St James School gets new toilets and cloakrooms


Thank goodness for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – a tax that is levied on developers when they build new homes. Without CIL funds, it is hard to see how St James School would have found the money to make badly needed improvements to their buildings.  Their annual grant for capital projects is just £9,000.

On Wednesday 2nd October, the school was successful in its application for CIL funding to replace toilet facilities for pupils. The CIL grant of £110,000 was unanimously approved by local councillors from Weybridge and Oatlands. The CIL grant will be combined with funds raised by the PTA and a contribution from Surrey CC Property Services.

Pupils, parents, teachers and support staff at the school are all too aware of the shocking state of disrepair of the loos for pupils in years 3, 4 and 5 at the school and of the negative impact on pupil comfort and wellbeing of having loos that pupils just do not want to use.

Now that the school has the funding it needs, the programme of replacement proposed should see the work completed by the summer.

Thames Flood Alleviation – Desborough Channel safe

 On Wednesday 2nd October, Weybridge Riverside ward councillors met with representatives from the Environment Agency and their consultants in the team tasked with River Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme.

This work has been ongoing for several years now, with serious hydraulic modelling of flows in the Thames around Weybridge. The outcome of the most recent work are positive for Weybridge residents. It appears the flood risk for Weybridge can be reduced without any modification to the banks of the Desborough Channel – the stretch of water that separates Desborough Island from the eastern bank of the Thames alongside Walton Lane.

There is now no threat to the towpath and no need to cut back the bank on Desborough Island, with the consequent loss of trees.  Instead, it is proposed the river bed will be lowered further downstream.

Shape the future of Weybridge

Our Home

Weybridge is undeniably an attractive place to live. Our easy access to London and Heathrow, our vibrant town centre, rivers, woodlands and green spaces, all ensure that many find it hard to imagine living anywhere else and would like our children to be able to live here too.

More houses

We recognise that, as people live longer and households are smaller, we need to build more and different places to live in Weybridge.  Even with no interference from outside, our council would encourage the building of homes with fewer rooms.  Ideally almost all of them would be social and affordable housing for rent, with some for purchase.  Thus moving the emphasis from mansions to high quality, smaller, environmentally sustainable homes.  This would mean about 200 new homes a year across Elmbridge.

Unfortunately, the regime in Westminster has stated we must make provision for 600 new homes to be built in Elmbridge, each year, for the next fifteen years.  Three times as high as our current build.

Elmbridge versus national government

Elmbridge has no power in this debate.  If we do not do what the national government says we risk having all our planning powers taken away from us and developers might run amok.  The only way this will change is if there is a change of national government – and it looks as if the new Johnson administration is set on having a national election in the next few months.  Of the four national parties, three are pushing for more housing to be built (the Brexit “party” does not yet have any policies except to leave Europe), but they differ in their views on what sort of housing we need and where it should be built.

But we do not give in – Elmbridge will make the best case within the rules that are laid down.  We aim to adopt a new Local Plan for “sustainable” development in Elmbridge.  The borough’s staff have been working with other local governments, national agencies and utility providers to assemble the evidence required to make robust decisions. Laying the foundations for a Local Plan is a very complex affair and is often iterative.

Elmbridge Borough has listened to the concerns of Elmbridge residents, and has been working hard to progress a new Local Plan. This long-term plan aims to marry our national obligations to build more homes in Elmbridge with our desire to protect the character of Elmbridge.

The next stage is a public consultation running from 19 August through to 30 September. It is important that all residents from all parts of Elmbridge get involved by making a response to the consultation. You can sign up to alerts on the Local Plan through the EBC website and at consult.elmbridge.gov.uk

Councillor Karen Randolph, Portfolio Holder for Planning, has said:

“It is vital for the future of our borough that our residents contribute to the development of the Elmbridge Local Plan. We are determined to do what is best for Elmbridge and we want to hear from you.

“When the consultation opens on 19 August there will be information available in libraries, at the Civic Centre in Esher, online on the Council’s website and we will also host public meetings, all to provide our residents with as much information as possible on the Local Plan options.

“We want to shape Elmbridge for the benefit of all; will you help us?”

Conservative car park charge increases start in January

On 5 December 2018, Conservative Elmbridge councillors voted to increase the charges in Elmbridge car parks – at a level well above inflation. They also voted to extend the hours of charging. These changes were implemented in January 2019.

Lib Dems and Residents councillors opposed these changes but had insufficient votes to overturn the Conservative Administration’s proposals.

We sought to stop these changes by proposing “that the Portfolio Holder and relevant Officers consult with Members with a view to producing a revised range of proposals in which increases are generally more in line with current levels of inflation.”

Despite the Conservative administration agreeing to a review of these changes, they did not follow their own recommendation that “The Portfolio Holder agrees with the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee any wider terms of reference.”

Instead, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were subsequently limited to reviewing free Saturday parking in some village car parks, and a group was set up to complete this review by the deadline set of March 21, 2019.

This review resulted in a very rigorous examination of evidence of usage, feedback from stakeholders, and the basis on which decisions on car park charging could or should be made. Currently, the council has no principled criteria they use when setting car park charges and timings.

A more substantial review of the charges should be initiated in June when the new council is installed.

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.

