daytime parking for workers and shoppers
  • intrusive town centre through traffic.

The group welcomed the Weybridge Society and WTBG research into worker parking needs. They agreed that it needs to be augmented with traffic flow research to inform conclusions. They felt that more off-street parking is needed, not necessarily multi-storey, and liked the idea of worker park and ride from Brooklands.

Participants agreed that a wider strategic review of parking and traffic is needed. The review must reflect the varying needs of residents in different roads.  It must also address the imperative of managing rat run traffic.

Other suggested initiatives included better safer cycle routes and footpaths; schools doing more to encourage children to walk and cycle to school; and creating more pedestrian-friendly areas around the town centre. The end of Baker Street could be pedestrianised, at least at weekends.

The High Street and development

  • Baker St pedestrianisation came up in this group and was viewed positively
  • the town’s conservation areas are treated inconsistently and Quadrant Green is neglected. Both could be used better and made more attractive.
  • the High St could be reshaped to allow for safer cycle passage and a general reduction in speed would enable better flow of pedestrians
  • there is a need for more seating in the High Street
  • opening up High Street to the park and allotments would link existing amenities and increase use.

The group noted that Weybridge benefits from having most of its public services located in the town centre.

The group also referred to two existing townscape projects. There is the Weybridge Society initiative on the town centre, which is being branded WRAP – Weybridge Rebuild and Advance Project. And there are plans for improvements to pavement and street scene at the east end of the High Street, from Elmgrove Road to Waitrose.

The Weybridge allotments development proposal

  • there was general agreement to resist the sale of any part of the allotments by the Weybridge Charity. “When they’re gone they’re gone!”
  • the Trustees’ plan for raising funds through sale and development seems to be poorly thought out and there are alternative options which should be considered.
  • the allotments need to be better publicised and integrated into town activities.

ACTION: Vicki Macleod to support groups to engage with the Trustees and find an alternative to the proposed sale

We didn’t get around to discussing Policing, residents’ safety, disabled access, or affordable housing as topics in their own right but they were all mentioned in the course of conversations. These will be put back on the table at a follow up meeting in September.