Francisca Oxley (Thames Ditton)

Francisca has been a local resident for nearly twenty years, living in Esher, Hinchley Wood and Thames Ditton. Her three children currently attend Thames Ditton Junior School and Hinchley Wood Secondary School.

Alongside her work in London as a sales & marketing director, she has always volunteered locally. This includes co-charing the Friends committee at Cranmere Primary School and managing the local foodbanks.

Francisca says: “I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives.”

Following Brexit Francisca got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments to protect European citizens’ rights. “Unfortunately Brexit now distracts from pressing issues like housing, health and social care, and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with a pro-Europe stance at the national level.”

1. I am a local resident in Thames Ditton, with kids in the local schools (TDJS and HWS). Therefore I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places and planning are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives. These cannot all be solved at the local level.

2. Following Brexit I got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments. Brexit distracts from solving pressing issues like housing, health, social care and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with the national level.

Paul Nagle (Molesey West)

Paul Nagle has lived in Molesey for over twenty years. He works in science publishing and professional associations focused mainly on water, environment, agriculture and nutrition.

A lifelong Liberal and NUJ member, he is keen to see more effective local democracy to ensure people no longer feel remote from local councils – and that those councils are run more effectively. In our own area in Elmbridge we need a stronger focus on housing, most particularly affordable housing which is essential for many key workers and our own children.

We also need to give greater attention and priority to improved environmental policies such as sustainability, minimizing waste and fly-tipping.

1. There is a desperate need for (truly affordable) homes with the necessary services (po-licing, health social care etc) and physical infrastructure (transport, parking, etc), and supporting local shops and businesses so they thrive. These need addressing seriously in Molesey and Elmbridge as a whole.

2. I’d use all the leverage as a councillor to reconnect Molesey’s people with the decision-making that affects their community. This means facilitating contacts between the resi-dents and the council and its officers, both Elmbridge and Surrey. And all other key stakeholders who contribute to the wellbeing of the community. Being an active ‘con-nector’ and ‘facilitator’ would enhance wellbeing and bring progress.

Margaret Hawkes (Walton North)

Margaret Hawkes is standing as the Lib Dem candidate in Walton North this May. Walton North covers an area north of the town centre from the Thames down to Ambleside Avenue.

Question: if you live in Walton North, where do you play tennis? How far would your children have to walk to a tennis court?
Question: what kind of phone signal do you receive? The council can block planning permission for phone masts, no phone mast, no signal.
Question: how safe are our roads for pedestrians, especially at night?

Margaret answers: “Your local council can work to make everyday life bet-ter for you, or it can be swayed by minority voices to block improvements to our lives. If I am elected, I shall work for the residents of Walton North to ensure that the council improves their life quality and is not a forum for pro-test movements that stop and delay beneficial changes.”

1. I’ve lived in Walton for forty years and as a local resident I am only too aware of the problems that are faced by my fellow residents, from finding good quality school places, to the problems of parking, from the child care to the care of the frail elderly. But, many people feel ‘politicians’ are not taking note. This lack of trust needs work, and deeds not words.

2. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I want to help build a fairer and more open society where all our citizens are valued and they have a stake in our society. As a councillor, it will be a privilege to help in this process, to empower the local community so that the voice of all can be heard. I believe that a local councillor should work to make people’s lives better.

Dorothy Ford (Oxshott and Stoke D’Abernon)

Dorothy Ford has been a resident of the Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon ward for 35 years. While raising a family here, she taught French and German before working on policy for the central government in White-hall. She helped set up the Cobham Library Community Hub and taught a young mother reading skills. Dorothy enjoys singing in choirs, walking, growing vegetables and playing with two tiny grandchildren.

As a borough councillor, Dorothy’s key aims will be to

  • – enhance our environment by improving litter collection and by extending Elmbridge Borough Council’s air quality monitoring system to our ward, where Oxshott High Street’s heavy traffic poses potential problems
  • – protect and enhance our local Green Belt, including along Blundel Lane
  • – urge the Council to invest in affordable housing instead of commercial properties, especially if new housing plans are proposed for our ward
  • – help ensure the availability of quality local schools, healthcare and social services

1. Because national government support to local authorities has fallen 77% since 2010, this ward is suffering from poor services – from pothole repairs to school budgets. Our Green Belt remains threatened by inappropriate housing plans. Our Tory MP ignores our views by supporting a “Hard” Brexit – making us poorer.

2. I aim to safeguard our environment by measuring air quality, improving litter management, protecting Green Belt by prioritising brownfield sites and town centre development. I will strive to enhance local education, health and care services.
I will promote strong, fair finances for example by reducing council’s commercial investments and instead promoting council investment in affordable housing.

