Getting to grips with parking – the basics

Residents’ concern

As a recently elected councillor, I find that parking is one of the top topics that people raise with me. Issues I have been dealing with both before the election and now are:

  • unreasonable and dangerous parking by parents around one particular school in my ward
  • lack of access for waste removal from homes due to inconsiderate parking in narrow residential streets
  • Monday to Friday parking restrictions (single yellow lines) applying to Bank Holidays, not just working Mondays
  • severe parking congestion in the evening in town centre streets – even those with a CPZ
  • absence of turning space at the end of cul de sacs

What to do?

Some of these problems are matters of making information more widely available and better signposting: e.g. Mondays to Friday restrictions apply on Bank Holidays throughout Elmbridge. Or proactively letting diners know there is free evening parking available in Elmbridge car parks. These can be just 5 minutes away from their restaurant destination.

Taking it further

Some parking transgressions are due to lack of consideration or plain selfishness. The net result is that local people suffer at the hands of the inconsiderate!

When appeals for considerate behaviour fall on deaf ears, we need to explore what actions accountable authorities should take. And when this avenue is exhausted, we need to explore how the situation can be transformed.

Improvements in Weybridge

Over the following months your local Lib Dem councillors will be supporting local residents seeking improved CPZ timings in town centre streets. We will also be seeking to ensure that residents in narrow roads do receive bin collections, undisrupted by poor parking. And finally we will be exploring imaginative ways of securing clear pavements and safe parking around problem schools.

 

What’s happening with the new Weybridge Cinema?

Much needed town centre development

Weybridge residents are looking forward to having a new independent cinema at the site of Weybridge Hall. This might be the first of several enhancements to the life of the town centre. However, people have expressed concern over the lack of any update and apparent delay in the development moving forward.

Why the delay?

Recently published council papers (Item 6) now show that there have been unanticipated costs which which will impact the overall budget needed. These arise from removal of asbestos and the proposed approach to effective sound proofing. The cabinet will be considering this on 4 July and will make recommendations to full council.

Culture and Affordable Housing

The plan for this development is to deliver a cinema with around 100 seats, plus affordable housing units above. These will comprise four one-bedroom and one two-bedroom units. These units will be affordable for rent properties.

Clearly residents and businesses in Weybridge are keen for this development to the evening economy to go ahead. We are keen to enhance the social and cultural life of the town which is great to live in.

Keeping you informed

We will provide an update once a decision has been taken.

 

Elmbridge gives back after waste contract problems

The Council’s approach

Not many people know, but after the problematic start to waste collection under the new contract this time last year, the contractor Amey has had to return nearly £500,000 to Elmbridge Borough.

The Council decided that the money returned should not go into the general Council fund, but should in some way go directly to the residents of Elmbridge.  Some was earmarked as direct compensation to people who had paid extra for garden waste removal services as they were most affected – as a group. These people received a two-month payment holiday – which took up £160,000.

Community Green Infrastructure Improvement Fund

Of the remaining money, £100,000 will be allocated to the creation of a Community Green Infrastructure Improvement Fund.  This is designed to enable community groups to bid for small grants, against pre-defined criteria, to carry out green infrastructure improvements. The scheme would allow one-off project funds to be spent in a way that encourages community buy in and ownership and ensures that the money goes towards initiatives important to the communities themselves.

It is proposed that criteria could include community involvement, volunteering, legacy, sustainability, biodiversity, more attractive and green borough etc. For example:

A community group could put in a bid to make environmental improvements to their local street scene, such as setting up an In Bloom scheme as at Cobham Station.  The likely amount of grant will be up to £15K per project, to allow communities to create projects with significant impact.

Examples of such activity can be found on page 46 of the Agenda reports pack for the Cabinet meeting held on 6th June this year.  .

Do let us know your ideas for Weybridge.

Churchfield Allotments

The Lib Dems in Weybridge have inadvertently stirred up a brouhaha by mistakenly placing a Social Housing label close to Churchfield Allotments in our April Focus!

This raised a concern among people living in neighbouring roads, who approached the owners of the allotments, the Weybridge Charity, to find out if there were any plans to build social housing on the allotments.

The Charity says there are no plans to build social housing, but it may seek to sell a small section of land for development.

It has told residents that it is “under increasing pressure to meet the needs of Weybridge residents who face hardship” and needs to raise funds. “The Charity has come to the conclusion this can be achieved by developing and selling the ‘Molyneux Road triangle’ … a little over 5% of Churchfields allotments”. It adds that “any rumours of providing Council or Housing Association accommodation are unfounded”.

Neighbouring residents are concerned about the impact of development on the quality of life in the area, particularly as this is an area of acute parking stress. However, residents have also shown a considerable interest in the Charity itself and its work and some are seeking to find ways to become more involved with the work of the Charity.

