Vote for Alastair Coomes for Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Local teacher

Alastair lives in Claygate with his family. A trained teacher and special educational needs expert, he works locally, but also offers his expert services as a consultant to schools beyond Elmbridge.

Alastair’s Action List for Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott

  1. Better access to local school places & adequate funding
  2. Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists
  3. Protecting green belt from development
  4. Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable
  5. Manage the budget better – with more transparency and openness

School places

Having been raised in Claygate and attended local schools, Alastair is very familiar with educational issues in Elmbridge and Surrey. With two teenagers himself, Alastair has first-hand experience of Surrey’s poor track record in providing adequate school places.

Surrey’s finances

While education is closest to Alastair’s heart, his decision to stand as a candidate for councillor is motivated by years of mismanagement of Surrey’s finances at the hands of the Tory administration. He wants to hold the administration to account and help manage the budget better.

Make your voice heard

Vote for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Alastair Coomes, in the county council elections on May 4th and help to stop the mismanagement of Surrey’s finances.

A vote for him is a vote for change and a better future for our families and all residents.

You can call Alastair on 07971 020804 or email him at

Vote for Chris Elmer for Walton in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Long-term Walton Resident

Chris has lived in Walton for 25 years and understands the local issues – unlike the sitting Councillor who lives in Weybridge.

Experienced Public Servant

Chris has worked in public service for nearly 40 years before taking up a position in Elmbridge Council. In this role, Chris held many positions of responsibility such as:

  • Representing the Walton Ambleside and South wards for over 9 years
  • Chair of Licensing and Planning Committees
  • Vice Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee
  • Member of the Surrey County Council Local Committee

Extensive Experience

His extensive experience includes:

  • local planning issues
  • complaints to Surrey County Council about needed road repairs
  • helping local businesses secure additional parking at the Halfway shops Walton
  • local road safety issues
  • establishing a Community Speedwatch for Walton

Drake Park and WeylandsNoWay Campaigns

Chris worked with the community on the Drake Park and WeylandsNoWay campaigns against the proposed waste digester, questioning the Council about highways assessments and holding them to account over air quality and proximity of housing to the proposed digester.

Your current Councillor – a conflict of interests

Your current councillor represents both Borough and County Councils – creating a conflict of interests on the Drake Park and Weylands plans. She is also Deputy Mayor, and if she becomes the Mayor of Elmbridge in May as expected, will she have enough time to fulfil her responsibilities and represent your interests at council level?

Chris’ Top Priorities for Walton

  • Better accountability and control of Surrey finances
  • Provision of care for the elderly and vulnerable
  • Protection of green belt and open spaces
  • Adequate infrastructure to meet growing demands
  • Maintaining existing road networks to a safe standard

Support Chris Elmer for Walton

If elected, Chris will devote his time and efforts to wholly representing you at Surrey County Council. Vote for dedication and experience – vote for Chris Elmer on 4th May.

You can email Chris at: or call him on 07480 519443.

Vote for David Bellchamber for Cobham in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

David campaigned for the Liberals in his youth and has worked with them, the Liberal Democrats and with communities in Elmbridge for 30 years, the last 14 while living in Cobham. He has now retired as a lawyer after a career involving partnership in a City firm and then practising locally for many years.

One of David’s roles as a volunteer is to lead the planning team with Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust. He opposes the loss of any Green Belt land in Elmbridge, considering that unnecessary with good planning. With Transition Cobham, David has been involved in the setting up of the Cobham Community Garden at the Leg O’Mutton Field and through that movement looks to improve the local environment, including by minimising waste, keeping footpaths open and clean for walkers and improving air quality.

David has long looked for a local government structure that has community councils beneath unitary authorities and the current mess on Surrey County Council supports the argument for them. It would cut down on duplication and expense and instil efficiency. With central government deciding the future of education more and more and Surrey‘s role diminishing, there is now a case for Elmbridge itself becoming the single authority as it has shown itself to be capable of good administration, proper budgeting and cross-border cooperation.

As well as putting good administration into Surrey County Council, David would look to provide

  • Protection of Green Belt land and open spaces
  • Adequate infrastructure before any development
  • Better care for the elderly and vulnerable
  • Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists

A vote for David on May 4th will send a message to Surrey Conservatives as to their failings.

Vote for Gerard Doherty for The Dittons in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Gerard lives in Long Ditton with his family. He is a consultant in healthcare with expertise in the changing NHS and combined NHS/social care budgets.

Gerard’s action list for The Dittons

  1. Manage the budget better – holding the council to account
  2. Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable
  3. Protecting green belt from development
  4. Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists
  5. Better access to local school places & adequate funding

Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable

With particular expertise in health and social care Gerard is keen to ensure the council are held to account on their spending. He has a particular interest in the commissioning of services for young people and the elderly. The tory’s have a poor track record commissioning quality care for our eldery, with an increasing elderly population in Surrey he is keen to ensure the elderly and vulnerable receive appropriate care. He wants to hold the Tory stronghold to account ensuring services commissioned for vulnerable young people and the elderly are high quality and value for money.