Cllr Barry Fairbank (Long Ditton ward – elected since 2000)

Barry Fairbank Square

Barry has been an Elmbridge Councillor for Long Ditton since May 2000. Since 2000 he has been totally involved with the Long Ditton community, and still is. He was Group Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Elmbridge Council from 2011-2013, when he was elected Deputy Mayor. In spring 2014 he was elected as Mayor for 2014/15.

He is currently a member of the Cabinet as Portfolio Holder for the Environment and is a member of the Licensing Committee, the Mayor of Elmbridge Trust Fund and the  Elmbridge Local Committee.

Over time he has served on many Elmbridge Council Committees and working groups, including Overview & Scrutiny task and working groups covering a range of subjects including:- waste collection and disposal; council partnerships; council service performance; the dissemination of financial information; Overview & Scrutiny; the replacement Leisure Centre; customer service improvement; the Elmbridge Museum; land charge searches; the discharge of elderly people from hospital and others.

He has lived in Elmbridge for more than 23 years, living previously in Wimbledon. He is married to Gill a retired headteacher. They have two sons, one of whom is working in an educational charity which supports education in difficult localities, and the other in a company specialising in cyber security.

Barry was educated at Sir Walter St John’s Grammar School, Battersea and following the closure of the school has served as a Trustee of the residual body, providing educational grants to individuals, voluntary groups and project groups based in the former catchment area of the school.

Barry spent most of his working life in London starting at a merchant bank, Samuel Montagu, and subsequently joining a number of specialist investment management organisations including Invesco, NatWest, Midland Montagu and Gartmore. Before retiring, he become self-employed specialising in investment related financial investigations and risk appraisals.

Barry is also involved with a number of local organisations namely:- HomeStart Elmbridge; Long Ditton Village Hall; Long Ditton Youth Project and St Mary’s Church Community Hall. He is a governor at St Mary’s Long Ditton Junior School and was Chair of Governors for 7 years.  Other interests include: current affairs; sport; reading; walking; music; humour; and theatre.

Whilst a member of the Cabinet, Barry and fellow Lib Dems in coalition with the residents group have:

  • Started a social housing programme with properties in Cobham, Thames Ditton and Weybridge
  • Introduced a flexible parking strategy to serve our towns – including free parking on Saturdays
  • Created a new planning compliance team to ensure developers do not build without permission
  • Built a balanced property portfolio in Elmbridge to generate income to support Council services
  • Delivered the new regional quality sports hub in Walton
  • Replaced the under-performing Conservative grass verge and green spaces contract
  • Invested to enhance our public tennis courts in association with the Lawn Tennis Association
  • Implemented a new refuse collection contract which is providing a better service whilst saving money.
  • All this and delivering the lowest council tax rise (1.9%) in Surrey

When re-elected Barry will work with others towards:

  • Protecting the Green Belt
  • Building on our new programme of social housing, with an aim to provide social housing for 2,000 new homes across Elmbridge
  • Working to ensure Long Ditton stays a vibrant and pleasant place
  • Making the environment central to all borough policy initiatives
  • Ensuring that Community Infrastructure Levy is used correctly and will only be spent on extra health, education, transport and social infrastructure for Elmbridge

1. Barry considers housing and environment to be the two main issues in in both Long Ditton and Elmbridge. Long Ditton is a wonderful place to live, but young people and those in vital services find it unaffordable. Solving this problem would contribute to the whole community’s wellbeing – young and old, those working and those at home. But new housing must be achieved without a compromise on environment.

2. If elected Barry will champion local people’s needs, whether they are families, children in education, elderly needing care, vulnerable people or youths. He will also work in the council to help build 2,000 units of social housing in Elmbridge. This should be done respecting the integrity of the green belt and the environment. He feels strongly that our young people contribute to a thriving community and should be able to afford to live here.

Chris Elmer (Walton South – Cllr 2007/16)

I have lived in Walton for 25 years with my wife Christine. In 2007 I took early retirement after 40 years in public service and was elected as a Conservative councillor, serving Walton Ambleside and Walton South between 2007 and 2016. During this time I chaired both the Licensing and Planning Committees, and was Vice Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and member of the SCC Local Committee for Elmbridge.

Why now a Liberal Democrat? I became disillusioned with the Conservative administration while I was still a Conservative Elmbridge Borough Councillor and was not comfortable with the complacent and arrogant stance adopted, not dissimilar to the national stance. I therefore did not seek re selection as a Conservative candidate in May 2016 but reassessed my views as more facts about the party emerged. It became clear to me that my political allegiance now lay with the Liberal Democrats with whom I think I am better placed to serve the residents of Walton South.