The Charity’s case for the sale and development of 5-6% of the area of Churchfields allotments is that it needs to secure its long term access to income from invested funds rather than deplete them. It is the earnings from these invested sums, plus any monies donated to the Charity, which are used to carry out its charitable objective – ‘the relief of persons resident in the area of benefit (Weybridge KT13 postcode area) who are in need, hardship or distress.’

According to the Charity, “The action will also provide much needed funds for investment in the remainder of the allotments: bringing new areas under cultivation, allowing a proper toilet to be built, creating a communal area and improving facilities, so that, retaining its unique character, the whole site may be used more effectively and attract new, long-term [allotment] tenants.”

The Charity states on its website that “It is the declared intention of the Managing Trustees of Weybridge Charity to retain Churchfields allotments as allotment land. This maintains the history of green land in the centre of Weybridge, and open views from Churchfields Park across the allotments towards St James’ Church“.

If you have never visited the allotments, do go and take a look.  This is a wonderful green area in the heart of Weybridge.

For those of you who do not know of the Charity and who have friends of relatives who may be experiencing hardship, more information can be found on the Weybridge Charity’s website.  And even if not, it is interesting to read the history of the Charity.

Finally, anyone interested in having an allotment, it would appear that there are currently unused allotments and a thriving community of allotment holders.

Weybridge Town Meeting

Weybridge is due to hold its first post-election Town Meeting – at the Weybridge Centre for the Community, Churchfield Road on Monday 2nd July at 7.30.

We will look at

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

The goals of this and future meetings is to encourage greater involvement from people in Weybridge with a view to giving them a voice in how the town develops physically and socially.  We know many people love our town, but without a proper vision we might not like how it develops in the future. So this is a chance to come together to create our own Better Weybridge.

Resident of Weybridge, 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.

This meeting is the realisation of one of Vicki Macleod’s election commitments.  Vicki is the newly elected Liberal Democrat Councillor for Weybridge Riverside.

She says “I would like this to be the first of many such meetings where residents and others with an interest in how Weybridge develops come together to share ideas and engage actively with shaping the future of Weybridge.”

 

Surrey’s Pothole Shame

Who would you rather have in charge of road maintenance where you live?

According to a Get Surrey report in January 2018, when asked about the state of roads in Surrey, a spokesman for Surrey County Council said: “We’re working incredibly hard to improve Surrey’s roads – potholes are fixed at a rate of around 260 a day – but as Surrey has some of the country’s busiest roads wear and tear really takes its toll.

“This means we face a £40 million funding gap over the next five years, and while our Operation Horizon project has seen hundreds of miles of roads rebuilt to make them pothole-proof for at least a decade, we would like to do more which is why we think busier roads should get more government funding.”

On the other hand the spokesman for Hampshire, Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council said: “Hampshire is one of the largest counties in England, with over 5,300 miles of road, much of them rural. Safe and well maintained roads are a priority for us – good transport infrastructure is crucial to Hampshire’s long term economic prosperity and the quality of life of all who live and work here. Each year, our highways teams repair around 10,000 potholes, and we continuously look for the latest innovations available to provide long-lasting, quality maintenance work that represents good value for money.

“Each year, we invest an additional £10million into our planned maintenance programme, Operation Resilience – a long term strategy designed to ensure Hampshire’s road network is more resilient to the impact of heavy traffic and weather. Work includes reconstruction, asphalt dressing, full resurfacing and drainage improvements.

Surrey, on the other hand, plans on reducing capital expenditure on Highways Maintenance from

£20,943,000 in 2018/19 to £12,889,000 in 2019/20 and £14,515,000 in 2019/20, giving a grand total of £48,347,000 over the next three years.

According to Hampshire County Council website, £120 million will be spent on highways maintenance over the next three years in Hampshire.

 

Norman Lamb MP visits Walton

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, spoke in Walton on Thames last week  about Brexit and the NHS and social care.

BREXIT   He  started by saying  there is  hardly any debate on anything other than Brexit  going on in Westminster at the moment.  He said that he had not known anything like it, it was as if  normal service has been suspended.

He said that when the reality of the Brexit deal is determined; sometime in the Autumn, he anticipates strong disquiet in the Conservative ranks and does not believe Jeremy Corbyn is electable.  However,  he continued,  that sadly this has not currently led to a boost to the Lib Dems in the polls. An autumn a political constitutional crisis was likely  (note by author : Vince Cable said something similar) but felt it was very hard to predict how this will play out and how Theresa May might navigate her way through it.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE    “ There was a  crisis in the provision of care,  we have seen a  15% increase in the need for care of the elderly over the last 10 years,  very rapid change.

