This is the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for Elmbridge

Safer, Greener, Smarter

Environment
Climate Change is an existential threat to humankind.  We will put Elmbridge on a path to become carbon neutral and will adopt appropriate policies to this end. We will work with local businesses and residents to identify and implement smart and practical measures to achieve our goal. This work will bring tangible benefits to our neighbourhoods and to our personal well-being, too.

Traffic
We will begin to tackle traffic congestion and cut air pollution by installing 20mph in residential areas, improving public transport, discouraging engine idling near schools and elsewhere, and promoting walking and cycling options across Elmbridge.  We will install electric vehicle-charging points in our car parks, encourage them in any new developments and provide free parking for zero-emission cars. We will co-ordinate on and off-street parking, introduce smart parking charging and secure easy access to services.

Planning
We will defend the Green Belt and implement a “brownfield sites first” approach in the upcoming local plan.  We will campaign for infrastructure improvements to be in place for new developments. We will set targets for social housing and family starter homes to meet the needs of a younger generation.  We will encourage local forums to create neighbourhood plans. We will also promote the concentration of shops and services in town centres.

Crime
We will strengthen Neighbourhood Watch and anti-social behaviour teams, and work with Surrey Police to restore neighbourhood policing.  We will promote leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all towns.

Democracy
We will ensure full transparency in both borough and county budget planning and spending, as well as in the conduct of planning applications – with full accountability to residents.  We support the introduction of an effective unitary authority by merging the county and borough levels into one authority in place of the current Surrey County Council and Surrey’s eleven boroughs.

Leisure                                                                                                                               We recognise the importance of leisure to both mental and physical wellbeing and also its economic benefits.  All leisure activities should be provided at affordable cost to participants, including free adult fitness equipment in every settlement. We will safeguard libraries and look to innovate their services.

Why aren’t we getting there? By train!

Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton writes:  

South Western Railway has become a joke in our constituency. Failings in our transport network mean we can’t get to work on time, our children can’t get to school, and yet fares have increased again by 3.2% in the New Year. We’re being asked to pay more for less.

It is not good enough. It is unacceptable that we are not able to get to London on time – the world capital of finance in one of the largest economies in the world. This is having a negative impact on earnings which are lost, enforced time off work, childcare extras, appointments missed and so on.

While the national government fails to get a grip on poor performance, Liberal Democrat MPs are stepping up and holding the rail companies to account. They believe that passengers must come first, not the investors in South Western Railway. They are speaking up for their constituents and offering solutions and they are pressing the government to take action.

Our neighbouring Lib Dem MP, Vince Cable (Twickenham) brought an emergency debate to parliament in December on the subject of South Western Railway and Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group to hold the train companies to account. In December Ed published a report ‘ Passengers Must Come First’ which spells out what needs to happen.

LibDem MPs have a reputation as good constituency MPs, working hard for their constituents and standing up for their interests. As the Liberal Democrat PPC in Esher and Walton I will work with Ed and Vince in pushing the solutions for trains in our constituency.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  • The national government must either remove SWR’s franchise or impose a new performance related contract, without negotiation.
  • SWR must not be rewarded for its manifest failure. A new contract or operator must be incentivized to put the passenger first, before shareholders. Profits should only be made once stretching performance targets are met.
  • Performance targets on SWR must include the existing Public Performance Measures improving to at least 90% on all routes by the end of 2018/20.
  • SWR and Network Rail must urgently develop new capability and capacity to manage disruptions better.
  • The Government must support immediate additional funding for essential investment.
  • Network Rail must reform its structure and culture so that managers are held accountable for performance.
  • Network Rail must be given more time to access safely the infrastructure to allow for basic maintenance and repairs.
  • The Department for Transport’s role in holding the rail companies to account should be independently assessed.

Want to know more? Follow me on twitter @monicabeharding, Facebook or at monicaharding.org and get updates as we demand better for Esher and Walton.

Guess what – Surrey admits Brexit is bad for us

Brexit is bad for us says Surrey County Council’s impact assessment – now that it has finally been revealed.

Thanks to Monica Harding working with other local Lib Dem members and our campaign with the Surrey Advertiser, the Information Commissioner’s Office have ordered Surrey County Council to release their Brexit Impact assessments.

