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.

Disability Bus Passes

Surrey is undertaking several consultations and it invites you to give your comments on disability bus passes by 4 January 2019

The consultation is proposing changes to concessionary bus fares. Surrey has been providing benefits over and above the national scheme for many years. The national scheme allows people with a disabled person’s bus pass to travel free on buses after 9:30am and before 11pm on weekdays and all day at weekends and on public holidays. Surrey is one of a few areas in the country still offering free travel for disability pass holders at all times and a free companion pass for qualifying older or disabled bus pass holders who need help to travel. Under the proposals these extra concessions would be
removed, which along with other efficiencies, would save around £400,000 a year.

Further details on all the consultations and the opportunity to submit views on
these proposals can be found here.  The consultation response is at the bottom of the consultation webpage.

The analysis of the responses to the consultations will be presented to Surrey’s cabinet in January 2019 for consideration and then to full council in February.

Special Educational Needs and Disability 

Surrey county is undertaken several consultations and it is seeking your views by 4 January 2019 to help it shape the special educational needs and disability (Send) services throughout Surrey for the future

Surrey says that its draft strategy includes proposals for giving support as early as possible, which would be better for those who need help. The aim is also to provide support nearer to home and reduce the need for children to go to schools out of the county. To achieve this an extra 350 specialist school places are planned to be created in Surrey over the next two years. Surrey believes that, overall, the changes will mean better outcomes for children and families and with government funding failing to keep pace with the big increase in children needing help, they may also avoid more costly services being needed in the future.

Further details on all the consultations and the opportunity to submit views on these proposals can be found here.  The consultation response is at the bottom of the  consultation webpage.

The analysis of the responses to the consultations will be presented to Surrey’s cabinet in January 2019 for consideration and then to full council in February.  There will then be a second phase of consultation where we will share detailed proposals in 2019 to seek resident’s views before any final decisions are made.

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.

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.

Crisis in care

Our care system is broken. Austerity policies, reduced central grants to councils and an ageing population together have brought us near to crisis. This is a national problem, felt locally. It is made worse when local councils have mis-managed their budgets. In Surrey, Conservative Surrey County Council (SCC) kept rate increases lower than they needed to and made costly investment errors. As result SCC has to make serious cuts in services to our needy elderly and high-dependency younger adults.

There are now more people being refused help because their needs are “not great enough”; less support for voluntary services, and a greater dependence on regular input from family members to take care of basic needs – no good if you have no family locally, or if they are worn out by caring.

In 2011, the Liberal Democrats in government led a review of care. The resulting Dilnot report and legislation designed to fix funding of care have been ignored by Conservative governments. We need reform, and soon.

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

Surrey Heartlands – the next five years of Health and Social Care in Elmbridge

What’s happening to health and social care in our area?

Quite a lot actually!

The NHS has launched a programme to improve joined up working across health and social care services and is seeking to improve community provision for vulnerable groups – especially the frail elederly.

The mechanism for achieving this is locally based Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

Citizens of Elmbridge come under the Surrey Heartlands STP, which includes Surrey County Council, the two CCGs covering Elmbridge, and other healthcare providers.

As Surrey Heartlands has a much larger than average older population, there is a focus in the plan on improving serrvices for this group. Just to paint the picture, over the next 10 years the number of people aged 85+ will go up by 36% and by 2025 more than 20% of the population in our area will be aged 65+.

Public Engagement is also a key feature of the partnership working that is central to the new approach. This is seen as a way to involve citizens in “defining the priorities and trade-offs that will be needed to achieve this service transformation, within the resources available locally.”

A further feature of the plan is to trial devolution of powers and budget to Surrey Heartlands (see p10 in the plan). This is designed to enable “full integration with Surrey County Council, integrating health and care delivery with the wider determinants of health in our population”

If anyone is interested in getting involved as a community stakeholder, there is a stakeholder reference group meeting on 18 October at Leatherhead Leisure Centre, Guildford Road, Leatherhead starting at 2 pm. There is also a Surrey Heartlands Newsletter.

The contact person for both of these is: glynis.mcdonald@nhs.net

The Surrey Heartlands Sustainability and Transormation Plan can be found at http://www.nwsurreyccg.nhs.uk/surreyheartlands/Documents/Surrey%20Heartlands%20STP%20October%202016.pdf

The Devolution Agreement document can be found at
http://www.nwsurreyccg.nhs.uk/surreyheartlands/PublishingImages/Pages/News/Devolution%20Agreement.pdf

Extra support during a power cut?

power-cutAlthough power cuts don’t happen very often when they do they can be worrying.  UK Power Networks is the electricity network and it provides a ‘Priority Services Register’ for people who might need extra help in a power cut.  Older people, families with very young children, and people with specific medical conditions are among the many people who are eligible to register for free support.  You can find more details and register by visiting the website or calling 0800 169 9970.