Notice Board for Claygate Village.

A new notice board for Claygate has been erected at the end of Coverts Road today. This was created for the benefit of the local residents (who live some distance from the centre of the village) as well as the many visitors that come here. Since living in this part of Claygate, I have noticed that many pedestrians, riders and cyclists are completely confused where they are in relation to the centre of Claygate when they exit the track at the Holroyd Road end of Coverts Road. The track known as the ‘BOAT’ which has no vehicular access, is used by the public mainly for hiking, running, cycling, dog walking or horse riding. This track links Claygate with Esher and also comes out on Fairoak Lane between Oxshott and Malden Rushett, depending on the route you take. Claygate village centre and train station is some distance from Coverts Road so the new board has a detailed map showing your exact location.

As you stand in front of it, you can clearly see what can be discovered in the surrounding area. There are numerous footpaths and bridleways, flora and fauna as well as directions to the village itself. Claygate is full of restaurants, pubs, cafes and village shops. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside views, walks and rides. It is well worth a day out, whichever mode of transport you choose. With the financial help of Surrey County Council, Claygate Parish Council and with a personal contribution of my own, the board has been created, developed and finally delivered on site today.

Thanks must go to Sarah Kingsley from Eclipse Creative for her patience and wonderful art skills. Also thanks to Elmbridge’s Countryside Officer Dave Page. Dave originally helped me to create the map, adding to my ideas with his in depth knowledge of the local countryside due to both his keen interest and occupation. Dave and his co workers from the Elmbridge Countryside Team put the board in place this morning. Residents will now have the benefit of seeing at a glance what is going on in their village community. Horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and hikers will find new tracks, wildlife and plants as well as discovering a little about the local history of Claygate. Thank you to everyone that has helped this community idea finally come to fruition.

Please click here to see the map: Claygate Coverts Road Map (004)

Coverts Road Notice Board

Coverts Road Notice Board Claygate

 

United in diversity

european-union-flag-1024x7681Just as Britain has its motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (Evil to him who evil thinks), Europe too has a motto, first used in 2000, “United in diversity”. This sums up perfectly how the European Union unites all our different cultures, traditions and languages.

When one sits in the chamber of the lower house of the European parliament with representatives from 28 different states one fully appreciates how much our forebears achieved bringing us together to work for peace and prosperity.

United in diversity sums all of this up – see it translated into each language here.

Daily Express Wrong Again

Candle Europe

The Daily Express is typical of anti European government cant.  It claim that “EU officials want control of your candles”.  This is another misleading article.  The technical changes required to bring the various rules that apply in 28 different countries to a common acceptable standard are often mundane but nevertheless necessary.

They reported here that those ‘Eurocrats’ are beavering away deciding to add unnecessary regulations to candle production. What they didn’t quite understand was that a) it’s just been proposed, there’s been no decision made and b) the safety of chemicals used in candles varies hugely and reducing the number of incidents caused is surely in everyone’s best interests.

They bang on about rules, but just making one decision now will reduce the number of hoops to jump through later down the line, improving all of our safety, and making it much simpler for all of us to trade across the whole of Europe.

No European law can be passed without the agreement of both the upper and lower houses of the European parliament.  Just as British civil servants cannot make British law European civil servants cannot make European law. – simples.

I think we’ll put this down to a rare case of smoke without fire!

European Accounts signed off

european-union-flag-1024x7681Despite what many Eurosceptics will be peddling, the EU accounts have been signed off by the European Court of Auditors for the eighth year in a row. This clean bill of health puts to bed outlandish claims to the contrary Want more detail?  Both the revenue side and administrative expenditure are free from significant errors. The overall error rate in payments has declined for a second consecutive year, to 4.4% in 2014. The Court also, in its annual report on the implementation of the EU budget in 2014, stresses the progress made by the Commission to increase transparency and absorption concerning the management of EU funds.

