Conservation wins the day

On Tuesday, 27th November, Elmbridge Borough Council Full Planning Committee overturned the decision of the sub-committee which deals with planning decisions in Weybridge, and refused permission to build ten flats at the junction of Balfour and Devonshire Roads.

The position of the proposed building, in Weybridge Town Centre Conservation area, is just beyond the junction of Church Street and Balfour Road, opposite St James’s Church. This is a significant view for those entering the town centre from Heath Road.

The Full Planning Committee found that:

“The proposal by virtue of its bulk and mass, emphasised by the fact it would be raised from ground level on a podium, would be out of character and would harm the streetscene. The proposal would therefore have an adverse impact on the conservation area and not preserve its character.”

Representations against the development had been submitted by the Weybridge Society and the Vicar of St James’s Parish Church along with many local residents.

The the application details are here and actual decision is here.

Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

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.

We will talk about:

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

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.

Let’s Join the EU

Looking back over the history of the European Union I wish we had joined at the beginning in 1951 when the European Coal and Steel Community was inaugurated.  I think that Europe would have been a better place today had we done so – but there is no point crying over spilt milk.

British Empire

Back then Britain still had an empire of sorts and many in Britain could or would not conceive that the British Empire was about to fall apart; so one could readily understand the reluctance of the British people to join in the European journey.

Britain joins

When Britain finally joined in 1971 the original member states had already designed a Europe to suit themselves.  Many of their policies were not suitable for Britain.  For example, the protectionist and grossly inefficient Common Agricultural Policy was awash with grain, butter and beef mountains and wine lakes; with its high level of food prices it did not suit the average food buyer or third world food producers.  The poorly designed Common Fisheries Policy seemed to be determined to wipe out fish stocks.  There was no single market in goods and services.  Member states used all manner of means to protect their industries against their more efficient neighbours.  All meetings were held in multilingual settings making ordinary discussions difficult if not almost impossible.  The project was basically run for the benefit of the French – and who could blame them.

Britain makes changes

But what excellent changes have occurred through British membership.  Okay the Common Agriculture Policy is still around but it is much reduced.  Britain has substantially reformed the fisheries policy.  Britain pushed though the single market and encouraged the expansion of the union to include all Europe.  Britain made Europe look outwards – to be more competitive and created Europe to be the arbiter of global standards in trade and technology.  English is now the working language of the European Union with half the 500 million people having a functional competence in spoken and written English (apparently the average Dutch-person has a higher ability in English than the average Brit).

If Britain could make such changes over the last forty years just think what could be done over the next forty.  Of course there is more work to be done. By improving Europe we can help improve the whole world and, most importantly, make the lives of the British people better.  Britain cannot do this without getting engaged.

Britain cannot be engaged unless it adopts all European Union law – no opt outs.  In my view, the first items on the agenda are to establish the euro on a firm footing and to manage migration properly but there are medium-term to longer-term structural changes that need to be made too – like increasing democratic accountability.

Controlled Borders

Europe needs to manage its own borders. It should no longer rely on member states to do so.  Britain does not rely on Sussex to monitor our borders and nor should Europe rely on Greece or Hungary.  The processing, management and funding of non-European migrant should be entirely the responsibility of the European government.  I understand that 25% percent of recent migrants have come from Albania – nowhere near Syria.  It was pretty poor when I was there but it is not war ravaged.  Rather than let each state pass migrants onto Germany, Europe must set up border police and processing staff (where necessary a coast guard too) and these people must be directly employed by the European government – responsible to the European government using property owned, leased or rented by the European government.  I completely understand that such an approach is only a sticking plaster but Europe must get a grip.

Strong euro

Just like any modern country, Europe needs a currency and that currency must be backed by its government.  To properly function, among other things, there must also be an equalisation mechanism between the various member states.  Just like in Britain where funds flow from richer places like Surrey to poorer places like Northern Ireland (the average family in Surrey gives the average family in Northern Ireland £1,200 a year) so in Europe we should transfer funds from the richer part of Europe to the poorer parts.  It means that the European government provides directly to each European citizen a small monthly sum.  Very little is needed to completely stabilise the European economy.  True, European taxation would increase from the current 1% to 3% but that is nothing compared to the 40% that Westminster takes already.  The level of taxation would be limited by treaty so could not be increased without a referendum.

A further policy change that Britain would have to deal with itself would be to convert most welfare into a contributional framework.  There are two reasons for this: one because it is a good idea anyway (returning to the original basis for welfare when the Liberals invented it and Labour installed it after the war); second, because that is how virtually all the member states of the union work.  This policy would not end “welfare migration” but it would reduce it.  Welfare tourism is much lower than most people imagine it to be in any case.  A much more successful approach for Britain would be to resource the revenue staff to enable them to make sure employers are employing legal workers and paying them properly.

Britain could say to the other member states – we will join the euro and the passport area as long as the above measures are put in place and that every other member state also joins when we do.

No varied geometry, no opt-outs.  If you want to be in you are welcome to be in but the only other option is out.

