Oxshott, Stoke and Fairmile

If you were looking for the survey for Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon it is here.

If your issue of concern is not listed here please email dorothyfordlibdem@gmail

These are the issues that have been raised on the doorstep or by campaign literature in the campaign:

Improving Oxshott High Street

Of course, no “A” class road should pass through any town or village – other countries, like Denmark, have completely removed such through traffic.  In the longer term Oxshott needs a by-pass.

The Liberal Democrats believe that we can make our Oxshott village centre a pleasant place to be in despite the amount of traffic that flows through the town.  We can shorten travel time for motorists, increase trade for our shops, and make the roads safer for our children and the elderly.  Enable more people to cycle, which will itself also reduce congestion.  Allow people with disabilities and the infirm to navigate their way through the traffic and reduce their stress.

Conventional safety experts will tell you that we need traffic lights, roundabouts, tactile bubble paving and a vast array of signs but it is simply not true.

The following video shows what can be done with the will and the imagination.   If the main road is to be remodelled let us make sure that it is designed to the highest standards.  Don’t let the naysayers sell us short.

If Poynton can achieve these excellent results then surely Oxshott can do so too.  What are your views?

One of the advantages that Poynton had was that the highway authority and the planning authority were the same – Cheshire East Council.  Our planning authority – Elmbridge – and our highway authority – Surrey – are separate but that does not mean that they cannot work together to provide the outcomes we need.

The problems can occur when changes are proposed and there is no discussion between the relevant parties.

For other Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke items click here.

Housing

This is what it says in the Conservative manifesto:

Build Affordable Housing: recognise the need to build more affordable homes in Elmbridge. I pledge to work with my colleagues to identify sites where additional properties can be constructed without negatively impacting existing communities.

A pleasant sentiment but words butter no parsnips. This century Elmbridge borough did not build a single home.  So the Conservatives have had plenty of time to do something.

But once Lib Dems formed an administration the action began, three projects were begun in Cobham, Ditton and Weybridge.  Parallel work has been undertaken to set up a borough owned housing company.  As opportunities arise new social and affordable housing will be built to suit the needs of each community.

Although the national government says we have to allow more housing in Elmbridge.  The bigger problem is that Elmbridge has a skewed range of housing that is ill suited to the needs of its people.  We have a large number houses with six or more bedrooms but far to few one and two bedroom flats and smaller three bedroom houses.

Whilst some people might aspire to one day owning a six bedroomed house, very few people can consider a six bedroom house as a starter home.  People who are born in Oxshott, Fairmile and Stoke d’Abernon should have a reasonable chance to find a home locally to buy or rent and not have to emigrate out of Elmbridge to find a home of their own.

 

Air Quality in Oxshott High Street

It should be possible for more Danes Hill pupils to walk to school safely. If a second pedestrian crossing were added to Oxshott High Street near Danes Hill, this should enable more to walk to school safely.  This should also reduce rush-hour traffic and air pollution. Danes Hill School and other local schools have been urging parents not to drive their children to school. An extra pedestrian crossing will help. Danes Hill School is expanding, as our local population grows.  This crossing will only become more necessary over the coming years.

If if were legally possible for 44 ton lorries to be banned from Oxshott High Street, this would help to reduce traffic and reduce air pollution.  Oxshott High Street was never intended as a link between the M25 and the A3. This might be difficult to achieve, but options for ways forward might be considered.  It will take a reasonable amount of time for the newly designed A3/M25 link near Cobham to be agreed and constructed. Until it is finished, the traffic problems in Oxshott High Street will only increase.

If Oxshott High Street traffic is to be managed more effectively, the first step should be to measure the air quality.  If the air quality is measured, it should be clearer that improvements are needed to traffic management. Traffic management in Oxshott High Street should then become a higher priority.

 A written request sent by a local resident to the local Surrey County Councillor to begin air quality monitoring unfortunately received no response.  

Many residents are aware of a local residents’ petition to improve the traffic management and closely related question of air traffic management in Oxshott High Street.  This petition was submitted to the local Conservative Surrey County Councillor. Only one of the several well-researched recommendations from that petition were implemented.  Since this petition which was submitted several years ago, the problems have only accerbated. More needs to be done.

Where Charlwood Drive meets Oxshott High Street, there is a very uneven surface of the road.  When heavy vehicles cross this little patch of Oxshott High Street, lots of noise and vibration result.  Those who live in nearby homes feel these vibrations and hear the noise. This small patch of Oxshott High Street might need replacement.

Back to Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke issues

By-Election in Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon Ward

Why was the by-election called?  Put simply it was because the incumbent, Cllr James Vickers, resigned.  Why would a councillor resign just after the local elections?  Of course, James knows but was his reason for resigning personal as the Conservatives say?  Reports say not.

First, a little background.  In the election of 2016 all the councillors were up for election at once.  This was because of boundary changes.

Oliver Chappell had the highest result so his term of office was set for four years.

 

Andrew Burley and James Vickers tied at second place.  So to determine whose office would last for three years and whose would last for two years, lots had to be drawn.

 

James Vickers expressed the wish that his term last only two years but there was a legal requirement to draw lots. James won the lot so he was due to serve for three years.  In other words until May 2019

 

It was clear that James would rather serve for a shorter term and to do so he could have resigned in May.  This would have avoided the considerable cost of the by-election around £8,000 to £10,000 for the borough and perhaps £3,000 for the candidates.