Doctor Who says Don’t Bomb Syrians

Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi, as Doctor Who, is a tour de force in explaining why the British should not bomb the Syrian people in Daesh territories.  I have no idea whether or not the writers of this episode (from 30 mins 20 secs), Peter Harness/Steven Moffat, intended this drama to be an allegory of the decision facing the national parliament next week but it fits the bill.

The British have attacked this area of the world for many centuries, it began to occupy it in the late nineteenth century, and when the civilian population rebelled against British rule the British bombed them.  At the peak of its power in 1942 Britain controlled Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.  Just as the British remember the Blitz, the people of Arabia remember the British bombing.  We do not serve our interests by bombing Arab civilians again.

Memories are long held.  Many in Arabia recall the Frankish invasions of the eleventh century (what Europeans refer to as the Crusades). It does not take much imagination to cast any military action that the British undertake today as a replay of those invasions.

It is the British government’s first duty to defend our land and the people in it.  The best policy is to deal with violence and potential violence within Britain using firm but fair justice. It takes time and can be frustrating but, in the long term, it preserve more lives and provides for a better quality of life for all.

Military action outside of British territory should only take place in support of a democratic state or under UN auspices.

Prime Minister Cameron does Britain no favours by dropping a few bombs in Syria – and it will be just a few.  It is pure tokenism based on dubious morality and untied to any process towards peace for the Syrians.  One of the worst type of violent actions.

I am not a pacifist. For example, I am absolutely clear that we should have recovered the Falkland Islands but this bombing appears to be a puerile, knee-jerk reaction to recent events.  I am saddened that so many of our MPs know so little of history and foreign affairs that they have got sucked in by the “we must do something party”.  After all it was because we did something last time that we got into this trouble in the first place.

An eye for an eye makes the world blind.

Watch the Peter Capaldi tell MPs what it all about on iPlayer from 30 mins 20 secs

Claygate Horse Crossing

Horse Crossing3On the afternoon of Saturday, 14 June 2014, following a collision with an unsuspecting motorist there was the tragic death of a horse. It was spooked by selfish fly-tipping, lost its experienced rider and in fear bolted straight out into the road. I have managed with the help of the Claygate community, the Equestrian Community, Claygate Parish Council and SCC Councillor Mike Bennison to raise enough money (£5,000.00) to rebuild with improvements the dilapidated horse crossing in Woodstock Lane South. A road safety audit determined what measures were required to implement the new crossing and it is now in place, improving the safety of everyone that uses this fast and busy road. There is now a large pen for horses to enter, secure and separated from the road. Site lines and signage have also been enhanced and the pedestrian footpath which runs alongside the track has been cleared so pedestrians and horses no longer share the same path. Thank you Claygate for trusting in me to deliver this project for the safety of our community.

Horse Crossing2

Slower speeds, safer streets

Damage after crashSurrey’s Conservative Leader, David Hodge, when giving evidence about 20mph speed limits to a House of Commons Select Committee in 2014 said: “The problem is that it is all very well putting in a 20mph limit, but unless somebody is going to enforce it you have wasted a whole lot of money. My view is that I have no intention of wasting public money putting in 20mph limits.”

John Furey, Surrey’s portfolio holder for transport told me that he had no mind to implement 20mph limits because it hindered people’s business and he wanted growth for Surrey.  But this view does not bear scrutiny.

Let’s do a quick calculation.  Most car journeys are under five miles long. They usually begin on a side street, pass along a few main roads and end on a side street.  Let’s assume that the journey is 5 miles long – 4.6 miles on main roads and 0.4 miles on the two sides streets at each end.  Let us also assume that the driver can drive at the maximum speed along the whole journey – hardly likely during the day (even at night either) – no stopping to give way at junctions, no traffic lights, no zebra crossings and no congestion. At 30mph the journey would take ten minutes door-to door.  Given that the maximum speeds in the side streets would be 20mph – the journey in such a case would be 10.4 minutes door-to door. The difference is 24 seconds.  In other words, the journey would take 4% longer.  The longer the journey the proportionally smaller the time difference.  During the middle of the day the difference would be too small to notice.  Yet for the sake of a few seconds lives are lost and injuries greater.

