This is the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for Elmbridge

Safer, Greener, Smarter

Environment
Climate Change is an existential threat to humankind.  We will put Elmbridge on a path to become carbon neutral and will adopt appropriate policies to this end. We will work with local businesses and residents to identify and implement smart and practical measures to achieve our goal. This work will bring tangible benefits to our neighbourhoods and to our personal well-being, too.

Traffic
We will begin to tackle traffic congestion and cut air pollution by installing 20mph in residential areas, improving public transport, discouraging engine idling near schools and elsewhere, and promoting walking and cycling options across Elmbridge.  We will install electric vehicle-charging points in our car parks, encourage them in any new developments and provide free parking for zero-emission cars. We will co-ordinate on and off-street parking, introduce smart parking charging and secure easy access to services.

Planning
We will defend the Green Belt and implement a “brownfield sites first” approach in the upcoming local plan.  We will campaign for infrastructure improvements to be in place for new developments. We will set targets for social housing and family starter homes to meet the needs of a younger generation.  We will encourage local forums to create neighbourhood plans. We will also promote the concentration of shops and services in town centres.

Crime
We will strengthen Neighbourhood Watch and anti-social behaviour teams, and work with Surrey Police to restore neighbourhood policing.  We will promote leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all towns.

Democracy
We will ensure full transparency in both borough and county budget planning and spending, as well as in the conduct of planning applications – with full accountability to residents.  We support the introduction of an effective unitary authority by merging the county and borough levels into one authority in place of the current Surrey County Council and Surrey’s eleven boroughs.

Leisure                                                                                                                               We recognise the importance of leisure to both mental and physical wellbeing and also its economic benefits.  All leisure activities should be provided at affordable cost to participants, including free adult fitness equipment in every settlement. We will safeguard libraries and look to innovate their services.

Our kind of Elmbridge

Is a place where our towns and villages are thriving communities with flourishing local businesses and services centrally located.

Is a place where all our open spaces are valued and protected.  A place where the Green Belt is not built on.

Is a place where the local council is fully accountable to local people, where there is full transparency of council spending at borough and county level. A place where the planning process is fully accountable to local people. A place where local people can have their voices heard.

Is a place where young people are safe and valued, where there are leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all our communities, where cycling and walking is safe. A place where young people have a future.

Is a place where families thrive. A place where families can live in well designed, well placed affordable housing.

Is a place where green transport is a reality, a place where car charging points are built into the infrastructure and all new developments. A place where car clubs and car sharing is encouraged. A place where public transport meets the needs of the people.

If this is your kind of Elmbridge, then vote for your Liberal Democrat candidate.

Council tax 2019

Every year, the council tax bill goes up . Our council tax is one of the highest in the country, yet residents feel that they are not getting value for money.  The increase is to pay for the services that Elmbridge Borough Council, and Surrey County Council provide, as well as paying for policing in Surrey.  Council Tax for 2019/20 for a Band D property in Elmbridge is £1,935.37, an increase of 3.9% on last year.

So where does the money go? Surrey County Council and the Police both receive more money than Elmbridge Borough Council from your Council Tax. Out of the £1,935.37 a band D household pays, only £221.30 goes to Elmbridge Borough Council.  This year, there was an extra increase due to more money being raised to pay for the Police.

When the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Resident’s Associations, the increase in the Elmbridge Borough Council rate was 1.9%. This year under the Conservatives the increase for Elmbridge is 2.9%.

More information from Elmbridge

https://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/council-tax/charges/

How did Elmbridge spend my money in 2017-2018

https://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/council/financial-performance-and-annual-accounts/

How did Surrey spend my money in 2017-2018?

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/172294/Statement-of-Accounts-2017-18.pdf

Guess what – Surrey admits Brexit is bad for us

Brexit is bad for us says Surrey County Council’s impact assessment – now that it has finally been revealed.

Thanks to Monica Harding working with other local Lib Dem members and our campaign with the Surrey Advertiser, the Information Commissioner’s Office have ordered Surrey County Council to release their Brexit Impact assessments.

And guess what, brexit is really bad.
‘No deal’ means that the UK would be treated by the EU as a 3rd country and would be subject to full 3rd country controls, including completing customs declarations and being subject to a variety of border checks.

Brexit is not included as a risk within the National Risk Assessment 2016. Although the risks associated with BREXIT can be drawn from this document

On the Surrey Community Risk Register in a no deal brexit scenario the following risks are identified:
H14 – Food Supply contamination
H60 – High consequence dangerous goods / transport accident
H24 – Emerging Infectious Diseases
H25 – Major outbreak of exotic notifiable disease in animals (including birds)
H37 – Influx of British Nationals

The following risks have also been identified in the SCC report:

  • Loss of cover due to industrial action by workers providing a service critical to the preservation of life (such as emergency service workers)
  • Local accident on motorways and major trunk roads
  • Public Disorder
  • Notifiable plant disease / Notifiable exotic invertebrate species

Within SLRF partners own risk management processes there is the risk to the supply chain where goods and products are imported from the European mainland

And the kicker – as of 20 July 2018, HMG has suggested that partners should have plans in face for a four week period of disruption (that is increased controls by EU states at ports, including Eurotunnel) plus a two week period to allow the impact to return to relatively normal levels of service.