1. Planning, traffic, roads and quality service – but we are in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate on Drake Park, the biggest development Walton is facing and traffic and roads are the responsibility of SCC which need vigorous lobbying to get residents’ views listened to. Value for money is not just about cutting costs but retaining quality services.

2. Oppose inappropriate development impacting on residents’ quality of life and recreational green spaces. Reintroduce an effective 24-hour noise complaint service, scrapped by the Conservatives. Bring back bags and scoops for dog waste in parks. Lobby Surrey County Council to replace trees we are losing from our roads.

Liz Ambekar (Hinchley Wood and Weston Green)

Liz Ambekar has lived in Hinchley Wood since 2014, previously living in Kingston and growing up in Oxfordshire. She is married with two daughters who attend Hinchley Wood School.

Liz is a charity finance director, with over ten years’ experience working in the charity sector and prior to that in the civil service and social housing. She is committed to the voluntary sector and has significant past volunteering experience including being a charity trustee of a care home for severely disabled young adults in Twickenham, a volunteer chaperone and helping at her children’s primary schools. Liz also supports the arts locally.

If elected Liz will work on behalf of all people in Hinchley Wood and Weston Green. She is particularly keen to focus on issues that affect young people and those in need, as well as affordable housing, child safety and our shared environment.

1. I believe that one of the biggest issues facing Hinchley Wood and Weston Green is ensuring there is sufficient affordable and social housing for those in need and the next generation, whilst always maintaining the individuality of the area, protecting the green belt and providing the infrastructure and services to support the population.

2. I will work tirelessly to support all of the local community, using the skills and experience I have gained as a charity finance director and the understanding I have as a work-ing mum of school age children. I will focus on housing, environment and services to those in need who are so often underrepresented.

Zelda Pitman (Cobham and Downside)

Zelda Pitman grew up in Guildford and Weybridge, and has lived in Cobham since 2010. Zelda has two sons who attend school locally, and she works as a solicitor in Guildford.

If elected she will work to ensure that the Council makes sound, practical, justifiable decisions in the interests of the whole community. Zelda has long been active in her local community, volunteering with charity fundraising events and social care for the elderly.

She is a fervent believer in a fair society for all and is concerned by the in-creasing reliance by hard working local families on food banks, as well as rising incidents of homelessness.

Zelda and her husband commute every day, so local traffic and transport issues are a serious consideration for her. With two primary school age children, Zelda is also concerned that education standards remain high and that everyone has access to good school places.

1. Cobham is congested and that creates daily problems for the residents, plus traffic fumes which deteriorates air quality. Single residences are knocked down and blocks of flats are built without any thought given for its impact. I am also concerned about homelessness and families relying on food banks, plus standards in education.

2. If elected my focus will be on bringing the community together to consider how we want Cobham to evolve. We want the process to be bottom up and as part of it I would want to encourage volunteering. Housing, traffic, vital services like social care, families in need and education will be my focus.

Surrey’s Pothole Shame

Who would you rather have in charge of road maintenance where you live?

According to a Get Surrey report in January 2018, when asked about the state of roads in Surrey, a spokesman for Surrey County Council said: “We’re working incredibly hard to improve Surrey’s roads – potholes are fixed at a rate of around 260 a day – but as Surrey has some of the country’s busiest roads wear and tear really takes its toll.

“This means we face a £40 million funding gap over the next five years, and while our Operation Horizon project has seen hundreds of miles of roads rebuilt to make them pothole-proof for at least a decade, we would like to do more which is why we think busier roads should get more government funding.”

On the other hand the spokesman for Hampshire, Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council said: “Hampshire is one of the largest counties in England, with over 5,300 miles of road, much of them rural. Safe and well maintained roads are a priority for us – good transport infrastructure is crucial to Hampshire’s long term economic prosperity and the quality of life of all who live and work here. Each year, our highways teams repair around 10,000 potholes, and we continuously look for the latest innovations available to provide long-lasting, quality maintenance work that represents good value for money.

“Each year, we invest an additional £10million into our planned maintenance programme, Operation Resilience – a long term strategy designed to ensure Hampshire’s road network is more resilient to the impact of heavy traffic and weather. Work includes reconstruction, asphalt dressing, full resurfacing and drainage improvements.

Surrey, on the other hand, plans on reducing capital expenditure on Highways Maintenance from

£20,943,000 in 2018/19 to £12,889,000 in 2019/20 and £14,515,000 in 2019/20, giving a grand total of £48,347,000 over the next three years.

According to Hampshire County Council website, £120 million will be spent on highways maintenance over the next three years in Hampshire.

 

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.