  • 1984 there were 600,000 people in care in the UK,
  • 2002 there were 1,300,000
  • 2032 there will be 3,100,000

At the moment there are 1.2million people with unmet care needs. Half the population over 75 live on their own, and could become increasingly dependent especially as families have become much more dispersed, making  support difficult”.

He posed questions:

  • Should young people pay?
  • Should most of it be paid by older people?
  • Should freebies like winter fuel payments be paid universally?

We don’t yet have fair answers.

He said that traditional party politics are not moving this forward, although the Conservative manifesto proposal of guaranteeing that no one should pay more than £100,000 for their care was a brave initiative. However, it was not well received and was somewhat unfair as it depended on the value of property and on an individual’s wealth as only poorer people would likely have to sell their house.

So how to raise funds fairly? He had been instrumental in bringing together 90 cross party MPs to consider the options as Government is clearly not addressing the issue. It seems that Theresa May  is clearly not cable of taking initiative but wonderful at arranging consultations, she was  hostage to the right of her party and the Brexit process. The cross party group proposes that there should be a hypothecated charge of say 2% on income tax but it would be separately identified and separately and independently managed and monitored. It could be reviewed from year to year by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)  This idea had been  discussed with various civil servants who are supportive.

He went on to talk about the very severe shortage of support for mental health issues especially with young people. When he was in the coalition (2010-2015) he set the first ever target for mentally ill patients to receive attention to be within 2 weeks of it being sought. This has drastically slipped now but it is widely recognised  advantageous.  If mental health problems can start to be tackled within two weeks the further development of the symptoms and the loss of employment, friends and society links can be substantially avoided leading to earlier recovery.

CIL Bids in Weybridge

When most new developments in Weybridge are built the developer has to pay a tax referred to as CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) to help fund any increased needs locally, as  a consequence of the building.

This infrastructure can be equipment for schools, health centres, community centres or safer or better designed streets.  CIL funds may only be used for new or enhanced facilities and not for staffing, repair or general maintenance of existing facilities.

Typically in Elmbridge, towns have an allocation and bids can be made by residents or groups in the town for funds for a project. See here your most frequently asked questions.

This year in Weybridge there are seven applications for CIL funding.

We are interested to hear your views on these. Do you support any of these projects? Or would you like to comment on them?  Click on each one for more details and click here for our survey.

We also include a scoring assessment of each project for applicability and desirability.  Some projects are uncosted, do not have permission of the landowner or do not necessarily enhance our infrastructure.  But what do you think?

These are the seven applications for CIL funding in Weybridge.

  1. Surrey county for improvements to footpath  linking Broadwater path to Walton Lane. CIL funding of £8,981 has been requested to create a wider all-weather route.
  2. St James School to refurbish the Lodge to create additional teaching and community space. CIL funding of £60,000 has been requested. A quotation has been provided that is consistent with the amount requested.
  3. The Weybridge Society for improvement to lighting around the war memorial and restoration of the surroundings. CIL funding of £32,500 has been requested for the works.
  4. PA Housing for bollards to prevent parking on adopted highways land in Brooklands Road. CIL funding of £3,500 has been requested for the works.
  5. Weybridge Cricket Club for roof replacement and addition of girl’s changing facilities. CIL funding of £50,000 is requested.
  6. Walton Firs Foundation for new accommodation pods to provide additional capacity. CIL funding of £24,560 is requested. Three quotations have been provided, the lowest of which is consistent with the amount requested.
  7. St Mary’s Church Oatlands to create additional office space. CIL funding of £20,000 is requested.

The general report is here.

Financial crisis worsens at County Hall as Tories ask Surrey residents to pay more for less

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council (SCC) have criticised the Conservative-administration for budget proposals containing £54m of further cuts to services and a 6% council tax rise. The budget recommendations are due be approved by the County Council on Tuesday 6th February.

Liberal Democrats are concerned that a rise of nearly 6% is “unaffordable for many Surrey residents, particularly for those on fixed incomes”.

Why are they in such a mess?

Liberal Democrats claim that SCC is wasting money by not using or selling buildings it owns in Surrey. In just one financial year, 2016/17, £307,464 was spent on maintaining 20 vacant buildings.

They also point out that SCC is investing in property outside of the county – when it could be investing locally and contributing to the local economy.

Furthermore SCC is not using revenue raised from such investments to support the provision of essential services, despite repeatedly assuring residents that income from commercial property will be reinvested in services. It has even recently earmarked £3.8m of this income to be spent on purchasing more property.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said:

“This budget contains drastic cuts to services such as libraries, road maintenance, services for children and families as well as cuts to support for people with learning disabilities.

