Councillor Andrew Davis 1956-2021

We are sorry to bring you the sad news of Andrew Davis’s death on Sunday 10th January in Princess Alice Hospice.

Andrew had been a Liberal/Liberal Democrat for over 42 years and councillor for Weybridge on Elmbridge Borough for eight years, first for Weybridge North and then, when ward boundaries were re-drawn, for Weybridge Riverside. He also served in the Council as a Cabinet member, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat group and as the Deputy Leader of the Council.

Many of Andrew’s political activities were inspired by his life-long passion for the environment. This resulted in a number of pioneering initiatives such as Green Transport Week, National Car Free Day, Walk to School Day and 20’s Plenty, several of which gained national and even international recognition.

Gill Smith, one of the Weybridge Focus team and Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrats said: “We all remember Andrew as a phenomenal campaigner and an utterly dedicated Liberal Democrat, as well as awesomely energetic and an altogether fascinating human being. We are deeply grateful for his massive contribution to our party’s work in Elmbridge and particularly in Weybridge. We have lost a much loved member of our Liberal Democrat family and he will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace.”

  

The future of Weybridge town centre

In July 2017 Weybridge Hospital was burnt to the ground.  The hospital accomodated the two Weybridge General Practices, a “Walk-in” Centre and other services like physiotherapy. NHS Property Services acted quickly to provide a high quality temporary replacement building.  Work was already underway on considering the scope of a new building.  At the same time the NHS was considering the question of what kinds of primary care services should be provided across Surrey.  Councillor Vicki Macleod has been working hard, on behalf of local residents, to provide quality input into these plans, and brings us all up to date below.  

New optimism
After nearly three years of waiting to hear how GP and core NHS primary services were to be reprovisioned in Weybridge, there is finally a great step forward and optimism that concrete plans will start to emerge.

Why has it taken so long?
Two key reasons it has taken this long are:

  • the national changes brought in by the NHS on the future of urgent treatment services and lengthy NHS project timelines 
  • the renewal or refurbishment of Weybridge Library.  

Given the location of the sites involved – opposite each other in the town centre – and the idea of a community hub, proposed by the Weybridge Society, all the authorities involved seized this as an opportunity to do something bold and imaginative with the sites and the way in which health and community services interconnect.  Previously these were all located in different buildings on different town centre sites.  In the future there will be mixed provision.  

What sites are involved?
The key sites are what is referred to as ‘the Hospital site’ on one side of Church Street and the Library site across the road.  However, current thinking has expanded into considering the wider area in which these are located and now included are Churchfields car park, the former Sure Start Centre and the Centre for the Community on Churchfield Road.  

The current situation is that three separate authorities – NHS Property Services, Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council are the owners of the sites. The tradition is that they each use their sites for their own services and they rent those parts of the site they don’t occupy.  This has tended not to happen in a planned way in pursuit of joint goals.  A key difference in the current approach is to think strategically about the best place for services to be located and how to make co-location work to the benefit of all.  Included in this thinking is how to make the most of the wonderful green spaces we have in central Weybridge and how to protect and enhance the town centre iconic heritage sites of St James Parish Church and the Old Rectory.

What services will there be?
Clearly, core NHS Primary Care services will be provided, including GP surgeries and treatment rooms.  The local Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) (replacement for the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group) are aware that they must use the need for reprovisioning primary care services after the devastating fire as an opportunity to get things right in Weybridge.  The new campus will also house the Library; space for the Centre for the Community services to elderly residents and other users such as Dementia groups and the Stroke group; youth services; possibly co-working space; possibly accommodation and space for commercial use – with the hope that social entrepreneurs will want to base themselves in central Weybridge.

Who is involved in bringing this about?
SCC and the ICP have engaged an organisation with a strong track record in community projects – Well North Enterprises, led by Lord Andrew Mawson – to lead in the early stages and help get the project off the ground.  Naturally there are representatives from key services and authorities, and alongside these, there are community activists, including the Weybridge Society and local borough councillors.  Currently the structure for taking the project forward involves a Strategic Board / Steering Group plus two task groups – one responsible for communication and making input to the design and configuration of services and spaces, the other responsible for the business case and operational aspects of the project.  Lesia Scholey of the Weybridge Society has been appointed as Project Champion and is leading on communication and community engagement.

