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

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.

Opinion & Analysis – ‘Brutopia’ – A Demonic Raabid Vision

By ‘Sam Vete’
The boundary of Esher and Walton reveals a peculiar ‘ménage à trois’ between Hampton Court and Thames Ditton; the historical figures Thomas More and Thomas Wolsey cohabit with Dominic Raab.
Thomas More wrote ‘Utopia’, criticising the politics of belligerent European nations while imagining an island nation fulfilling liberal political ideals. The English language and social thought were enriched. Wolsey and More collaborated to reject Lutheranism, putting all their eggs in Rome’s Catholic basket. They became devilled eggs when Henry VIII chose Anne Boleyn above religion.

David Starkey’s TV series erroneously portrays the Reformation as ‘Tudor brexit’ (peering penetratingly, troll-like, from behind a tree). Yes, Henry wanted to take control from Rome for selfish reasons. Similarly, hard-core brexiters want ‘Henry VIII powers’, passing laws ignoring EU liberalism. That does not parallel the historical events as Lutheranism spread throughout free-thinking states. Elizabeth I put things right in England!

Where do Raab’s demonic diatribes fit this religious triangle? His referendum sermons preached a fundamentalist belief in brexit; scorning basic economic theory and playground savvy – ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. A ‘Brutopia’ which ignores the detrimental implications of economic separatism and autocratic legislation, preferring cronyism to a fair, progressive broad church. Since brexit myths have been exposed as lies, many have changed their minds. Polls show Raab’s views are now seriously out of step with the UK majority. They have NEVER been in step with the pro-EU majority of his constituents. Brexit is not the dish-of-the-day, démodé!

Where else do Raab’s views clash with his constituents? In another modern religion – air travel. He ignores technological progress and the economic and ecological errors of building a Heathrow runway. Video conferencing replaces air travel. Businesses with an internet presence can make decisions quicker than ordering an airport taxi. Progress in flight technology means that runways can be shorter, lightweight carbon-fibre planes (powered by electricity rather than polluting kerosene) will carry more passengers, better booking systems will increase seat occupancy, and additional airport infrastructure will be a white elephant.
Similarly, Dominic Raab; his ‘Vim’ has been scrubbed out! Meanwhile, Theresa May is no Gloriana!

Green Belt in Long Ditton

Long Ditton councillors, Shweta Kapadia, Barry Fairbank and Neil Houston wish to dispute the statement made by Hinchley Wood/Long Ditton Green Belt group that they are doing nothing to protect the Green Belt.  All three of them are working hard and will continue to work hard to protect the Green Belt. All councillors recognize the need for housing but do not agree with building on the Green Belt.

Every single councillor in Elmbridge is against building on the Green Belt.  An application for over 1,000 homes in Green Belt in Walton was unanimously refused by the Residents’ Association (RA), Tory and Lib Dem councillors.  The borough has poured vast resources into defending the Drake Park Appeal last November to defend Elmbridge Green Belt. But the national government has ignored the will of the people and the borough and the application will now be determined by a Conservative Secretary of State – till recently Sajid Javid and now James Brokenshire. The Drake Park decision was however ‘deferred’ only a few days ago until after the Elmbridge Election.  Just weeks ago Sajid Javid allowed 300 homes in the Green Belt in Effingham, Guildford, although the parish and borough refused permission. There is an appeal still outstanding for Wisley (2,000 homes) which will similarly be determined by a Conservative government minister.

Are local Conservatives going to defy their national government and not build on the Green Belt or in fact not build the 12,500 homes this Conservative government wants to build in Elmbridge? Conservative councillors in other Surrey districts have allowed building on the Green Belt. Tandridge Council is planning a whole new village in the Green Belt. Guildford has released land in the Green Belt. Are Elmbridge Conservatives going to be the only ones in the country to defy their Government?