Protecting green belt from development

Gerard is passionate about protecting the Stokes Field Green Belt area from the proposed development; not only is he concerned about the protection of the greenbelt but he is opposed to the development due to the lack of adequate infrastructure in the Dittons to support the proposed housing. He is eager for affordable housing to be developed in appropriate areas in Surrey without endangering the greenbelt.

Better access to local schools

Having teenage children Gerard is acutely aware of the pressures on local school places. He wants to ensure there are adequate local school places for our young people without the requirement for them to travel out of area to receive education.

Make your voice heard

Vote for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Gerard Doherty, in the county council elections on May 4th and help to stop the mismanagement of Surrey’s finances.
A vote for him is a vote for change and a better future for our families and all residents.

You can email Gerard at:

Vote for Michael Smith for Hersham in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

I have lived in Elmbridge with my wife Jane for the last 14 years and, having served as Chair of the local Liberal Democrat party for 5 years, have become very aware of the problems and issues facing local residents.

My background working as a director in international companies has made me increasingly frustrated at the poor service delivered by the Conservative administration on Surrey County Council. Whether it be the provision of school places, the maintenance of roads or on social care, the Conservatives are failing local people.

Even more worrying is the failure to budget effectively, with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy reporting only last December that “The Council’s financial plans are not robust and it is at risk of becoming financially unsustainable”

We need a change in County Hall and we need to review how we organise local government to be more responsive to local needs. For that I want to see unitary authorities and I, and the Liberal Democrats, wholeheartedly support the move to create a Community Council for Hersham.

Vote for Adriana Dredge for Walton South & Oatlands in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Adriana has lived in Oatlands for over 20 years and has been an active member of the community.

In that time she has worked in higher education as a lecturer and course director; in addition to teaching and research, Adriana has helped many students and academic staff navigate through the challenges brought by the changes in the education system. Locally, she has worked as a volunteer “computer buddy” at the library, helping people who lack the basic digital skills acquire them in order to realise the benefits of the internet.

She has lived and worked in Europe, speaks several languages and believes in the potential for a strong, united Europe.

Adriana runs a marketing communications consultancy specialising in B2B and tech accounts, which helped mainly small businesses grow and succeed.

Adriana’s key issues are: education – funding for schools and access to school places, care for the elderly and the safety for all users of our roads.

Is Question Time Intentionally Biased?

Many people complain about the political mix on the BBC’s panel shows; Question Time and Any Questions.  Indeed, it is difficult to understand the basis upon which the panelists are chosen.  I think it would serve the BBC to be open in relation to its selection methodology.

The BBC not only fails to convince that its mix between parties is fair but, in my view, it falls into the trap of being Westminster centric.  This failure over the decades has been a contributing factor in the Brexit result.  The reason is that they both overwhelmingly concentrate on one level of government.  We have four levels of government in this country (I’ll put parishes to one side because they are usually considered non-party political): Europe; Britain; upper local tier; and, lower local tier.  Each week AQ and QT should have one person from each of these tiers.  As QT has five members on its panel it can have a wild card as well.

One might think that by having a specific formula for the panelists the vigour would go out of the debate.  Far from it.  I think that reverse would be true.  There would be a welcome injection of fresh perspectives.  There are around 30,000 politicians in Britain and for each place in the panel there would be a variety of people to chose from.  The methodology below would simply provide a group of people for each panelist chair from which the producers could still choose a specific range of people to add sparkle and energy to the debate.  However, the overall mix would reflect the realty of politics today.

Instead of Westminster politicians having the virtual monopoly to lambaste Europe or local government, representatives from the European parliament and local government could counter these often monochrome arguments.

For many people, the outcome of the Brexit vote was caused by Westminster MPs blaming Europe when an informed Martian knows that most of the problems that concerned leave and remain voters alike (NHS, school places, housing, jobs, immigration) were caused by the British government and not by the Scottish parliament, the European parliament or local government.  Yet for decades AQ and QT has not challenged the Westminster monopoly.

My method of choosing panelists would be as follows.

Politicians.  All panelists on QT and AQ should be politicians.  Pundits are interesting but they have not been elected.  They have not been in the position of having to make difficult – sometimes nigh-impossible – choices between options.  Often with little time and insufficient information.

Gender.  Always two women and two men.  In extenuating times the balance could be different but then it should corrected as soon as possible.

Heritage.  The panel should reflect the self-styled make-up of the country.  How people describe themselves ethnically.  Preferably avoiding the catchall word “British” if possible in the categorization.  According to the latest ONS figures, out of every hundred guests: 73 would be English; 7 Scottish; 4 Welsh; 2 Northern Irish (split); 2 Indian; 2 Pakistani; 2 African; 4 other European; and, 4 other world and mixed.

