Author Archives: Cllr Colin Kemp

Council Tax Rise and Cuts to Services

THESE ARE MY VIEWS AND NOT AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT

You will have heard and seen a great deal in the last couple of weeks about Surrey’s Conservative administration proposing to hold a referendum on 4th May about an increase of 15% in Council Tax. You may have also noticed some cuts being made to services, such as street lights and recycling centres, and I would like to tell you why.

Let’s be clear from the start that no Conservative Councillor willingly raises Council Tax or cuts services and that includes me. So we have been working relentlessly to make efficiency savings and deliver good value for money but as quick as we make up ground we are knocked back and I want to be honest and open with the people I represent. Eventually if you keep making cuts it stops become efficiency savings and starts becoming cuts to services.  I am supporting the referendum not because I believe the residents should pay extra but because I believe we are at a crossroads and I believe you should have say in the future of Surrey. That’s my reason for writing this post and I will continue to repeat this message in person over the next coming months.

Since 2010 the Conservatives who run Surrey County Council have managed to take £450 million out of the cost of delivering essential services. Without these savings, delivered in the face of opposition from other parties, the budget issues we face would be much greater. We have also identified an additional £250m of saving up to 2020 but even with these savings we are being left with a massive financial shortfall in this period. I believe it is time to let the public know what is happening and give them a choice.

Two other major things have happened since 2010: demand for Social Care Services has increased by over £24m per year and yet the annual grant to Surrey County Council from Central Government has been cut by £170 million  since 2010. Also they calculated that we need £25m through the Better Care Fund, (which is at the heart of new ASC funding), then after further adjustments we have ended up with £1.5m per year.

So what are Social Care Services? Adult Social Care delivered by the County Council includes the assistance that enables elderly people to leave hospital and stay safely at home with support. This helps the NHS by keeping beds clear for serious cases.

Social Care means looking after adults with Learning Disabilities, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives in the community. Surrey County Council cares for 8 times as many adults with Learning Disabilities as any other council and I for one believe that this is a job that needs to be done well and with generosity of spirit. Yet £39 million of funding annually has been withdrawn by central government for this role and it has to be raised through Council Tax.

Social Care means Safeguarding children and bringing up almost on thousand  children who are growing up in the care of the council. As corporate parents, we aim to bring up these children as if they were our own. That must be right.

So we are asking Surrey’s residents to help us. That means paying £15.80 per month in Council Tax on an average Band D house to ensure that the vulnerable are cared for. It could be your Mum, Dad, Niece, Nephew or Grandparent that needs this help. It could be a child from your street that needs protection.

Even with the 15% rise there will be some cuts to services but if we can’t raise the additional 15% in Council Tax, other services will suffer. Fire station numbers will be reduced drastically. There will be no more subsidised buses to get people to work or the shops. Far fewer libraries and community recycling centres will be provided and much more. County Council services make a difference to everyone’s lives. If you want to help us to deliver good services to those who need them, think about voting Yes in the referendum and explain the facts to friends and neighbours.

This referendum is about telling the truth. It’s about all of us admitting that vital services cost money and that there are some duties that can’t be shirked or glossed over.

We have been lobbing Surrey’s MP’s and government about this and our MP Jonathan Lord, has been very supportive. I still hold out a glimmer of hope that government will see sense and we will not need a referendum but to date they have not been forthcoming

When you vote in May you will have two things to consider and I hope you will place each vote independently. Firstly consider if I have been a good councillor for Goldsworth East and Horsell West over the last four years, have I invested the time and energy in supporting you, the residents. Secondly the referendum which you can vote on based on the facts you are presented.

If Surrey residents vote No to the 15% Council Tax increase, I will respect their decision and do my bit to ensure that the cuts are made equitably.

Until then, I will continue to be a voice for the vulnerable, which is a promise that I made when I stood for election.

