We are not a ‘safe seat’ any longer

Featured

The old adage about ‘safe seats’ does not apply in the Esher & Walton constituency any longer. Here’s the proof. Elmbridge voted decisively ‘remain’ in the European election by voting for the Liberal Democrats – ahead of the Brexit Party and the Conservatives.

And the most recent YouGov poll in the Esher & Walton constituency confirms that the Liberal Democrats are ahead of the Conservatives in people’s voting intentions.
So the time has come to send a Liberal Democrat to Westminster as our MP.

Our parliamentary candidate Monica Harding is campaigning energetically to unseat the current Tory MP Dominic Raab, who does not represent our views.
Get to know Monica and support her campaign!
https://www.monicaharding.org
https://www.facebook.com/MonicaHardingEsherWalton

Elmbridge Liberal Democrats form Joint Administration with Residents Associations Group for 2019/20 

Following the Conservatives’ loss of three seats in the recent Elmbridge Borough Council election and the gains made by both the Liberal Democrats and the Residents Associations, the two groups have now formed a joint administration for 2019/20. This was confirmed at the Annual Council held on Wednesday 15 May 2019.

The Liberal Democrats have grown their share of vote in Elmbridge by 65% since 2016 and now have 10 Councillors, including a seat they gained from the Conservatives in the Weybridge Riverside ward.

The Conservatives lost another two seats in Esher and Weybridge St. George’s Hill wards, which were gained by the Residents Association Group (RAs). RAs also held their seats in Hinchley Wood, Molesey East and West, Thames Ditton and Walton Central wards.

Because the Conservatives were reduced to 21 seats on Elmbridge Council, there was No Overall Control (NOC). This paved the way for the Liberal Democrats with their 10 seats and the RAs with their 17 seats, to form a joint administration.

The Liberal Democrats’ Council Group Leader Andrew Davis said: ‘When the election result became clear we had exploratory talks with the RAs, including our policies and priorities plus effective processes for a possible coalition. As LibDem Councillors we pressed for the key points in our manifesto, particularly our green environmental policies. We reached a broad agreement on these which enabled us to form the new joint administration with the RAs in Elmbridge for the next 12 months.’

Cllr Davis added: ’We are delighted to welcome a new team member Cllr Ashley Tilling, representing Weybridge Riverside, to our now 10 strong group on Elmbridge Council. We also successfully held Claygate ward with Cllr Alex Coomes and Long Ditton ward with Cllr Neil Houston.’

‘For this fantastic result and our growing share of the vote we thank all those who supported us. The hard work of all our candidates, campaign activists and councillors has paid off. We are grateful to all our members and supporters for their commitment and help with leaflet deliveries, door knocking and many other activities.’

‘We are very pleased that the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats now have greater control of the borough than at any time in its history. This includes three main committees: Licensing Committee (Cllr Mike Rollings), Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Cllr Neil Houston) and Chair of the Planning Committee (Cllr Shweta Kapadia).  We are also hoping that Cllr Alex Coomes will become Chair of Audit and Standards Committee.’

‘Importantly, we have three Cabinet posts with Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Andrew Davis (Highways), Cllr Christine Elmer (Community and Corporate Affairs) and Cllr Mary Marshall, Deputy Leader of the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats (Environment).’

‘Given goodwill, trust and discipline on both sides we believe that we will have a well-functioning and efficient joint administration with the RA’s to address a number of pressing issues for Elmbridge. These include the Local Government financial settlement, the consultation on the next stages of the Elmbridge Local Plan, and possible additional responsibilities together with Surrey County Council. We are confident we have a very strong team in place to meet these challenges.’

Commenting on the Liberal Democrats’ election success Richard Waller, Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrats’ Executive Committee said: ‘Nationally our party is enjoying a strong resurgence which shows in more than 700 new council seats we have just gained across the country. This positive trend is repeating itself here in Elmbridge too. We are enormously grateful to our councillors, members and supporters for all their contributions. I am proud of their dedication and enthusiasm.’

‘Furthermore this is very encouraging for Monica Harding, our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in Esher and Walton, and her team who are working hard to make sure our growing strength is harnessed to unseat Dominic Raab MP for Esher & Walton.’

Full election results can be found on the Elmbridge Borough Council’s website: http://mygov.elmbridge.gov.uk/mgManageElectionResults.aspx

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.