First Panelist – Europe.  This person should be a member of the European parliament and should be selected in proportion to the votes cast in the last election.  Out of every hundred guests for this seat in the panel: 32 should come from the Peoples Party; 27 from the Labour party;  10 from the Conservative party; 10 from the Liberal Democrat party; 8 from the Left party; 8 from the Green party; and, 7 from UKIP.   The interesting aspect of this particular member of the panel is that although the People’s party is the most numerous party in the European Parliament it does not have a single MEP in Britain.  They could provide a very interesting perspective in upcoming debates.

Second Panelist – Britain.  This person should be a member of the British parliament (either house) and should be selected in proportion to the votes cast in the last election. Out of every hundred guests for this seat in the panel: 37 should come from the Conservative Party; 30 from the Labour party; 13 from UKIP; 8 from the Liberal Democrat party; 5 from the SNP; 4 from the Green party; and, 3 from others.

Third Panelist – upper local tier.  This chair of the panel would be chosen from the Scottish parliament, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies and English counties.  I do not have the resources to work out what the party political proportion would be for this tier but I suspect there would be fewer UKIPers and more Liberal Democrats and independents.

Fourth Panelist – lower local tier.  This chair of the panel would be chosen from the districts and unitaries across Britain.  Again, I do not have the resources to work out what the party political proportion would be for this tier but I suspect it would be similar to the upper tier with proportionally more independents.

Other characterizations.  It is possible to extend these descriptors to cater for age, orientation, faith and disability etc.

Allocation. You might think that with 30,000 politicians in the pool for the two shows the job of allocation would be difficult.  Getting the data into the system is relatively easy. Writing the computer programme to suggest members for each chair would be a simple task for most programmers.  The programme would automatically suggest, say, twenty people for each chair and the producer would select those that would make for the best programme.

I think that rating for the programmes would increase – at the very least, I would begin to watch QT again.

Refuse bins change colour

This takes me back.  My first job after full time education was to be a binman (actually a road-sweep but I got promotion).  Back then one had to hold a skip consisting of two bin-loads on the shoulder – very tough job – only the strongest survived.  Today the heavy lifting is by the bin-lorry itself – but the smell remains the same.

To reduce our refuse collection costs and save £millions in the process, Elmbridge has combined its refuse collection service with three other boroughs.

The first change is that all new non-recycling bins will be grey across all four boroughs to reduce purchase costs.

The current charges for refuse collection varies from borough to borough therefore there will be a transition while we all adopt a standard set of charges.  These will begin in June 2017 when Elmbridge enters the new agreement.

Wheelie bin charges.  The new standard charges for new and replacement wheellie bins is £25 for a 180 litre refuse bin; £30 for a 240 litre bin; and £60 for a 360 litre bin.

Garden Waste Collection Service.  For new subscribers the charges will be £45 for the first wheeled bin and £30 per additional wheeled bin.  For existing customers, it was recommended that the Council set the annual subscription charge at £40.   A concessionary subscriptions would apply.

Special Collection Service. £30 for the first item with a charge of £10 for each additional item.  It was also recommended that a concessionary discounts would apply.

Maintaining your assets

The borough maintains 97 car parks across Elmbridge.  They ranging from our town centres through to our commons.

In becoming portfolio holder for transport in May 2016 Cllr Andrew Davis asked for a current valuation and maintenance programme for all the car parks.  Unfortunately, apart from Drewitt’s Court this had not been undertaken for many years.  Perhaps the previous Conservative administration thought the car parks could mend themselves.

A condition survey was undertaken in 2016 to identify the state of the borough’s car parks and the financial commitments for repairs over the next five years. The full cost to bring the car park up to standard is £13m.

The borough’s obligations relating to Drewitts Court in order to comply with the terms of the existing leases, require that a structural evaluation of the ramp be undertaken immediately and that the repairs be carried out as quickly as possible. It is likely that the full cost will be £1,500,000.

To catch up with the amount of maintenance required for the other car parks the borough plans to spend up to £6m over the next three years.

However, with the high need for social housing, the pressure to build over car parks is high. Not all car parks are suitable but those that are should not given comprehensive repairs until their housing status is known.

Naturally, the order of work and indeed what work will be done will be undertaken with full consultation with local councillors.  A full management programme will be produced for each car park for while they are being reconstructed.  Dewetts Court will take much longer so will have a special plan.  It is likely to begin in January so us not to clash with the Christmas season.

Planning Compliance

One of the four key goals for the new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration was the improvement in planning enforcement.

Two measures have already been put in place: to ensure a more communicative service; and, the redrafting of the Elmbridge’s Planning Enforcement Charter in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The borough is to rename the team as the Planning Compliance Team. This would put greater emphasis on ensuring people complied with plans, conditions and the law, with enforcement being the end result in only the minority of cases.

The new team will have access to a branded vehicle in order to remove incorrectly placed estate agents boards and other illegal advertisements, which they were currently unable to do as easily and regularly using staffs’ own vehicles. In addition, staff will also have their own uniform, in common with other borough staff carrying out compliance activities.

The new team will introduce regular ‘surgeries’ and/or participation in existing events such as Let’s Talk Elmbridge in order to provide a greater and more visible presence with the public.

To achieve this the number of compliance staff will be increased 33%.