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Membership of the Liberal Democrats locally has been growing fast with people joining from other parties and none.  Recently, our strength in the borough council has doubled – we now have 20% of the councillors and our party has moved from fourth place to second in the council.

We welcome anyone who wants a responsive and accountable local government. This can only be achieved when councillors work hand-in-hand with the people they represent. We value citizen participation. Our goal is a more open, personal and service-minded form of local government. We believe this is the key to enhancing the quality of life of all in Elmbridge.

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.

Dorothy Ford for Oxshott, Stoke d’Abernon and Cobham Fairmile

I moved from Germany to live on the edge of our precious Green Belt, at the very heart of our ward, 36 years ago.  My children enjoyed attending some of the local schools. I enjoyed sharing my love of music with Royal Kent School pupils by playing guitar and singing with them.

I taught languages at a university and at comprehensive schools before working on government policy in Whitehall, and occasionally in Brussels and Strasbourg. I now sing in choirs and study piano.  I am passionate about the enormous benefits of lifelong learning. Providing a quality education, including music and the arts, for all school pupils helps the pupils and society as a whole to blossom.

I am honoured to have recently been awarded the Ashdown Prize for my proposal to accelerate redistribution of food to the homeless and the poor.  This proposal has great potential to benefit the disadvantaged as well as the environment. I am closely wedded to both of these issues. As a teenager, on Saturdays I taught poor hungry children how to read and gave them milk.  As an adult I have helped a young mother learn to read at Oasis Childcare in Cobham, and I helped set up the Cobham Community Hub at Cobham Library. Volunteering to help others can be a friendly, rewarding experience.

It is a sheer pleasure to take daily exercise on our beautiful green fields.  I am fully committed to both safeguarding and enhancing our unique environment, and to building much-needed affordable housing on appropriate sites such as brownfield sites and town centres.  If we are to improve our environment’s footprint, our air quality should be monitored. There is just the first step forward.

I also campaign to protect all the rights of all EU residents.  Many of our local businesses, education services, care services and health services rely on EU citizens as staff, service providers and customers.

I look forward to continuing to listen to, and represent the views and values of all my fellow residents if elected a Councillor.  I offer not just a new face – but a new voice.”

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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.