Parking Reporting Back

As mentioned in a previous post, this year Surrey has sought requests for on-street parking changes for the people of Weybridge.  A number of the requests were accepted for implementation – although more were rejected.

Dorchester, Gascoigne, Limes and Minorca
There were a few requests for residents’ permit schemes.  All bar Bloomfield Court were rejected.  Despite the petitions and emails to Surrey Highways about changes needed to parking in Dorchester, Gascoigne, Limes and Minorca Roads the Highways officers’ recommendation to Surrey’s Elmbridge Local Committee was not to make any changes in these streets at this time.

Before Monday’s local committee meeting Cllr Andrew Davis discussed the matter with various members of the committee including Cllr Tim Oliver, Weybridge’s Surrey county representative and County Cllr John O’Reilly, the chair of the local committee.

The two main reasons the highways officers put forward for taking no action now were: there was a comprehensive programme to deal with the parking problems of Weybridge holistically and the petitioned schemes were too large at this stage; and, they could cause displacement.

The counter argument put by Cllr Davis was that taking a holistic approach does not mean that all action has to wait until some comprehensive development occurs.  This wait could be three to five years or longer. And, since all parking regulations will cause displacement, a judgement has to taken as to the significance of the effects of the displacement.

At the meeting, recognising that due process did not allow for a final decision to be made in that meeting, Cllr Andrew Davis requested that ward and divisional councillors meet with the officers to review possibilities, with a view to a decision being made expeditiously under the chairman’s delegated authority.  This was agreed by the local committee, and the chairman said he would use his delegated authority if necessary.

What should happen
The councillors and officers will meet to decide what proposal to put forward and how the informal consultation should be undertaken.  If a consensus can be reached a proposal will be advertised early next calendar year.

Continued Pressure
Surrey can seem remote – because it is. With the best will in the world, it is difficult for Surrey to fully grasp the nuances of parking stress over time and distance.  The highways engineers bring a wealth of knowledge on the effectiveness of each type of measure but we must be continually engaged with Surrey’s parking implementation process if we are to share the scarce resource of parking spaces effectively.  The focus team will work with to you.

Weybridge On-street Parking Changes 2018

See also:

This post deals with the parking schemes that Surrey proposes to implement, subject to the agreement of the Surrey Local Committee meeting at 4pm, Monday, 26 November, 2018 in the Civic Centre.  These scheme will be formally ‘advertised’ as they stand. This is the first stage of public consultation on these schemes.

Streets to have changes – mainly additional double yellow lines for safety reasons:

  • Beales Lane
  • Devonshire Road
  • Fortescue Road
  • Grenside Road
  • Grotto Road
  • High Street
  • Manor Court
  • Mayfield Road
  • Thames Street

DYL = double yellow line, in other words no waiting at any time.

Devonshire Road

In Devonshire Road make the existing advisory disabled parking bay into a mandatory bay at any time, Blue Badge holders only, No time limit’. To improve compliance with existing bay.

High Street

Modify existing loading bay on the High Street to allow all vehicles to load/unload
here, not just goods vehicles as at present.

Manor Court

Manor court to introduce a DYL around the inside of the ‘island’ (access
to the flats). To prohibit parking which prevents access to the flats. To improve
safety.

Fortescue and Mayfield Junction

At the junction of Fortescue and Mayfield introduce DYLs to prevent parking
which obstructs sightlines to improve safety at the junction.

Roads around St George’s Junior School

In Beales Lane the addition of a DYL to prevent parking which causes obstruction to the carriageway and/or footway.

Grenside Road introducing an DYL  at the junction on the west side to prevent parking which obstructs sightlines. To improve safety at the junction.

Grotto Road extend existing DYLs  at the junction with Grenside Road to improve sightlines and safety at the junction.

In Thames Street the addition of a DYL in between existing restrictions near Montrose Walk and Portmore Park Road because it causes obstruction to traffic on the carriageway and poses a safety hazard to anyone wishing to use the footway at this location. Introduce ‘No Stopping Mon-Fri 8:15-9:15am and 2:30-4pm School Keep Clear’ on the opposite side of the road from the end of the existing school keep clear to the buildout opposite the access to Portmore Park Road. To improve traffic flow and safety during school ‘pick up and drop off times’.