And guess what, brexit is really bad.
‘No deal’ means that the UK would be treated by the EU as a 3rd country and would be subject to full 3rd country controls, including completing customs declarations and being subject to a variety of border checks.

Brexit is not included as a risk within the National Risk Assessment 2016. Although the risks associated with BREXIT can be drawn from this document

On the Surrey Community Risk Register in a no deal brexit scenario the following risks are identified:
H14 – Food Supply contamination
H60 – High consequence dangerous goods / transport accident
H24 – Emerging Infectious Diseases
H25 – Major outbreak of exotic notifiable disease in animals (including birds)
H37 – Influx of British Nationals

The following risks have also been identified in the SCC report:

  • Loss of cover due to industrial action by workers providing a service critical to the preservation of life (such as emergency service workers)
  • Local accident on motorways and major trunk roads
  • Public Disorder
  • Notifiable plant disease / Notifiable exotic invertebrate species

Within SLRF partners own risk management processes there is the risk to the supply chain where goods and products are imported from the European mainland

And the kicker – as of 20 July 2018, HMG has suggested that partners should have plans in face for a four week period of disruption (that is increased controls by EU states at ports, including Eurotunnel) plus a two week period to allow the impact to return to relatively normal levels of service.

Key consequences:

  • Surrey expect long delays in accessing Dover ports and Eurotunnel in Kent.
  • Temporary closure or permanent changes to all or part of the M20 and M26 to support Operation Stack and other mitigations for port delays.
  • Significant reduction in the capacity of the Surrey Highway Network, with consequential increase in local and pan Surrey road journey times, impacting on local residents and businesses.
  • Significant long term detrimental impact on county’s economic competitiveness, attractiveness
  • Significant disruption to health and social care delivery within the community; for patients travelling to hospitals for treatment and for critical staff in getting to work

Significant disruption to the food supply chain with delays in the exportation of food from Britain, and importation of food from the rest of Europe and non EU countries.
Significant disruption to the distribution of medication around the county along with supply chain of medication from outside of Britain.

Significant economic and environmental impacts for Surrey or in other words – total chaos to our supply chains. That’s food and medicine supplies to the shops. We learn of nearly half million homeless in Britain, and one in five children living with severe food insecurity, and then Brexit contingency plans say supplies will be disrupted. Welcome to the land of hunger.

When was the government last right on a timescale? The Prime Minister couldn’t even get the date of the meaningful vote delivered, a simple vote in parliament. What hope ferries delivering vital food and medicine to Britain? How long will four weeks stretch on for with failing Chris Grayling, four months? four years?

Surrey hid it from us, even though it all its contents were already in the public domain. Why?

Surrey County Council has only included in its impact assessment existing published information. Why did they try to hide it from residents? Were they ashamed of their own lack of activity, or following the minority conservative governments orders against the interests of the residents of Surrey?

Surrey County Council obviously feared the residents of Surrey would be unhappy to learn of their plans, and so decide to keep them hidden. They found the only legal argument they could to try and hide behind. To refuse to provide local residents with information about Brexit preparations, to deny FOI requests, and to keep secrets from residents. They relied upon an exception intended for cases of national emergency and public order. They relied upon the section 36(2)(c) exemption – the catch all exception – using “safe space arguments” to delay the publication of supposedly important contingency plans.

And they have been found to have done so improperly, with the ICO ordering the information be released.

A victory for Surrey residents against a secretive county council seeking to keep the residents of Surrey in the dark.

Yet the plans are half baked, barely worth the effort of reading. What a farce of a county council.

Surrey residents left in the dark again.

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Have you heard any MP claim that they have read Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement?  Have a look here.  How many pages can you read before you loose the will to live. How likely do you think it is that your MP has read it?  I am not expecting you to read it but do have a little look.  This is the legal document between the Britain and Europe.   If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

Remember that the withdrawal agreement is just a small part of the whole process.  The big decisions have yet to be made and could take many years.

If you would like to have a peek at the political declaration for the basis of the future relationship between Britain and Europe then look here.  This is not a legal document, purley an aspiration.  It is well to remember that we would have left if we are negotiating this framework.  Therefore we will be in a much weaker position because Europe is far bigger than we are.  This declaration is is the best we can get and, if it comes to this, the deals will be far worse.  If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

 

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.

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.

