Vicki Macleod for Weybridge in the Surrey Elections 4th May 2017

On Thursday 4th May, you have a  chance to elect a new councillor to represent Weybridge on Surrey County Council.

Your local Liberal Democrat candidate is long term Weybridge resident Vicki Macleod.

You may know Vicki from her work in our local community, perhaps from her five years chairing the Friends of The Weybridge Centre charity. or as a school governor.

Vicki‘s priority is to give Weybridge a stronger voice for better delivery of the services local people need, including:

  • Better maintained and safer local roads and pavements
  • Local school places for Weybridge children
  • Responsible budget management by Surrey County Council

Many people see Surrey County Council as remote and inefficient with its history of mismanagement. Vicki will work with other councillors to put pressure on the administration for more effective financial management and for budgets that reflect local needs.  Her longer term aim is to see some of the services currently run by Surrey brought into local Elmbridge control.

Read more at elmbridgelibdems.org.uk

 

Gerrymandering

This morning’s discussion at the Cafe One in Baker Street could not help but include the recent inauguration of the American President.

I was surprised, perhaps I should not have been, how unaware British people appear to be regarding the nature of American democracy.  Unlike in Europe, elections in America are often heavily manipulated.  In Europe, where most states have proportional representation, manipulation is almost impossible.  In England, unlike the rest of Britain, we almost exclusively use the first-past-the-post election method and so manipulation is possible but guarded against by the use of an arms-length boundary commission.   Not so in America. The lower house of the America parliament has constituencies and each one elects one member.  To protect the incumbent the political parties change the make-up of the electorate.  If a neighbourhood votes the “wrong” way it is excluded from the constituency and if it votes the “right” way it is included. Over time this produces constituencies with bizarre shapes. The example below. Illinois district 4, shows a constituency that almost entirely surrounds another one.

In some American states the situation is so bad that the state could not pass the basic democratic conditions required to join the European Union.  North Carolina below.

This gerrymandering does not affect the election of the America President.  However, other methods are used instead.  Collectively they are know as voter suppression.  The main types of voter suppression are:

  • Spurious removal of voters from the electoral role
  • Unequal spread of polling stations – poorer areas have fewer stations
  • Misinformation for postal voting – making voters miss deadlines
  • Unequal polling station opening times
  • Unequal voter identification techniques – requiring a driving licence
  • Banning convicted criminals for life
  • Arduous voting registration requirements

Elmbridge staff put a great effort in trying to get people on to the electoral role.  In America there are many organisations that help people to get registered.  However, some American organisations do their best to make sure people never get registered or once there try and remove them.

Some American academics have suggested that the total effect of voter suppression in the recent presidential election was sufficient to change the result in the electoral college.

Elmbridge New Local Plan Exhibition & Consultation

There are four further dates for the public exhibition outlining Elmbridge’s proposals for providing more affordable and social housing.  This is in response to the government’s call for local authorities to produce proposals for meeting housing needs in their areas.

Exhibition Dates
Thursday 18 January, 7-9 pm, at Hinchley Wood School, Claygate Lane, Ditton
Monday 23 January, 7-9 pm, at The Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, Walton
Thursday 26 January, 7-9 pm at Civic Centre, Esher
Saturday 4 February, 10 am – 2 pm at Civic Centre, Esher

Key documents will be available in hard copy and councillors and staff and will be there to talk with you about the proposals.  Key features for residents to consider are around what happens to existing Green Belt boundaries.

The public consultation on these proposals closes on 10th February.  Post  your views here…

With regard to developing in the Green Belt, he Council’s three options are:

Design a Flowerbed Competition – open till 27 January

Elmbridge Borough is holding a competition for local 7-11 year olds – one of the many activities being held nationwide to celebrate the UK-India Year of Culture in 2017. 

The challenge is to design a circular flowerbed based on the vibrant colours and some of the more simple designs found in India.

The winning design in Weybridge will be planted in the Churchfields park.

For more examples of designs like the one above which are drawn on pavements, often in front of houses in Tamil Nadu, see photos taken by  Vicki Macleod on her recent travels there on the Weybridge LibDems Facebook page.

Entries must be submitted to Elmbridge by Friday, 27 January and full information on entering the competition can be found on the Elmbridge website.

What are your priorities for Elmbridge?

When the new Liberal Democrat / Residents’ coalition became Elmbridge borough’s administration we set four tasks for our first year – all of which are on target.

 

The municipal year begins in May and in readiness we want to engage with all residents in developing our priorities for next year and beyond.

As part of that ongoing communication we have arranged a meeting for you to share your views and ask questions about key issues for your borough.

‘Prospects and Priorities’ is a public meeting to be held on Wednesday, 18 January at the Civic Centre in Esher.  Elmbridge councillors and staff will be available to discuss the current concerns of residents, from planning to recycling, affordable housing to traffic management. Make sure you arrive early for the drop-in session from 6-7pm, when you can chat informally with councillors and officers, after which, at 7pm, there will be a presentation and question and answer session with Councillor Stuart Selleck, Leader of Elmbridge Borough.

Registration for the presentation part of the evening is advisable because there is a limit to the seating capacity. Email  or call 01372 474 376

M25 / A3 Junction – consultation on proposed changes

Dates and times for the Highways Agency Exhibition:
Friday, 3 February – 12 noon to 8pm, Saturday 4 February – 10am to 3pm

Closing date for feedback on the proposals:
Monday, 6 February.

