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.

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

British Government orders Green Belt Review

Green Belt CountrysideAs many of you will know, the British Government has told the English boroughs to review their Green Belts with a view to opening land for development.  If a borough refuses to do so then the British government has said it will take direct control.

This has left the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration little option but to revise our own local plan.  We wish to built a broad local approach and the Conservative opposition has been very much involved in every stage of the development.

Before we can agree a new local plan we have to pass though a number of stages and we need you to help in that process so we have published a strategic options consultation.   The document asks many questions and raises a number of issues.

We want to consult as widely as possible and will use every available means to engage with the public.  Part of this process is to have a number of consultations at various stages in the drafting of the plan.  The first drop in sessions will be at:

7pm – 9pm, Monday, 23 January at the Playhouse, Walton
7pm – 9pm, Thursday, 26 January at the Civic Centre, Esher
10am – 2pm, Saturday, 4 February at the Civic Centre, Esher

The events will consist of exhibition boards where the headlines of the consultation document will be displayed.  The evidence base documents supporting the consultation will also be available to review and representatives from Elmbridge’s planning policy team will be on-hand to answer any of your questions.

Your can attend any of the events.  The exhibition will be borough-wide, that is not specific to any particular town.

This process is subject to the agreement to the borough’s council  on Wednesday, 7 December

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

Referendum Results

Surrey Ref Results 2016Elmbridge voted to remain as did Surrey. South East England also voted to stay in the EU. As south east England has a population bigger than Scotland and Northern Ireland put together, surely we can have a second referendum just like Scotland plans to do.  We would probably remain within the EU and let the rest of England leave if it wants to.

Never you tell ’em a lie!

BabyThe English have not been listened to for too long and eventually they lashed out. Unfortunately, in this referendum, they threw the baby out with the bath water.  Or more exactly, they have thrown the baby out but have ended up with the bathwater still in the bath.

It reminds me of a poem that my father read to me when I was a kid and I, in turn, read to my children.

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

Interesting times ahead

It Tolls for Thee

I voted in the last European referendum.  I had just turned 18 and had recently come back from eastern Europe.  Visiting such places as Sarajevo in the then Yugoslavia. I saw the place were the shots that set off the first of two world wars were fired.

I imagined a peaceful Europe from the Atlantic to the the steppes  – from Estonia to Portugal.  From Iceland to Greece.  And this was when Greece, Spain and Portugal were still fascist and eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union.  Some hope!

For all its faults, and there are many, I believe the European Union has done us, Europe and the world proud – and it would have been a even better place if Britain and the British had been more positive from the beginning.  No use crying over spilt milk.

I have driven twice to the Russian border through a wide a variety of peoples and landscapes –  past so much history – never having to show a passport or even to change money (except when I left Britain).

In the sixth form, in the week of the 1975 referendum, I read out part of a dissertation by John Donne in the school assembly.  Then, as now, the debate had been about jobs and prices.  But I wanted my fellow school pupils to realise that the issues before us were far more profound than commerce and trade deals – important though they were.  I doubt whether I succeeded.

Sometimes we only miss things once they have gone.