Following from the success of the construction of a properly laid footpath from Grenside Road in Weybridge to Cowey Sale, championed by Cllr Andrew Davis, many residents commented on the state of Broadwater Lake which had become silted up and obscured by fallen trees. Local councillors agreed to the request to use Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding, with contributions from the Beechcroft and Templemere estates, to pay for dredging the lake as a first step towards improving its appearance. This was completed on 9-10th January.
I regularly paddle up and down the river between Weybridge and Walton whilst training as a member of Weybridge Rowing Club and Thames Valley Skiff Club. Over the last few years I have witnessed a significant increase in boats moored without permission along the river.
Within the Public Right of Navigation there is deemed a right for boat owners to stop on land, subject to the necessary landowners consent, for a reasonable period, the Environment Agency (EA) considering this to be 24 hours. The law only allows the owners of the land that the boats are moored on to take action against an unauthorised mooring. As the EA owns most of the towpath running through Elmbridge, they consider the most effective method or dealing with this issue is through prosecution for repeated trespass offences. But anyone regularly using the river or the towpath can see that this has so far failed to produce any reduction in the number of illegally moored boats.
However, there have been two recent developments which indicate some positive steps towards tackling this problem:
- Those occupying a number of moored boats near Cherry Orchard Gardens in Molesey had encroached onto the towpath and erected fences, gardens and garden furniture. Last year the Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) Planning Compliance Team issued nine enforcement notices to have these removed. The notices were appealed, but on the 13th January the government’s Planning Inspectorate turned down the appeals as ‘not valid’. This means that the enforcement notices can now come into effect. The notices require the use of the land for the permanent mooring of boats to cease, and any structures, fencing or enclosures to be removed. The period for compliance is one calendar month, i.e. by the 13th February.
- The EA has decided to engage in procuring the services of a specialist company to help it manage moorings on its land. They have previously managed their designated mooring sites where charges applied for stays of more than 24 hours, e.g. at Hurst Park Wharf, Molesey, at Miskins Wharf, Walton, and at Desborough Island. This time it also wants the appointed company to be responsible for managing boats moored outside its designated mooring sites. This is a significant change. It wants all boats to be moored in accordance with any applicable terms and conditions; this should mean that overstaying boats are moved by their owners/masters without delay or enforcement procedures will be put into place. Subject to the quality and affordability of the responses received, the EA hopes to make an appointment and have all necessary arrangements in place before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend of 10-12th April.
Finally, EBC has no powers to move/evict boats on EA land but it has continued to work closely with Surrey Police and the EA. If you identify a crime or anti-social behaviour then this should be reported to the police or reported on-line at:
To report any other non-urgent matter relating to the river contact: email@example.com or telephone 03708 506 506 during office hours. The EA will also seek to take action against any incidents of pollution in the river that are reported to them. If you witness any dumping of waste into the river you can report this on their hotline 0800 807060 and they will investigate.
Your local councillors recently attended an update briefing from Surrey CC’s Transport Strategy Project Manager and Transport Planner on the work planned to provide improved pedestrian and cycling paths from Weybridge town centre to the station and through to Brooklands Park.
Some preparatory work has already been completed:
- Last summer clearing of ground-covering scrub and trees was undertaken along Heath Road; a few trees were retained to give a better aesthetic and the paths will be routed around these.
- The much-needed resurfacing of St George’s Avenue last October was also part of the scheme and a dropped kerb was built towards the station end of the road so that cyclists can come off the road onto a short section of pavement to then cross the main road via the refuge.
- In November, the refuges for pedestrian access to the station were widened and dropped kerbs improved.
More work is planned for the February half-term, including larger refuges for the crossing on Brooklands Road to Heath Road South car park. Following this, the track from the car park, past the sewage treatment works, across the River Wey and through to Brooklands will be widened and provided with lighting. Funding has been ear-marked for improvements to Sopwith Drive and Wellington Way as well as for better pedestrian access to the station and for increased cycle parking provision. There will be bus stop improvements and suitably placed finger-post signs. The path under Wellington Way occasionally floods, as it has done recently, and a raised boardwalk is planned to keep this path open and usable more often.
