New Focus is out, and being delivered across Elmbridge

Our monthly newsletter Focus is out and being delivered to homes across Elmbridge.

If you have not received yours, please email chair@elmbridgelibdems.org.uk.

This Focus talks about the Elmbridge Climate Emergency, car parking and the council’s consultations related to the Local Plan, plus more.

Monica Harding thanks local voters and activists for their support

The Liberal Democrat candidate Monica Harding fought a powerful campaign in the General Election in Esher & Walton – gaining 28,389 votes against the current Tory MP Dominic Raab’s 31,132. Although Monica was 2,743 short of winning the contest, the result showed a strong swing towards the Liberal Democrats – in fact the largest swing in the country. In 2017 Mr Raab still had a majority of more than 23,000.

Monica is grateful to all those who voted for her as their preferred choice for our future MP, and wishes to thank warmly all the hundreds of volunteers who supported her campaign.

Underneath you can read Monica’s letter to residents and activists following the general election.

Hersham Hall – a Lost Opportunity

Hersham Hall has now been closed for several years following an independent condition survey which judged it to be dangerous due to a number of building related issues needing attention. It was also during this period deemed unfit for purpose as a sports hall and was underused.

£650,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on short term attempt

At full Council on Wednesday 2nd October, 31 councillors from the Residents Association, Conservative and Brexit parties on Elmbridge Borough Council voted to spend at least £650,000 of tax payers’ money in an attempt to extend the life of Hersham Hall by just five years!

Counter to the Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration

This controversial and expensive refurbishment decision was taken in the face of solid opposition from all 10 Liberal Democrat councillors and a small number of Residents Association councillors, who argued that the proposal to refurbish the ‘G’ rated EPC (energy performance certificate) Hersham Hall ran counter to the Council’s vote to declare a Climate Emergency.

The decision by the Council to declare a Climate Emergency had been taken at the previous Council meeting on 17th July 2019, witnessed by a full balcony of extremely supportive Elmbridge residents. That decision was welcomed by residents and businesses across the borough and puts Elmbridge at the forefront of progressive local government.

Additional running costs take it to £1m

Knowing that a proposal to rebuild Hersham Hall, which could have been combined with much needed affordable housing had already been dismissed by the local ward councillors and The Hersham Hall member reference group, your Lib Dem councillors proposed that the decision to spend such a large amount of money on what would be a short term fix with at best a ‘D’ rated EPC should be deferred. They further argued that the additional costs of running the hall would take expenditure in the short term to over £1 million.

Lib Dems suggest a 21st century community hub

The reasons for deferral was to give further consideration to the costs and benefits of refurbishment vs rebuilding. The LibDem councillors wanted a more thorough gathering of evidence for the potential to provide Hersham with a 21st century multi-purpose community hub fit for the future. This would give Elmbridge not only a hall to be proud of but also much needed affordable housing in a central village location. This viable proposal would also have brought in revenue to cover the cost of the rebuild, furthermore it would protect the risk of having to build on our precious Green Belt.  This  Liberal Democrat suggestion was outvoted.

Climate Emergency changes everything

The arguments given in favour of the £650,000 refurbishment were that the village had been deprived of its hall for several years, there had already been numerous different decisions made on the future of the hall, and the residents of Hersham had asked for and been promised a refurbishment by their local Councillors.

The Climate Emergency decision presents the Council with the opportunity of proving its commitment to taking real steps towards reducing the borough’s carbon footprint and increasing its affordable housing for key workers.

This is a missed opportunity

Regrettably the first chance for the Council to progress with this policy has now been missed and most unfortunately the LibDem group’s principled debate in favour of this as well as giving the community a state of the art building to be proud of was defeated in support of short-term political aims.

Elmbridge Liberal Democrat Group October 2019

We are not a ‘safe seat’ any longer

The old adage about ‘safe seats’ does not apply in the Esher & Walton constituency any longer. Here’s the proof. Elmbridge voted decisively ‘remain’ in the European election by voting for the Liberal Democrats – ahead of the Brexit Party and the Conservatives.

And the most recent YouGov poll in the Esher & Walton constituency confirms that the Liberal Democrats are ahead of the Conservatives in people’s voting intentions.
So the time has come to send a Liberal Democrat to Westminster as our MP.

Our parliamentary candidate Monica Harding is campaigning energetically to unseat the current Tory MP Dominic Raab, who does not represent our views.
Get to know Monica and support her campaign!
https://www.monicaharding.org
https://www.facebook.com/MonicaHardingEsherWalton

Elmbridge Liberal Democrats form Joint Administration with Residents Associations Group for 2019/20 

Following the Conservatives’ loss of three seats in the recent Elmbridge Borough Council election and the gains made by both the Liberal Democrats and the Residents Associations, the two groups have now formed a joint administration for 2019/20. This was confirmed at the Annual Council held on Wednesday 15 May 2019.

