Weybridge Hospital site

Are we closer to a re-build?

The plans showing a two-storey building with GP services on the ground floor and clinics, diagnostics and children’s and mental health services on the first floor, are currently being reviewed after feedback from the planning authority, Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC). Replacing the walk-in centre is not in the plan (due to having an Urgent Treatment Centre at St Peter’s) but there will be a Same Day Urgent Care access hub which will be available only for booked appointments via the GP or 111.

The intention is for NHS Property Services to proceed with a full planning application in the spring for building to start this summer. The aim is for the building to be handed over to the NHS for fitting out in the winter of 2025 and for it to be opened in spring 2026 when the portacabins will be removed.

Centres for the Community

During recent safety assessments of the services at Elmbridge’s Centres for the Community, some fundamental safety issues for customers and staff were identified that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. It was hoped that they would be closed for a few days but this was extended so that a reliable, consistent and safe service could be provided.

Since the Covid pandemic and through the recent cost of living crisis, there has been an increasing strain on organisations caring for people and it seems EBC’s services have been stretched very thin. The closures are needed to rectify issues which include fire safety procedures, risk identification, assessment, and mitigation processes, and safe staffing levels.

The following services have been running as usual:

  • Community Transport’s Dial-a-Ride, Hire-a-Bus and school services.
  • Meals on Wheels deliveries 7 days a week.
  • The Community Alarm service.

External groups hiring the centres were able to use them again from Tuesday 5th December. All vulnerable users have been invited to either the Walton or the Cobham Centre (both re-opened on the 11th December) where there will be a warm welcome with the option of lunch and table-top games. Those who need transport have been identified and will be helped.

If you have not been called by the council, or you know someone who should be contacted, please phone 01372 474 474

Runnymede & Weybridge MP VOTES DOWN sewage sickness compensation scheme

Our protest against dumping raw sewage

Local Liberal Democrats have slammed Dr Ben Spencer for VOTING AGAINST a compensation scheme for swimmers who get sick from sewage.

The amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, would have allowed anyone who gets sick, as a result of illegal sewage dumping, to claim compensation from water companies. However, it was voted down in the Commons this week after Conservative MPs, including Dr Ben Spencer, voted against it.

It comes despite a recent report which found a staggering 1,924 cases of people getting sick due to suspected sewage pollution over the last year, nearly triple the number of cases reported in the previous year.

Ellen Nicholson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Runnymede & Weybridge, said:

“It’s shameful that Ben Spencer and this Conservative government have once again put water companies’ profits before people’s health.

“It is a complete slap in the face to all those in Runnymede & Weybridge who expect their MP to stand up and fight for them, instead of for massive companies who have dumped filthy sewage into our rivers and lakes.

“It is a sad state of affairs when swimmers are falling seriously sick from sewage while water company bosses trouser millions in bonuses.

“The Liberal Democrats have exposed the sewage scandal and will continue to hold these polluting firms to account even if Dr Ben Spencer refuses to.”

New Crossing on Oatlands Drive

Two years ago your local councillor team were pleased to see the work they had proposed to widen, resurface and install better lighting on the ‘green lane’ that connects Oatlands Drive to Grotto Road to make it a better shared walking and wheeling path. We then pressed SCC to install a crossing on Oatlands Drive to make it safer, particularly for children and parents going to and from St James Primary and St George’s Junior Schools. Good to see that this installation is now nearing completion.

Our MP votes against improving GP and ambulance wait times

The Runnymede & Weybridge Conservative MP, a qualified doctor, has been criticised after voting against a Liberal Democrat amendment which would have committed the government to improving GP and ambulance wait times.

The amendment also called on the government to build the 40 new hospitals that had been promised and bring in measures to address the crises in the NHS and social care.

The Liberal Democrats have set out a clear plan to fix local health services, including giving people the right to see a GP in a week or 24 hours if in urgent need. 

Ellen Nicholson the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for  Runnymede & Weybridge said: 

“Dr. Ben Spencer has shown a callous disregard for patients waiting in pain. As a medical professional himself, this is deeply concerning. Runnymede & Weybridge deserve local health services that provide the care people need, instead of being forced to wait for weeks on end for a GP appointment or hours for an ambulance to arrive. They also deserve an MP that will be a strong local champion and stand up for our health services.

“This Conservative government has run our NHS into the ground. Communities like ours have been taken for granted for far too long. Voters know that with the Liberal Democrats they will get much better, just as they deserve to.”

Weybridge Business Park

In March this year, Runnymede Borough Council rejected plans for a 20,000 square metre warehouse on the now derelict site of Weybridge Business Park because it would be overbearing and have a damaging environmental impact.