Second, the election in May resulted in gains for the Liberal Democrats, net gains for the Conservatives, losses for five of residents’ parties and a wipe out for one residents’ party.  The Conservatives totalled 24 councillors as did the Lib Dems and Residents.    Neither side had a working majority.  The Leader of the borough council, Stuart Selleck of Molesey Residents’ Party, chose to resign.

Without a working majority the new Conservative administration could not guarantee to pass their policies.  The Liberal Democrats believe that such an arrangement would have been in the interests of the people of Elmbridge.  To make the governing of the borough as smooth as possible the party leader agreed a protocol, the details of which are here  Operational Protocol 2018 19.

We, in the Liberal Democrats, expected business as usual.  We were newly in opposition.  However, it quickly became clear that internal squabbles of the Conservative party could not be contained in private.

A small point.  Usually, when the new cabinet is formed they sit in the front benches – as in the national parliament.  But when the council met for the first time some cabinet members had been bounced to the back benches by other factions in the Conservative party.

But then came the bombshell. At the beginning of every year, as each committee meets, the members elect the chair and vice-chair of that committee.  Normally the nominee of the majority party is elected unopposed.  Occasionally there is a contest between the parties for their nominees which is duly won by the majority party.  But this year, in one committee, the Conservatives proposed two councillors for chair.

When the presiding officer sought nominees, Cllr James Vickers nominated Cllr Dorothy Mitchell of Cobham.  Then Cllr James Browne of Cobham nominated Cllr Barry Cheyne of Oatlands.  The councillors from the other parties were dumbfounded. The staff found it difficult to mask their own surprise in their stringent professional presentation of independence.

Cllr Barry Cheyne won the vote and Cllr Dorothy Mitchell stormed out of the room and did not reappear for the remainder of the meeting.  Not long after this meeting James Vickers resigned.

However the Conservative try and present it in public, the Conservatives are clearly not happy bunnies.  By all accounts James Vickers resigned “on a matter of principle”.  He did not like the direction of travel of the new Conservative administration.  Not so much the policies but the general conduct of business within the Conservative Party.

Now you have a chance to make a real difference and vote for Dorothy Ford and the Liberal Democrats.

Cycling in Oxshott, Fairmile and Stoke

CyclingEvery time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.  H G. Wells

Cllr John O’Reilly, who represents Hersham at Surrey and is also the chair of Surrey Elmbridge Local Committee, is known as a cyclist and is keen to make cycling safer in Elmbridge.  To do so, would require a vision of what we would want to achieve over time and a strategy to get us there.

The Liberal Democrats in Elmbridge want to pursue the the aim of making cycling safer to reduce air pollution, congestion and to help people become healthier.  Cycling also supports the local retail economy and makes our towns and villages stronger communities through the increase in serendipitous meetings.

Vision  An Elmbridge of physically, mentally and spiritually healthy people of all ages enjoying fresh air and a high quality of life.

Mission To enable all the people of Elmbridge – who wish to do so – to cycle safely.

Strategy
To achieve our mission our strategy is based on our being:

  • Utilitarian. We focus on a person’s ability to cycle from home to the key places that make their life work: their school or workplace, their station, their town centre. Therefore routes to these places are dealt with first.
  • Network based. We understand that the benefits are far greater if networks are created.  It is little use to have a safe stretch that suddenly ends in a dangerous spot – like Blundel Lane Bridge
  • Inclusive.  We bring as many agencies, organisations and groups and people together to compound the benefits and spread the message.
  • Incremental. Although we have a clear and ambitious vision we know that many small steps made by many people eases the journey
  • Anticipatory. We take advantage of possible opportunities that might arise by anticipating requirements before they occur
  • Communicative. We engage with everyone and keep them informed
  • Sustainable. We strive to be socially and environmentally sustainable in everything that we do.

What would you like to see in a cycling strategy?

The Dutch and Danes developed a comprehensive approach over many decades.  A good place to begin is to help secondary students below the age of seventeen to feel safe enough (along with their parents)  to cycle to school.  Yet on cycling out of Reeds School there is little evidence that cycling is a serious possibility.  Everything else being equal student who cycle achieve more than those who are driven to school.

When we see most parents cycling with their children to primary school rather than driving – like the Dutch and Danes – then we will know we’d have cracked it.  It is much quicker to cycle than walk – although walking can be fun too.

Blundels Lane Bridge

The By-election Conservative Manifesto says:

Improve Blundel Lane Railway Bridge: This vital link is a major hazard for pedestrians, cyclists and riders. As a first step, I will press for a feasibility study to be conducted to examine options for improving access and safety for all users of this bridge. 

This bridge has been like this for decades – although the road surface has deteriorated recently.  Funny how the Conservatives only noticed it after the Liberal Democrats mentioned it in a recent Focus after talking to people on the doorstep.

Housing in Oxshott

This is what it says in the Conservative manifesto:

Build Affordable Housing: recognise the need to build more affordable homes in Elmbridge. I pledge to work with my colleagues to identify sites where additional properties can be constructed without negatively impacting existing communities.

Sounds good but why are these places left to rot for decades?  This publicly owned land in Waverley Road has been a housing opportunity for decades for decades but the Conservatives have produced nothing.