Key consequences:

  • Surrey expect long delays in accessing Dover ports and Eurotunnel in Kent.
  • Temporary closure or permanent changes to all or part of the M20 and M26 to support Operation Stack and other mitigations for port delays.
  • Significant reduction in the capacity of the Surrey Highway Network, with consequential increase in local and pan Surrey road journey times, impacting on local residents and businesses.
  • Significant long term detrimental impact on county’s economic competitiveness, attractiveness
  • Significant disruption to health and social care delivery within the community; for patients travelling to hospitals for treatment and for critical staff in getting to work

Significant disruption to the food supply chain with delays in the exportation of food from Britain, and importation of food from the rest of Europe and non EU countries.
Significant disruption to the distribution of medication around the county along with supply chain of medication from outside of Britain.

Significant economic and environmental impacts for Surrey or in other words – total chaos to our supply chains. That’s food and medicine supplies to the shops. We learn of nearly half million homeless in Britain, and one in five children living with severe food insecurity, and then Brexit contingency plans say supplies will be disrupted. Welcome to the land of hunger.

When was the government last right on a timescale? The Prime Minister couldn’t even get the date of the meaningful vote delivered, a simple vote in parliament. What hope ferries delivering vital food and medicine to Britain? How long will four weeks stretch on for with failing Chris Grayling, four months? four years?

Surrey hid it from us, even though it all its contents were already in the public domain. Why?

Surrey County Council has only included in its impact assessment existing published information. Why did they try to hide it from residents? Were they ashamed of their own lack of activity, or following the minority conservative governments orders against the interests of the residents of Surrey?

Surrey County Council obviously feared the residents of Surrey would be unhappy to learn of their plans, and so decide to keep them hidden. They found the only legal argument they could to try and hide behind. To refuse to provide local residents with information about Brexit preparations, to deny FOI requests, and to keep secrets from residents. They relied upon an exception intended for cases of national emergency and public order. They relied upon the section 36(2)(c) exemption – the catch all exception – using “safe space arguments” to delay the publication of supposedly important contingency plans.

And they have been found to have done so improperly, with the ICO ordering the information be released.

A victory for Surrey residents against a secretive county council seeking to keep the residents of Surrey in the dark.

Yet the plans are half baked, barely worth the effort of reading. What a farce of a county council.

Surrey residents left in the dark again.

Tribute to Paddy Ashdown

Lord Ashdown (Paddy) has died after a short illness. He was a big politician in the best sense of the word, who seemed to be one of those indefatigable people who would always be there dispensing his wisdom and enthusiasm. A great loss. A wonderful person.

I didn’t get to meet him apart from when he signed a copy of his book for me after a talk describing his upbringing and how he became such a committed and successful Liberal Democrat. I was struck by how his remarkable career evolved and how he became a Liberal. This was well set out in the Guardian obituary and it includes this quotation from his memoirs “the decision (to become a politician) was naïve to the point of irresponsibility; it just happens to be the best decision I made in my life.”

Ashdown will be best remembered for transforming the Liberal Democrats into an effective third party – gaining the best ever result in the 1997 election – and for serving as the United Nations’ high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006. He oversaw the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement, which has kept the peace in the Balkans since the Bosnian war.

He was generously praised by politicians from across the spectrum after news of his death emerged. He was an ardent pro-European and tireless campaigner. He built relationships across political parties. He is a great loss to the Liberal Democrats and to the country – especially as we face the uncertainties looming in 2019. Sad though the mess we have got ourselves into is, we do have to put some trust in there being people like Paddy Ashdown who will work across parties to make the best of a bad job.

Paddy Ashdown’s unique campaigning zeal is what we Liberal Democrats need more than ever in working to secure a solution that addresses all our deepest concerns.

On that note I wish you all an optimistic New Year, which we, and the country, can all hopefully enjoy in 2019.

Richard Waller – Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrats

 

Opinion and Analysis – Time to turn to the pro-EU party

By Sam Vete

Braab braab black (belt) sheep, have you any wool? 
                         No Sir, no Sir none at all!
Said there would be plenty, but the bags are empty – it is plain!
     Nothing for the businessmen
, working hard down the lane!

Walton and Esher Tory voters, you have been warned! Dump Dominic, the monomaniac ideologue who puts his personal fantasy before the interests of his voters. He displays laughable ignorance of ‘realpolitik’; the significance of the Dover/Calais trade route and the difficulties of a small island (not an empire) in the maelstrom of global trade.

Braab, poster-boy of the referendum campaign, becomes the emasculated bell-wether black sheep, entering the pen along with retrogressive 17th century throwbacks; the ERG and Parliamentary hard-core brexiters. He rejects the directions of ‘one dame and her dogs’ (May and the whips) and has chosen his own selfish dogma. He even puts the UK at risk of a ‘no deal’, acknowledged to be far worse than any other deal.

Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of May’s BINO (brexit in name only) deal, like it or not, it would be better to stay in the EU. Braab has shown himself to be out-of-step with the electorate, locally and nationally. It is time to rid politics of such extremists. He should either be deselected (q.v. Kate Hoey) or voted out.

Don’t imagine for a minute that Labour will be galloping to the rescue. That way lies shepherd Corbyn’s brexit crook and a return to 20th century socialism.

Now is the time to turn to the pro-EU party, the LibDems. Our agenda deals with real issues:
Schooling and education
Affordable housing
Protection of the green belt
Realistic funding options for the NHS
… And, of course, an ‘exit from brexit’!

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Have you heard any MP claim that they have read Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement?  Have a look here.  How many pages can you read before you loose the will to live. How likely do you think it is that your MP has read it?  I am not expecting you to read it but do have a little look.  This is the legal document between the Britain and Europe.   If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

Remember that the withdrawal agreement is just a small part of the whole process.  The big decisions have yet to be made and could take many years.

If you would like to have a peek at the political declaration for the basis of the future relationship between Britain and Europe then look here.  This is not a legal document, purley an aspiration.  It is well to remember that we would have left if we are negotiating this framework.  Therefore we will be in a much weaker position because Europe is far bigger than we are.  This declaration is is the best we can get and, if it comes to this, the deals will be far worse.  If you want to have a more digestible overview then look here.

 

Liberal Democrats’ Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Monica Harding invites you to support her campaign

Dominic Raab’s resignation as Brexit Secretary has made it clear that our local MP wants the very hardest of Brexits and is willing to push our country to a no-deal.  There is no moderation in his idea of leaving the EU.  This is at odds with the wishes of his constituency who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

As Brexit Secretary he was responsible for negotiating the deal which he now says he can’t support. Two years of negotiation and two Brexit secretaries have been unable to produce a deal which would lead us to the sunlit uplands promised by the Leave campaign.

It is clear it can’t be done.

We are left with a bad deal which the Prime Minister is trying to railroad us into accepting, because everyone knows a no deal outcome would be catastrophic.

The Prime Minister asked MPs to make a choice of her deal, no deal or no Brexit. She asked them to choose based on what their constituents want. We know what the constituents of Esher and Walton want based on their vote in the referendum. But I’m not sure our MP is listening or wants to listen. He certainly looks hell bent on his own idea of a hard Brexit.

If our MP can’t represent us then let’s fight for a people’s vote where we can express the final choice ourselves. Let’s take back control.

If you believe that your MP no longer represents you, then please join my campaign. My team are fighting hard for a people’s vote because we believe the people of Esher and Walton deserve better and for their voices to be heard.

Our country stands on the brink – the decisions taken over the next few months will determine our futures and Britain’s place in the world for decades to come. If you want your voice heard then join me. Please email me – monica_harding@hotmail.com – and we’ll work together.

Monica Harding
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton

Email monica_harding@hotmail.com

Liberal Democrats select Monica Harding in Esher & Walton to fight the next general election

As the party prepares for a possible early general election, the local Liberal Democrats have selected Monica Harding as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton.

Monica is challenging the incumbent Conservative MP Dominic Raab on an anti-Brexit platform and the Conservatives’ chaotic management of and continuing underinvestment in public services.
Monica said: “60% of Elmbridge voted to stay in the EU and our MP continues to ignore us. Raab’s hard Brexit views do not represent us as a community – that’s why I’m running.”
“I will campaign for a People’s Vote to end a Brexit that serves Dominic Raab rather than his constituents’ best interests. The time for putting self-interest and party politics first needs to end. I will fight for local residents’ interests and represent the views of our community honestly.”
Monica has lived in Thames Ditton for over a decade and is married to
Jon, with four children at local schools in the borough. She is Vice Chair of Governors at a state primary school in Thames Ditton and has held positions on the boards of several charities.
“I demand better for our children – and a different kind of future than the Tories offer. I will fight school cuts, underinvestment in the NHS, the black hole in social care spending, cuts in policing and the justice service, climate change, and the continuing chaos on South Western Railway which lets down our residents on a daily basis.”

Monica has held high profile positions in the public, private and third sector in the UK and internationally. Her CV includes: Associate
Consultant at PA Consultancy, CEO of the Industry and Parliament Trust, CEO at Refugees International Japan and Director of Communications for the British Council – working in Japan, China, France and the UK.
In these roles, she has honed her skills in communications, campaigning and advocacy, strategic direction and driving organisational efficiency.
As a Liberal Democrat Monica will stand up for liberal values and progressive policies and is committed to bringing transparency and integrity to politics.

For more information, please contact:
Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in the Esher & Walton constituency
Email – monica_harding@hotmail.com Mobile 07799 704816

Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

All we need is YOU!

We need your ideas, your input, your voice and your help.

  • Shape what happens to the town.
  • Influence and support ideas and plans.
  • Get support from the others and the council for for your own ideas and projects.

We will talk about:

  • The spaces we use.
  • How we get about.
  • How we support people and keep them safe.
  • Our local economy and business.

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.