She notes it is a failure of the Conservative-administration to get to grips with the financial problems at County Hall, as well as a failure by central government to provide adequate funding to County Councils.

Liberal Democrat Councillors on Surrey are clear that the Conservative administration needs to take its share of the blame for the financial crisis at County Hall and cite the report by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy saying “the Council’s financial plans are not robust and it is at risk of becoming financially unsustainable” and that the council’s financial position was “extremely worrying”. Given the continuing financial mess at County Hall, it is clear the report was entirely correct in its analysis and its warnings have not been heeded.

Councillor Watson also cites the many empty council owned buildings across the county that the County Council has failed to utilise properly, instead letting them decay and incurring hundreds of thousands of pounds of costs keeping them empty, in some cases for over a decade. In just one financial year, 2016/17, £307,464 was spent on maintaining 20 vacant buildings. This is a straightforward waste of money and a missed opportunity to bring in capital receipts or rental income which would have improved the County Council’s financial position.

“Because of the financial crisis at County Hall, the Conservative-administration is now gambling about £200m of pounds of council tax payers’ money on purchasing commercial property, such as warehouses and office blocks, hundreds of miles away from Surrey. This is risky and will not promote economic growth within the county as so many of the properties are so far away.

“Every day, the County Council is acting more like a property investment company rather than a local authority. Even the Government, in a recent piece of guidance, had to remind councils like Surrey County Council that “local authorities need to remember that their prime duty is to deliver statutory services for local residents” – this is something that the Conservative-administration has clearly forgotten.

“This budget is a bad deal for Surrey residents, who are being asked to pay more for less. The County Council’s own survey of residents revealed that only 37% of people believed that the County Council provided value for money. Surrey residents should not have to pick up the bill or lose essential services because of the failures of this Conservative-administration”

Blackspots in Weybridge

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ON OUR ROADS

Many Weybridge residents are acutely aware of the traffic dangers in their neighbourhoods and on the roads they use as they go about their lives. Five local ‘black spots’ have been brought to our attention recently: Grenside Road (behind Thames Street), the junction by the station (again), Mayfield Road, Princes Road and Pine Grove and now Minorca Road.  All for different reasons, but each an example of why we need action to make our roads safer for all users.  In all cases Surrey County Council have a role to play in bringing about improvements.  Do you know of other roads where the risk of an accident is greater than average?

To let us know – email vicki.macleod@elmbridgelibdems.org.uk

In this article, we are highlighting the problems for residents of Grenside Road.

In Grenside Road the problem has been caused by a ‘kiss and drop’ policy for pupils at St George’s Junior School. In its efforts to encourage safety on Thames Street, the school has opened a back entrance to the school.  This now means that parents drive in to Grenside Road and park on the pavements. This has not solved the safety problem, it has simply transferred it to Grenside, where it is felt acutely by the residents who are lobbying Surrey to improve safety. They have been supported in this by Portmore Park and District Residents Association and the Lib Dems.

The local Surrey councillor has referred the matter to SCC Highways, but nothing has happened yet, despite the safety issues.

Dangers include: risk of a collision when exiting garages in the morning due to poor visibility, risk to young children going in to and leaving the school who are hidden by the bonnets of parental SUVs; risk to local pedestrians – especially those in buggies or with prams –  who are prevented from using their pavements because they are blocked by parked parents dropping off their children. The parking here is so intense at school drop off and collect time that people have been known to park on the grass between pavement and gardens.

Despite efforts of local Elmbridge Councillors and strong lobbying by Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Davis to have Grenside Road included in SCC’s Strategic Review of parking in Weybridge, SCC refused to budge from their original view and Grenside was excluded from consideration.

Possible solutions

Local resident Sarah Groves has written to her SCC councillor saying; “Local residents feel that this road has been completely ignored . . .. Since the Junior School’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ system was put in place there has been an increase in the volume of traffic on Grenside – parents are now approaching the School via Grenside from Grotto Road and from Thames Street via Convent Lane and then onto Grenside, this at peak times causes chaos especially when there is nowhere to turn safely –  Grenside Road is effectively a cul-de-sac.  The whole fabric of the road and pavements has deteriorated due to the high volume of traffic with vehicles turning and reversing onto pavements – churning the surface up with their SUV’s.”

She adds: “There is no traffic management system in place i.e. parking restrictions, speed limit signs, nor in fact the triangular signs showing children crossing; and the rear entrance/exit of the school has no clear yellow zigzags, that are outside every other school where children enter and leave.”

Local Lib Dem Vicki Macleod says “We were stunned that Surrey did not include Grenside Road in the strategic review of parking: it is a prime example of where a small intervention could have a big and positive impact on safety. We will continue to suport local residents in their quest to make Grenside safe for children and residents.”