Housing

monopoly_housesThe new Elmbridge administration is to energetically pursue the rebalancing of housing in the borough.  Elmbridge’s population is growing rapidly by national standards and the number of household is increasing even faster.

The cost of housing in Elmbridge compared to the average salary is the highest in the South-East of England (after Camden, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster).  It is nigh impossible for young people who have lived in Elmbridge all their lives to buy a new home here and even renting is out of reach for many. In order to do so most have to leave the borough.   Imagine if it were expected that English people had to move to Belgium, Wales, Scotland or France to start a family.

The administration is studying various mechanisms that will allow our housing stock to be increased without the national government taking away Elmbridge’s investments in housing in the future (as it has done in the past).

Elmbridge requires more of each size of house except in the category of houses of five bedrooms or more.

What would you like Elmbridge to do regards to housing?

 

Pot Holes

Pot Holes Baker StreetThe care taken to fill pot-holes has been taken to a new level by Surrey.  Now flat-bed maintenance vehicles just stop above a hole and drop tarmac into it.  A sort of fly-by hole filling.  Not really true but it certainly looks like it.

The road surfaces are slowly improving in Surrey but from a very low base.  There are four basic reasons why Surrey is in this fix:

  1. It has reduced its real terms revenue year on year for decades – never saving for a rainy day. So it has insufficient funds to meet its obligations.
  2. Surrey’s budget management is appalling – although I am told it is finally beginning to understand how bad it is and might one day begin address the problem.  Fortunately Elmbridge is better managed.
  3. The management of the highways has been inefficient largely because of the lack of staff and political considerations.  To counter this Surrey gets little help from the British government compared to other counties.
  4. The British government has rapidly reduced its returning of funds actually raised in Surrey – business rates and revenue support.

We need a radical new way of funding highway maintenance and construction because our quality of life depends on a well designed well funded transport network .

Night Street Lights

Heritage LampsSurrey has 89,000 street lights.  Currently the vast majority of them are dimmed by up to half from 22:00 to 05:30 each night.

Surrey is considering going further in the autumn by turning off some street lights from midnight to 5:00.  The driver of this plan is, of course, to save money – the reduction of CO2 is a welcome bonus but not the reason (there are plenty of actions that Surrey could undertake to reduce carbon emissions but they are not taken).  There is also the bonus of less light pollution.

Surrey wants to hear your views the matter by 2 September.   As usual Surrey, along with with the British government recently, asks for a view without a clear picture of the alternative.  It would have been useful for Surrey to have shown, on its interactive Surrey map, the streets left in darkness and those that will remain lit .

Some answers to your questions.

Tell Surrey your general views on highways by the end of August.

New Charges at the Dump

Charlton-Lane-Eco-ParkSurrey has found itself caught between the recent increase in demand for social services and the dramatic reduction in British government funding.  Coupled with the Surrey’s failure to plan for a rainy day it has meant that Surrey has decided to reduce its spending in other areas. From 1 September 2016, charges will be introduced for some non-household waste at the Charlton recycling centre.

What type of waste will be charged for?

  • Tyres from cars, motorcycles and all other motorised vehicles
  • Waste from construction, alteration or repair of your home and garden such as plasterboard, breeze blocks, bricks, rubble, soil, stones, turf, ceramic bathroom fittings, tiles. You will have a free daily allowance of chargeable waste from the construction, alteration or repair of your home and garden of one bag OR one item OR one sheet of plasterboard. Thereafter charges will be applied.

What are the charges?

  • £5 per tyre or part tyre
  • £4 per bag or part bag of chargeable waste; or per item or per sheet of plasterboard
    • Bags no bigger than 50cm x 77cm
    • Items such as a concrete fence post, ceramic bath, cistern, paving slab
    • Sheets of plasterboard no bigger than 120cm x 240cm
  • If these materials are loose, a charge of £50 will apply per car load
  • Full list of the types of waste that will be charged for

Will there be any exceptions to the charges?

You will have a free daily allowance of chargeable waste from the construction, alteration or repair of your home and garden of one bag OR one item OR one sheet of plasterboard (see size restrictions above).

Bicycle tyres will be accepted free of charge.

What methods of payment will be available?

Payment can only be made by Visa or Mastercard debit and credit cards. Cash, cheques and other credit cards such as American Express or Diners Club cannot be accepted. Payment will need to be made before you are given access to the chargeable containers.

Surrey’s Parking Proposal – Little Change

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582On 27 June 2016 at the Surrey Elmbridge local committee it was agreed that Surrey’s proposals on parking in Weybridge would be revisited at a meeting between Weybridge Councillors for Elmbridge and Surrey’s representatives.

As preparation for the meeting, it was agreed that Weybridge residents would be invited to send their comments on Surrey’s proposals.

This meeting took place on Thursday 27 July.

