1. Surrey County Council Election 2017

     

    Voting Summary
    Details Number
    Seats 1
    Total votes 5082
    Electorate 11322
    Number of ballot papers issued 5094
    Number of ballot papers rejected 12
    Turnout 45%
    Share of the votes (%)
    Chris Townsend 54% Elected
    Chris Hunt 35% Not elected
    Sebastian George Bate 4% Not elected
    Susan Gilchrist 4% Not elected
    Tony Cooper 2% Not elected
    Results graph

    Well done, Chris!

     


  2. APMH Car Park

    As a result of concerns raised by residents regarding the issuing of additional car parking permits In Ashtead  we can report the following :

    Ashtead Independent Councillors Mary Cooper , Patricia Wiltshire  and Peter Stanyard  representing all three Wards met with MVDC Interim Head of Corporate services – Mr Paul Anderson .

    The purpose Of the meeting was to discuss the arrangement by MVDC to grant 60 Ashtead based car parking permits to Premium Credit.  40 permits have been granted for APMH car park usage with 20 in the Grove road car park, following  a reduction of 25 for Ashtead hospital staff.

    The permit period of cover is 13-3-17 to 31-3-18 .

    Premium Credit are sited at the Exxon site and will be bussed to site daily . The request is to accommodate an increased number of temporary contract staff, so is anticipated not to be a permanent arrangement .
    Permission to grant the permits was not discussed with local Ward Members as the permits do not constitute a contractual binding arrangement to Council, as they may be withdrawn at any time . However, it was acknowledged as a matter of courtesy in future local Members would be informed .

    Prior to the meeting Councillor Stanyard audited APMH car park and discovered only 9 parked cars displaying the permit pass – approximately 25% usage rate . However, we will be keeping a close eye on the usage figures over the next few weeks with MVDC staff additionally reviewing the sites at our request .

    As a result of the meeting the following actions have been agreed :

    1. Premium credit have been informed of our concerns and have been asked to preferentially use the long term park area at back of the APMH  to allow residents front end spaces .

    2. We will be requesting a strategy car parking review is undertaken in Ashtead particularly so we can understand the collective impact on car parking in the area prior to the opening of the new M&S store:   we will agree the scope of the review with MVDC .

    3. Discussion will be undertaken with M&S management to understand their expectation of car movement within the car parks .

    4. MVDC will monitor car parks over next few weeks to identify whether the arrangement is causing any major concerns, and should that be the case, we can withdraw permits .

    5. We will be asking Premium Credit to re-examine their on-site parking to see  if they  can make arrangements to  accommodate the extra staff on current site grounds .

    We will keep you informed of our progress .

    Should you find difficulty in locating a space at the car parks, could you please inform MVDC and copy your Ward Councillor – contact details  are located on the MVDC website http://www.molevalley.gov.uk/
    Ashtead Independent website  http://ashteadindependents.org/ 


  3. Ashtead Independents – Budget voting preferences

    Ashtead Independent Councillors are independent of other parties and of each other.  This puts a responsibility on your individual Councillor to THINK about what’s best for Ashtead or Mole Valley or their ward. Some Councillors that are subject to a party whip think this is a bad thing.  But all Lib Dems voted against the budget and all Conservative voted for – how many of them actually think?  Independent Councillors believe that politics should be taken out of managing Local Government but some current SCC candidates believe Councillors should blindly follow a hierarchy that can and does force Councillors to vote ‘out of touch’ with their ward.

    For instance, the current Chair of the Development Control Committee at Mole Valley will support a spatial strategy that causes development to be directed to Ashtead, because the majority Conservative administration is elected mainly from the countryside wards.

    Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) Conservatives (including the member for Ashtead) vote for subsidies for Dorking Halls to the tune of £100,000 per year. Over the last 10 years, they’ve had about £2M pounds of MVDC ratepayers’ money.  But there’s been no policy for spreading that support for the arts around the district (including Ashtead).  That’s particularly ‘out of touch’ with Ashtead.

     

    Here are some notes for the THINKING behind Independent Councillors voting on the budget.

    First, the current administration can hardly criticise those Ashtead Independent Councillors that supported their view, so we’ve no need to explain their position.  A well thought out budget was presented and the figures added up.  The administration had spent a long time preparing this budget, and if those Independent Councillors had no burning reason to object, it’s good to appreciate and recognise hard work.