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Queen Elizabeth Gardens Update

As you will have seen work has now started on Queen Elizabeth Gardens and we have already had lots of emails requesting updates, so I wanted to let you know the scope of work being carried out by the contractors (Kestrel) and give you an update on other parts still to be completed.

The works should be completed by the 31st March and the working hours are Monday to Friday 8.00am to 5pm.

Kestrel will start by creating a temporary access to site via Pares Close and set up a site office on top of the mound behind the Scout building. They will then remove their office from the car park and this will also remove the need for any machinery or plant from the entering the site via the High Street. They will keep public access to all footpaths including into Pares Close. They will also create an temporary access to the tennis court although there will be a period when this will have to be closed when work on the new tennis court is being done, they will give prior notice of this closure.

They will then start work at the front of the gardens, creating a retaining wall along the side of the bowling green and a lite footpath along side this wall, distribute the top soil mound creating a flat play area to the side. Working backwards as they go, they will create the new tennis court and continue the path and landscaping until they reach the path. They will then then make good the landscaping on top of the bund surrounding the proposed MUGA area using the rest of the top soil from the mound. They will also formalise the existing cut across the front of Pares Wood into Pares Close using a permeable gravel type path rather than the hard ones on the rest of the site (this path will not be lite). This will aid drainage and allow us to take it closer to the trees without damaging roots as this eliminates the need to dig a sub base, this will also keep a reasonable size green on the top section as some residents have requested.

The area around the MUGA and the installation of the MUGA itself is not in Kestrels contract and will be a separate piece of work that will be carried out later and after consultation with other interested parties.

There is an open session on Monday 1st February in the village hall from 10.00am if anybody has any questions.

Going forward  the contractors have agreed to keep us your councillors in the picture as work progresses and we have agreed to be the conduit for any future enquiries to allow them to get on with the job at hand.

Parking review

GoldsworthEast_HorsellVillagec

The woking parking review will be discussed at the Woking Joint Committee on the 2nd Decemember. Follow the link above to the proposed changes for Horsell Village and Goldsworth East that will be discussed.

 

update on road works High Street & Church Hill

Affinity Road works to High Street And Church Hill Update, Church Hill closed from 10th August

See Attached

Information sheet External

The Future of White Knight Laundry Site.

Councillor Hunwicks, Councillor Branagan and myself met with Pegasus Life, who are the new owners of the site. Their intension is to apply for planning permission to build retirement apartments on the site. we viewed the plans with included parking for more cars than apartments. But they want to seek your opinion first, so residents from the surrounding area have been invited to a public viewing of the proposal on Tuesday 26th may between 14.30 and 19.30 at the light box. don’t worry if you cant make it all the information will be uploaded to a web site after the presentation and they are allowing two weeks for feedback.

If anybody has any concerns about the proposal don’t hesitate to contact any of us, you elected us to represent your views so get us involved.

Queen Elizabeth Gardens Planning Update

On Thursday 21st May we received notification that the planning inspectorate turned down permission to divert the footpath through the centre of Queen Elizabeth Gardens. It seems a shame that one objection to something the rest of the community wanted, can cause so much bad feeling and tax payers money, but that’s the law of the land and we have to work within those laws.

Going forward, the path through the centre of QE Gardens will remain open, any other option would prolong the reinstatement of the gardens to the residents.

Last night WBC officers sent out instructions to make as much of the area as safe as possible and remove or reposition the fence, this will be done as soon as possible.

Today WBC officers started the process of sourcing a contractors to complete the landscaping and works to return QE Gardens back to full use.

Once this has been completed we will relook at the footpath situation and see if there is a way forward..

Delay in works on Arthurs Bridge Road

The resurfacing work that was planned for Friday 22nd May has been postponed. This is due to the fact that Power Networks have applied for a licence to update the main power cable which runs along the road. We are told they plan to do this work over the summer, as soon as they confirm dates for this we will reschedule the resurfacing. we apologies for the inconvenience but I am pleased we found out before the new surface was laid.

Delayed works letter – Arthurs Bridge Road Horsell