Surrey’s Parking Review Strategy

See also:

Surrey County has changed the way it reviews parking across Elmbridge – again.  In 2015, they set in place a process for strategic reviews of parking in each of the nine towns in Elmbridge on a three yearly basis.  Weybridge was the second town to undergo a strategic review and found that county essentially ignored the wishes of residents and the advice of borough councillors in Weybridge Riverside. Understandably, this left many people disappointed and angry. County’s decisions did not reflect the needs of residents in town centre streets and appeared to be based on flawed logic.

The current approach

The three-year review approach was abandoned by county in 2017, with county reverting to annual reviews across the whole of Elmbridge.  In preparation for this year’s review Andrew and Vicki discussed parking issues with residents of each street.  Whilst views differed from place to place and, at times amongst residents of the same street, it was clear that certain streets needed prompt action this year.  People have been waiting long enough.

Officer recommendations

However SCC officers have recommended parking control changes in the following streets:  Beales Lane, Devonshire Road, Fortescue Road, Grenside Road, Grotto Road, High Street, Manor Court, Mayfield Road and Thames Street.These are mainly additional double yellow lines for safety reasons:For more information click here.

Streets with schemes that have been recommended not to proceed or where the officer recommendation is ‘no further action at the current time’ are: Baker Street, Balfour Road, Beales Lane, Broomfield Court (further work suggested but set to progress), Church Street, Dorchester Road, Gascoigne Road, Glencoe Road, Heath Road, Heathside Road, High Street, Jessamy Road, Layton Court, Limes Road, March Road, Minorca Road, Old Palace Road, Parkside Court, Portmore Park Road, Radnor Road, South Road, Thames Street, York Road and West Palace Gardens.  Details are listed here.

Can we afford to lose Weybridge Children’s Centre

Surrey County’s financial difficulties are putting at risk one of the most useful and effective community services in Weybridge – the Sure Start for All Children’s Centre, based in Churchfields.

Who needs help?

Surrey says that the closure of this, and other centres is necessary as it wishes to target those children “most in need”. Sadly, the way need is assessed is based almost wholly on national measures of disadvantage which ignores the very real needs and risks to well-being presented by more hidden needs such as unrecognised post-natal depression, domestic abuse and the simple isolation experienced by new mothers in commuter centres like Weybridge.

Why place matters

I spoke this week with the Leader of Weybridge Children’s Centre and came away convinced of the need for there to be high quality services available for children and families in most towns in Elmbridge. Daphne described to me the subtle ways of encouraging reluctant parents to attend the centre, and then access further services, which comes about thanks to informal encounters out and about in town. This is just not possible when parents have to travel to another town.

Weybridge’s centre is very special

Daphne and her deputy also filled me on on the range of innovative programmes they have introduced in Weybridge, which have been adopted by other centres and which have participants from other centres, including: a brilliant 7-week post-natal course; a paediatric First Aid course (only centre to run one) and an NHS facilitated 8-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based mental health course for mothers with post-natal depression.

What does OFSTED say?

In 2015 OFSTED visited the centre and found:

“One of the most notable features of their work is how successful the staff are in helping mothers and families become more capable.  This goes well beyond mothers and fathers learning how to become better parents.  It has a track record of helping parents to access education and progress to paid work.”

“The centre leader has done a sterling job of maintaining high-quality frontline services alongside inducting new staff and ensuring it is ‘business as usual’ for families during a period of significant change.”

“Her work is highly respected and valued by partners and parents alike.”

“The centre has been recognised as an ‘excellence in
practice partner’ by the health care provider for its work with parents at their child’s developmental check.”

“Targeted one-to-one support for children and families is effective and highly valued. Parents described staff to inspectors as ‘caring, sensitive, non-judgemental and patient’.”

Case files are of good quality and show the tangible impact that staff interventions have, particularly in empowering families to take control. Parents, including those from priority groups, build skills and confidence from attending specific programmes that help them to manage their children’s challenging behaviour positively.”

“The outreach work provided for the relatively high number of children and families who are in most need of support is extremely effective in enhancing their health, safety and well-being and
sustaining their involvement with the centre until their needs are met.”

“The centre provides access to high-quality services for most adults identified as needing help to improve their education and skills. Initial entry-level English courses are delivered by the college at the centre, where a crèche is provided by centre staff.”

Can we really let this disappear without a fight?

Read more on the centre’s facebook page give your opinion to Surrey here

Urgent Treatment Centres – What to expect

New Urgent Treatment Centre Opens at St Peter’s

From 31 October, there will be an Urgent Treatment Centre, based at St Peter’s Hospital, serving patients of the North West Surrey CCG.  This is the closest such centre for residents of Weybridge.

Which conditions are treated at Urgent Treatment Centres?

Urgent Treatment Centres will treat minor injuries, and illnesses that require urgent treatment, these include:
• minor illnesses
• minor cuts and grazes, including those that require stitches
• minor scalds and burns
• strains and sprains
• bites and stings
• minor head injuries
• common infections, such as chest, ear and throat
• minor skin infections/rashes
• minor eye conditions/infections
• stomach pains
• minor broken bones such as toes, ankles, wrists, fingers and suspected fractures.

What if you cannot judge whether your case is minor or more serious?

Patients will be assessed at the Urgent Treatment Centre and then treated in order of medical need, including being referred on to A&E.
If your condition is assessed as minor and urgent (requiring immediate attention), you will be seen by an appropriate clinician in the Urgent Treatment Centre
If your condition is not urgent or immediate, you will be referred back to your GP.
If you are seriously ill, you will be referred to the Emergency Department which – at St Peter’s Hospital – is located next to the Urgent Treatment Centre.

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.

Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.