Weybridge Parking – Permit Schemes

See also:

This post deals with those parking schemes, requested by residents in the Weybridge Parking Review in 2018, which Surrey Highways officers have recommended to be rejected or for there to be ‘no further action at the current time’. These recommendations will be agreed or rejected at the Surrey Local Committee meeting at 4pm, Monday, 26 November, 2018 in the Civic Centre.

Rejected Scheme

Layton Court.  Residents request a permit scheme and a conversion of grass to hard standing. 16 signatures from 11 households- indicating support by 69%.  The road space directly in front of Layton Court can only accommodate 5 or 6 vehicles, so it does not seem feasible to restrict this to permit holders only and make it available for all 16 households in Layton Court. Taking a very low average of one vehicle per household means that there would be 16 permits sold and only 6 spaces. The creation of hard standing on the verges is not a ‘parking review’ issue. This would need to be considered by the local area highway team, although there is essentially no funding available to meet these kinds of requests.  Officer’s recommendation – do not proceed.

Schemes recommended for no further action at the current time

Dorchester Road.  A request for a resident permit scheme.  Survey indicates 85% support for the scheme.  The county council looked at a permit parking scheme for Dorchester Road in 2015/16 as part of the Weybridge parking review.  The idea was not progressed based on the feedback at the time.  See ‘Town Centre’ petition for further information about parking in this area.  Officer’s recommendation – no further action at the current time.

Gascoigne Road.  A residents’ request permit scheme. Support is 91% (in fact 100%).  The county council looked at a permit parking scheme for Gascoigne Road in 2015/16 as part of the Weybridge parking review. The idea was not progressed based on the feedback at the time. See ‘Town Centre’ petition for further information about parking in this area. Officer’s recommendation – no further action at the current time.

Limes Road.  To have controlled parking at all times or as close to it as possible. Officer’s recommendation.  Because discussions are ongoing about the possibility of providing more off-street car parking space, and we therefore do not feel it is appropriate to bring in further large-scale parking schemes in the town centre at the current time.  No further action.

Minorca Road.  To have controlled parking at all times or as close to it as possible. Officer’s recommendation.  Because discussions are ongoing about the possibility of providing more off-street car parking space, and we therefore do not feel it is appropriate to bring in further large-scale parking schemes in the town centre at the current time.  No further action.

Scheme was recommended for further development

Broomfield Court.  A request for a resident permit scheme.  Resident’s survey had 15 signatures from 14 households from 18 properties, proving 78% support.  Many of the properties in Broomfield Court do not have off street parking.  This scheme seems to have a lot of support and as the area is reasonably self-contained we do not consider parking displacement to be a risk.  Officer’s recommendation. Develop proposals for a parking management scheme including permit parking to operate in part of the road. Carry out informal consultation. If sufficient support for the idea is shown, refine proposals as necessary and progress to formal advertisement.

Surrey’s Parking Review Strategy

See also:

Surrey County has changed the way it reviews parking across Elmbridge – again.  In 2015, they set in place a process for strategic reviews of parking in each of the nine towns in Elmbridge on a three yearly basis.  Weybridge was the second town to undergo a strategic review and found that county essentially ignored the wishes of residents and the advice of borough councillors in Weybridge Riverside. Understandably, this left many people disappointed and angry. County’s decisions did not reflect the needs of residents in town centre streets and appeared to be based on flawed logic.

The current approach

The three-year review approach was abandoned by county in 2017, with county reverting to annual reviews across the whole of Elmbridge.  In preparation for this year’s review Andrew and Vicki discussed parking issues with residents of each street.  Whilst views differed from place to place and, at times amongst residents of the same street, it was clear that certain streets needed prompt action this year.  People have been waiting long enough.

Officer recommendations

However SCC officers have recommended parking control changes in the following streets:  Beales Lane, Devonshire Road, Fortescue Road, Grenside Road, Grotto Road, High Street, Manor Court, Mayfield Road and Thames Street.These are mainly additional double yellow lines for safety reasons:For more information click here.

Streets with schemes that have been recommended not to proceed or where the officer recommendation is ‘no further action at the current time’ are: Baker Street, Balfour Road, Beales Lane, Broomfield Court (further work suggested but set to progress), Church Street, Dorchester Road, Gascoigne Road, Glencoe Road, Heath Road, Heathside Road, High Street, Jessamy Road, Layton Court, Limes Road, March Road, Minorca Road, Old Palace Road, Parkside Court, Portmore Park Road, Radnor Road, South Road, Thames Street, York Road and West Palace Gardens.  Details are listed here.