Only the Liberal Democrats and the Residents’ Association councillors can defy this Conservative government. The Residents’ Association / Liberal Democrat coalition administration has done just that: they have lobbied and put considerable pressure on Dominic Raab and Philip Hammond, Elmbridge’s two MPs. But being Conservative both of them are toeing the national party line and will not say that the Green Belt should not be built on even though they know the borough’s residents are against it. The RAs / Lib Dem administration has also protested to Sajid Javid highlighting the deficit in infrastructure provision in Elmbridge. The administration responded robustly against the large amount of housing that this Conservative government is attempting to force on Elmbridge.

Regards the Elmbridge consultation in 2016/17 on the new Local Plan and Green Belt review – the facts of the matter are: All Elmbridge councillors voted UNANIMOUSLY for the consultation on the Strategic Options which took place in December 2016. The minutes of the meeting of full council held in December 2016 clearly show that.

Until Tory politics on the Local Plan started, Tories, RAs and Liberal Democrats worked on this together. There are the Conservatives and three RAs and only one Liberal Democrat on the Local Plan Working Group so the Tories have a strong voice on this working group and they agreed to the consultation.

There is a large amount of mis-information circulating. Since the public consultation in December 2016 Elmbridge Borough Council has not produced any specific proposals in relation to the Local Plan and there has been no vote in the council on building on the Green Belt for the Conservatives to have opposed it.

Francisca Oxley (Thames Ditton)

Francisca has been a local resident for nearly twenty years, living in Esher, Hinchley Wood and Thames Ditton. Her three children currently attend Thames Ditton Junior School and Hinchley Wood Secondary School.

Alongside her work in London as a sales & marketing director, she has always volunteered locally. This includes co-charing the Friends committee at Cranmere Primary School and managing the local foodbanks.

Francisca says: “I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives.”

Following Brexit Francisca got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments to protect European citizens’ rights. “Unfortunately Brexit now distracts from pressing issues like housing, health and social care, and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with a pro-Europe stance at the national level.”

1. I am a local resident in Thames Ditton, with kids in the local schools (TDJS and HWS). Therefore I want to be your councillor, so that I can serve the fantastic local community here in Thames Ditton. Issues like transport, flood protection, school places and planning are all really important and impact on people’s daily lives. These cannot all be solved at the local level.

2. Following Brexit I got involved in lobbying national and EU parliaments. Brexit distracts from solving pressing issues like housing, health, social care and education. I encourage voters to support me as somebody who connects local politics with the national level.

Cllr Barry Fairbank (Long Ditton ward – elected since 2000)

Barry Fairbank Square

Barry has been an Elmbridge Councillor for Long Ditton since May 2000. Since 2000 he has been totally involved with the Long Ditton community, and still is. He was Group Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Elmbridge Council from 2011-2013, when he was elected Deputy Mayor. In spring 2014 he was elected as Mayor for 2014/15.

He is currently a member of the Cabinet as Portfolio Holder for the Environment and is a member of the Licensing Committee, the Mayor of Elmbridge Trust Fund and the  Elmbridge Local Committee.

Over time he has served on many Elmbridge Council Committees and working groups, including Overview & Scrutiny task and working groups covering a range of subjects including:- waste collection and disposal; council partnerships; council service performance; the dissemination of financial information; Overview & Scrutiny; the replacement Leisure Centre; customer service improvement; the Elmbridge Museum; land charge searches; the discharge of elderly people from hospital and others.

He has lived in Elmbridge for more than 23 years, living previously in Wimbledon. He is married to Gill a retired headteacher. They have two sons, one of whom is working in an educational charity which supports education in difficult localities, and the other in a company specialising in cyber security.

Barry was educated at Sir Walter St John’s Grammar School, Battersea and following the closure of the school has served as a Trustee of the residual body, providing educational grants to individuals, voluntary groups and project groups based in the former catchment area of the school.

Barry spent most of his working life in London starting at a merchant bank, Samuel Montagu, and subsequently joining a number of specialist investment management organisations including Invesco, NatWest, Midland Montagu and Gartmore. Before retiring, he become self-employed specialising in investment related financial investigations and risk appraisals.