The Liberal Democrats have grown their share of vote in Elmbridge by 65% since 2016 and now have 10 Councillors, including a seat they gained from the Conservatives in the Weybridge Riverside ward.

The Conservatives lost another two seats in Esher and Weybridge St. George’s Hill wards, which were gained by the Residents Association Group (RAs). RAs also held their seats in Hinchley Wood, Molesey East and West, Thames Ditton and Walton Central wards.

Because the Conservatives were reduced to 21 seats on Elmbridge Council, there was No Overall Control (NOC). This paved the way for the Liberal Democrats with their 10 seats and the RAs with their 17 seats, to form a joint administration.

The Liberal Democrats’ Council Group Leader Andrew Davis said: ‘When the election result became clear we had exploratory talks with the RAs, including our policies and priorities plus effective processes for a possible coalition. As LibDem Councillors we pressed for the key points in our manifesto, particularly our green environmental policies. We reached a broad agreement on these which enabled us to form the new joint administration with the RAs in Elmbridge for the next 12 months.’

Cllr Davis added: ’We are delighted to welcome a new team member Cllr Ashley Tilling, representing Weybridge Riverside, to our now 10 strong group on Elmbridge Council. We also successfully held Claygate ward with Cllr Alex Coomes and Long Ditton ward with Cllr Neil Houston.’

‘For this fantastic result and our growing share of the vote we thank all those who supported us. The hard work of all our candidates, campaign activists and councillors has paid off. We are grateful to all our members and supporters for their commitment and help with leaflet deliveries, door knocking and many other activities.’

‘We are very pleased that the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats now have greater control of the borough than at any time in its history. This includes three main committees: Licensing Committee (Cllr Mike Rollings), Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Cllr Neil Houston) and Chair of the Planning Committee (Cllr Shweta Kapadia).  We are also hoping that Cllr Alex Coomes will become Chair of Audit and Standards Committee.’

‘Importantly, we have three Cabinet posts with Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Andrew Davis (Highways), Cllr Christine Elmer (Community and Corporate Affairs) and Cllr Mary Marshall, Deputy Leader of the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats (Environment).’

‘Given goodwill, trust and discipline on both sides we believe that we will have a well-functioning and efficient joint administration with the RA’s to address a number of pressing issues for Elmbridge. These include the Local Government financial settlement, the consultation on the next stages of the Elmbridge Local Plan, and possible additional responsibilities together with Surrey County Council. We are confident we have a very strong team in place to meet these challenges.’

Commenting on the Liberal Democrats’ election success Richard Waller, Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrats’ Executive Committee said: ‘Nationally our party is enjoying a strong resurgence which shows in more than 700 new council seats we have just gained across the country. This positive trend is repeating itself here in Elmbridge too. We are enormously grateful to our councillors, members and supporters for all their contributions. I am proud of their dedication and enthusiasm.’

‘Furthermore this is very encouraging for Monica Harding, our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in Esher and Walton, and her team who are working hard to make sure our growing strength is harnessed to unseat Dominic Raab MP for Esher & Walton.’

Full election results can be found on the Elmbridge Borough Council’s website: http://mygov.elmbridge.gov.uk/mgManageElectionResults.aspx

Successful Liberal Exchange with Antony Hook MEP candidate and Monica Harding Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

Our Liberal Exchange with Antony Hook MEP candidate and Monica Harding Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton last night in Esher was inspiring, encouraging and energising. Thank you both and great to have a good crowd join us. Now we are campaigning across the constituency for all ‘remainers’ to vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European election on 23rd May. We can still stop Brexit!

Liberal Exchange about Euro elections with Antony Hook MEP candidate for the South East and Monica Harding Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton

Having only just ‘wrapped up’ the local Elmbridge election there’s another election looming in a couple of weeks – the European Parliamentary election on 23rd May.
Here’s an opportunity to learn more about European Parliamentary election, Parliament itself, how it works and how our MEPs are contributing.
We are delighted to have Antony Hook, Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for the South East join us this Sunday 12th May at 7pm at King George’s Hall in Esher (opposite the Civic Centre) to tell us more about European Parliament and its role. You’ll be able to put questions to Antony and engage in a discussion about the current state of affairs in Brexit negotiations.

