Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.

Out of hospital services in North West Surrey

Residents of Weybridge have been invited by the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) to contribute their views on plans for out of hospital services in our area. The launch of this engagement is an event on Tuesday 2nd October, running from 3-8 pm at the Ship Hotel.

What services for Weybridge?

While the focus of the engagement goes beyond just the Weybridge Hospital rebuild, it is particularly pertinent for Weybridge. The CCG notice about the events says: “Following this engagement we will be better placed to determine the services that will eventually go into the new healthcare facility that will be built on the site of the old Weybridge Hospital.”

Register to attend

CCG staff will be able to give attendees a greater opportunity to put their views if attendance is spread out. People wishing to attend can sign up in advance and select a 30 minute time slot.

Weybridge Hospital

A year ago, on 12 July 2017, Weybridge Hospital was destroyed by fire.

One year on

The two GP practices have now been re-established in very smart ‘portacabins’ on the site. There are also enhanced treatment rooms, staffed by nurses; the phlebotomy service; and the wound management clinic – an essential service for many of the older residents of Weybridge.

Pre-engagement meeting

On Tuesday 10th July 2018, local councillors and other community representatives attended a meeting with the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG). The CCG wished to outline plans for public engagement on local services across its area. The public engagement with Weybridge residents on the the rebuild on the hospital site will be part of this.

The CCG assured us that the Weybridge site will be used solely for healthcare and associated services (such as pharmacy, social care).

What was covered in the meeting

The meeting briefly covered progress on the technical aspects of the rebuild on the site and then considered views on services that could be available. The CCG set out the NHS policy and local healthcare context which will affect the eventual services provided on the site. From the CCG perspective, provision in Weybridge will need to fit with the overall plan for services across the North Surrey area.

Your local representatives were advocates for the citizens of Weybridge. Like you, we want access locally to the services we need.

What is possible?

One of the key concerns of Weybridge residents is to have the kind of services they received from the Walk In Centre delivered locally. However, NHS England has now tasked CCGs to reconfigure services that were previously delivered through Minor Injury, Walk In and Urgent Care Centres. These services are now to be delivered through new Urgent Treatment Centres. The CCG has not yet decided where Urgent Treatment Centres might be located within North West Surrey. This will form an important part of the CCG’s engagement campaign later this year.

One way of looking at this is that a new build on the Weybridge site gives the CCG an opportunity to design a mix of services that will meet current and future health and wellbeing needs of Weybridge residents in modern premises.  The CCG are very aware of the wishes of local residents with regard to local nurse-led, non-appointment services.

When will Public Engagement get going?

The CCG are keen to engage widely with Weybridge residents.  Engagement events will begin in September – advertised widely – and will include a range of ways to get involved. Full details will be posted later this summer on the CCG’s website, in other local bulletins and via local media.

You can be sure that your local councillors will also post on Facebook in the Weybridge Network Group.

Norman Lamb MP visits Walton

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, spoke in Walton on Thames last week  about Brexit and the NHS and social care.

BREXIT   He  started by saying  there is  hardly any debate on anything other than Brexit  going on in Westminster at the moment.  He said that he had not known anything like it, it was as if  normal service has been suspended.

He said that when the reality of the Brexit deal is determined; sometime in the Autumn, he anticipates strong disquiet in the Conservative ranks and does not believe Jeremy Corbyn is electable.  However,  he continued,  that sadly this has not currently led to a boost to the Lib Dems in the polls. An autumn a political constitutional crisis was likely  (note by author : Vince Cable said something similar) but felt it was very hard to predict how this will play out and how Theresa May might navigate her way through it.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE    “ There was a  crisis in the provision of care,  we have seen a  15% increase in the need for care of the elderly over the last 10 years,  very rapid change.

  • 1984 there were 600,000 people in care in the UK,
  • 2002 there were 1,300,000
  • 2032 there will be 3,100,000

At the moment there are 1.2million people with unmet care needs. Half the population over 75 live on their own, and could become increasingly dependent especially as families have become much more dispersed, making  support difficult”.

He posed questions:

  • Should young people pay?
  • Should most of it be paid by older people?
  • Should freebies like winter fuel payments be paid universally?

We don’t yet have fair answers.

He said that traditional party politics are not moving this forward, although the Conservative manifesto proposal of guaranteeing that no one should pay more than £100,000 for their care was a brave initiative. However, it was not well received and was somewhat unfair as it depended on the value of property and on an individual’s wealth as only poorer people would likely have to sell their house.