When can we expect to hear more?
A public engagement event is planned for early February.  The project team are very clear that they  want to hear from people who would like  to get actively involved and who have energy and commitment to offer.  There is no shortage of ideas but the project will only meet its true aim of building a happier, healthier, better connected community if it engages the energy of those with the will to dig in and work.  Are you up for this? Do you want to bring about a better future for Weybridge?  If so, please get in touch at weybridge@elmbridgelibdems.org.uk

There is also a full description of the project in the Autumn/Spring edition of the of the Weybridge Society Newsletter which will be distributed soon to all households in Weybridge, or can be accessed here (https://www.weybridgesociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Magazine-Autumn-Winter-2020-min.pdf).  

The project is still in search of a name.  Some suggestions are:
#WellBeingWeybridge   #WayBetterWeybridge   #ReviveWeybridge   #RenewWeybridge  Please let Lesia know your thoughts, preferences and ideas by emailing her at: hubfeedback@weybridgesociety.org.uk

 

The Borough with a Big Heart

Judy Sarsby writes:

When I saw the call Care4Calais put out for winter coats and boots for the refugees living in the French camps, I knew people in my borough, who had responded so well to the shout out for PPE in care homes, would respond. And they did. Elmbridge Excelled!  I shall be travelling to Calais on the 21st and will now be taking a large van, as the donations have flooded in from all around Elmbridge.

I work as a volunteer for the charity Elmbridge Can who help refugees settle in the borough, so I was not surprised when my colleagues stepped up. Their generosity and the generosity of the Elmbridge Lib Dems, of friends and of locals from Claygate to Weybridge has been exceptional. One chap got the whole street in Claygate involved and, after filling the car last week, I am going back again for more. 

I put a word out to friends in the Weybridge Rowing Club and had parcels left in the changing rooms and on the mail box at all hours. Given how much we all cleared out during lockdown the response has been wonderful. There are no words for the generosity extended by our people to those people in Calais so desperately in need. We would like to thank each and every one of those who donated for the kindness of their contribution.

The charity Care4Calais https://care4calais.org/donate-now/  supports refugees sleeping rough across France and Belgium. This drive is particularly focused on the immediate need to keep people warm and dry, not an easy task when most live in tents or makeshift shelters. The bitter cold of winter has now moved in and people are trying to stay alive in freezing conditions. 

During my time working with Elmbridge Can, local acquaintances have referred to my work with “illegal immigrants”. It saddens me that these people are not aware that refugees are not illegal immigrants. The people I help don’t want to enter our country illegally – the problem is that the situation in their home countries means they have to leave to protect themselves and their children. If you come from a country that is at war or you live under oppression it’s unlikely that country will issue you with a passport or visa, so there is no legal way for them to travel.

My granddaughter asked why our Syrian friends left their home. I explained that their home was bombed, the schools and the shops closed, their lives were at risk and life just couldn’t go on as normal. I said I hoped if that happened to us that someone would care enough to help. The refugee crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian issues of our generation and how we respond will define us for years to come. In Elmbridge, this month, we showed that we care enough to at least try and give what others so desperately need.

 

Volunteering during the lockdowns

An interview with Cllr Ashley Tilling 

Focus: How did you get involved with volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic?  

When the national call for NHS Volunteers was broadcast in April I put my name forward. But for a couple of weeks I heard nothing. I then​ bumped into a neighbour who was involved in the Surrey First Responder volunteer scheme – organising the collection and delivery of medicines to people who were shielding, isolating or too ill to go out. He was very happy for me to join his small team.

Focus: How does the scheme work? 

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I received a list of prescriptions requiring to be picked up from pharmacies and to whom they were to be delivered. Some of these were marked urgent, so needed to be collected that afternoon, while others could wait until the following morning. 

Focus: Typically how many people were on your list?

Usually between four and six scattered around Elmbridge. I decided to use the scheme to try to keep fit and so dusted off my road bike. A typical route would be from Weybridge to Hersham, Esher, Claygate, Thames Ditton, Molesey and back via Walton on Thames, collecting and delivering along the way. Between April and July, I had made well over 80 deliveries all over Elmbridge. I was also recently called up again and helped during ‘Lockdown 2’. 

Focus: Have there been any challenges?   

Sometimes I would turn up at a pharmacy to find that they had not received the prescription on my list – it then took some persuasion and co-operation from the pharmacist to sort this out with the issuing GP practices. Finding the location for a delivery could also be a headache – a lucky encounter with a passing postman once helped!

A regular Weybridge recipient comments:

“We are so grateful for our prescriptions being delivered. Both my husband and I have multiple prescriptions, all cheerfully delivered. We have shielded since before the first lockdown and are so looking forward to the vaccination. Thank you to all those who have worked delivering our medicines”.

