Dominic Raab backs the Heathrow Expansion – the Liberal Democrats will oppose it

Dominic Raab published a piece in last month’s Your Elmbridge outlining the so-called benefits of the Heathrow Expansion.


Read above, or view here on page 20 of 23

As the Liberal Democrat candidate, I find it imperative to respond. A third runway at Heathrow would have a serious negative effect on our community, both during and after construction. The promises are a premature ‘take-off’ and we need to bring the discussion back down to the ground!

Let’s be quite clear at the outset – the case for a third runway at Heathrow has not been made; in fact, the opposite. The national government’s report identifies Gatwick as the better economic choice. Since its release, the figures for Heathrow have been thoroughly dismantled by impartial experts. The government has halved the estimated benefits. Transport for London has tripled the projected costs. On the government’s own figures, the net benefit over 60 years is a mere £6bn.

Have a look at the proposed work.

The runway (red) cuts across the M25 requiring demolition of many homes and businesses and terminates near a nature reserve. The motorway will be rerouted, tunnelling underneath the runway and other major road works will be necessary (blue).

A new Heathrow ‘hub’ (orange) replaces a golf course to the north. The words “amenity to residents” seem to have disappeared from the Raab radar screen! The M25 upheaval will spread across Elmbridge. The knock-on economic costs have not been factored into the decision.

Dominic Raab’s claim that a 54% increase in aircraft traffic will lead to reduced aircraft noise beggars belief! Homes and businesses near Heathrow will need heavy soundproofing, building work better employed constructing new homes. But, for a huge area under new flight paths including Elmbridge, if you want to open your windows, sit on your patio around the barbeque or visit local nature reserves, well it’s ear-defenders for you. The threat to impose fines on the airport for noise infringements won’t benefit the residents and will just be passed on.

More empty promises are made. “No increase in road traffic”! The M25 and interconnecting roads across our community are frequently gridlocked focused around Heathrow junctions. “Air quality will be maintained”! Currently, local air quality frequently breaks health guidelines. A 54% increase in air traffic will make both aspects worse.

The Transport Minister “Suggested that a new rail link connecting Surrey directly to the airport is under consideration”! If this doubly hedged ‘carrot’ happens, a large intermediate transfer hub would appear somewhere in leafy Surrey and a cross-country tract would be converted from nature, farm, housing and business to railway. Shifting the problem does not solve it.

The Heathrow Authority will only meet a small fraction of the cost of the project – billions will come from taxation. But in the time since the start of the decision process, aircraft and communication technologies have been transformed. Do we need this runway at all? With improving seat booking, current passenger capacity would increase by 30%. Superliners that are lighter, quieter and more efficient raise this figure even more, also reducing environmental pollution. Concrete mixer unnecessary! Put your wallet away!

Elmbridge has long been an area of outstanding beauty and tranquillity with its rivers, parks and commons. This is under real threat. It is not too late for us to make our concerns known.

Andrew Davis
andrew-davis.org.uk

Refuse bins change colour

This takes me back.  My first job after full time education was to be a binman (actually a road-sweep but I got promotion).  Back then one had to hold a skip consisting of two bin-loads on the shoulder – very tough job – only the strongest survived.  Today the heavy lifting is by the bin-lorry itself – but the smell remains the same.

To reduce our refuse collection costs and save £millions in the process, Elmbridge has combined its refuse collection service with three other boroughs.

The first change is that all new non-recycling bins will be grey across all four boroughs to reduce purchase costs.

The current charges for refuse collection varies from borough to borough therefore there will be a transition while we all adopt a standard set of charges.  These will begin in June 2017 when Elmbridge enters the new agreement.

Wheelie bin charges.  The new standard charges for new and replacement wheellie bins is £25 for a 180 litre refuse bin; £30 for a 240 litre bin; and £60 for a 360 litre bin.

Garden Waste Collection Service.  For new subscribers the charges will be £45 for the first wheeled bin and £30 per additional wheeled bin.  For existing customers, it was recommended that the Council set the annual subscription charge at £40.   A concessionary subscriptions would apply.