The developers returned with revised plans for a number of smaller industrial units rather than the one large warehouse and this came before the RBC Planning Committee at the end of October. The council seemed to consider that the was an improved design due to its reduction in size and some additional landscaping. Along with the Weybridge Society, local councillors asked EBC to comment on the adverse effect the development would have on traffic through Weybridge, but unfortunately there was no objection raised from either the Local Highway Authority (SCC) or National Highways. Indeed, RBC determined that a reason for refusal on highway grounds could not be substantiated.

But conditions were imposed to restrict the hours of operations from 7am to 9pm and to limit the amount of floor space that could be occupied by one occupier so that units couldn’t be joined together to effectively provide one large warehouse.

However, the developers, Bridge Industrial, are appealing the decision to refuse their first application in March. The Weybridge Society is working hard, along with members of the Poets Corner Residents Group (PCRG) who live near the site, to prevent the appeal being heard in February from overturning the decision.

Elmbridge disappointed with ULEZ decision

Our Council issued a news bulletin on the 28th July to express its disappointment at the High Court decision to allow the expansion of ULEZ to go ahead from 29 August 2023.

Given the significant air pollution caused by traffic in Weybridge town centre, we have frequently called upon our highways authority, Surrey County Council, to be much more pro-active in restricting the most polluting vehicles. While we therefore support the benefits of cleaner air in Greater London from the extension of the ULEZ, we have also expressed our reservations to the speed of its implementation without proper consultation with boroughs and districts surrounding Greater London.

The statement by the Leader of the Council is:

We are supportive of improving air quality in Elmbridge and of increased trade in our high streets and parades, both of which we see as potential benefits to the possible extension of the ULEZ. However, we know our communities are linked to those of Greater London and we are concerned about impact on small businesses and our residents in introducing the scheme this year. We have continually lobbied the Mayor of London and TfL due to the impact it will have on the Elmbridge community as a whole. It is unsatisfactory that TfL are proceeding without a scrappage scheme for those outside the London boundary, specifically those who cross it in the course of their daily lives. It’s a change which is likely to hit hardest those are least able to afford it. We will continue to work with Surrey County Council to press TfL to engage with us to tackle this issue. 

All the political parties across Elmbridge Borough Council have stated their objections to the expansion of ULEZ. 

Be aware of oak processionary moth (OPM)

A warning message from Elmbridge Borough Council:

Oak processionary moth (OPM) was accidentally introduced into England in 2005. Today, OPM poses a threat to Britain’s oak trees and is hazardous to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals who come into contact with it. OPM is present in the South East of England and in Elmbridge.

Elmbridge Borough Council follows Forestry Commission guidelines in dealing with OPM on its land. Our role is to protect our oak trees and their associated wildlife by managing the spread of OPM, minimising its impact on oak trees and protecting the public.

There is no single solution to managing OPM. We adopt a local risk-based approach which is informed by our local oak tree population, its associated biodiversity and the severity of OPM infestation.

When risk assessing each site, we:

  • look at each nest according to its location, and the risk to residents and pay particular attention to densely populated areas and the proximity to vulnerable individuals, for example, children, infants and elderly
  • control high risk areas by spraying (Spring) or removing nests manually (Mid-June – August), where appropriate, and manage low risk areas through on-site information.

For more information, please see Oak processionary moth.

Our MP visits Weybridge Rowing Club

Our local MP, Dr Ben Spencer, accepted an invitation to row at Weybridge Rowing Club on the 6th June. A former college rower (he’s in the blue t-shirt in the middle of the boat), he was accompanied by Cllr Judy Sarsby, a member of the rowing club, as he rowed around Desborough Island in an eight. It was a good opportunity to point out some of the problems experienced by river users, including the illegally moored boats along the Desborough Cut, which a few weeks earlier had again caused the cancellation of the much-loved Weybridge Ladies Regatta, and sewage discharges by the water companies. He was talked through the key location for the future flood-relief channel into the Thames (the River Thames Scheme) and where the ‘Row Paddle Run’ charity event takes place to raise money for The Grâce Dear Trust for young people’s mental health. He experienced a busy morning of residents using the river for sport and pleasure.

Helping to clean our river – you can join too!

 

Councillor Judy Sarsby stepped up the litter picking efforts around Desborough Island this summer, having initiated the Monday morning litter pick on the island two years ago.

Together with rowers from Weybridge Rowing Club, Judy paddled around the River Thames and pulled out floating plastics from the banks. A big thank you to Judy, who works so tirelessly on so many issues!

Keeping our rivers and waterways clean is as important as removing the litter from the land, not only for pollution reduction to enhance life for humans, animals and plants, but also for climate resilience.

If you would like to make an immediate impact locally and help with our litter pick, please get in touch with us at JSarsby@elmbridge.gov.uk. Come and be part of making a better river environment in our area!