Green Belt in Long Ditton

Long Ditton councillors, Shweta Kapadia, Barry Fairbank and Neil Houston wish to dispute the statement made by Hinchley Wood/Long Ditton Green Belt group that they are doing nothing to protect the Green Belt.  All three of them are working hard and will continue to work hard to protect the Green Belt. All councillors recognize the need for housing but do not agree with building on the Green Belt.

Every single councillor in Elmbridge is against building on the Green Belt.  An application for over 1,000 homes in Green Belt in Walton was unanimously refused by the Residents’ Association (RA), Tory and Lib Dem councillors.  The borough has poured vast resources into defending the Drake Park Appeal last November to defend Elmbridge Green Belt. But the national government has ignored the will of the people and the borough and the application will now be determined by a Conservative Secretary of State – till recently Sajid Javid and now James Brokenshire. The Drake Park decision was however ‘deferred’ only a few days ago until after the Elmbridge Election.  Just weeks ago Sajid Javid allowed 300 homes in the Green Belt in Effingham, Guildford, although the parish and borough refused permission. There is an appeal still outstanding for Wisley (2,000 homes) which will similarly be determined by a Conservative government minister.

Are local Conservatives going to defy their national government and not build on the Green Belt or in fact not build the 12,500 homes this Conservative government wants to build in Elmbridge? Conservative councillors in other Surrey districts have allowed building on the Green Belt. Tandridge Council is planning a whole new village in the Green Belt. Guildford has released land in the Green Belt. Are Elmbridge Conservatives going to be the only ones in the country to defy their Government?

Only the Liberal Democrats and the Residents’ Association councillors can defy this Conservative government. The Residents’ Association / Liberal Democrat coalition administration has done just that: they have lobbied and put considerable pressure on Dominic Raab and Philip Hammond, Elmbridge’s two MPs. But being Conservative both of them are toeing the national party line and will not say that the Green Belt should not be built on even though they know the borough’s residents are against it. The RAs / Lib Dem administration has also protested to Sajid Javid highlighting the deficit in infrastructure provision in Elmbridge. The administration responded robustly against the large amount of housing that this Conservative government is attempting to force on Elmbridge.

Regards the Elmbridge consultation in 2016/17 on the new Local Plan and Green Belt review – the facts of the matter are: All Elmbridge councillors voted UNANIMOUSLY for the consultation on the Strategic Options which took place in December 2016. The minutes of the meeting of full council held in December 2016 clearly show that.

Until Tory politics on the Local Plan started, Tories, RAs and Liberal Democrats worked on this together. There are the Conservatives and three RAs and only one Liberal Democrat on the Local Plan Working Group so the Tories have a strong voice on this working group and they agreed to the consultation.

There is a large amount of mis-information circulating. Since the public consultation in December 2016 Elmbridge Borough Council has not produced any specific proposals in relation to the Local Plan and there has been no vote in the council on building on the Green Belt for the Conservatives to have opposed it.

Francisca Oxley (Thames Ditton)

Francisca has been a local resident for nearly twenty years, living in Esher, Hinchley Wood and Thames Ditton. Her three children currently attend Thames Ditton Junior School and Hinchley Wood Secondary School.

Alongside her work in London as a sales & marketing director, she has always volunteered locally. This includes co-charing the Friends committee at Cranmere Primary School and managing the local foodbanks.

Francisca says: “I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives.”

Following Brexit Francisca got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments to protect European citizens’ rights. “Unfortunately Brexit now distracts from pressing issues like housing, health and social care, and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with a pro-Europe stance at the national level.”

1. I am a local resident in Thames Ditton, with kids in the local schools (TDJS and HWS). Therefore I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places and planning are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives. These cannot all be solved at the local level.

2. Following Brexit I got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments. Brexit distracts from solving pressing issues like housing, health, social care and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with the national level.

