April 30th, 2013 by Peter Lambell
Surrey Liberal Democrats were the only party to call for the County Council’s Council Tax to be frozen in 2013 and called the Council Tax rise “excessive”.
Surrey Conservatives increased Council Tax by 2.99% in 2012 and by a further 1.99% in 2013 -the maximum possible without a referendum. Even their own government ministers said they were “disappointing and irresponsible”.
Surrey Liberal Democrats defeated the proposals for on-street parking charges as an unwanted tax on motorists that would harm the vitality of our market towns and villages.
Surrey Conservatives wanted to charge ordinary Surrey residents who wanted to park in our market towns and shopping parades. A stealth tax on residents and a blow to local shopkeepers and businesses.
Surrey Liberal Democrats called for speedier and better quality road repairs for Surrey’s potholed roads.
Surrey Conservatives failed to invest enough in the repair and maintenance of Surrey’s roads and have sought to charge communities who have asked for extra grit bins.
Surrey Liberal Democrats have supported youth facilities through Lib Dem County Councillor members’ allowances, sought to provide respite support for carers and supported residential accomodation for the elderly and vulnerable when needed.
Surrey Conservatives have failed to invest enough in youth workers, failed to provide adequate respite support for carers and considered selling off elderly residential accomodation.
March 17th, 2013 by Peter Lambell
Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron MP came to Surrey last week to speak at the launch of the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Surrey County Council elections on 2 May.
Launching the manifesto, Cllr Hazel Watson, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on Surrey County Council said: “Our top six to fix priorities for Surrey County Council are: to maintain, repair, and properly grit our roads in winter and ensure that appropriate speed limits apply; improve planning for school places so children can attend their local schools; keep all our libraries open and run by qualified librarians; ensure that there is adequate respite care for carers and that residential accommodation is provided when needed; maintain and enhance the youth service; protect and improve public transport and increase bus services to schools.
“Surrey County Council Liberal Democrats called for a Council Tax freeze this year, but the Conservatives have increased Council Tax by 1.99%. There is enough money stashed away in the administration’s coffers to freeze Council Tax and improve services for Surrey residents where there is a real need to do so.”
Speaking at the launch in Guildford, Tim Farron said: “The Liberal Democrats in government are working to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.
“That is why we are cutting income tax bills for millions of ordinary people – with most taxpayers paying £600 less each year from next April – and why Liberal Democrats are campaigning across the country to raise the personal allowance to £10,000, a total income tax cut of £700.
“That is why we are delivering more apprenticeships than ever before and why we have delivered the ‘pupil premium’ to provide additional support to disadvantaged pupils in our schools.
“That is why we have called for legislation to fund care for the elderly so that people do not have to sell their homes to pay for their own care.
“That is why we are seeking to deliver pension changes with the basic state pension increased to £144 in today’s money from 2017.”
February 22nd, 2013 by Peter Lambell
The next elections for the County Council are on May 2nd this year.
The Division boundaries have changed significantly following last year’s review by the Boundary Commission.
Reigate and Banstead Divisions have been more affected than anywhere else as the increasing population has meant that a whole new Division was deemed necessary.
Therefore, ‘Reigate Central’ as we know and love will no longer exist!
Half of the current Division will form fall in the new ‘Reigate’ Division, the rest will drop into the snappily titled ‘Redhill West and Meadvale’ Division.
I am standing for re-election but I am afraid I can’t stand in both places.
Therefore I have been selected as the candidate for ‘Redhill West and Meadvale’ while my colleague Will Dyer will be standing for ‘Reigate’.
I am optimistic we can gain the new seats. We have a huge amount of support in Meadvale and St Johns in particular and hold two Borough seats there but it will be a close race. We desperately need people to deliver leaflets or help in any other way with the campaign so if you are willing and able please let me know.
Detailed maps of the new Divisions can be found here but if you are unsure which Division you will be in, please let me know. Some roads will be split down the middle so the maps may be confusing!
I very much hope I can count on your support this year. Please feel free to contact me at any time as always.
I look forward to the opportunity to continue representing you on the County Council.
May 14th, 2012 by Peter Lambell
When all we hear about nowadays are cuts, it was good to hear that our individual revenue allocations have been increased this year to £12,615.
This is money that can be allocated to organisations for projects “which promote the social, environmental or economic well being of the local community”
Last year I made the following grants:
- £500 towards play equipment for the Reigate Community Centre
- £3000 to allow the Citizens Advice Bureau to fund specialised advice services to clients with mental health issues
- £1500 for East Surrey Carers to provide local carers with a day trip to Brighton
- £2000 to Hope 2040 to provide accommodation for homeless men and women over the winter
- £1000 providing much needed new computer systems for both ‘Reigate and Redhill Live at Home’ and ‘Us in a Bus
If your organisation has any projects that require funding in 2012/13 please contact me for an application form. If your project is suitable then the process is very straightforward.
I look forward to hearing from you.
December 21st, 2011 by Peter Lambell
This time last year, Surrey County Council decided to restrict the use of concessionary bus passes to after 9.30am.
I complained that the decision was being made before the financial implications were known. Other Councils had abandoned similar proposals as they had calculated that the savings would not be significant and would create too many problems for elderly residents who rely on these early services.
It seems I was right.
The latest accounts show that Surrey has underspent its bus budget by £500k this year, far in excess of the £350k saved by these changes.
They could have comfortably afforded to keep a 9am start, providing a lifeline to elderly people in rural areas where on many routes there are no buses after 9.00 for 2 hours or more.