Antony is an international criminal barrister by professional background so he also knows a thing or two about cross border crime, and why European cooperation is essential. But not just in crime, but also in how to tackle climate change and air pollution, transport, research cooperation, agriculture, technical standards and other key areas.
The event will be hosted by Monica Harding, Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Esher and Walton.

You and your friends are warmly welcome on Sunday night (12th May at 7pm) to this free event!

This is the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for Elmbridge

Safer, Greener, Smarter

Environment
Climate Change is an existential threat to humankind.  We will put Elmbridge on a path to become carbon neutral and will adopt appropriate policies to this end. We will work with local businesses and residents to identify and implement smart and practical measures to achieve our goal. This work will bring tangible benefits to our neighbourhoods and to our personal well-being, too.

Traffic
We will begin to tackle traffic congestion and cut air pollution by installing 20mph in residential areas, improving public transport, discouraging engine idling near schools and elsewhere, and promoting walking and cycling options across Elmbridge.  We will install electric vehicle-charging points in our car parks, encourage them in any new developments and provide free parking for zero-emission cars. We will co-ordinate on and off-street parking, introduce smart parking charging and secure easy access to services.

Planning
We will defend the Green Belt and implement a “brownfield sites first” approach in the upcoming local plan.  We will campaign for infrastructure improvements to be in place for new developments. We will set targets for social housing and family starter homes to meet the needs of a younger generation.  We will encourage local forums to create neighbourhood plans. We will also promote the concentration of shops and services in town centres.

Crime
We will strengthen Neighbourhood Watch and anti-social behaviour teams, and work with Surrey Police to restore neighbourhood policing.  We will promote leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all towns.

Democracy
We will ensure full transparency in both borough and county budget planning and spending, as well as in the conduct of planning applications – with full accountability to residents.  We support the introduction of an effective unitary authority by merging the county and borough levels into one authority in place of the current Surrey County Council and Surrey’s eleven boroughs.

Leisure                                                                                                                               We recognise the importance of leisure to both mental and physical wellbeing and also its economic benefits.  All leisure activities should be provided at affordable cost to participants, including free adult fitness equipment in every settlement. We will safeguard libraries and look to innovate their services.

Liberal Democrat candidates in Elmbridge Borough Council Election 2nd May 2019

Claygate – Alex Coomes (re-election)
Alex grew up in Claygate, and worked in financial services before setting up his own microbrewery in Claygate. He sells real ale to trade as well as direct to the public through his micropub ‘Platform 3’ next to the station. As a local entrepreneur Alex supports independent business in the village, which makes Claygate great for shopping.
Alex is passionate about protecting Claygate’s Green Belt from development and fights decisively for residents’ needs when faced with Surrey County Council’s poor level of services. He is a keen dog walker and cyclist – having taken part in numerous Charity cycling events.

Cobham & Downside – David Bellchamber
David is a retired lawyer. After partnership in a City firm, he practised locally for many years. David has been involved, through Transition Cobham, with setting up the Cobham Community Garden. He looks to improve the local environment by minimising waste, keeping footpaths open and clean and with the retention and planting of trees, helping to improve air quality.
David volunteers in planning with Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust and has campaigned to save Green Belt land and to properly implement planning policy. David wants to introduce unitary authorities with a tier of parish councils implementing Neighbourhood Plans.

Hinchley Wood & Weston Green – Liz Ambekar
Liz Ambekar has lived in Hinchley Wood since 2014, is married and has two children attending local schools. She has worked twenty years in the not-for-profit sector and is now a Finance Director in a charity, which deals with both food poverty and food waste.
Liz will focus on those real issues that affect people from the lack of local school places to poor public transport, crime and safety and affordable housing whilst protecting the green belt.
Hinchley Wood and Weston Green are special communities and as a local resident Liz will champion and support their individuality.

Long Ditton – Neil Houston (re-election)
Neil is a family man who cares for his village. He wants to stop over-development in Long Ditton and to continue protecting the Green Belt from being developed.
He believes it is important that we feel safe, and is fighting for a better visual police presence and wants to stop local fire services being cut. He regularly speaks up on issues raised with him by residents, such as unsafe pavements, planning applications, street lighting and potholes. He says he is proud to represent his community and that his priority is the safety and well-being of people from all walks of life.

