Investing in our infrastructure – CIL

The application period for the 2020-2021 CIL funding round for local projects will open on Thursday 13 February 2020 for a period of six weeks. Applications must be completed and submitted by midnight on Sunday
29 March 2020. More about CIL here.

After this closing date, applicants who have applied by the closing date will have a further four weeks to provide any outstanding details needed for a valid application. Failure to provide the requested details by the deadline will result in the application being invalid and not being considered.

Applicants will be invited to attend and present to the relevant Local Spending Board, with these boards being held in June and early July 2020.

The 2020-2021 CIL Local Funding Application Form and Guidance Notes will be available on Thursday 13 February 2020. In the meantime you get more backgound here.

For further information about the CIL Local funding process, please contact the borough team on 01372 474342 or email cil@elmbridge.gov.uk.

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.

Cabinet Question Time

Come to ask questions at the annual Cabinet Question Time public meeting on Wednesday, 15 January from 6-9pm at the Civic Centre in Esher.

This informative event provides an insight into a range of local issues and the borough’s plans to tackle them in partnership with the community and other public agencies.

Drop-in session
From 6-7pm we will have borough officers on hand to answer residents’ questions about local government and our services. Partner services attending include Surrey Police and Surrey County Council’s Elmbridge Local Committee.

Presentation and Q&A
From 7pm the Council Leader will deliver a presentation detailing the key themes of the borough’s work, from the climate emergency to our changing high streets. This will be followed by a question and answer session involving the Leader and Cabinet Members.

Residents can sign up to attend the event and submit questions in advance of the Q&A at Eventbrite. Any questions about the event can be directed to the Organisational Development team at corporatepolicy@elmbridge.gov.uk or 01372 474 216.

Energy and Sustainability

Some snippets of information from matters that have been discussed over the last few months by the Energy & Sustainability Working Group.

Refill Weybridge

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.

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

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.

Hands off our Green Belt!

What land should be released for building over the next 15 years? That’s what the Local Plan is all about. But the inflated government target for building in Elmbridge will mean the extra people will:

  • Squeeze already hard pressed local health services
  • Create further shortages of local school places
  • Intensify traffic congestion
  • Increase pollution

What we really need is 1, 2 and 3 bedroom truly affordable homes. Is this going to happen? No! Land prices are high so private sector homes will be unaffordable. And the national government makes sure that boroughs have insufficient revenue to build new social housing. National funding for local government has halved in the last ten years.   So the amount of social housing which can be built is very limited.

The national government requires our borough to allow 9,400 extra homes to be built over the next 15 years.  The borough has independently assessed that 5,000 new homes are needed for our needs in Elmbridge over the next 15 years.  The government requirement of 9,400 new homes is based on flawed thinking. All the options, but one, in the Local Plan consultation document lead to too much development because it had to follow government guidelines. Only Option 4 restricts development as far as it can and preserves the existing character of our community. This is the one we should press our Councillors to adopt.

It doesn’t deliver all the building central government wants, but we need to send a clear message to government that this is justified. There is a risk that government will overrule us, but we must choose whether to fight or cave in.

What to do?

Right now – or as soon as you can:

  1. Read the Local Plan documents and complete the consultation form
  2. Write to your local councillor (Check names on www.elmbridge.gov.uk )
  3. Post your views on Facebook and/or Twitter
  4. Write to your MP Philip Hammond and/or Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – both at the House of Commons.
  5. Book your attendance for the meeting on 27th August (you need to apply for a ticket here)
  6. Join your local local residents’ association or amenity society