Elmbridge gives back after waste contract problems

The Council’s approach

Not many people know, but after the problematic start to waste collection under the new contract this time last year, the contractor Amey has had to return nearly £500,000 to Elmbridge Borough.

The Council decided that the money returned should not go into the general Council fund, but should in some way go directly to the residents of Elmbridge.  Some was earmarked as direct compensation to people who had paid extra for garden waste removal services as they were most affected – as a group. These people received a two-month payment holiday – which took up £160,000.

Community Green Infrastructure Improvement Fund

Of the remaining money, £100,000 will be allocated to the creation of a Community Green Infrastructure Improvement Fund.  This is designed to enable community groups to bid for small grants, against pre-defined criteria, to carry out green infrastructure improvements. The scheme would allow one-off project funds to be spent in a way that encourages community buy in and ownership and ensures that the money goes towards initiatives important to the communities themselves.

It is proposed that criteria could include community involvement, volunteering, legacy, sustainability, biodiversity, more attractive and green borough etc. For example:

A community group could put in a bid to make environmental improvements to their local street scene, such as setting up an In Bloom scheme as at Cobham Station.  The likely amount of grant will be up to £15K per project, to allow communities to create projects with significant impact.

Examples of such activity can be found on page 46 of the Agenda reports pack for the Cabinet meeting held on 6th June this year.  .

Do let us know your ideas for Weybridge.

Weybridge Town Meeting

Weybridge is due to hold its first post-election Town Meeting – at the Weybridge Centre for the Community, Churchfield Road on Monday 2nd July at 7.30.

We will look at

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

The goals of this and future meetings is to encourage greater involvement from people in Weybridge with a view to giving them a voice in how the town develops physically and socially.  We know many people love our town, but without a proper vision we might not like how it develops in the future. So this is a chance to come together to create our own Better Weybridge.

Resident of Weybridge, 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.

This meeting is the realisation of one of Vicki Macleod’s election commitments.  Vicki is the newly elected Liberal Democrat Councillor for Weybridge Riverside.

She says “I would like this to be the first of many such meetings where residents and others with an interest in how Weybridge develops come together to share ideas and engage actively with shaping the future of Weybridge.”

 

Springfield Lane Flats

Springfield Lane Flats Weybridge

Does this look familiar? This is being developed by the same people who built the flats on the Grotto Pub site.

There are two outline applications (2018/0905 and 2018/0907) for detached five-storey building containing 22 flats with associated parking, cycle and bin stores following demolition of existing building (for access, appearance, layout and scale).

The proposal is for 22 flats – 12 one bedroom and 10 two-bedroom – on five stories.  Elmbridge has a lack of smaller properties.  Nine of the proposed flats will be for affordable housing but there will not be any social housing.

Parking

Unlike the previous site, where there was no parking, this development has sixteen parking places for twenty two flats.  Elmbridge planning policy is for a minimum of 22 parking places for such a development.  The key planning point here is DM7 b(i) of the borough’s development management plan.

Highways

Surrey, the highway authority, gives a green light in their report to the proposal and deems it to be in a sustainable location.

Design and amenity

This is often a matter of judgment.  According to the borough development management plan proposals should preserve or enhance the character of the area, taking account of design guidance detailed in the Design and Character SPD (section 3.1 on Springfield Lane area), with particular regard to the following attributes: appearance; scale, mass, height, levels and topography; and, the prevailing pattern of built development.

Carbon Footprint

Buildings are categorised for their impact on climate change with six levels – six being the best and and one the worst.  The borough’s policy is for new building to be a minimum of level three and building of this size being level four.  but any new building should ideally be six.  This proposed building is level three which is below the borough’s planning standard as mentioned in the Core Strategy CS27 on page 82.

Refuse

This is often overlooked in larger developments and this proposal seems to be no exception.  In their report environmental services says the bins site is too small.  If you look at the picture above the bins will be located on the green rectangle near the front gate.

Cycle storage

Cycle storage is at the rear of the property and contains space for 22 tightly packed cycles.  The storage is not secure so insurance is is unlikely to be available.

Community Infrastructure Levy

This development will produce a tax of £155,000 for the provision of new infrastructure in Elmbridge.

Alerts

If you did not know about this application perhaps you should try the new borough alerts.  See here.

Make your comments on this planning application by the end of May here and here.

A nuanced approach to parking needs

Part of the work that the Liberal Democrats have undertaken in relation to parking is to examine the availability of parking space in Weybridge at midnight.  This time was chosen because the cars parked on-street would only be ours – just residents.  The shops are closed and the evening trade is over.  Shop and office workers have long gone home.  You can see from the map below that the pattern of nighttime parking stress varies widely across the town.  People living in streets next door to each other can have quite a different experience.  The key indicates what the colours mean.  The streets marked red had no available spaces at midnight and the streets in green indicate streets where parking spaces were freely available.   Some longer streets can have a varying experience along their length.