Currently, Britain isn’t really in the European Union.  It is sort of semi-detached.  For example, one can drive from the Algarve, on the Atlantic, right across Europe to the Ukrainian border and you will not have to stop for passport control anywhere, or customs and euros are the currency in every country travelled though.  For nearly all Europeans, for all intents and purposes, Europe is already one country – it is just that the British, who normally fly, tunnel or take the ferry rather than drive (with all security that goes with them), rarely experience the freedom of moving around the world without borders.

We are in a time warp.

We need to vote in – really in.

Napoleon meets his Waterloo

Nepoleon Re-enactmentPainshill welcomes back the Napoleonic Association for a special re-enactment to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. On both there will be incredible sights and dramatic performances as the soldiers, officers and camp followers re-enact various scenes, including the raising of the flag, a drill parade and a skirmish. There will be lots of noise and smoke as the infantrymen fire volley after volley and manoeuvre to offer their fatal blow whilst deploying the crack skirmishing force, the 95th Rifles.

Visitors will also be able to walk through the living history encampment to see where the soldiers live, eat and sleep. The camp followers will entertain those who visit, with stories and their experiences of the Napoleonic period.

This exciting event which includes battles, skill at arms display and a living history encampment will take place on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August Bank Holiday. The event is included in normal admission price.

For more details and to see the full programme click here

Create Your Own Resplendent Shakespearean Ruff at Elmbridge Museum

Resplendent RuffsGo to the next family fun event at Elmbridge Museum in Church Street on Saturday, 26 April from 2pm to 4.30pm to celebrate the 450th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and learn more about his plays by making your own mini-theatre. For additional fun, you will also be making one the most popular accessories of his time: a ruff.

The famous Elizabethan ruff, which was worn by both men and women in the sixteenth century and by Shakespeare himself, developed in style and became much more elaborate as decades went by, gaining more height and size until it reached gargantuan proportions.

“Resplendent Ruffs” is part of a series of family fun events held by Elmbridge Museum in Weybridge once a month on a Saturday. Although booking is not necessary, the museum operates on a first come, first served basis so arrive early to avoid disappointment!

Children must be accompanied by an adult. A charge of £1.50 per child applies.

For further information, vist www.elmbridge.gov.uk/museum or contact the museum on 01932 843573 or email ebcmuseum@elmbridge.gov.uk

Illustrated Talk – Brooklands through the Ages

An illustrated talk on ‘Brooklands through the Ages’ – from the Iron Age period right through to modern times will be held on Thursday, 23 January at 8pm in the large hall of the St James’ Church Parish Centre. It will offer insights about the Brooklands area covering its origins, history, people and other interesting facts.

Brooklands today is very much shaped by the legacy of the motor racing circuit built in 1907. The early history of the area, how the circuit came into being and its subsequent development all yield some fascinating insights about the life and times of people in Weybridge.

The speaker is Steve McCarthy, whose background is as a professional engineer.  His interest in cars and local history has led him to study Brooklands wider than just the well chronicled aspects of the racing circuit.

All are welcome, Weybridge Society Members are free and non-members £3.

Churchfields Flowerbed Competition

It’s that time of year again for the budding young designers in Elmbridge to get their thinking caps on!

After the creativity and enthusiasm shown by the young entrants last year, Elmbridge’s Green Spaces Team is pleased to announce the theme for this year’s ‘Design a Flowerbed competition’ open to primary school age children.

2014 is the anniversary of the beginning of the World War I and, as part of the commemorations, young designers are asked to take inspiration from the first verse of Charlotte Mew’s poem, “May 1915” to create their design:  “Let us remember spring will come again”.

The winning design will be planted in Churchfields Recreation Ground late spring, so the winner will be able to see their design blooming over the summer months.  This is a great opportunity for young designers to display their awareness of this important part of history and how relevant it is to the community.

The flowerbed is a 3m wide circle. Young participants should think about colours, patterns and shapes when designing their flowerbed. Simple flowerbed designs are often the best.

The design should be on A4 paper and marked overleaf with the participant’s name, age and address. Send all designs to

EBC Green Spaces Team
1 High Street
ESHER
KT10 9SD

Email it to leisure@elmbridge.gov.uk by Thursday, 28 February.

For more information, call 01372 474568, email leisure@elmbridge.gov.uk or visit www.elmbridge.gov.uk/parks

Forgotten Voices From The Past

As the centenary commemorations for the start of The First World War begin, it still remains a powerful episode in our collective memory.  Maggs Latter, former Arts Development Officer at the Borough of Elmbridge, accompanied by Glen Kirton will evoke the ‘forgotten voices’ of that terrible time in the world’s history as part of the first talk of the year in the Royton Pike Lecture series on Thursday, 16 January at 8pm at the Riverhouse Arts Centre in Walton.

Maggs will tell the story of a young Lieutenant Leonard Keysor, her Great Uncle, who was one of the eleven Australian soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross during the Gallipoli campaign.

Tickets priced at £2 per person are available at the door on the evening. For further information, please see the programme,  email arts@elmbridge.gov.uk or call 01372 474568.

Make your own personal poppy

poppyfield

Elmbridge museum, above the library, is running a family arts and crafts day where children can learn about the significance of poppies and make their own personalised poppy.

It runs from 2:00 to 4:30 on Saturday, 9 November. Children must be accompanied by an adult and there is a charge of £1.50 a child.

For more information call 09132 843 573 or email ebcmusuem@elmbirdge.gov.uk