So how to raise funds fairly? He had been instrumental in bringing together 90 cross party MPs to consider the options as Government is clearly not addressing the issue. It seems that Theresa May  is clearly not cable of taking initiative but wonderful at arranging consultations, she was  hostage to the right of her party and the Brexit process. The cross party group proposes that there should be a hypothecated charge of say 2% on income tax but it would be separately identified and separately and independently managed and monitored. It could be reviewed from year to year by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)  This idea had been  discussed with various civil servants who are supportive.

He went on to talk about the very severe shortage of support for mental health issues especially with young people. When he was in the coalition (2010-2015) he set the first ever target for mentally ill patients to receive attention to be within 2 weeks of it being sought. This has drastically slipped now but it is widely recognised  advantageous.  If mental health problems can start to be tackled within two weeks the further development of the symptoms and the loss of employment, friends and society links can be substantially avoided leading to earlier recovery.

CIL – your FAQs

It sounds like there is CIL money every year.  Does it have to be spent in that year?
No.  The CIL is like a bank account.  Before a development may begin the CIL is paid into the account.  From this account, projects are paid for.  Spend less one year and their is more to spend in future.

Does every council ask local organisations to bid for CIL funds for projects?
Some boroughs have decided to develop their own strategy for spending the CIL.  They would allocate the fund between their key objectives: say, health, safety or social housing.

What is meant by the term infrastructure – what is ‘in’ and what is not?
As more houses, offices and shops are built we need more clinics, schools, ways of dealing with traffic and more leisure facilities.  This is the infrastructure.  The CIL enables boroughs to pay for it.  Otherwise boroughs would have to use Council Tax.

Why don’t you use CIL to mend the potholes?
The CIL is designed to fund new infrastructure: new facilities for schools, new zebra crossings, extra health provision, traffic calming etc. Pot holes occur when the roads have not been maintained properly.

Who decides if any project is an acceptable project? 
In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decision relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committees across the Borough; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Weybridge Riverside, Weybridge St George’s Hill and Oatlands.

Are there criteria for selecting and approving bids?
Any organisation may go online and complete an application form for a CIL grant.  Currently all applications are presented to the relevant body for decision.  This can mean that many applications are totally unsuited for CIL. The criteria used for local CIL bids are:

  1. Does the project address impacts created by new development?
  2. Does the project provide wider community benefit: beyond just the benefits to the organisation submitting the application?
  3. Can the applicant deliver the project?  Does it have planning permission?  Is the landowner on board?  Are the costing realistic?
  4. Evidence of additional resources (people or money) available from partners to complement funding.

Are projects ever excluded?
Not at present.  The problem is that some projects are put forward without the permission of the landowner, without sufficient detail for plans, or without suitable quotes and costing. However a grant should not be given if the project is too small – for example for a kettle.  There are other borough grants for such projects.

What projects have received CiL funding in the past five years?
Around £2m of facilities for school across the borough, a walking bridge in Molesey. Manby Lodge Infant School quickly installed additional surfacing for all weather outdoor play space. Heathside Secondary School has installed much needed additional cycle parking. The Broadwater Path was completed over the summer of 2017. The Thames Landscape Strategy works at Weybridge Point – the car park at the end of Thames street – should be delivered in May 2018.  Significant preparatory work has been carried out on the Weybridge Streetscene project – outside Waitrose and up to the corner with Elmgrove Road..

Who makes the decision to fund or not to fund a project?
Councillors.  In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committee and the leader; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Riverside, Oatlands and  Burwood Park and St George’s Hill.

How are these people held to account for their decisions?
The local CIL meetings are in public and their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which is also meets in public. The decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” and “Strategic pot” are taken in private but their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which meets in public.  It is rare for cabinet to overturn a decision by the CIL committees.  If a councillor wishes they may ask that a cabinet decision is reconsidered by the full council.

When is the next local CIL meeting for Weybridge?

The meeting – called the Local Planning Board meeting – is at 7.00 on Thursday, 15th March, that is this coming Thursday. It is a public meeting.

If you have other questions do contact us.

Elmbridge Loos

When the Liberal Democrat/Residents administration formed, one task on the to-do list was to end the expensive contract for the unpopular automatic loos.  Weybridge had three automatic loos all within 100m of each other.  These will be removed, as will all similar loos across Elmbridge.  Subject to full council approval, the present automatic loos will be separated into two categories – those in town centres and those in leisure facilities.  The brick built loos will remain.

The loos in town centres will be replaced by communities loos schemes although after consultation with all of the Weybridge councillors it was decided that Weybridge did not need such a scheme.

In the leisure facilities it is suggested that, if there is a sufficient footfall, there should new loos like the one below.