Cllr Barry Fairbank (Long Ditton ward – elected since 2000)

Barry Fairbank Square

Barry has been an Elmbridge Councillor for Long Ditton since May 2000. Since 2000 he has been totally involved with the Long Ditton community, and still is. He was Group Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Elmbridge Council from 2011-2013, when he was elected Deputy Mayor. In spring 2014 he was elected as Mayor for 2014/15.

He is currently a member of the Cabinet as Portfolio Holder for the Environment and is a member of the Licensing Committee, the Mayor of Elmbridge Trust Fund and the  Elmbridge Local Committee.

Over time he has served on many Elmbridge Council Committees and working groups, including Overview & Scrutiny task and working groups covering a range of subjects including:- waste collection and disposal; council partnerships; council service performance; the dissemination of financial information; Overview & Scrutiny; the replacement Leisure Centre; customer service improvement; the Elmbridge Museum; land charge searches; the discharge of elderly people from hospital and others.

He has lived in Elmbridge for more than 23 years, living previously in Wimbledon. He is married to Gill a retired headteacher. They have two sons, one of whom is working in an educational charity which supports education in difficult localities, and the other in a company specialising in cyber security.

Barry was educated at Sir Walter St John’s Grammar School, Battersea and following the closure of the school has served as a Trustee of the residual body, providing educational grants to individuals, voluntary groups and project groups based in the former catchment area of the school.

Barry spent most of his working life in London starting at a merchant bank, Samuel Montagu, and subsequently joining a number of specialist investment management organisations including Invesco, NatWest, Midland Montagu and Gartmore. Before retiring, he become self-employed specialising in investment related financial investigations and risk appraisals.

Barry is also involved with a number of local organisations namely:- HomeStart Elmbridge; Long Ditton Village Hall; Long Ditton Youth Project and St Mary’s Church Community Hall. He is a governor at St Mary’s Long Ditton Junior School and was Chair of Governors for 7 years.  Other interests include: current affairs; sport; reading; walking; music; humour; and theatre.

Whilst a member of the Cabinet, Barry and fellow Lib Dems in coalition with the residents group have:

  • Started a social housing programme with properties in Cobham, Thames Ditton and Weybridge
  • Introduced a flexible parking strategy to serve our towns – including free parking on Saturdays
  • Created a new planning compliance team to ensure developers do not build without permission
  • Built a balanced property portfolio in Elmbridge to generate income to support Council services
  • Delivered the new regional quality sports hub in Walton
  • Replaced the under-performing Conservative grass verge and green spaces contract
  • Invested to enhance our public tennis courts in association with the Lawn Tennis Association
  • Implemented a new refuse collection contract which is providing a better service whilst saving money.
  • All this and delivering the lowest council tax rise (1.9%) in Surrey

When re-elected Barry will work with others towards:

  • Protecting the Green Belt
  • Building on our new programme of social housing, with an aim to provide social housing for 2,000 new homes across Elmbridge
  • Working to ensure Long Ditton stays a vibrant and pleasant place
  • Making the environment central to all borough policy initiatives
  • Ensuring that Community Infrastructure Levy is used correctly and will only be spent on extra health, education, transport and social infrastructure for Elmbridge

1. Barry considers housing and environment to be the two main issues in in both Long Ditton and Elmbridge. Long Ditton is a wonderful place to live, but young people and those in vital services find it unaffordable. Solving this problem would contribute to the whole community’s wellbeing – young and old, those working and those at home. But new housing must be achieved without a compromise on environment.

2. If elected Barry will champion local people’s needs, whether they are families, children in education, elderly needing care, vulnerable people or youths. He will also work in the council to help build 2,000 units of social housing in Elmbridge. This should be done respecting the integrity of the green belt and the environment. He feels strongly that our young people contribute to a thriving community and should be able to afford to live here.

Liz Ambekar (Hinchley Wood and Weston Green)

Liz Ambekar has lived in Hinchley Wood since 2014, previously living in Kingston and growing up in Oxfordshire. She is married with two daughters who attend Hinchley Wood School.