Barry is also involved with a number of local organisations namely:- HomeStart Elmbridge; Long Ditton Village Hall; Long Ditton Youth Project and St Mary’s Church Community Hall. He is a governor at St Mary’s Long Ditton Junior School and was Chair of Governors for 7 years.  Other interests include: current affairs; sport; reading; walking; music; humour; and theatre.

Whilst a member of the Cabinet, Barry and fellow Lib Dems in coalition with the residents group have:

  • Started a social housing programme with properties in Cobham, Thames Ditton and Weybridge
  • Introduced a flexible parking strategy to serve our towns – including free parking on Saturdays
  • Created a new planning compliance team to ensure developers do not build without permission
  • Built a balanced property portfolio in Elmbridge to generate income to support Council services
  • Delivered the new regional quality sports hub in Walton
  • Replaced the under-performing Conservative grass verge and green spaces contract
  • Invested to enhance our public tennis courts in association with the Lawn Tennis Association
  • Implemented a new refuse collection contract which is providing a better service whilst saving money.
  • All this and delivering the lowest council tax rise (1.9%) in Surrey

When re-elected Barry will work with others towards:

  • Protecting the Green Belt
  • Building on our new programme of social housing, with an aim to provide social housing for 2,000 new homes across Elmbridge
  • Working to ensure Long Ditton stays a vibrant and pleasant place
  • Making the environment central to all borough policy initiatives
  • Ensuring that Community Infrastructure Levy is used correctly and will only be spent on extra health, education, transport and social infrastructure for Elmbridge

1. Barry considers housing and environment to be the two main issues in in both Long Ditton and Elmbridge. Long Ditton is a wonderful place to live, but young people and those in vital services find it unaffordable. Solving this problem would contribute to the whole community’s wellbeing – young and old, those working and those at home. But new housing must be achieved without a compromise on environment.

2. If elected Barry will champion local people’s needs, whether they are families, children in education, elderly needing care, vulnerable people or youths. He will also work in the council to help build 2,000 units of social housing in Elmbridge. This should be done respecting the integrity of the green belt and the environment. He feels strongly that our young people contribute to a thriving community and should be able to afford to live here.

Liz Ambekar (Hinchley Wood and Weston Green)

Liz Ambekar has lived in Hinchley Wood since 2014, previously living in Kingston and growing up in Oxfordshire. She is married with two daughters who attend Hinchley Wood School.

Liz is a charity finance director, with over ten years’ experience working in the charity sector and prior to that in the civil service and social housing. She is committed to the voluntary sector and has significant past volunteering experience including being a charity trustee of a care home for severely disabled young adults in Twickenham, a volunteer chaperone and helping at her children’s primary schools. Liz also supports the arts locally.

If elected Liz will work on behalf of all people in Hinchley Wood and Weston Green. She is particularly keen to focus on issues that affect young people and those in need, as well as affordable housing, child safety and our shared environment.

1. I believe that one of the biggest issues facing Hinchley Wood and Weston Green is ensuring there is sufficient affordable and social housing for those in need and the next generation, whilst always maintaining the individuality of the area, protecting the green belt and providing the infrastructure and services to support the population.

2. I will work tirelessly to support all of the local community, using the skills and experience I have gained as a charity finance director and the understanding I have as a work-ing mum of school age children. I will focus on housing, environment and services to those in need who are so often underrepresented.

Esher & Walton General Election Hustings Confirmed

Hustings provide a great opportunity for local residents to meet, hear from and put questions to candidates standing in the election.

We’re pleased to share the following hustings in Esher & Walton that have been confirmed for the General Election:

Wednesday 31st May – East Molesey

Location: East Molesey Methodist Church, Manor Road, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9JU
Time: 7:30pm to 9pm

Thursday 1st June – Thames Ditton

Location: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Hampton Court Way, KT7 0LP
Time: 8pm

Monday 5th June – Hinchley Wood

Location: St Christopher’s Church, Claygate Lane, Hinchley Wood, Esher, KT0 0AQ
Time: 7:30pm