Brooklands park, which does not have an automatic loo, could be one of the locations where loos are introduced and £70,000 has been allocated for the works required.

If you want further information click here.

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.

Weybridge Registry Office, possible closure?

The registry office in Oatlands Drive may be closed and sold, with its functions moved to the upper floor of the library. This is to try to make better use of the library building and bring more footfall to Weybridge town centre. The other option is to leave it as it is. There are now 83 locations in Surrey where you can get married, so use of the present site for marriages has fallen. Any decision will be considered in February/March at the Surrey County Council cabinet meeting which is open to the public. We wonder if posing for photos on the library steps will have quite the same look at ones taken in the gardens of the registry office in Oatlands Drive. What do you think about this? Let us know.

Sir Vince Cable talks to local Lib Dems

 

Christine Elmer, Lib Dem Councillor for Walton South and Chris Elmer, Lib Dem candidate for Walton South in May 2018

Vince Cable with Vicki Macleod,  candidate for Weybridge Lib Dems in Elmbridge council elections in May 2018.  

On 30th November Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke to a packed village hall in Claygate. His message was clear, Brexit is a disaster, the government is in turmoil and divided, and three great problems are in the way of a successful ‘divorce’ of Britain from Europe.

Sir Vince Cable expressed much concern over how “the loss of European nurses and doctors in Kingston Hospital and other critical services impacts patient care negatively”. This is just one of the many consequences of Brexit.

Hospitality industries are beginning to suffer from lack of workforce, agriculture cannot get seasonal workers, universities are losing European students, research grants are being denied to our scientists and the list keeps growing.

According to Cable, it’s understandable why businesses in the City and beyond are preparing to relocate. Uncertainty caused by Brexit is bad for business as it makes future planning difficult and discourages much needed investment in skills and new enterprise. This feeds the downward cycle of low wages, low productivity, and poor economic performance.

Vince Cable spoke at the Liberal Exchange hosted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and outlined the serious challenges Britain faces in “tortuously complex Brexit talks”. He also explained why the Liberal Democrats are advocating the people’s right to choose between staying in the EU on current terms or accepting the deal negotiated by the government. “This will be the first referendum based on facts, not on fiction and fraudulent promises”, Cable argued.

The keen audience kept Sir Vince on his feet for the best part of two hours with questions ranging from a variety of Brexit issues to the government’s ongoing austerity measures, funding of higher education, apprenticeships and further education plus more. Disappointingly for Cable the current Tory government is “destroying the successful apprenticeship scheme with the ill-advised new levy”. In this context Cable emphasised the need for ‘non-tribal’ thinking in solving the country’s problems, although sadly “tribalism is rife in British politics and hampers progress”.

Sir Vince talked about Brexit’s debilitating effect on many government departments. “Their work has ground to a halt due to lack of resource or political ‘bandwidth’. The whole country suffers as a result.” “Yet there is much work to be done quite apart from Brexit to eradicate the plight of social exclusion, generational divisions, regional inequality and re-empowering local government. This is the agenda for us Liberal Democrats,” Vince Cable concluded.

Jaska Alanko, Liberal Democrat with Sir Vince

Vince Cable with Barry Fairbank, Lib Dem Councillor for Long Ditton

NWSCCG response on the future of Weybridge Health Centre

The NWSCCG have today published their report of the two meetings held in October to inform and consult with local residents on the short and longer term future of the Weybridge Health Centre.

The NHS panel

Of crucial interest to Weybridge is the CCG’s position on replacing the Walk-in Centre service on the site.  Extracts on this subject are:

Are the treatment room services going back on site just to support the GP practices and Weybridge patients, or for wider use?

It is the CCG’s intention to support the re-provision of treatment room services for the wider population and as such we have requested proposals from our Providers.

Will there be a Walk-in Centre in the new building?

Before we decide exactly which services will be in the new building, we want to engage the local community and our partners to make sure the new facility provides the right services to meet the needs of the local population.

We understand the history and passion for the Walk-in Centre, and we will need to take that into account when planning our consultation.  However, we think it’s right to take this opportunity to think carefully about what services we need and how services might be delivered differently, and better, in the future.

We very much want to design this new facility with the help of the local community and as part of our engagement, we will think carefully about the type of services delivered at the Walk-in Centre, and others, to make sure local people have the right access to urgent, on the day care.  Access to timely care outside of what is traditionally provided by GPs is certainly what we are thinking and wanting to bring back onto the site.

You will find more questions from people who attended the meetings and the NWSCCG’s responses on a dedicated page on the NWSCCG website.