But the 20mph limit on side streets makes a greater difference. Surveys across the country have shown that mothers will cycle if the streets are seen to be safe and, more importantly, they will let their children cycle too.  In general mothers have more influence on their children cycling than fathers.  The greater the switch to cycling the lower the air pollution, the more pleasant the environment, and the healthier the people.

Given that between the ages of 5 and 40 the greatest single cause of death in Britain is being killed by a moving vehicle (whether driving it, being a passenger or being a passerby) it is important to reduce this loss of life.  Enforcing a 20mph speed limit on side streets would be the single most effective way for the police service to protect us.

Currently the cost of 20mph limits is a small 20mph roundel on every other lamppost.

Warning on public health cuts in Surrey

healthcareFigures released by the national department of health show the Conservative national government is planning to cut £2.2m from the public health budget across Surrey.

This will have a direct impact on efforts to improve health at local level because the public health budget relieves pressure on English NHS hospitals and clinics by helping people to solve their own health problems before they become serious.

For example, the budget helps finance work to promote exercise, give up smoking and tackle drug addiction.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Surrey’s Leader of the Liberal Democrats opposition, said: “These planned cuts of £2.2m to Surrey’s public health budget are the wrong cuts, made in the wrong way.  The public health budget is an important support system for our NHS and these planned cuts represent a false economy which will only end up costing the government and the NHS more than is saved.

Lib Dems urge Surrey to protect children

Childrens servicesFollowing an Ofsted inspection this June, which rated Surrey’s Children’s Service as “inadequate”, Surrey’s Conservative administration has published its plan on Children’s Improvement 2015.

“Inspectors concluded that there were widespread and serious failures that potentially leave children at risk of harm,” said ClIr Hazel Watson, Surrey’s Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition. “The Conservative administration has a huge challenge to turn around Surrey’s children’s services.”

Better recruitment and training

The Improvement Plan is a substantial report suggesting a host of actions, including better recruitment and retention of social workers, improved training for children’s services staff, more thorough management oversight and more efficient procedures. The publication of the report is the county’s pathway to the recovery of children’s services.

Liberal Democrats in Surrey will work with the Conservative administration and other political groups to ensure that the improvement plan’s actions are fully implemented.  The special focus will be on recruiting and retaining social workers who are experienced and can provide the best possible service for Surrey’s children. The current vacancy rate is approximately 20 per cent in essential social work teams in Surrey,”

Heathrow

heathrow_3_750Heathrow was a poor locational choice for a new major airport even when it opened in 1944 and replaced Croydon and Hendon airports.  Also the land for this new London Airport was forcibly purchased by the national government under special powers – the Defence of the Realm Act – without compensation to the landowners specifically to avoid public opposition.

A similar approach is happening today.  Notwithstanding, the impact of an enlarged airport on noise, air and ground pollution the proposed airport expansion does not make economic sense.  The assumptions used in the Davies report  – discount rates for investment, payback periods and PFI rates etc could be considered designed to ensure that the recommendation of the report  could only be Heathrow.

If it is considered that south-east England needs extra airport capacity then it should be in the Thames estuary if at all and while such an airport is being built then perhaps Gatwick could be expanded as a less dreadful choice than Heathrow.

At present Heathrow is running at too high a capacity – far higher than other airports. Heathrow should have the number of flights reduced so that it ordinarily runs at 80% capacity.  At such capacity the amount of stacking would be reduced, thus dramatically reducing air pollution and noise (saving fuel too) and also the airport would be able to cope better when the weather is not so favourable.

To do this the national government  – with one year’s notice  – should randomly withdraw six slots (flight movements in or out) a month (a week would be better but more unsettling for the industry).  The reason that withdrawn slots should be randomly chosen is to avoid any possibility that airlines could be seen to affect the choice of slot to be removed.  At the same time four of those slots would be leased by auction for, say, five years to the highest bidder.  The revenue would not go to the airport but to the state.  The revenues could be partly used to either compensate those who lived near the airport before it was built or to develop better landside connections to reduce air pollution from arriving road traffic or both.