The overall picture is quite different at midday. It may come as a surprise but the parking stress if lower at midday than at midnight.  Again the parking experience can vary remarkably from street to street.

 

These maps only show two times in the day – midnight and midday.  Ideally, there would be a map for every minute or hour of the day.  We all know demand flows across the town at different times.  The drop off and pick up for schools has an acute impact for certain locations.

A street could be amber and not red simply because there is one space available – so the amber streets are under stress too.  As is yellow, with three spaces available for every ten cars.

The surveys were undertaken between 00:00 – 01:00 and 12:00 – 13:00 in private school term time because their terms are shorter.  Although that does mean that just like traffic in the holidays, parking is easier then this for over a quarter of the year.

The survey was taken from the perspective of a resident who does not have a drive.  If you imagine a street a mile long where all but one house has off-street parking on the drive but there is n place to park on-street because of the drive is is marked as red.  Even  though all but one resident has easy parking.

Flexible Parking in Churchfields

This summer much needed improvements will be brought to you by the Liberal Democrats. The first to arrive will be flexible parking in Churchfields car park.  The changes are part of the investment in quality and innovation programme across Elmbridge, which will bring five benefits:

  • Stay for as short or long a time as you like – no need to decide beforehand
  • Total refurbishment of the car park, bringing a new layout -improving capacity – and total resurfacing, with a solid foundation
  • Free pop-in parking: to pop into the library or pick up a prescription
  • Park and go – where you lock up and walk to the shops – no need for a ticket
  • No more penalties for overstaying

This is just the first step – greater flexibility will follow.  We want the car park to be well-used but also to always have some spaces available.

Using the parking surplus for our town

Elmbridge’s car parks make a surplus each year and up till now this has gone into the borough’s general fund for spending on our services, from meals on wheels to parks and recreation grounds.  Weybridge generates the highest surplus in Elmbridge so would gain most if some of the surplus was used to pretty up the town.

In fact this is one of the initiatives brought in by the borough’s Liberal Democrat/Residents administration last year for action this year.  The plan is to set up a fund for each town, based upon the surpluses from car parks in that town.

The council agreed this policy on 19 July 2017 to begin in the year starting May 2018 from funds accumulated in 20217/18.  This extra funding will be made available to support local sustainable transport and highway improvements, or extra townscape improvements. The precise figures are not ready yet, as the year is not complete. Our plan is for the proportion of parking surplus dedicated to these projects to increase year by year.

We would really be interested in you views on what you would like to see.

Investing in our car parks

For the last ten years Conservative administrations have left our car parks to rot just like our roads. The new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration in Elmbridge is not going to let our borough car parks go the way of of the county’s highways, so we have undertaken a review of the state of the sites and have set in place a programme of works to restore and maintain the quality of surfaces and to reconfigure parking spaces.

We will also be introducing barriers and licence plate recognition so that cars can be parked for as long as needed rather than having to rush back for fear of being fined.

Installing a planned maintenance and improvement programme is just the beginning.  We have also begun to put funds aside each year to ensure that the programme will not be affected by the unhelpful, capricious, attitude of the national government in the nontransparent way it funds local government.

Working with residents on parking

You may not know this, but one of the reasons I stood as a councillor originally was to help find solutions to the parking problems that are faced in some parts of the town.  

As a consequence, I have talked to nearly everyone in the town and if you have not yet spoken with me yet, it is not for the want of my trying!

Lib Dem colleagues and I have been speaking with residents in streets with particular concerns – often using a survey.  Sometimes we revisit because conditions and options change.  We have worked with residents to propose solutions that work for their street and those surrounding them.

On-street parking is the responsibility of the county council and this means that any change has to be agreed by them.  This has been difficult for at least three reasons:

  • Surrey lacks coherent principals underlying its approach to on-street parking
  • The process that Surrey uses for making decisions is flawed
  • Surrey has insufficient funds to provide a speedy delivery of change

These three problems were compounded by the Conservatives’ drive to undertake parking reviews in each area only once in three years – to save money (Surrey has been governed by one party for nearly all of the last 140 years).  This policy of under- investment has been used for highway maintenance over decades, to disastrous effect.

And to cap it all Surrey’s policy is that controlled parking should not cause displacement.  Such a policy is internally inconstant.  The introduction of parking controls will cause displacement unless the new controls are so negligible that no displacement occurs – then what’s point.

As controlled parking inevitably leads to displacement the smart thing to do is anticipate and plan for it, all the time ensuring that no new stress is introduced. This is the approach that we are taking currently to a number of roads in the town centre.

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.