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.

Coalition

Elmbridge Council ChamberTwo year’s ago, the newly elected leader of the Elmbridge council, Stuart Sellick invited the Liberal Democrats to join the Residents Groups to form a coalition administration.

We had had three choices: support the Conservatives or the Residents on a confidence and supply basis;  join a coalition with the Residents (there was not an offer of a coalition from the Conservatives); or, remain separate from both.

The Liberal Democrats had, in 2015, come out of a coalition nationally and had suffered for it – despite our believing that in 2010 a coalition was the best option for the country.

The residents group was and is already a coalition so our joining it meant a coalition of a coalition.  But unlike the national coalition, in Elmbridge the Liberal Democrats were the largest party in the coalition.

At that time, there was much criticism, as well as speculation, that the new coalition would be short-lived and unable to achieve any significant changes to the borough but we in the Liberal Democrat felt it was the appropriate course of action for the smooth running of the borough.

We wanted to improve the planning enforcement function, begin a serious housing programme, move the car park policy from a money-making to a service basis and put the local plan process onto a firm footing – all this was achieved whilst maintaining our council tax below general local inflation and maintaining our financial reserves.

We met all of our targets and more but there is still more to do.  This was the first Liberal Democrat coalition in the borough’s history.  On our way to running Elmbridge by ourselves – in the not too distant future – we plan to work with councillors of all parties and of none to ensure the borough is well run and that Elmbridge remains the best place to live in England.

Elmbridge May 2018 Elections

The May elections the Conservatives gained four councillors but lost one, the Liberal Democrats gained one and the Residents lost four councillors.  The election did not produce an outright winner and therefore there is no overall control in the borough.  The Conservative Party ended up with 24 councillors, the Residents 15 and the Liberal Democrats 9.

Change in Party Success

Over the last few years in Elmbridge the Conservative Party and the Residents Parties have been losing seats and the Liberal Democrats gaining.

Elmbridge Change in Seats

Year on year, albeit gradually ,the proportion of councillors in the borough has been moving towards the Liberal Democrats.  The Lib Dems have risen from a tenth of the councillors to a fifth.

It looks even more dramatic with the numbers.of councillors.

Seats Change

If you were expecting the negative numbers to be balanced by the positive numbers, which is of course usual, then you might not have remembered that the number of members of the council was cut from 60 to 48 in 2016.

Changes next time

Elmbridge consists of a number of very safe wards and some very close contests.  The current position is as follows.

Swing by ward

The largest swing in the recent elections was 22% from Resident to the Conservatives in Walton Central ward. So the top half of the table above could all change hands next time.  Your vote in such wards will make a difference.  The world would have to turn flat before Oxshott changes hands.

Your Personnel Planning Alerts

Planning Alert

Registering your account

If you would like to receive alerts for planning applications in your locality simply click here. Alternatively, go to the Elmbridge borough website and click on the “My Account” at the top right of your screen.  On the next screen register your details. You will then be given the option of getting planning application alerts.

Choosing your planning alerts area

You will then be given the option of choosing the extent of the area that you will be given alerts – up to 500m.  I would recommend choosing the maximum area because you can always cut it down later if you find there are too many alerts.

You can also take up other options relating to changes to local services.

More Planning Information

If you would like more planning information at Elmbridge, for example to find a planning application to how to object to a planning application click here.

Councillors’ Allowances

In the recent Conservative Party manifesto they say

“They even put up their personal allowances by 12%”

Here is the truth

Coupled with the reduction in the number of councillors, the overall councillor pay bill was reduced by £22,547 a year.  In 2008/09 the total councillor allowances and expenses came to £389,296.  In 2017/18 the total was £338,855, a reduction of over 13% or £50,000.

In May 2016 the number of councillors of Elmbridge borough was reduced 60 to 48.  This move was supported by the Liberal Democrats who would rather have had the number of councillors set to 32 or even fewer.

In consideration of this reduction in the number of councillors and the consequent increase in workload, the the independent body that recommends councillors’ pay decided to undertake a comprehensive review of councillors’ pay in Elmbridge.

The Liberal Democrats view was whatever the review body recommended, we would accept it.

The review decided that councillors should be paid less than £7 an hour (the minimum living wage is £8.75-£10.20). Some pay would be cut, others increased – depending on the workload involved.

The Liberal Democrats voted to implement the recommendations of the independent review body. The Conservative did not.  So the Conservatives voted to set up an independent review body to remove the possibility of councillors setting their own pay and then – when the review body reported its findings – voted against the findings.

The review was coherent and comprehensive – see the report for yourself Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel – September 2016.

Vicki Macleod (Weybridge Riverside)

Vicki Macleod (Weybridge Riverside)

Vicki is a long term resident of Weybridge with a strong history of action in the community.

She is a Founder Member of the ElmWey Learning Trust, and was a Governor at Heathside School from 2010 to 2016 when the Trust was established. She has a strong interest in the wellbeing of pupils in the Trust’s schools and of vulnerable members of our community. She continues to be involved with local charities for the elderly as a Trustee of the Weybridge Old Folks Club.