    By the same token, if all the Ashtead Independents (AI’s) had voted against, it would not have defeated the Conservative majority, so there was no political opportunity missed.  We had discussed it before hand, and everyone made their own mind up.

    Cllr Hawksworth abstained from voting on the budget as the basis of various items was unclear or had not been justified in appropriate detail.  In addition to the major problem of reliance on future investment income, that may well not materialise, as pointed out by Cllr Harper, he was also especially concerned that there was no debate on whether elected Councillors should, or should not, accept the pay rise recommended by the Officers (even though that was requested by a Liberal Democrat Member).  Further, he objected to changes being made in the accompanying MVDC Corporate Strategy document which watered down the Council´s overall policy on development in the Green Belt.  He concludes that the Conservative Executive is set on pushing its own policies and wishes through without the courtesy of affording the full Council an opportunity to fully question and debate such important matters.  He would have voted against but was concerned that rejection at that Council meeting would have left insufficient time for a revised budget to be prepared and agreed before the Council Tax demands were due to be sent out.

    Cllr Harper voted against the budget and felt it was totally irresponsible to rely on a single, unguaranteed source of income, and to ignore other potential revenue stream altogether.

     

    They are relying on…

    The Conservatives budget is based upon the assumption they can borrow £50M at 0.5% fixed for 50 years from the Department of Communities and invest it in commercial property in the hope of getting a higher return.  They assume this will establish an income stream in the next 3 years that will cover the drop in new homes bonus.  Without this investment, the Council’s budget will not balance.  At last months council meeting he questioned their progress with this initiative and it was stated that, so far, no offers for investment had been accepted from any of the MVDC bids made.  They say they are ‘on-target’ but they would not answer the question ‘what is the possibility of this income source failing when there would be 100% certainty of raising revenue from rates?’ They did not answer this most pertinent question.  It seems that they will not acknowledge the feasibility of their investment strategy failing.  Furthermore, they have no contingency plan in place should they, indeed, fail to generate funds.

    By the way….  Cllr Harper thinks this is ‘State Aid’ in local government.  They ‘get around’ it by setting up a wholly owned private company.  The concept is that they loan that company money at (say) 2.9% and it covers its costs by getting 3% yield.  One Conservative Councillor outside Ashtead raised the question of creating an asset bubble – but being Conservative….. was ignored.  How is this fair compared to you and me wanting income for our pension?  They are competing with Trusts and Funds, such as Schroder etc, bidding up the cost of assets.

     

    They are ignoring…

    Cllr Harper asked at Executive how many homes MVDC need to build to retain the new homes bonus (currently £1M comes from this source per year).  In response Conservative Executive member for planning, Doug Irvine, said that, to retain the New Homes Bonus, the Conservative Government had set MVDC a target of 400 new homes each year.  Currently, Mole Valley District Council is building around 150 (less than 38% of the Government target).  By failing to meet the target, the Conservative MVDC Executive Committee is allowing this income to drop from its current level of around £1M to about £100K (out of a total income of around £10M).  Duncan Irvine stated that won’t be bribed but also confirms that these homes are critically needed for our (not so young) buyers and to meet Central Governments ‘Broken homes’ theme.  They won’t face up to the housing crisis in our community nor the difficult decision of where to build them (the Spatial Strategy).  The Conservative-run Executive Committee realises that the Government housing target cannot be accommodated by Ashtead, Bookham, Fetcham or Dorking (broadly Lib Dem for Dorking, Ashtead Independent and a minority of Conservatives).  It would appear that members of the Executive are doggedly avoiding building them in suitable places within their own electoral heartland (see Spatial Strategy – time for a change? paper).  To do so, might cause them to lose electoral seats and, thus, the small majority they have at Council.

    The consequence of not balancing the budget would be inevitable cuts in services – and greatest impact of this would be felt by the vulnerable, the poorer, and the less able rather than the more affluent and able bodied residents.  Cllr Harper was appalled to learn, in one instance, that a homeless family was re-housed outside MVDC (Horsham) because MVDC only has one family home within its borders.  The re-located family was asked to pay for transport to maintain their children’s’ attendance at their usual school.  To ensure maximum stability for them, Cllr Harper argued that MVDC should pay for a taxi to minimise disruption to the children’s daily routines.  The Conservative Executive agreed, so the request had a positive impact.  But these types of gesture will be impossible should the budget fall into deficit – the Conservative Executive will be forced to cut and minimise services rather than provide the support that some people desperately need.

