Vote for David Bellchamber for Cobham in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

David campaigned for the Liberals in his youth and has worked with them, the Liberal Democrats and with communities in Elmbridge for 30 years, the last 14 while living in Cobham. He has now retired as a lawyer after a career involving partnership in a City firm and then practising locally for many years.

One of David’s roles as a volunteer is to lead the planning team with Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust. He opposes the loss of any Green Belt land in Elmbridge, considering that unnecessary with good planning. With Transition Cobham, David has been involved in the setting up of the Cobham Community Garden at the Leg O’Mutton Field and through that movement looks to improve the local environment, including by minimising waste, keeping footpaths open and clean for walkers and improving air quality.

David has long looked for a local government structure that has community councils beneath unitary authorities and the current mess on Surrey County Council supports the argument for them. It would cut down on duplication and expense and instil efficiency. With central government deciding the future of education more and more and Surrey‘s role diminishing, there is now a case for Elmbridge itself becoming the single authority as it has shown itself to be capable of good administration, proper budgeting and cross-border cooperation.

As well as putting good administration into Surrey County Council, David would look to provide

  • Protection of Green Belt land and open spaces
  • Adequate infrastructure before any development
  • Better care for the elderly and vulnerable
  • Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists

A vote for David on May 4th will send a message to Surrey Conservatives as to their failings.

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.

Elmbridge Youth Service

Youth Club smallSurrey is halving the funding for Claygate and Weybridge youth centres.  Given the cut is so severe, Surrey has given the youth centre management committees time to raise funds from other sources before withdrawing its own funding – although it will not wait for ever (or even a year).  If you are in a position to offer support then please get in touch.

How did this happen?

It began with the Conservative state administration reducing its contribution to
local government revenues.  This is particularly painful because local government in England (unlike in most countries) is heavily restricted in how it may raise its own funds.  Even the tax that it is allowed to raise is heavily controlled by the state.  For example, income tax, national insurance and VAT increase year on year with inflation but council tax decreases.  The state even proscribes local governments’ ability to keep council tax in line with inflation; a situation that would not be tolerated in America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Surrey has chosen to cut its youth services across the county by 11% in nominal terms.  It could have cut the service in all districts by the same amount.  Fortunately, the youth service took the view that it was time to examine need across the county afresh.

The primary directive is to ensure neets (young people not in education, employment or training) get into sustainable work and then to reduce neets to zero.  To disburse funds across the county according to need, the neets have to be located and various other indicators of deprivation have to be assembled.  The county used eleven indictors and determined that Elmbridge would have its funding increased by 6% – despite the general county cut of 11%.

Surrey took this analysis down to town level within Elmbridge itself to match the service provision with need.  This has meant that some towns, for example, Claygate and Weybridge had their service reduced and others, for example, Cobham had theirs increased.  Ditton and Oxshott have no provision from Surrey.

Napoleon meets his Waterloo

Nepoleon Re-enactmentPainshill welcomes back the Napoleonic Association for a special re-enactment to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. On both there will be incredible sights and dramatic performances as the soldiers, officers and camp followers re-enact various scenes, including the raising of the flag, a drill parade and a skirmish. There will be lots of noise and smoke as the infantrymen fire volley after volley and manoeuvre to offer their fatal blow whilst deploying the crack skirmishing force, the 95th Rifles.

Visitors will also be able to walk through the living history encampment to see where the soldiers live, eat and sleep. The camp followers will entertain those who visit, with stories and their experiences of the Napoleonic period.

This exciting event which includes battles, skill at arms display and a living history encampment will take place on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August Bank Holiday. The event is included in normal admission price.

For more details and to see the full programme click here

Adverts on Roundabouts

Advert-01Are you keen on having advertisements on our roundabouts in Elmbridge because you you see no harm in them? Or are you dead against them because they impoverish our beautiful borough? A number of proposals have already been withdrawn.  You can see what is proposed by clicking on a roundabout near you.

Sainsburys, Portsmouth Road, Cobham2015/1898
Claygate Lane/Kingston By-Pass, Ditton2015/1905
Lynwood Road/Woodfield Road, Ditton2015/1900
Embercourt Road/Hampton Court Way, Ditton2015/1903
Burwood Road/Severn Hills Road, Hersham2015/1894
Queen’s Road/West Grove, Hersham2015/1892
Hurst Road/Sadler’s Ride, Molesey2015/1901
Ashley Road/Stompond Lane, Walton, 2015/1908
Brooklands Road/Parvis Road, Weybridge,  2015/1907
Brooklands Road/Wellington  Way, Weybridge,  2015/1906
Monument Hill /Monument Road, Weybridge2015/1899

White Lion Hotel

White Lion CobhamProposals for this key site in Cobham have been around for a number of years. This evening members of the West Area Planning Committee were presented with a planning application for the conversion of the White Lion Hotel into flats, the demolition of the Cobham Lodge Hotel and the erection of 50 dwellings on the site.

The vote was six in favour of the application and only one against.  Our Liberal Democrat councilor Cllr Andrew Davis felt that although the new application was far more sympathetic to the historic site than the previous planning applications it did not go far enough to protect this symbol of Cobham’s heritage.

“Little Foodies” fully catered for at the 2015 Elmbridge Food Festival

Elmbridge Food Festival LogoLocal children’s entertainers will join the bigger and better ‘Little Foodies’ area to ensure the whole family has a great time at this year’s Elmbridge Food Festival.  Face-painting, balloon modelling, art and crafts, drama and ball skills will all be part of the free entertainment on offer on Saturday, 26 and Sunday, 27 September.

There will be a wonderful variety of entertainment on offer during the Food Festival including; a treasure trail, bug hunt, Tudor style sweet making and much much more.

More than 9000 people attended the 2014 inaugural food festival and based on this year’s line-up of activities, a similar strong attendance is expected. Entry and car parking for all visitors to Painshill will be free over the course of the weekend. Gates will open each day at 10:30 and close at 5pm.

The Food and Drink Theatre will be the hub of the festival with live demonstrations throughout the weekend, while music from around the county will fill the air.

A detailed line up of stalls, food and drink theatre events, music acts and children’s entertainment is available from the borough’s Food Festival webpage

Elmbridge Food Festival

Elmbridge Food Festival LogoIt is almost time for the return of the Elmbridge Food Festival held again as last year in Painshill Park, Cobham on Saturday, 26 and Sunday, 27 September.

There will be around fifty stalls serving cuisine from around the world, as well as food and drink demonstrations and a variety of musical acts.  The centrepiece will be the Food and Drink Theatre with live demonstrations taking place. There will also be a ‘Little Foodies’ area with a full programme of free children’s activities running all weekend.

Take the family along for a weekend of fun and great food.