December 21st, 2011 by Peter Lambell
In another major policy U-turn, Surrey’s new leader has decided to drop plans to turn a second tranche of nine libraries into ‘Community Partnership Libraries’.
Although the original ten will still be handed over to volunteers as planned, they will now receive one professional member of staff for 20% of their opening hours. But if the plan to run these libraries with volunteers fails they are still threatened with closure.
The Conservative administration have effectively admitted that the idea is disastrous; they should now go further and announce that the whole plan is going to be scrapped. Throwing the ten threatened libraries a crumb from the table of one member of staff for one fifth of their opening hours will do little to remove fears of a downgraded service and eventual closure.
October 12th, 2011 by Peter Lambell
A change of leadership, a cabinet reshuffle and a policy U-turn were the highlights of today’s full council meeting.
Former leader Andrew Povey sacked his Deputy, David Hodge, just two weeks ago following a falling out over policy and leadership style. But his plans backfired dramatically when disgruntled Conservatives rallied around Hodge, resulting in Povey’s resignation and Hodge’s coronation.
The new leader immediately announced his new cabinet, appointing Peter Martin as Deputy Leader with Tim Hall taking his place on Children and Learning. Helyn Clack replaces Tim Hall and Tony Samuels takes on the new position of “Organisation and Regeneration”.
Finally Lynn Hack is to “stand down” from the Cabinet, although it appears that she was sacked after backing the wrong horse during the leadership tussle.
David promised to “listen, learn and localise” before announcing the U turn on on-street parking charges that Lib Dems and residents have been demanding from the start. A hoped-for reversal of the equally unpopular plans to withdraw professional staff from the libraries was not forthcoming today but there were some hints that another U turn may be in the pipeline.
Hodge’s track record as Deputy indicates that he will be a hard working and tough Leader, but with the Conservatives so divided it seems unlikely he will be secure in his position for long.
September 14th, 2011 by Peter Lambell
I’m willing to bet that the Cabinet Member for Transport on Surrey County Council regrets even thinking about trying to introduce on street Pay and Display to towns and villages in Surrey.
The policy has seen a huge backlash from businesses, residents and Councillors alike, and the process of implementation has become farcical. Following the countywide outcry, decisions on detailed implementation were handed to SCC Local Committees, leading to a confusing patchwork of different charging regimes and restrictions being recommended. The business case is tenuous at best and the claimed savings unproven.
And to add to the confusion, the Cabinet at County Hall can overrule any decisions made if they don’t like what is decided.
Shockingly, the situation has become so heated that David Hodge – the Deputy Leader of Surrey County Council has had to write to the chairmen of the Local Committees after it emerged that some Councillors have been bullying Council staff who have the job of trying to guide them through this policy quagmire.
The Reigate and Banstead Committee will decide on 19th September whether to accept the latest proposals for this area. If they do, then free parking in Reigate and Banstead Town Centres looks set to continue but the original proposals to introduce charging to bays in other parts of Reigate, Redhill and Horley remain.
The report proposes free parking in Bell Street, High Street and Church Street, albeit with a reduction to the time limit in Church Street to one hour. Castlefield Road would see a charge of 60p per hour, Upper West Street £1 per hour and Rushworth Road £1 per hour but only on weekdays between 10am and 4pm with a £4.50 long stay option!
Charges for Redhill would be implemented as planned in Brighton Road (30 mins free, £1 per hour), Chapel Road (£1 per hour) and London Road (£1 per hour or £5.50 per day) with some small amendments.
I have consistently opposed the introduction of all on street parking charges and will continue to do so.
September 11th, 2011 by Peter Lambell
In spite of massive public opposition, Surrey County Council’s plans to hand over many of the County’s libraries to volunteers will become a reality once Cabinet approve the final proposals later this month.
A report to Cabinet recommends that professional staffing budgets are withdrawn from 10 libraries in 2012. Local Communities in these areas must come up with viable business plans for their libraries by the end of the year or face closure.
But that number will double in 2013 when a further 9 libraries which have been earmarked for “Community Partnership” are likely to suffer the same fate.
In a further blow, the mobile library service will end on 30th September, and although the Council have promised to find alternatives for existing users, it is not yet clear what arrangements will be made for those in residential homes and sheltered housing, nor has any commitment been made as to how long any alternative arrangements would last.
I understand the council is facing tough spending choices, but I think this decision is short sighted and driven by ideology. Savings of just £330,000 have been identified for 2012/13, that’s about 30p for each resident in Surrey. No consideration has been given to the longer term effects on the literacy of young people, the increased isolation of elderly residents and the community cohesion that libraries provide.
July 27th, 2011 by Peter Lambell
Three Liberal Democrat proposals to increase the involvement of local residents in Council decisions were thrown out by the Council at last week’s meeting.
Firstly, they rejected Lib Dem proposals to reduce the number of signatures on a petition to trigger a council debate from 20,000 to 10,000. The current threshold is one of the highest in the country and only one petition has ever been debated by the Council.
Secondly, they refused to debate our motion calling for a clear consultation policy to be put in place, in spite of the Council’s own annual Governance statement acknowledging the lack of such a policy and a promise for this to be implemented in July 2011.
And finally they refused to back a Liberal Democrat amendment welcoming Government proposals to decentralize powers to Local Commitees and local communities, instead backing the retention of powers by the Leader and his Cabinet.
The Council Leader keeps stressing how the Council likes to listen to residents. Strange then that they continue to reject ideas that would make it easier for your opinions to be heard.