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.

Churchfield Allotments

The Lib Dems in Weybridge have inadvertently stirred up a brouhaha by mistakenly placing a Social Housing label close to Churchfield Allotments in our April Focus!

This raised a concern among people living in neighbouring roads, who approached the owners of the allotments, the Weybridge Charity, to find out if there were any plans to build social housing on the allotments.

The Charity says there are no plans to build social housing, but it may seek to sell a small section of land for development.

It has told residents that it is “under increasing pressure to meet the needs of Weybridge residents who face hardship” and needs to raise funds. “The Charity has come to the conclusion this can be achieved by developing and selling the ‘Molyneux Road triangle’ … a little over 5% of Churchfields allotments”. It adds that “any rumours of providing Council or Housing Association accommodation are unfounded”.

Neighbouring residents are concerned about the impact of development on the quality of life in the area, particularly as this is an area of acute parking stress. However, residents have also shown a considerable interest in the Charity itself and its work and some are seeking to find ways to become more involved with the work of the Charity.

The Charity’s case for the sale and development of 5-6% of the area of Churchfields allotments is that it needs to secure its long term access to income from invested funds rather than deplete them. It is the earnings from these invested sums, plus any monies donated to the Charity, which are used to carry out its charitable objective – ‘the relief of persons resident in the area of benefit (Weybridge KT13 postcode area) who are in need, hardship or distress.’

According to the Charity, “The action will also provide much needed funds for investment in the remainder of the allotments: bringing new areas under cultivation, allowing a proper toilet to be built, creating a communal area and improving facilities, so that, retaining its unique character, the whole site may be used more effectively and attract new, long-term [allotment] tenants.”

The Charity states on its website that “It is the declared intention of the Managing Trustees of Weybridge Charity to retain Churchfields allotments as allotment land. This maintains the history of green land in the centre of Weybridge, and open views from Churchfields Park across the allotments towards St James’ Church“.

If you have never visited the allotments, do go and take a look.  This is a wonderful green area in the heart of Weybridge.

For those of you who do not know of the Charity and who have friends of relatives who may be experiencing hardship, more information can be found on the Weybridge Charity’s website.  And even if not, it is interesting to read the history of the Charity.

Finally, anyone interested in having an allotment, it would appear that there are currently unused allotments and a thriving community of allotment holders.

Surrey’s Pothole Shame

Who would you rather have in charge of road maintenance where you live?

According to a Get Surrey report in January 2018, when asked about the state of roads in Surrey, a spokesman for Surrey County Council said: “We’re working incredibly hard to improve Surrey’s roads – potholes are fixed at a rate of around 260 a day – but as Surrey has some of the country’s busiest roads wear and tear really takes its toll.

“This means we face a £40 million funding gap over the next five years, and while our Operation Horizon project has seen hundreds of miles of roads rebuilt to make them pothole-proof for at least a decade, we would like to do more which is why we think busier roads should get more government funding.”

On the other hand the spokesman for Hampshire, Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council said: “Hampshire is one of the largest counties in England, with over 5,300 miles of road, much of them rural. Safe and well maintained roads are a priority for us – good transport infrastructure is crucial to Hampshire’s long term economic prosperity and the quality of life of all who live and work here. Each year, our highways teams repair around 10,000 potholes, and we continuously look for the latest innovations available to provide long-lasting, quality maintenance work that represents good value for money.

“Each year, we invest an additional £10million into our planned maintenance programme, Operation Resilience – a long term strategy designed to ensure Hampshire’s road network is more resilient to the impact of heavy traffic and weather. Work includes reconstruction, asphalt dressing, full resurfacing and drainage improvements.

Surrey, on the other hand, plans on reducing capital expenditure on Highways Maintenance from

£20,943,000 in 2018/19 to £12,889,000 in 2019/20 and £14,515,000 in 2019/20, giving a grand total of £48,347,000 over the next three years.

According to Hampshire County Council website, £120 million will be spent on highways maintenance over the next three years in Hampshire.

 

CIL Bids in Weybridge

When most new developments in Weybridge are built the developer has to pay a tax referred to as CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) to help fund any increased needs locally, as  a consequence of the building.

This infrastructure can be equipment for schools, health centres, community centres or safer or better designed streets.  CIL funds may only be used for new or enhanced facilities and not for staffing, repair or general maintenance of existing facilities.

Typically in Elmbridge, towns have an allocation and bids can be made by residents or groups in the town for funds for a project. See here your most frequently asked questions.

This year in Weybridge there are seven applications for CIL funding.

We are interested to hear your views on these. Do you support any of these projects? Or would you like to comment on them?  Click on each one for more details and click here for our survey.

We also include a scoring assessment of each project for applicability and desirability.  Some projects are uncosted, do not have permission of the landowner or do not necessarily enhance our infrastructure.  But what do you think?