Despite the voiced and accepted understanding of most of those present at the June Local Committee meeting that the July meeting would encompass more than minor amendments to the proposal, Surrey’s representatives refused to accept any changes which would have added to or significantly changed the proposals they presented in June, proposals which were returned to them by the committee for further consultation and rework.

This means that the voices of your Weybridge Councillors on Elmbridge and representations from local residents and business people were not heeded.  A slightly amended version of Surrey’s proposal WILL be put out for final consultation in Weybridge (aka endorsement) in September.  During this consultation changes may be made but only to reduce the restrictions and not to extend them.

For your information, the outcome achieved in the meeting was as follows:

Going through each map in turn (you will find the map number in the bottom right hand corner of the page).  When I say no change I mean that the Weybridge meeting Surrey produced no change from the original proposals.  They might still be changes from the current markings we have today.

Map 1.  No change. My request for Beales Lane and Grenside Road were turned down but the school hatching around the school entrance in Glencoe Road could be looked at later.2016 Parking Map1 Thames Street

 

Map 2.  My request for the inclusion of Dorchester Road which had been accepted in June, got challenged by Surrey in the meeting – however it was finally accepted on the basis that residents could indicate their wish not to be included in the CPZ during the public consultation. In Dorchester Road, Elmgrove Road and Gascoigne Road the residents’ parking is to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm).  This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Gascoigne Road – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request that there should be short-stay bays in Grotto Road and residents’ parking in Glencoe Road, Mount Pleasant and Radnor Road was turned down.2016 Parking Map2 Dorchester

Map 3.  In Oakdale Road residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  No other changes.

Map 4.  In Elmgrove Road, Holstein Avenue and Oakdale Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  A request that there should be no short-stay bays in Holstein Avenue – a cul de sac – was accepted.  My request for Monument Green to be included to enable a higher turnover of vehicles was turned down. No other changes.2016 Parking Map4 High Street

 

Map 5. No changes made in the meeting.

Map 6. In Minorca Road the residents’ parking to be shortened to 8am – 6pm (from 8am – 8pm) and short-stay parking shortened to 10am – 4pm (from 8am – 8pm). This to apply to all bays.  Surrey would not consider Wey Road and Round Oak Road.  No other changes.

Map 7.  My request on behalf of Limes Road residents was taken heed of to an extent. The parking restrictions will not though go into the early evening. My request for Heath Road to be a clearway to increase safety for cyclists was turned down.2016 Parking Map7 Limes

Map 8. No changes. My request for Curzon Road to have residents’ parking and for Belvedere Close, Fortescue Road and Heath Road to have some extra restrictions at residents’ request was turned down.

Map 9. No changes.

Map 10.  No changes. My request for Oatlands Drive to be designated a clearway to forestall cars now parking in Queens Road parking there was turned down.

Map 11.  My requests to make Queens Road to be at least 7m wide for cycle safety – at least during the rush hour turned dwon.

Map 12.  My request for short-stay parking outside Glass’ Offices turned down along with my request for removal of parking restrictions in Princes Road to reduce its role as a rat-run.

Map 13.  No changes.

Map 14.  My requests for the new restrictions in Pine Grove to be only placed to allow residents to exit their properties turned down.

Map 15.  A request for the extension by one car length to the restrictions at the Egerton Road and Cavendish Road junction accepted.

2016 Parking Map15 Egerton

Map 16.  A request for the restriction outside Gower Lodge, Gower Road to be placed on the other side of the road agreed.  As were extensions to the corner makings on Old Avenue.

Map 17.  No changes.

Map 18.  No changes.

Map 19.  No changes.

Map 20.  A request for the extension to the restrictions on Brooklands Road to be extended to number 41 accepted.

2016 Parking Map20 Egerton

Green Belt Threat

Green Belt CountrysideThe national government has asked all local governments to review their green belts with a view to opening them up for development – Elmbridge is no exception.  Half the borough is designated as green belt (not to be confused with rural landscapes as above) and so its defence will have to be argued robustly.  We will be doing so with vigour.

The new administration of Liberal Democrats and its coalition allies is already building a coherent justification of our green belt and will ensure that is purpose of preventing urban coalescence is maintained.  A definitive Elmbridge policy on Green Belt in relation to local housing needs must be in place by the end of 2018.  That might seems far away but there is much work to do.

Elmbridge has to define why it needs it green belt.  It cannot just see “because”.  There has to be a reason in planning terms.  We can protect countryside for a number of reasons regardless of whether it is in the green belt or not.  It could be a site of special scientific interest, a defined view, an ancient woodland, a common or land owned by the National Trust.

The National Planning Policy Framework determines, in paragraph eighty, that the Green Belt serves five purposes:

  1. to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  2. to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  3. to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  4. to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  5. to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

In Elmbridge we cannot use points four and five because they do not apply but clearly one can use the first three.  Regarding point one – how much of a gap do you think there should be between London and the towns in Elmbridge?  Presently there is no gap between Ditton and Surbiton; none between Molesey and Ditton; but there is a gap between Molesey and Walton and Ditton and Esher.  Weybridge already coalesces with Walton but the gap between Weybridge and Hersham is only about 100m wide.

