Hard Brexit will be hard on Britain

The Tories are pushing to cut all ties with the EU regardless of impact. Labour is shrugging its shoulders and saying “Oh well”. It’s up to the Liberal Democrats to make sure Brexit causes as little damage to British interests as possible.

The Liberal Democrats are determined to retain the best of the EU – and that means staying in the Single Market. It’s this market that makes most of our exports possible, brings money into UK businesses and the economy, and enables us to pay wages and invest in national and local infrastructure. What’s more, it plays a key role in maintaining our peace and security.

Andrew Davis is pro-Europe and will do his utmost to stop any government imposing a disastrous Hard Brexit on us all. And he fully endorses the Liberal Democrat plan to put any deal to the British people before it is finalised.

If leaving the EU was to be decided by the people, then they should absolutely also have a say on how we do that.

The Conservative candidate, Dominic Raab, has campaigned hard to leave the European Union and wants Brexit at any cost – wanting to leave both the Single Market and the customs union.

Andrew Davis, your Liberal Democrat candidate, will fight to remain in the Single Market.


Volunteer to help Andrew win in Esher & Walton

Maintaining your assets

The borough maintains 97 car parks across Elmbridge.  They ranging from our town centres through to our commons.

In becoming portfolio holder for transport in May 2016 Cllr Andrew Davis asked for a current valuation and maintenance programme for all the car parks.  Unfortunately, apart from Drewitt’s Court this had not been undertaken for many years.  Perhaps the previous Conservative administration thought the car parks could mend themselves.

A condition survey was undertaken in 2016 to identify the state of the borough’s car parks and the financial commitments for repairs over the next five years. The full cost to bring the car park up to standard is £13m.

The borough’s obligations relating to Drewitts Court in order to comply with the terms of the existing leases, require that a structural evaluation of the ramp be undertaken immediately and that the repairs be carried out as quickly as possible. It is likely that the full cost will be £1,500,000.

To catch up with the amount of maintenance required for the other car parks the borough plans to spend up to £6m over the next three years.

However, with the high need for social housing, the pressure to build over car parks is high. Not all car parks are suitable but those that are should not given comprehensive repairs until their housing status is known.

Naturally, the order of work and indeed what work will be done will be undertaken with full consultation with local councillors.  A full management programme will be produced for each car park for while they are being reconstructed.  Dewetts Court will take much longer so will have a special plan.  It is likely to begin in January so us not to clash with the Christmas season.

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!

Let’s Join the EU

Looking back over the history of the European Union I wish we had joined at the beginning in 1951 when the European Coal and Steel Community was inaugurated.  I think that Europe would have been a better place today had we done so – but there is no point crying over spilt milk.

British Empire

Back then Britain still had an empire of sorts and many in Britain could or would not conceive that the British Empire was about to fall apart; so one could readily understand the reluctance of the British people to join in the European journey.

Britain joins

When Britain finally joined in 1971 the original member states had already designed a Europe to suit themselves.  Many of their policies were not suitable for Britain.  For example, the protectionist and grossly inefficient Common Agricultural Policy was awash with grain, butter and beef mountains and wine lakes; with its high level of food prices it did not suit the average food buyer or third world food producers.  The poorly designed Common Fisheries Policy seemed to be determined to wipe out fish stocks.  There was no single market in goods and services.  Member states used all manner of means to protect their industries against their more efficient neighbours.  All meetings were held in multilingual settings making ordinary discussions difficult if not almost impossible.  The project was basically run for the benefit of the French – and who could blame them.

Britain makes changes

But what excellent changes have occurred through British membership.  Okay the Common Agriculture Policy is still around but it is much reduced.  Britain has substantially reformed the fisheries policy.  Britain pushed though the single market and encouraged the expansion of the union to include all Europe.  Britain made Europe look outwards – to be more competitive and created Europe to be the arbiter of global standards in trade and technology.  English is now the working language of the European Union with half the 500 million people having a functional competence in spoken and written English (apparently the average Dutch-person has a higher ability in English than the average Brit).

If Britain could make such changes over the last forty years just think what could be done over the next forty.  Of course there is more work to be done. By improving Europe we can help improve the whole world and, most importantly, make the lives of the British people better.  Britain cannot do this without getting engaged.

Britain cannot be engaged unless it adopts all European Union law – no opt outs.  In my view, the first items on the agenda are to establish the euro on a firm footing and to manage migration properly but there are medium-term to longer-term structural changes that need to be made too – like increasing democratic accountability.