Proposals for M25/A3 junction
The Highways Agency has put forward two proposals for improving safety and traffic flow around the M25/A3 junction (known as the M25/A3 Wisley interchange) and are inviting views from the public.  The two proposed alterations are known as Option 9 and Option 14.

Option 9 – a new flyover to link right-turning movements from the A3 onto the M25

Option 14 – enlarging the existing roundabout, to add more capacity

Information on the proposals and a link to giving electronic feedback can be found here.

If you prefer to respond in writing, you can pick up a hard copy of the questionnaire from one of the two February scheme exhibition events and send it back to the Highways Agency via Freepost.

Exhibitions and consultation

There are two opportunities, on Friday, 3rd and Saturday, 4th February, for local people to see the proposals at a public exhibition at the Cobham Hilton (KT11 1EW), hosted by the Highways Agency. The exhibition gives local residents an opportunity to get more information about the schemes and to ask questions about the proposals.

A point of view
As well as improving safety and traffic flow, the proposed changes claim to be responsive to the following:

  • supporting sustainable travel routes promoted by Surrey County Council and developers
  • supporting economic growth and ensuring the junction can accommodate extra traffic
  • mitigating environmental impacts wherever possible

What a shame then, that the proposals do not take any account of the highly likely knock-on effect of the improvements – such as the bottlenecks that will be increased at the Seven Hills Road / A245 junction, which local workers and residents who travel in rush hour already know only too well.

Other thoughts are:

As part of this scheme, the Highways Agency are also looking at the A3 between Ockham and Painshill. Improvements could include widening parts of the A3 to four lanes, creating an extra lane for vehicles turning left onto the A245 at the Painshill roundabout, and changing local accesses to make these safer and cause fewer delays on the A3.

Planning Consultation

Your chance to see and shape the next twenty years of planning in Elmbridge

At 7pm, Tuesday, 10 January in the Library building on the first floor

Weybridge will see the first of six public exhibitions outlining the borough’s proposals for providing more affordable and social housing.  This is in response to the national government’s call for local government to produce proposals for meeting housing needs in their areas.

Key documents will be available in hard copy and officers and councillors will be there to talk with you about the proposals.  Key features for residents to consider are around what happens to existing Green Belt boundaries.

The public consultation on these proposals closes on 10 February.

This is the first of several public consultation meetings, so if you cannot make it tonight, there are others you can attend.  Dates and venues to follow.

Elmbridge agrees new waste contract with Amey

waste_managementResidents in Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking are to receive an improved waste and recycling collection service thanks to a new joint waste collection contract.

As well as a better service, the contract with Amey will save taxpayers more than £2 million a year. It is the first contract of its kind in Surrey, and was part-funded by the Surrey Waste Partnership and supported by Surrey County Council as the waste disposal authority.

The contract covers all aspects of waste collection including household waste, recycling, garden waste, recycling banks, clinical waste, replacement bins and the opportunity to introduce a commercial waste service. It will also include street cleaning and associated activities including street sweeping, bin emptying, weed control, graffiti removal, and fly-tipping and fly-posting clearance. The contract will last for 10 years, with the option to extend.

Improvements, which will be introduced when the new contract begins in each area, include:

  • A weekly collection of clothes, home textiles and small electricals.
  • An improved bulky waste service, including a collection from inside homes.
  • New collection vehicles with enhanced safety features like 360 degree cameras
  • New technology which will give residents the latest information on their collection.

Additionally, food waste will still be collected on the same day each week as waste or recycling, but it may be at a different time as it will be collected by a separate vehicle. If other changes are necessary, such as altering collection days, they will be communicated well in advance to avoid any confusion or inconvenience.

The contract will begin in Elmbridge in June 2017 when the current contract comes to an end. Other Surrey councils have the opportunity to join as the contract progresses.

New Weybridge Conservation area

templemereElmbridge is proposing to designate a new conservation area in Weybridge. In recognition of the unique 1960s built Templemere Estate, the borough has produced a Character Area Appraisal and Management Plan consultation document and is keen to hear the views of local residents and organisations.

A conservation area is defined as, “an area of special interest; the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”. The character appraisal document provides written definition, analysis and appraisal of what makes an individual area special and identifies actions for protection and improvement. The final document will be used by planners and the local community as a basis for understanding the area, informing decision making, monitoring and management.

There are 25 conservation areas designated in Elmbridge and these include historic town centres at Esher and Weybridge, village greens at Giggs Hill in Thames Ditton and The Tilt in Cobham, a 1920s philanthropic retirement village at Whiteley Village, motor racing circuit at Brooklands and 17th century river navigation channels along the River Wey. Lakeside Drive in Esher was the first example of modern 20th century architecture which was awarded conservation area status by the borough in 2014.

Community involvement is an essential part of any appraisal and the consultation document has been produced as part of a collaborative process involving local residents, amenity and conservation societies and planning officers and was co-coordinated by heritage consultants. There is now a six-week period of public consultation, which will run from 5 December. The appraisal document is available to view on the borough’s website and printed copies can also be viewed in the reception area of the Civic Centre on Esher High Street.

Extra support during a power cut?

power-cutAlthough power cuts don’t happen very often when they do they can be worrying.  UK Power Networks is the electricity network and it provides a ‘Priority Services Register’ for people who might need extra help in a power cut.  Older people, families with very young children, and people with specific medical conditions are among the many people who are eligible to register for free support.  You can find more details and register by visiting the website or calling 0800 169 9970.