Hersham Hall – a Lost Opportunity

Featured

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

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.

Weybridge Winter Head of River Race

Jan 19 th Organised by Weybridge Rowing Club, this is a timed race from the top of Desborough Island to Walton for up to 200 crews in two divisions: 1030 and 1300. Watch from the towpath and enjoy refreshments at the club’s gazebo at Cowey Sale.

P                                 photo thanks to Cllr Christine Elmer

Churchfield Allotments – May 2018

In May 2018, allotment holders and residents in roads adjacent to the Churchfield Allotments were informed by the Weybridge Charity, who own the allotments, that the charity is proposing to sell some 5% of the allotment land for development.

Reasons given for this by the charity are: that it is under increasing pressure to meet the needs of Weybridge residents who face hardship. Additionally, the charity is seeking to invest some of the monies raised in improving the amenities for the remaining 4 hectares of allotments so that the site “may be used more effectively and attract new, long-term tenants”  The proposed improvements to the allotments include:

  • Bringing new areas under cultivation
  • Allowing a proper toilet to be built
  • Creating a communal area

The charity is proposing to assign new allotments and to compensate those allotment holders who will be directly affected.

About the Weybridge Charity

The Weybridge Charity’s sole charitable objective is ‘the relief of persons resident in the area of benefit (Weybridge KT13 postal district) who are in need, hardship or distress.’

The charity has nine trustees, six of whom must be appointed by Elmbridge Borough Council, with the remaining three being appointed by the borough appointed trustees.

The background to these arrangements and the history of the Charity can be found at http://weybridgecharity.org.uk/about-us

 

Merry Christmas Weybridge

This Saturday afternoon, Weybridge annual Christmas market and the lighting of the Christmas tree, organised by the Weybridge Town Business Group.

Market – 1pm to 6pm
The artisan, food and craft market will be held in Baker Street.  Many popular stallholders from previous market events are returning with their unique Christmas food & gift Ideas.  There are new stalls and entertainment.

Visit Father Christmas – 1pm to 6pm
Grotto and Sleigh

Carols 1:15pm
with Oatlands School ChoirCarols 3pm
with St James’s Church Choir

Children’s Parade – 4pm
Children from all five primary schools in Weybridge will take part in the lantern parade –  Manby Lodge, Oatlands, St Charles Borromeo, St James, and St Georges Junior.

Lighting Up – 4:45pm
This year the Christmas tree lights will be switched on by Miss Surrey
Carols – 5pm
For everyone to join in – carols around the tree

Brooklands Radio will be providing great music & entertainment.

Stalls
April’s Table, BBQ by Stoneleigh’s, Bee Product Gifts – Weybridge Beekeeping Society, Born to Build, Brooklands College, Brooklands Radio, Cook Weybridge, Cellar One Weybridge, Darcey B’s – Candles & More!, Father Christmas & Sleigh – Rotary Club Woking, Flipping Amazing, Forever Living, Geminera, George Bakes, Grape Outdoors, Hook A Duck Stall, In Love With Macarons, Lesley Blackburn, Love Print Unique, Mark Horner, St James’s Church, Weybridge – Dementia Care, Silent Pool Gin, Simon’s Pies, Stella and Dot, Stoked Pizza, Thru the Eye of a Needle, Tombola by Weybridge Day Centre, Village Maid Cheese, Waffles On A Stick, Willow Bakery, Wendy Foreman

Libraries

Surrey is undertaking several consultations and is seeking your comments by 4 January 2019 to help it shape those services for the future.

More people are using Surrey’s online services with fewer visiting in person, so changes to the library service are proposed to do things differently to fit better with modern life. views are being sought on the strategic principles that will shape the future service – such as whether libraries could bring together a range of local services under one roof.

Further details on all the consultations and the opportunity to submit views on these proposals can be found here.  The consultation response is at the bottom of the consultation webpage.

The analysis of the responses to the consultations will be presented to Surrey’s cabinet in January 2019 for consideration and then to full council in February.  There will then be a second phase of consultation where it will share detailed proposals in 2019 to seek resident’s views before any final decisions are made.

Elmbridge Cycle Group

The group’s next ride will begin at the Hand and Spear by Weybridge Station at 10am, on Sunday, 9th December. It will finish at 1pm at the Jolly Farmer Princes Road, Weybridge and be followed by Christmas Lunch  at the Jolly Farmer.