Special Collection Service. £30 for the first item with a charge of £10 for each additional item.  It was also recommended that a concessionary discounts would apply.

Planning Compliance

One of the four key goals for the new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration was the improvement in planning enforcement.

Two measures have already been put in place: to ensure a more communicative service; and, the redrafting of the Elmbridge’s Planning Enforcement Charter in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The borough is to rename the team as the Planning Compliance Team. This would put greater emphasis on ensuring people complied with plans, conditions and the law, with enforcement being the end result in only the minority of cases.

The new team will have access to a branded vehicle in order to remove incorrectly placed estate agents boards and other illegal advertisements, which they were currently unable to do as easily and regularly using staffs’ own vehicles. In addition, staff will also have their own uniform, in common with other borough staff carrying out compliance activities.

The new team will introduce regular ‘surgeries’ and/or participation in existing events such as Let’s Talk Elmbridge in order to provide a greater and more visible presence with the public.

To achieve this the number of compliance staff will be increased 33%.

 

Mole Valley Conservation

Over the years the Lower Mole Partnership (LMP) has built up a large and enthusiastic volunteer group which has carried out a wide range of tasks to implement improvements to the local countryside, four days a week, including weekends, throughout the year.

LMP has also developed a broad spread of skills for tackling specialist countryside management work including landscape enhancements, woodland management and pond restoration as well as access initiatives such as the Thames Down Link footpath.

In 2011/12, as part of the then Conservative administration budget savings exercise, the borough’s grant to the LMP was reduced by £15,000.  The Liberal Democrat/Residents administration has decided to increase the borough’s grant to LMP by £6,280.  This action not only supports the active engagement of many people into nature conservancy but save the borough in task that it would otherwise have to take on itself.

Notice Board for Claygate Village.

A new notice board for Claygate has been erected at the end of Coverts Road today. This was created for the benefit of the local residents (who live some distance from the centre of the village) as well as the many visitors that come here. Since living in this part of Claygate, I have noticed that many pedestrians, riders and cyclists are completely confused where they are in relation to the centre of Claygate when they exit the track at the Holroyd Road end of Coverts Road. The track known as the ‘BOAT’ which has no vehicular access, is used by the public mainly for hiking, running, cycling, dog walking or horse riding. This track links Claygate with Esher and also comes out on Fairoak Lane between Oxshott and Malden Rushett, depending on the route you take. Claygate village centre and train station is some distance from Coverts Road so the new board has a detailed map showing your exact location.

As you stand in front of it, you can clearly see what can be discovered in the surrounding area. There are numerous footpaths and bridleways, flora and fauna as well as directions to the village itself. Claygate is full of restaurants, pubs, cafes and village shops. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside views, walks and rides. It is well worth a day out, whichever mode of transport you choose. With the financial help of Surrey County Council, Claygate Parish Council and with a personal contribution of my own, the board has been created, developed and finally delivered on site today.

Thanks must go to Sarah Kingsley from Eclipse Creative for her patience and wonderful art skills. Also thanks to Elmbridge’s Countryside Officer Dave Page. Dave originally helped me to create the map, adding to my ideas with his in depth knowledge of the local countryside due to both his keen interest and occupation. Dave and his co workers from the Elmbridge Countryside Team put the board in place this morning. Residents will now have the benefit of seeing at a glance what is going on in their village community. Horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and hikers will find new tracks, wildlife and plants as well as discovering a little about the local history of Claygate. Thank you to everyone that has helped this community idea finally come to fruition.

Please click here to see the map: Claygate Coverts Road Map (004)

Coverts Road Notice Board

Coverts Road Notice Board Claygate

 

Heathrow

heathrow_3_750Heathrow was a poor locational choice for a new major airport even when it opened in 1944 and replaced Croydon and Hendon airports.  Also the land for this new London Airport was forcibly purchased by the national government under special powers – the Defence of the Realm Act – without compensation to the landowners specifically to avoid public opposition.

A similar approach is happening today.  Notwithstanding, the impact of an enlarged airport on noise, air and ground pollution the proposed airport expansion does not make economic sense.  The assumptions used in the Davies report  – discount rates for investment, payback periods and PFI rates etc could be considered designed to ensure that the recommendation of the report  could only be Heathrow.