Liz is a charity finance director, with over ten years’ experience working in the charity sector and prior to that in the civil service and social housing. She is committed to the voluntary sector and has significant past volunteering experience including being a charity trustee of a care home for severely disabled young adults in Twickenham, a volunteer chaperone and helping at her children’s primary schools. Liz also supports the arts locally.

If elected Liz will work on behalf of all people in Hinchley Wood and Weston Green. She is particularly keen to focus on issues that affect young people and those in need, as well as affordable housing, child safety and our shared environment.

1. I believe that one of the biggest issues facing Hinchley Wood and Weston Green is ensuring there is sufficient affordable and social housing for those in need and the next generation, whilst always maintaining the individuality of the area, protecting the green belt and providing the infrastructure and services to support the population.

2. I will work tirelessly to support all of the local community, using the skills and experience I have gained as a charity finance director and the understanding I have as a work-ing mum of school age children. I will focus on housing, environment and services to those in need who are so often underrepresented.

Esher & Walton General Election Hustings Confirmed

Hustings provide a great opportunity for local residents to meet, hear from and put questions to candidates standing in the election.

We’re pleased to share the following hustings in Esher & Walton that have been confirmed for the General Election:

Wednesday 31st May – East Molesey

Location: East Molesey Methodist Church, Manor Road, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9JU
Time: 7:30pm to 9pm

Thursday 1st June – Thames Ditton

Location: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Hampton Court Way, KT7 0LP
Time: 8pm

Monday 5th June – Hinchley Wood

Location: St Christopher’s Church, Claygate Lane, Hinchley Wood, Esher, KT0 0AQ
Time: 7:30pm

Vote for Gerard Doherty for The Dittons in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Gerard lives in Long Ditton with his family. He is a consultant in healthcare with expertise in the changing NHS and combined NHS/social care budgets.

Gerard’s action list for The Dittons

  1. Manage the budget better – holding the council to account
  2. Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable
  3. Protecting green belt from development
  4. Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists
  5. Better access to local school places & adequate funding

Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable

With particular expertise in health and social care Gerard is keen to ensure the council are held to account on their spending. He has a particular interest in the commissioning of services for young people and the elderly. The tory’s have a poor track record commissioning quality care for our eldery, with an increasing elderly population in Surrey he is keen to ensure the elderly and vulnerable receive appropriate care. He wants to hold the Tory stronghold to account ensuring services commissioned for vulnerable young people and the elderly are high quality and value for money.

Protecting green belt from development

Gerard is passionate about protecting the Stokes Field Green Belt area from the proposed development; not only is he concerned about the protection of the greenbelt but he is opposed to the development due to the lack of adequate infrastructure in the Dittons to support the proposed housing. He is eager for affordable housing to be developed in appropriate areas in Surrey without endangering the greenbelt.

Better access to local schools

Having teenage children Gerard is acutely aware of the pressures on local school places. He wants to ensure there are adequate local school places for our young people without the requirement for them to travel out of area to receive education.

Make your voice heard

Vote for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Gerard Doherty, in the county council elections on May 4th and help to stop the mismanagement of Surrey’s finances.
A vote for him is a vote for change and a better future for our families and all residents.

You can email Gerard at: gerard.doherty2@ntlworld.com

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.

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

Bus Service Changes

Bus in Weybridge-01Following the Conservative Surrey administration decision to cut the bus budget, a revised bus timetable has been introduced and will begin on 29 August.

436 Weybridge-Byfleet-Woking

  • Timetable change will reduce frequency from half hourly to generally hourly,
  • Sunday shuttle service between Weybridge Station and Mercedes Benz World will be withdrawn.

451 Weybridge-Addlestone-Chertsey-Staines

  • This service will be withdrawn

459 Kingston-Esher-Hersham-Weybridge-Addlestone-Woodham-Woking

  • This service will be withdrawn

514 Kingston-Ditton-Molesey-Hersham

  • This service will be extended hourly from Hersham to Walton Station, Queens Road and Weybridge. Beyond Weybridge, some journeys will continue direct to Addlestone and some will go to Addlestone via Byfleet and Weybridge Tesco.