These are the seven applications for CIL funding in Weybridge.

  1. Surrey county for improvements to footpath  linking Broadwater path to Walton Lane. CIL funding of £8,981 has been requested to create a wider all-weather route.
  2. St James School to refurbish the Lodge to create additional teaching and community space. CIL funding of £60,000 has been requested. A quotation has been provided that is consistent with the amount requested.
  3. The Weybridge Society for improvement to lighting around the war memorial and restoration of the surroundings. CIL funding of £32,500 has been requested for the works.
  4. PA Housing for bollards to prevent parking on adopted highways land in Brooklands Road. CIL funding of £3,500 has been requested for the works.
  5. Weybridge Cricket Club for roof replacement and addition of girl’s changing facilities. CIL funding of £50,000 is requested.
  6. Walton Firs Foundation for new accommodation pods to provide additional capacity. CIL funding of £24,560 is requested. Three quotations have been provided, the lowest of which is consistent with the amount requested.
  7. St Mary’s Church Oatlands to create additional office space. CIL funding of £20,000 is requested.

The general report is here.

Opinion & Analysis – The Entertaining Mr. Raab – “streamlining the planning laws”?

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 25 February 2018
It is always entertaining to speculate on what politicians mean when they borrow a word from engineering as a euphemism for their ambiguous pronouncements.
‘Robust’ in engineering or in your garden means well-built, sturdy. When politicians meet, it means they were diplomatically ‘tooth and claw’ at odds with each other. An ‘echo chamber’ is a room designed to measure sound clarity, but in politics it is a weapon for bombarding an audience with propaganda from all directions or a platform where people are just not listening to the other side.
So, what does Mr. Raab mean by ‘streamlining’? He said: “You certainly want to make sure that your green belt spaces are protected and preserved but at the same time we want to make sure the planning application process is more streamlined and effective …”! Hang on? If we protect and preserve green belt, then planning would not be relevant to existing green spaces; sacrosanct. Two completely disconnected objectives are dubiously and suspiciously connected by him.
‘Streamlining’, in engineering, involves rounding-off corners and removing air flow obstructions, converting power to speed more efficiently. In politics it is usually a method of removing transparency rather than making a process more efficient. Dominic’s juxtaposing these in one breath makes one wonder whether ‘streamlining’ will challenge (euphemism) the protection and preservation of green belt instead of providing a sturdy, robust defence.
The public deserve the right to proactively protect their environment. If ‘streamling’ the process by which developers and planners convert authority into action removes accountability and due diligence, well that would be a euphemistic solution too far, Mr. Raab!
Dominic’s words are an entertaining aspirational rhetoric but empty. Flesh it out, but let’s have something a little less vacuous than “streamlining means streamlining” … please!

Calling time on recycling centres

As you may have heard, Surrey County Council is reducing the opening hours of many of our well-used Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) and you can no longer dispose of “non-household waste” for free.

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have opposed these charges as we believe that fly-tipping will increase as a result and that instead the County Council should be doing everything possible to make it easier for residents to dispose of their waste responsibly.

There are now restrictions on which CRCs can be used by vans, trailers and pickups, as well as a reduction in opening hours across most sites.

You can find out more.

Grenside Road unsafe for children and residents

Grenside Road residents are concerned for safety in the area behind St George’s Junior School. Local resident Sarah Groves has written to her SCC councillor saying: “Since the Junior School’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ system was put in place there has been an increase in the volume of traffic on Grenside – parents are now approaching the School via Grenside from Grotto Road and from Thames Street via Convent Lane and then onto Grenside. This at peak times causes chaos especially when there is nowhere to turn safely as Grenside Road is effectively a cul-de-sac. The whole fabric of the road and pavements has deteriorated due to the high volume of traffic with vehicles turning and reversing onto pavements – churning the surface up with their SUVs.”

She adds: “There is no traffic management system in place i.e. parking restrictions, speed limit signs, nor in fact the triangular signs showing children crossing; and the rear entrance/exit of the school has no clear yellow zigzags, that are outside every other school where children enter and leave.”

Despite efforts of local Elmbridge councillors and strong lobbying by Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Davis to have Grenside Road included in the Surrey County Council (SCC) Strategic Review of parking in Weybridge, SCC refused to budge from their original view and Grenside was excluded from consideration.

16 January SCC conducted a Road Safety on Outside Schools Assessment.  We’ll report on its outcome.

Grants for business

Elmbridge borough has grants to aid businesses  via the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund.  Weybridge is the biggest claimer for funds in Elmbridge.  The aim is to support the growth of the local economy.  Funding can help you business with:

  • Shop fronts and signage
  • marketing and promotion
  • town centre events
  • streetscape improvements
  • learning, skills and training

Contact 01932 474 216, email business@elmbridge.gov.uk or click here.

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