If it is considered that south-east England needs extra airport capacity then it should be in the Thames estuary if at all and while such an airport is being built then perhaps Gatwick could be expanded as a less dreadful choice than Heathrow.

At present Heathrow is running at too high a capacity – far higher than other airports. Heathrow should have the number of flights reduced so that it ordinarily runs at 80% capacity.  At such capacity the amount of stacking would be reduced, thus dramatically reducing air pollution and noise (saving fuel too) and also the airport would be able to cope better when the weather is not so favourable.

To do this the national government  – with one year’s notice  – should randomly withdraw six slots (flight movements in or out) a month (a week would be better but more unsettling for the industry).  The reason that withdrawn slots should be randomly chosen is to avoid any possibility that airlines could be seen to affect the choice of slot to be removed.  At the same time four of those slots would be leased by auction for, say, five years to the highest bidder.  The revenue would not go to the airport but to the state.  The revenues could be partly used to either compensate those who lived near the airport before it was built or to develop better landside connections to reduce air pollution from arriving road traffic or both.

Elmbridge Sport hub EIA

environmental impact assessmentAfter the decision by the full Planning Committee regarding the sports hub, we have now received the outcome from the Secretary Of State regarding the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and he has decided that an EIA is required.  The essence of what the Secretary Of State said is:

“Whilst this is a finely balanced case, the proposal does raise concerns to suggest the potential for significant environmental impacts through surface disturbance of the former landfill site, uncertainty about the extent of the contamination of the site and the potential for gas migration to both the River Thames and nearby residential properties.”

Whilst the borough is disappointed by this decision, especially as the issues mentioned above have already been addressed in the planning report, Elmbridge has begun on the EIA exercise as promised at the Committee meeting.  The EIA will be the subject of public consultation and will be presented to the Planning Committee in due course.  I will let you know timescale as soon as I have it.

Help combat dog fouling in Elmbridge

Dog Fouling Elmbridge is launching a campaign to target dog fouling and its antisocial impact on local communities. The borough is asking local people to become the eyes of their community and report irresponsible dog owners.

The new campaign will be launched on Wednesday, 22 July at The Riverside walk in Hersham. A photo launch will be attended by Councillors, Council Officers and representatives of local resident groups and businesses who are fed up with the way many parts of the borough has become a fouling hotspot.

Dog fouling impacts all of society. Not only can dog mess carry disease but it also turns people away from enjoying our natural environment. People living close to parks and green spaces feel that this is a growing blight on the area in which they live.

Posters warning dog owners that their actions are being watched will be put up around Elmbridge. They also remind owners that not cleaning up after their pet carries a £50 fine. Postcards encouraging residents to report irresponsible owners to the council will be distributed to community groups, schools, libraries and pet shops.

Côte Brasserie comes to Weybridge

Cote  Brasserie-01The restaurant chain has applied for planning permission to combine two shops: Sevenoaks Sound and Vision and the Nail Company beauty salon into one to provide a larger retail unit.  One of the problems for Weybridge has been the lack of larger retail units, so that combining neighbouring units might be a way forward – as Boots, Laura Ashley and the Slug and Lettice have done in the past.

If Côte Brasserie opens then 41, 43, 45, 47 and 47 Church Street will be a row of restaurants.  We do like eating out in Weybridge.

Cycling Strategy comes to Weybridge

CyclistThe Weybridge cycling campaign welcomes the move to set Weybridge as the town in Elmbridge to begin the new cycling strategy.  This five year strategy looks to the present and future needs of the town in planning new facilities for cyclists.  The main trust will be to plan for a network of safe cycling routes between Weybridge and its neighbours (Shepperton, Walton, Hersham, Cobham, Byfleet, Woodham and Addlestone) especially in relation to the main locations in Weybridge: the riverside, town centre, Heathside School/Brooklands College (along with the primary schools), station, Brooklands offices and out-of-town shopping.

The aim is for safe cycling between all of these locations.  Our aim is to catch up with the Netherlands.  They began a while ago but look at this video to see how they managed the change.