If elected as councillor for Weybridge Riverside, Vicki will bring her considerable knowledge of Weybridge and professional skills, developed in a number of management and business roles, to this work.

I will do my utmost to ensure that, in these times of austerity, Elmbridge Borough acts in the best interests of all who live in Elmbridge, as well as seeking to bring much needed improvements to Weybridge.”

1. Vicki Macleod is a long-term resident of Weybridge, having moved here to work with Surrey Special Schools in 1991. She is well known locally and is embedded in the community through her work with charities for the elderly and with Heathside School. Vicki brings energy, interest and commitment to all she is involved in.

2. Vicki fully will work for more affordable and council housing, careful stewardship of the environment and to ensure our towns are great places to live. She supports the restoration and improvement of health provision in Weybridge and a future-proof ap-proach to traffic and parking in Weybridge.

Graham Winton (Oatlands and Burwood Park ward – Cllr 1983-2007)

Promoting a community in Oatlands and Burwood Park!

Graham Winton is standing in the borough elections because he wants to build a civic community in the ward.  We all have our interests, problems, pastimes and needs. We can all benefit from a community spirit. The ward needs an identity.

If elected Graham will strive to
• promote a thriving Oatlands Village Centre
• integrate the major schools in the area (Cleves and Oatlands First)
• manage traffic in all the major through roads particularly pressing for “20mph is plenty” where there is congestion, vulnerable school chil-dren or residents
• promote cycling and walking in place of car journeys
• encourage a better use of large open spaces in the ward for recrea-tion, fitness and sport.

Electing a Liberal Democrat as your councillor will always secure you a willing community worker, such as Graham Winton.

1. There is a lack of a community feeling in a ward that sprawls. Schools, churches, shops, businesses and residents need to work together to solve problems and create op-portunities. Cooperation creates the right kind of progress which generates community wellbeing.

2. I would work with all parties on the council to seek solutions to problems as they arise. I would hold regular meetings with ward residents to discuss issues. I would be an enabler to hold those responsible to take action where needed, for example, police, county council, health services, social services, fire services not just the borough council.

Mike Rollings (Claygate)

Mike Rollings was brought up in Claygate and after a career elsewhere he returned to ‘the best village I know’. He works in finance as a restructuring and insolvency practitioner in London.

Mike finds Claygate and its atmosphere a perfect antidote to the busyness of a big city. And that is what he wants to protect and enhance.

If elected as a councillor Mike will work in close collaboration with Mary Marshall and Alex Coomes, Claygate’s two other councillors.

These will be Mike’s priorities as one of Claygate’s three Elmbridge Borough councillors:

  • Campaign for more well-located secondary school places for our children
  • Support sensible planning, but oppose out-of-character or out-of-proportion applications
  • Put pressure on Surrey to fix the dangerous potholes and ensure quality road repairs
  • Work to maintain the vibrancy of The Parade, our retailers and businesses
  • Protect our precious Green Belt which makes Claygate a great place to live
  • Encourage community sports, community activism, culture and neighbourly conduct
  • Assist seniors, youths, families and vulnerable people with appropriate services
  • Enable increased recycling, reduce cost of waste disposal and control fly-tipping

Mike’s campaign theme ‘Our Kind of Claygate’ reflects his commitment to a high quality of life in the village.

1. Claygate faces several issues: dangerous potholes, the scourge of fly-tipping, missing school places, non-affordable housing, threat to our retailers, vital services for the elderly, youths and families. Above all the need to protect the Green Belt and the village from over-development.

2. I will work with Claygate’s two other Lib Dem councillors, Mary and Alex, to tackle the above issues.  Press Surrey for more school places and maintaining roads and pavements. Work on Elmbridge’s plan to build affordable homes, fight to protect the Green Belt, support local shops and businesses, engage with young and old, and maintain Claygate’s unique character.

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.

Paul Nagle (Molesey West)

Paul Nagle has lived in Molesey for over twenty years. He works in science publishing and professional associations focused mainly on water, environment, agriculture and nutrition.

A lifelong Liberal and NUJ member, he is keen to see more effective local democracy to ensure people no longer feel remote from local councils – and that those councils are run more effectively. In our own area in Elmbridge we need a stronger focus on housing, most particularly affordable housing which is essential for many key workers and our own children.

We also need to give greater attention and priority to improved environmental policies such as sustainability, minimizing waste and fly-tipping.

1. There is a desperate need for (truly affordable) homes with the necessary services (po-licing, health social care etc) and physical infrastructure (transport, parking, etc), and supporting local shops and businesses so they thrive. These need addressing seriously in Molesey and Elmbridge as a whole.

2. I’d use all the leverage as a councillor to reconnect Molesey’s people with the decision-making that affects their community. This means facilitating contacts between the resi-dents and the council and its officers, both Elmbridge and Surrey. And all other key stakeholders who contribute to the wellbeing of the community. Being an active ‘con-nector’ and ‘facilitator’ would enhance wellbeing and bring progress.