Controlled Borders

Europe needs to manage its own borders. It should no longer rely on member states to do so.  Britain does not rely on Sussex to monitor our borders and nor should Europe rely on Greece or Hungary.  The processing, management and funding of non-European migrant should be entirely the responsibility of the European government.  I understand that 25% percent of recent migrants have come from Albania – nowhere near Syria.  It was pretty poor when I was there but it is not war ravaged.  Rather than let each state pass migrants onto Germany, Europe must set up border police and processing staff (where necessary a coast guard too) and these people must be directly employed by the European government – responsible to the European government using property owned, leased or rented by the European government.  I completely understand that such an approach is only a sticking plaster but Europe must get a grip.

Strong euro

Just like any modern country, Europe needs a currency and that currency must be backed by its government.  To properly function, among other things, there must also be an equalisation mechanism between the various member states.  Just like in Britain where funds flow from richer places like Surrey to poorer places like Northern Ireland (the average family in Surrey gives the average family in Northern Ireland £1,200 a year) so in Europe we should transfer funds from the richer part of Europe to the poorer parts.  It means that the European government provides directly to each European citizen a small monthly sum.  Very little is needed to completely stabilise the European economy.  True, European taxation would increase from the current 1% to 3% but that is nothing compared to the 40% that Westminster takes already.  The level of taxation would be limited by treaty so could not be increased without a referendum.

A further policy change that Britain would have to deal with itself would be to convert most welfare into a contributional framework.  There are two reasons for this: one because it is a good idea anyway (returning to the original basis for welfare when the Liberals invented it and Labour installed it after the war); second, because that is how virtually all the member states of the union work.  This policy would not end “welfare migration” but it would reduce it.  Welfare tourism is much lower than most people imagine it to be in any case.  A much more successful approach for Britain would be to resource the revenue staff to enable them to make sure employers are employing legal workers and paying them properly.

Britain could say to the other member states – we will join the euro and the passport area as long as the above measures are put in place and that every other member state also joins when we do.

No varied geometry, no opt-outs.  If you want to be in you are welcome to be in but the only other option is out.

Currently, Britain isn’t really in the European Union.  It is sort of semi-detached.  For example, one can drive from the Algarve, on the Atlantic, right across Europe to the Ukrainian border and you will not have to stop for passport control anywhere, or customs and euros are the currency in every country travelled though.  For nearly all Europeans, for all intents and purposes, Europe is already one country – it is just that the British, who normally fly, tunnel or take the ferry rather than drive (with all security that goes with them), rarely experience the freedom of moving around the world without borders.

We are in a time warp.

We need to vote in – really in.

Côte Brasserie comes to Weybridge

Cote  Brasserie-01The restaurant chain has applied for planning permission to combine two shops: Sevenoaks Sound and Vision and the Nail Company beauty salon into one to provide a larger retail unit.  One of the problems for Weybridge has been the lack of larger retail units, so that combining neighbouring units might be a way forward – as Boots, Laura Ashley and the Slug and Lettice have done in the past.

If Côte Brasserie opens then 41, 43, 45, 47 and 47 Church Street will be a row of restaurants.  We do like eating out in Weybridge.

Business Masterclass: a practical leadership guide.

Business MasterclassA part of its business development programme Elmbridge has produced a series of events for SMEs.  The first is  business masterclass on leadership skills.

This free event will focus on providing business owners, managers, and anyone who leads staff with the practical leadership skills they need to lead effective/productive teams and keep control as the business size and ambition grows.

Hear from Tony Crouch from Outstand, who has over 30 years’ experience with Unilever and now specialises in advising SMEs on the leadership skills they need to manage teams and growth.

In addition the event offers a fantastic networking opportunity with like-minded SMEs from across the borough to meet new potential suppliers and future business contacts.

The class is at 8:00 till 10:00 on Tuesday, 14 July 2015 at Civic Centre, High Street, Esher KT10 9SD

If you would like to attend this free event please sign up via:https://business-masterclass.eventbrite.co.uk

Morrison’s Monday Mayhem – Avoided?

Proposed view of Morrisons Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update.  As I said below we had to wait until the new year to find out how the traffic moved around the new store.  I have not seen any glitches in the traffic but I know that some people have found small hiccups on school days turning right into Thames Street. Also I have never seen the store car park full – the lowest being seven place left.