 

Desborough Island

The vision I think we should all support is for Desborough Island to be an outdoor, green sports facility that utilises this beautiful Weybridge island to its maximum potential. Outdoor sport can go hand in hand with diverse wildlife, the new proposed Wetlands and enhancing the appeal of the green spaces.

Currently on the island we have rugby, football, cricket and netball. Rowing and canoeing have long been sports enjoyed on the river and, this year, paddle boarding and wild swimming saw a huge increase in participation so that more and different people enjoyed the outdoor sports our river has to offer.

It could be even better. We could have a running path and cycle circuit all around the island and boating facilities for sports people with a disability. If we were to develop the existing area of Vandals and maybe employ a caretaker-come ranger to maintain the facilities and patrol the island, we would have an enviable green outside sport and wildlife island for all local residents to enjoy throughout the year.

We should cherish this beautiful site and look after the wildlife whilst enhancing our outdoor sports facilities for people of all ages and abilities.

Judy Sarsby

Why Elmbridge is in Tier Two – Updated

Elmbridge moved into Tier Two at a minute past midnight on the morning of Saturday 17 October. Many people are wondering what information this decision was based on.

We have been told that the decision to go ‘high’ is based on a variety of factors, not just case numbers. Trends and direction of travel are important as well as absolute values. Elmbridge Borough Council appear to believe that transmission was widespread rather than concentrated in specific clusters. On their website they write “There is evidence of widespread community transmission, not just with clusters. Therefore swift action had to be taken to try to prevent a further rise in cases in Elmbridge.”
See https://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/high-alert-what-it-means/

By putting several weekly reports of the Covid 19 stats for Elmbridge into a table (below) it is possible to see trends in Elmbridge.  What is clear is that in early October there was a sharp increase in cases and this has continued through to 16th October.

Data reported below is taken from the tables produced weekly by Surrey County Council’s Public Health Team, and published on the Surrey County Council website at https://www.surreycc.gov.uk

Table showing weekly and fortnightly cases of Covid 19 in Elmbridge over the period late September to end October.
Since the introduction of Tier Two measures, the data show a decrease in the rate of growth of numbers testing positive.

Improvement since 16 October?
Data added since we went into Tier Two is showing first a slowing of the rate of increase and by 30th October a decrease. The rise in 14 day figures between 16 October and 23 October is 33 cases, just 1.1 times as many in the previous full measurement period and between 23 October and 30 October we actually see a fall in number of cases.

Let’s hope this is a sustained trend and not just a blip.  As this period corresponds with the school half term, it is wise to wait a couple of weeks to see if this fall is due to fewer tests being taken or is the beginning of a sustained decrease.

Are figures distorted by students away from home testing positive?

On their website EBC say “We know some of you are wondering if students testing positive elsewhere has contributed to Elmbridge’s rising cases. We did look very carefully at the data around students leaving home in Elmbridge, testing positive elsewhere and that being reported as Elmbridge data, but it only accounted for around 14% of cases which does not change the escalating trend we’ve seen or the higher numbers compared with elsewhere.”

How to get a test if you need one
In its latest advice to residents (published on Friday 23 October), Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) advise that we now have mobile testing units in the borough as well as home testing kits. Tests are available for people who have coronavirus symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

and must be booked through the Government website: get-coronavirus-test

Financial support for individuals self-isolating
The EBC website also supplies advice on support that is available to eligible residents i.e. those receiving benefits and working who have had to stay at home and self-isolate after receiving a notification from NHS Test and Trace or a positive test result. See: test-and-trace-support-payments

Support for businesses
Government has also announced additional funding to support businesses via cash grants of up to £2,100 per month. These are primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas.  Government guidance on the operation of this scheme is not yet available.  When it is, it will be published on the EBC website at: business-grants

 

School Streets

Surrey County Council has decided to pilot “School Streets”.  A school street is where the road outside a school is closed to motor vehicles during school drop-off and pick-up times. 

In practice, this means the road is closed twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes. The restriction usually applies to both school traffic and through traffic. Exemptions are made for residents living in that street and for blue badge holders.  

Surrey hopes that the pilots will encourage active travel, improve air quality and promote road safety. School streets are also effective for enabling social distancing outside schools.  Surrey County Council has approved the principle of a school street pilot at Heath End School in Farnham and is inviting nominations for other school streets elsewhere in Surrey.