In Weybridge our countryside is often further protected because the land is in the flood plain, owned by the National Trust or common land.

Highway Grass verges

Grass Verges

Following another Surrey funding crisis.  Surrey has proposed reducing the number of cuts each year from the present  ten  a year down to seven a year.  Elmbridge provides this service on behalf of Surrey and the cabinet had to decide between the following options.

  1. Carry out reduced level of cutting to the revised Surrey client specification (within the level of funding offered by Surrey);
  2. Maintain the existing frequency (which would incur an additional cost to the borough of £3,597 a year for the remainder of the contract, in addition to the funding provided by Surrey);
  3. Increase the frequency to twelve (which would require a growth item in the highway verges budget of £28,534 a year for the remainder of the contract); or
  4. Hand back to Surrey.

The cabinet discussed the four options in respect of the Surreyservices and mindful of the current budget position, agreed that option 2 above should be supported. It was noted that this option would incur an additional cost to the borough of £3,597 a year for the remainder of the contract.

The new administration has still to contend with the appalling state of the grass cutting contract inherited from the previous administration.

Parking Webcast

Andrew Davis Full Council

Prime Minister’s question time it isn’t but nor do we want it to be.  Here I am (from 35m 40s) doing my best to answer questions at Elmbridge’s first full council meeting since the new administration of Liberal Democrats and its coalition allies formed this year.

You’ll see that most questions in this meeting were directed at me as cabinet member for highways and transport.

 

Parking Meeting – 14 July

Oakdale RoadAt a well attended meeting hosted by Weybridge Lib Dems, residents from across Weybridge discussed parking issues in Weybridge generally and specifically the Surrey Council Council proposals for parking in Weybridge for the next three years.

The meeting believed that consultation had not been full enough, that there was an absence of strategic thinking and that the changes made did little to address the overall issues faced by Weybridge residents, workers and businesses.

Several voices at the town meeting called for a more fundamental and strategic review of parking needs and provision in Weybridge and stressed that this must included consideration of increasing off-street parking (an Elmbridge responsibility).

Feedback from discussion groups are reported under the following themed headings below: general, schools, car parks, controlled parking and other.

General

  1. Strategic approach for better movement of traffic and safety for all road users.
  2. Lack of parking for workers is the number one issue.
  3. Parking controls cause displacement and causes workers to park further and further away from the town centre.
  4. There should be incentives for workers not to park in the town.
  5. The controlled parking in the town centre and Portmore Park causing more drivers to park in Grotto Park – particularly Old Palace Road. Making it dangerous for cyclists.  Grass areas now being parked on making the town less pleasant than it could be.
  6. Street privatisation not the answer to displacement parking.

Schools

  1. Schools should be looked at in their own right – specific issues across all. Most school exacerbating other problems.
  2. Accessing additional areas: for example, the field behind St Georges School for drop off and pick up or staff.
  3. St George’s School should be obliged to provide parking and have responsibility for managing drop-off and pick-up.

Car Parks

  1. Park and ride for workers in Weybridge from Brooklands or Runnymede Centre. Use incentives such as a reward card.
  2. Spaces do exist but aren’t accessed.  For example, a Weybridge Hospital are virtually unused at by staff at night and weekends and could be used by residents
  3. Build a multi-storey car park at Churchfields, the hospital or the station with park and ride.
  4. Convert open spaces into car parks: the meadow in Churchfields Avenue or Whittets Ait Green.
  5. Businesses should subsidise workers’ parking in car parks in Weybridge.
  6. Better utilisation of car parks: for example, Churchfields pushes people to park on street. Squeeze more cars in with specific spaces for small cars.  Restrict Churchfields to 2-3 hours which would increase turnover to shops as well.

Controlled Parking

  1. Mark-up up bays to help drivers park more considerately (no charges) just lines to help avoid overhanging other people’s off-street parking.
  2. Limit controlled parking zone to two hours only somewhere between 10am and 4pm.
  3. Limit no parking from 10-11am and 2-3pm to limit all day parking.
  4. Residents’ only parking from 6pm to 8am – overnight.
  5. Oakdale/Elmgrove Road allow two-hour parking for non-residents – 10am to 3pm
  6. Inconsiderate parking near drives and corners.
  7. Offer business user permits for specific streets.
  8. Comprehensive restrictions for residents’ permits – only one per house or flat. Hugh premium for extra cars.
  9. Send parking enforcement to particular hot spots at strategic times. For example, school streets at school times and Limes Road etc in the evenings/weekends.

Other points

  1. Encourage residents to rent out off-street space.
  2. Parking in Monument Road makes it difficult for pedestrians to pass, particularly when children are coming out of school.
  3. It would improve the High Street to have fewer parking places.
  4. 20mph zone is ignored and not policed – especially bad in Portmore Park Road and St Alban’s Avenue.
  5. Car Share scheme.