An exciting day on Monday as our illustrious mayor opens the new Weybridge Morrisons.

Not only is the store new but it is a flagship store and that means people will come to see the new features that no other Morrison store has.  I can smell the bakery from where I live.

Morrisons says that the first two weeks of a store opening draws many more people than usual so they will have extra staff in place to protect the car park from over filling.  These staff are intended to stay fro two weeks but if the problems persist then the staff will be kept on until the pressure dies down.

As the opening comes just before Christmas the extra traffic could last through Christmas and the sales into January.  By January we should see the normal flow.

It will be interesting to see where these extra cars will go. Contact me here if you have a problem.

Weybridge Town Centre Traffic

Baker Street websiteWeybridge town centre needs a comprehensive overhaul – from Balfour Road to Monument Hill and all points in between.   Last year I posted about what we could achieve for Weybridge.

What was lacking was not the ideas or the commitment but the availability of funds.  However, there are government funds especially in place for enabling extra investment in transport infrastructure of the M3/A3 corridor.

But we have to bid for these funds and for our bid to be successful we would have to detail why improving Weybridge would be a benefit of the M3/A3 corridor as a whole.  Not only has Weybridge one of the highest GVAs in the country based on the flagship companies located in the town but its transport infrastructure is restricting growth its further growth potential.  Weybridge is such a popular destination it is notoriously difficult to enter the town from any direction in the morning.

I believe that a case can be made for improving Weybridge’s infrastructure but such a case costs money to design.  We need to bid elsewhere for to the funds to develop a feasibility study.  Again this can be done.

Morrisons

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallThank you for all your questions and comments.  These are the answers that Morrison gave me today at our meeting.

When will Monument Hill be opened?  This afternoon.

Will all of the street work be complete?  No there will be short closures from time to time.  The pedestrian crossing is still to be finished and the landscaping will be completed in November – apparently the best time to plants trees.

What about the illumined sign at the rear of the store?  Morrisons says it will look again at the sign facing Baker Street.

What about the contractor parking problem?  Morrisons says that it has made park and ride facilities available to all contractors so if anyone finds any problem parking then call Simon Whittingham on 07964 245 239.

When will the store be opened? The intended day for the opening of the store will be Monday, 24 November. Morrisons invite ideas for the opening – any thoughts?

How will the store manage traffic after opening?  Morrisons expects a larger than usual number of visitors in the first few weeks so it has laid on extra resources to ensure that the flows are well managed.

What is the employment situation?  All the twenty or so departmental managers have been recruited and Morrisons is in the final placement stage for the general staff of 200. Most of which are very local. Morrisons has worked with the job centre next door to recruit long term unemployed people and the apprenticeships will be in place soon. further recruitment will begin soon to fill in any gaps.

Where will the staff park?  Morrisons says that in off-peak times those staff members who need to park wills use the under-croft parking at the store.  At peak times Morrisons says it will provide off-street parking (not Elmbridge public car parks).

Will there be trolley tokens to stop trolleys being left all over the place?  No there will not nor will there be any trolley mechanism to stop the trolleys leaving the store. However, Morrisons beleives that the design of the store is such that people will not take trolleys out of the store. That will be one to watch.

Will Morrison seek further planning change in the future?  Given that the Weybridge store is the only one in the country that does not have deliveries on all of its opening days, I expect Morrisons to apply again at some point in the future to have some of the delivery restrictions set aside.  Said the that I thought it would be unwise to pursue such a course until its stock with the burghers was considerably higher than it is at present. It would need to demonstrate that the local fears regarding noise were unfounded – if that be possible.

The roundabout looks awful – will Morrisons change it?  The roundabout is Surrey’s idea as is the chevron design. This is a matter that I will be taking up in due course.

Parking responsibility  On-street parking management is perversely Surrey’s responsibility (I think it should be Elmbridge’s but thee you go).  I have no doubt that a review of all local streets will have to take place once Morrisons opens.  Surrey has already said that, in Elmbridge, it will look at Walton first – there is no guarantee that Weybridge would be next – unless we all kick up a fuss.

Baker Street Traffic. This problem should abate now that the road works are almost complete.  As part of the planning application Morrisons has agreed to contribute to the traffic carming of Baker Street.  It is for Surrey to take this project forward.  I have a more radical solution – restrict motorised traffic (apart from buses and taxis) from passing in front of Lloyds Bank. That would remove through traffic completed and civilise the town.

Have I missed anything? Then please tell me.