If you would like to come to the Christmas Lunch please let them know by emailing george.james @ elmbridgecycle.org by Saturday, 1st December so that numbers cab be confirmed with the restaurant.  Please also let them know your food selection from the menu here.

Details of the ride route will be sent out, as usual, a few days before the ride.  If you just want to come on the ride, but don’t want to stay for the Christmas Lunch, then you can just turn up on the day.

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.

CLAYGATE TRAVELLER ENCAMPMENT FRI 3rd AUG 2018

Claygate residents are well aware of the recent traveller incident on the Recreation Ground. Here is my first hand account of what happened:

At approx. 5pm on Friday 3rd August 2018, I was driving down Church Road towards the Parade when I was halted by a caravan that was right across the road! A young man, accompanied by a boy were opening the gates that lead onto the Claygate Recreation Ground. I dialled 999 as I was telling them to stop but before I knew it I was surrounded, I returned to my car dialling 999 again as I felt so insecure. During that police call I could hear the sirens in the background and a number of local residents had also begun to arrive at the gates.

OVER 200 TRAVELLERS AND 30+ CARAVANS

As far as I could see down the road there was caravan after caravan. Already two caravans and trucks were on the land. Brave residents attempted to prevent further travellers gaining access and the situation got extremely intense. This is a ‘Civil Trespass’ and the police are not the lead agency. Private landlords and local councils are responsible for removing such groups from their land. The role of the police is to keep the peace.

The police superintendent that was present, then informed the local residents that in order to avoid an escalation of the dangerously unpredictable situation, the travellers were to be allowed onto the ground. After an hours stand-off residents eventually complied with police requests and indignantly witnessed over 200 travellers and 30+ caravans, access their recreation ground. 

POLICE AND BAILIFFS REMOVE THE TRAVELLERS

As the Claygate Recreation Ground Trust lease the land from EBC, it is, in the eyes of the law, private land therefore a more expedient action was agreed to get them removed. On Saturday morning bailiffs were instructed to come on site and remove the travellers. They arrived at midday but were unsuccessful as the travellers were resisting removal. Their second attempt with increased manpower and support from Surrey Police meant they successfully started removing the travellers and by 8:30pm on Saturday 4th August all the travellers had left our Recreation Ground. Various padlocks were found or borrowed to secure the gates once again.

FANTASTIC WORK BY VOLUNTEERS

The next morning more than 100 volunteers came to help clear the rubbish which was everywhere, even though some clearing up had been done the night before! At one stage a line of volunteers walked across the rec like a police forensic unit. This fantastic effort by the Claygate community meant the recreation ground could be opened again for the residents and by 11:15am the Church Road gate was re-opened by myself so the waste could be collected by EBC contractors.

DAMAGING BUSINESS AND TRAUMATISING RESIDENTS

The impact on the community, the local shops, pubs and restaurants was damaging as there were numerous thefts, businesses had to close and residents were genuinely traumatized. Money has been lost by all these local services and added to that is the cost of the police, welfare checks, court orders and the instruction of the bailiffs.

However the use of the law did not solve the problem as they simply moved a few miles down the road to Long Ditton. Neither is it a cause for celebration as this immensely expensive social problem will not change until the law does. We should be looking to Parliament to do something to protect us all from such threatening and criminal behaviour that currently goes unchallenged.

INTERIM PROTECTIVE INJUNCTION GRANTED

On Thursday 16th August EBC was granted a three month interim protective injunction at the High Court. This order bans the setting up of unauthorised encampments and fly-tipping on over 150 car parks and green spaces within Elmbridge. Officers are also working hard for a longer term proactive solution to this state of affairs, as are all of your Councillors and Surrey police.

IMMENSE COST!

This year Elmbridge has sustained large scale fly-tipping and funded the immense cost of clearing it all up. There has been damage to gates and barriers, lost parking income and large increases in the size and number of unauthorised encampments. Since April 2018 there has been a total of 27 encampments on public parks and open spaces, as well as others on privately owned land such as Painshill and the Birds Eye offices in Walton Upon Thames. The impact on our communities (as we witnessed here in Claygate) is substantial, as is the loss of our community facilities.

The Elmbridge Liberal Democrats have written to Dominic Raab MP. I have written to David Munro Police and Crime Commissioner and I also met with Superintendent Any Rundle to express residents very real concerns about this ongoing difficult social issue.