Molesey East – Susan Fergy
Sue Fergy has lived in Molesey for 33 years. A Registered Nurse, Sue practised in London before starting at Kingston Hospital and became a lecturer at Kingston University. She is passionate about health and education.
Sue wants a transparent council – informed by local concerns. She is keen to strengthen the community for all Molesey residents by: a) providing easy access to leisure, sport and social facilities for young people, b) restoring neighbourhood policing, c) supporting local businesses and start-ups, d) revitalising the high street, e) ensuring access to efficient general practice near to residents, f) opposing the over-development of the Jolly Boatman site

Molesey West – Alastair Sturgis
Alastair has lived in Molesey for over twenty years bringing up two children, who attended local schools. He is chairman of Hurst Park Residents Association and wants more effective local democracy – so that the council is seen as working for the whole community and is not seen as a remote organisation.
If elected Alastair will ensure that all council decisions are for the good of Molesey residents and Elmbridge gives the best value for money.
Alastair will campaign for truly affordable housing, protecting the environment, encouraging residents to walk or cycle short distances, as well as improving social care.

Oatlands & Burwood Park – Adriana Dredge
Adriana has lived in Oatlands for 23 years and is an active member of the community.  She has worked in higher education as a university lecturer and course director.  In addition to teaching and research, Adriana has helped many students and staff to navigate through many changes in the education system.  Locally, she has worked as a volunteer “computer buddy” at the library, helping people who lack digital skills to realise the benefits of the internet.
Adriana wants to maintain the high quality of life in Oatlands – listening to the residents and ensuring that their concerns determine the council’s agenda.

Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon – Dorothy Ford
Dorothy Ford has lived for 36 years on the edge of Green Belt, at the centre of the ward. She is an award-winning policy maker and used to work for central government in Whitehall, Brussels and Strasbourg.  She has taught at university and comprehensives.
Dorothy promises to make our community safer, greener and fairer by avoiding overly dense housing, building new housing on brownfield sites (not on Green Belt), implementing residents’ demands for air quality monitoring, better road traffic and safety services and unifying the local council with Surrey County Council to save taxpayers’ money, fund essential services, and reduce bureaucracy.

Thames Ditton – Jez Langham
Jeremy and his wife Sophie moved to Thames Ditton in 2001. Their older children, Thomas and Evie, attended Hinchley Wood Secondary. However, Edward, currently in Yr6 at TD Juniors, is one of 38 from 120 children without an allocated place. School places are only the tip of the iceberg, though – ongoing education, welfare and policing cuts are threatening our well-being.
Elmbridge needs an integrated answer to the great harm done by the government to our local communities. Jeremy works with Monica Harding (Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate who will oppose Dominic Raab) for a more effective local and national partnership.

Walton North – Nicholas Gosling
Nicholas Gosling has lived in Walton on Thames for twelve years. He is married with two children and works as an airline pilot.
Nicholas is passionate about local community issues. He wants to work with local businesses to improve our on and off street parking provisions in order to drive foot traffic into our town centre, including free parking at certain times.
Total transparency and accountability are vital in his work. The same applies to councils i.e. showing where every penny is spent and how it creates value. We must be more engaged in community projects and spending decisions.

Walton South – Margaret Hawkes
Margaret is married to Peter and has lived in Walton for over 40 years, where she brought up her family. Until she took early retirement, Margaret worked as an analyst for a logistics company near Heathrow Airport, driving over Walton Bridge every morning. She has been involved in many voluntary projects, from visiting young offenders in HM Feltham Prison to helping with the Elmbridge Credit Union. She brings a wide experience of life – having been a commuter, a working mother and her work with young people. She is tenacious, asks awkward questions and demands better for the people of Walton.

Weybridge Riverside – Ashley Tilling
Ashley has lived in Weybridge for over fifteen years, teaching physics at a local secondary school, and enjoys being an active member of Weybridge Rowing Club, cycling and singing in a local choir. He loves living in Weybridge and will work to make his town centre a healthier and safer place by reducing air pollution whilst making improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, seeking to re-establish lost NHS services, developing the library and community centre facilities and retaining the children’s centre, refusing planning permission for out-of-proportion and out-of-character development and protecting the town centre’s green spaces.

Our kind of Elmbridge

Is a place where our towns and villages are thriving communities with flourishing local businesses and services centrally located.

Is a place where all our open spaces are valued and protected.  A place where the Green Belt is not built on.

Is a place where the local council is fully accountable to local people, where there is full transparency of council spending at borough and county level. A place where the planning process is fully accountable to local people. A place where local people can have their voices heard.

Is a place where young people are safe and valued, where there are leisure, sport and social facilities for young people in all our communities, where cycling and walking is safe. A place where young people have a future.

Is a place where families thrive. A place where families can live in well designed, well placed affordable housing.

Is a place where green transport is a reality, a place where car charging points are built into the infrastructure and all new developments. A place where car clubs and car sharing is encouraged. A place where public transport meets the needs of the people.

If this is your kind of Elmbridge, then vote for your Liberal Democrat candidate.