 

Opinion & Analysis – Targeting the ‘brexit bull’ in Elmbridge

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 12 March 2018
How does brexit affect Elmbridge? And how can Elmbridge voters help to avoid the potentially disastrous outcome of the devious brexit strategy?
Elmbridge is heavily Tory but, despite the glib rhetoric of brexit’s chief standard bearer, local MP Dominic Raab, we voted strongly to remain in the EU. Pro-EU Elmbridge residents realised that what was caricatured as ‘Project Fear’ was well-founded caution. The Government went ahead and fired the Article 50 bullet regardless of the predictable collateral damage.
Contrary to Eurosceptic pre-referendum boasts, because the brextremists’ are fixated with leaving the single market and the customs union, many businesses have already announced intentions to relocate and remain within the EU.
City jobs, particularly in the financial and scientific sectors, are at risk and the impact will be significant. Elmbridge will be one of the suburban commuting areas affected. There are also the city’s support occupations to consider; transport, administration, event management, and hospitality will suffer a knock-on effect, with Elmbridge based foot-soldiers caught in the cross-fire.
Many Elmbridge families rely on domestic support staff. EU immigrants will no longer be the source of qualified applicants. The rate of applications has already fallen.
Qualified dental, medical and care staff similarly are moving back to EU member states, increasing the strain on the NHS as well as the cost of private services. This affects the centres of excellence in Elmbridge and peripheral areas Guildford and Kingston-upon-Thames on which the Elmbridge community depends.
Travel practices will be rolled back decades. With the high living standards in Elmbridge, the once familiar short break to Bruges, Paris, Prague, Tenerife or Dublin etc. will be a distant memory. With unpredictable queuing times at customs and passport control, one BBC report expects queues of up to 29 miles on Chunnel access routes. What an incentive for a ‘staycation’ in a traffic queue on the M25!
Biting the bullet?
What can Elmbridge residents do to potentially affect the rake’s progress of brexit. Well, to all politicians, votes matter; local votes on May 3rd will translate into national trends.
Labour pro-EU voters can give their hard-brexiter leadership a much-needed close shave by voting for a pro-EU party.
Pro-EU Tory voters need to show their metal and demonstrate strong disapproval by voting for a pro-EU candidate. The Tory Eurosceptic grandees will downplay any local losses but behind the scenes they will be panicking.
Raab’s seat is one of the safest in the country and he is brexit’s ‘Golden Boy’. A significant local protest vote will force Tory HQ to take notice. Every anti-brexit vote will contribute to the fog-of-war surrounding the brexit folly. Every vote counts, so let yours help to deflect the ‘brexit bullet’!

Changes in Recyling Regulations

Recycling centres are currently free to Surrey residents using a car, for household and for non-household waste. The centre recycle over 30 different types of household waste materials.

However from 4 December there will be no free daily allowance for householders of chargeable non-household waste such as rubble, plasterboard and soil.

According to the SCC information, the following charges will apply for:

  1. Tyres from cars, motorcycles and all other motorised vehicles (including non-motorised vehicles and trailers pulled by a motorised vehicle): £5 per tyre or part tyre.
  2. Waste from construction, alteration or repair of your home and garden including:
    • Breeze blocks, bricks, rubble, soil, stones, ceramic bathroom fittings, tiles: £4 per bag or part bag of this waste (Bags no bigger than 50cm x 77cm)
    • Concrete fence post, ceramic bath, cistern, paving slab: £4 per item
    • Plasterboard: £4 per bag or part bag or per sheet of this waste (Bags no bigger than 50cm x 77cm and sheets no bigger than 120cm x 240cm). From 4 December 2017 the cost per sheet of plasterboard will increase to £12.

If these materials are loose, a charge of £50 will apply per car load.

Additionally, if you are bringing household waste in either a van, pick-up or trailer you will need to obtain a van permit before your visit.

From 8 January if you need to dispose of non-household waste (such as from DIY projects) in a van, it can only be accepted at the larger recycling centres – this includes the one at Shepperton.

Full information can be found on the SCC site

Late Night Licence Application – Weybridge

The premises,  previously Sullivan’s Wine Bar, is proposed as a restaurant/entertainment place selling alcohol.  It would be open past 11pm

There is a notice in the window asking for local objectors to write to:
Borough of Elmbridge
Civic Centre
1 High Street
ESHER
KT10 9SD

(email or phone is not sufficient – they will only take notice of written objections)

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