If there is sufficient money then a second phase will be considered to link the planned route from Heath Road through to Churchfields and the town centre. This exciting proposition would complement the current discussions of a town regeneration scheme centred around developing the publicly-owned NHS, library and community centre sites. There would be further public consultation on any proposed options.
Some snippets of information from matters that have been discussed over the last few months by the Energy & Sustainability Working Group.
This national scheme has been promoted by the Working Group across the borough, the aim being to make it easy for anyone to fill their water bottles for free at participating shops, businesses and cafes, called Refill Stations. This reduces the numbers of new plastic bottles being bought and hence lowers the amount of carbon emitted from bottle production and plastic recycling. Most towns in Elmbridge have a Refill Champion and in Weybridge this is Cllr Charu Sood. She has been very active in setting up the scheme and there are now seven Refill Stations in the Queen’s Road shopping area and over 30 in the main Church Street/High Street area.
To find out where they are, download the Refill App (by City to Sea CIC):
Refill Stations should have a sticker showing that they are participating:
Trees and green spaces
Surrey County Council has a free tree give-away with an ambitious target of planting one tree per resident by 2030. This amounts to 1.2 million trees. This will help to tackle climate change – by the time a tree is 40 years old it will have absorbed one tonne of CO2 – as well as enhancing our environment. The Working Group heard from a representative of the Woodland Trust who stated that Elmbridge only has 17.6% (2016 figure) of woodland cover and that 20% is the minimum recommended to help absorb more of our locally emitted CO2.
Elmbridge BC has set up a Community Planting Fund of £100,000 to support community groups who want financial help to deliver projects that improve Elmbridge’s green spaces. This fund is open to charities, community interest companies, parish councils, voluntary groups, schools, scouting and girl guiding groups, and other not-for-profit organisations. It can be used for a variety of projects including: Community gardens, In-Bloom groups, new planters/flower troughs, or any other projects that would contribute to make Elmbridge a green and brighter borough. Applications can be made from 1 February to 13 March 2020 and up to a maximum of £5,000 per project could be allocated.
The Climate Emergency
As already posted, Elmbridge Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and agreed the need to put measures in place to make the Council carbon neutral by 2030. To do this the council has contracted the Carbon Trust to undertake a carbon audit of all council owned properties; they will be reporting their findings by March 2020.
Help with saving energy
Action Surrey delivered an interesting presentation on grants and payments that can be made to householders to assist them in making their homes more energy efficient. Visiting their website gives details of eligibility and applications for the Warm Homes Discount, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments. They will also give advice on installing renewable energy sources such as solar heating panels for which there is a government Renewable Heat Incentive, meaning that you are able to receive payments for the heat that you generate, and for solar photovoltaic panels which qualify for Smart Export Guarantee arrangements with the energy companies to sell them any excess electricity produced.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, it was confirmed that a coalition of the Liberal Democrat Group and the Residents Association (RA) Group will take on the administration of the council for the coming year. The Liberal Democrats number 10 and the RAs number 17, so together we have 27 seats compared to the Conservatives 21. This is a significant change from last year when the council was in no overall control at 24 each. In the elections on May 2nd, not only did we gain Ashley Tilling as our new Lib Dem councillor for Weybridge Riverside, but there were gains for Residents’ candidates in the St George’s Hill and Esher wards.
We have taken the decision to form a coalition administration because we believe that we are elected in order to effect change as well as safeguard what we cherish in our communities. These are far better achieved by being in control of both the agenda and the decision-making processes.
Whilst the Leader of the council will be from the RA group, our long-standing Weybridge Riverside councillor Andrew Davis will be the Deputy Leader. Lib Dem councillors will hold cabinet seats and so be responsible for portfolios on Highways, Community and Corporate Affairs, and Environment. It has also been agreed that we will provide the Chairmen of some of the most important committees.
Your Lib Dem group deliberated the move towards a coalition through a number of long meetings and we have not entered into it lightly. We presented a number of policies to the Residents which they have agreed to support as priorities for the coming year. These include, for example, our strong green agenda relating to the climate emergency. We are also mindful of the dynamic nature of government – events can, and do, appear out of nowhere; so we have processes in place to give an agreed approach to tackling such developments. We therefore feel that we are in a strong position to make a success of our time in administration.