There are also plans to measure air quality around a sample of schools in all eleven Surrey districts and boroughs.  The measurement would be at child-head height to identify the level of air pollution children are being exposed to at school drop-off and pick-up.

School streets started in Italy in 1989 and were first introduced to the UK in 2015 when schemes began in Scotland.  Camden was the first site in London in 2017. Today there are over 130 school streets in Britain.  

Evaluations have shown that motorised traffic not only decreases on the school street where the scheme has been implemented, but also on surrounding streets. This suggests a change in behaviour with people swapping mode of transport to active travel.

It remains to be seen whether residents in Weybridge would welcome the introduction of school streets in our town.  Queuing traffic is a frequent feature of life in Weybridge and some may fear school streets would create more problems. It very much depends on the layout and context of each individual location. Please let us know what you think.

If you would like more information about School Streets it is available at  www.schoolstreets.org.uk   

 

Changes to Baker Street

The planned Active Travel Measures in Baker Street have now “gone live”.  You can read all about the background in the earlier article by Councillor Andrew Davis here.
Surrey County Council closed Baker Street to through traffic (except cycles) from 8am on Friday 16th October.  Don’t forget that Comments can be sent to Surrey County Council via email highways@surreycc.gov.uk or by phone on 0300 200 1003. And of course you are always welcome to comment on this website using the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of the page.

Local Boundary Posts

If you’ve seen one of these on Desborough Island or close to Cowey Sale, you may wonder what they are for. They actually date back to the Victorian era and mark the Coal Tax boundary. So anyone bringing coal into the Metropolitan Police District (plus the City of London) would have to pay Coal Tax. The purpose of the posts was to give notice of where the boundary ran so that no-one could claim ignorance of liability to pay the duties.

The 24/25 VICT refers to the years of Queen Victoria’s reign in which the Act requiring the payment of the duty was passed (i.e. 1861-62 session). CAP 42 refers to the relevant chapter of the parliamentary Act. 

In the 1880s the City and the Metropolitan Board of Works wanted the duties to continue in the face of growing opposition from the public and national politicians, but when the MBW was replaced by the London County Council in 1889, the new council declined to support renewal. An act was passed in that year abolishing the duties, the last of which was collected in 1890. The abolition was opposed with some underhand tactics: a parliamentary select committee sitting in 1887 found that signatures on a petition in support of keeping the tax had been forged!

The posts thus represent the final phase of the duties in the face of growing opposition. They had been collected for over 300 years but within 30 years of the posts going up were abolished.

See how many you can spot! There were originally around 280 posts of which around 210 remain.

Wey Road and Round Oak Road

Many residents of Weybridge are beset by difficulties in finding space to park their cars, especially in some of the older streets around Weybridge town centre.  To alleviate this difficulty some streets have sought and been granted on street parking controls, and these residents usually find themselves paying Surrey County (SCC) for a Resident’s Parking Permit.

Currently, and bizarrely, Surrey Highways is now consulting Weybridge residents on a proposal to introduce on street parking controls in two roads where there is no on-street parking congestion.

There is no highways reason for the scheme that has been proposed for Wey Road and Round Oak Road:

  • there is very little on-street parking in these roads, so no need for restrictive controls; 
  • most houses and flats in these roads have ample off-street parking space; 
  • there are no safety issues caused by the small number of cars which do park in these roads.

In short, there is no need for on-street parking controls.

Many of the residents in the two roads concerned do not want this scheme introduced as they have no objection to the small number of cars which do park in these roads. Surrey County Council Elmbridge Local Committee have allowed the scheme to be considered despite the proposal falling outside the normal way of approaching such schemes i.e. via the formal SCC annual review of parking.

The highways officer saw no reason for introducing on-street parking controls, but is bound to put forward a proposal as the Local Committee agreed to consider it. There are other streets in Weybridge that are not being considered despite there being severe parking related congestion.

If you would like to make your views known you can do two things:

  1. Join the “Wey and Round Oak Road NO CPZ” action group by emailing saynotocontrols@gmail.com
  2. Fill in Surrey’s online survey by clicking on this link.  

Write your own reason for objection (question eight in the survey) but, in general, the reason is quite simple, parking controls are normally introduced to meet concerns about the four main parking criteria:

  • Safety
  • Access
  • Congestion
  • Parking stress

Even a casual observer would recognise that Wey Road does not fall into any of these criteria (except at the entrances which have been dealt with already). That is why the Surrey’s parking officers rejected the proposals outright when they undertook last year’s review.