     

    Cllr Pat Wiltshire joined Cllr Harper in voting against due to a collection of the reservations expressed above.

     

    TO BE CLEAR – The views of Councillors Harper, Hawksworth and Wiltshire are independent and do not represent the views of the Ashtead Independent group nor of Ashtead Residents’ Association.

     

     


  4. Mole Valley Spatial Strategy – time for a rethink?

    There’s a new Spatial Strategy in development now that forms a foundation for a new Local Plan, which will be guided by National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and South East Plans. It’s inevitable that more dwellings will be required and 90% of MVDC land is categorized Green Belt or Countryside. The result could be further intensification of construction within Ashtead if the current Spatial Strategy is maintained.

    Many Ashtead residents have accepted this as inevitable and a price worth paying to save the Green Belt. But already these planning applications have caused massive objections for reasons that include loss of gardens and green spaces (such as Parsons Mead) and concerns for local services such as schools, doctors, roads, drainage, water etc. The look, feel and not to mention the bio-diversity of Ashtead have been changing bit by bit.

    What are there alternatives? The Government- not to mention MVDC – is struggling with this. There are some articles written by the Economist for further reading such as ‘Hardly Groundbreaking’ and ‘The Green Belt Delusion’ from Feb 11-17th edition for their comments on the White Paper. But what’s your view?

    Through our own Ashtead Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), we all see that the Green Belt has enormous benefits for us all, such as preventing urban sprawl and protecting wildlife and growing food. But this argument ignores the bio-diversity and wildlife of Ashtead gardens that are grossly under-valued compared to some of the species-poor arable fields in the countryside. And by constant in-fill, Ashtead experiences its own form of urbanisation. Its time for a re-think about the balance, and for Ashtead residents to explore all options and respond to consultation on the Spatial Strategy coming later this year.

    For information, here is a map of the district illustrating there is an area the size of Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham and Fetcham combined outside protected areas of Green Belt, areas of natural beauty and landscape value.
    Spatial_1

    Stations like Holmwood and Ockley close to the main A24 artery (down the line from Ashtead beyond Dorking) are part of the infrastructure laid down by far sighted planners decades ago, to spread the development around the district.

    Would a change to the Green Belt boundary within 1 mile of Holmwood Station (Beare Green current population 1,323 versus Ashtead 14,059) provide suitable sustainable development land?

    Spatial_2

    Ockley railway station is right on the southern border of the Green Belt. Land to the South of Coles Lane lies outside the Green Belt. Would appropriate development within 1 mile of this station be sensible?

    Do you think development could be considered for these or other areas – which are more or less equally suitable when compared with Ashtead? Or would you prefer that

    buildings in Ashtead increasingly become three or four floors, or intensify further on the ground?

    Spatial_3

    I’m not saying that these areas are suitable or not. But I want Ashtead residents to be cognisant of the fact that if the Spatial Strategy remains the same or similar as last time, then one result could be intensive construction in Ashtead if other alternatives are not found.

    Join in the process by letting us know your opinion, or come to our monthly (first Saturday) surgery at the Scouts’ Hut on Woodfield, 12 noon to 1pm.  In any case, do look out for the consultation on Spatial Strategy appearing on the MVDC website and be sure to let MVDC know your views.

    Note:

    • Google images used under non-commercial licence and their terms and conditions.
    • These comments are by Councillor David Harper do not represent the views of MVDC nor of Ashtead Independent Group.

     

     


  5. Drop-in Surgeries – have arrived

    Ashtead Independent Ward Councillors Surgeries, with other Wards catered for too

     

    Ashtead Independent Ward Councillors are starting monthly drop-in meetings at the Scout Hall, Woodfield, from 12.00-13.00 on the first Saturday in each month, starting on 1 October 2016.

    Cllrs David Hawksworth and Patricia Wiltshire (Common Ward) plan to be there on each occasion, and at least one Councillor from each of Park and Village Wards will also normally be present.

    Come by to discuss any issues they may be able to help you with, or just to meet them and have a chat.

     

     


  6. A comment on the District Council Elections Results, 2016

    “We are delighted that all our four candidates retained the seats we fought at the recent District Council elections. We had the largest overall majority for many years and each of our candidates achieved very good personal majorities, particularly Mary Cooper in Village Ward which was especially targeted by the Conservatives after their win last year (the General Election year).

     

    The detailed results were as follows and profiles of your new Councillors appear elsewhere on this site”

     


  7. Putting the record straight: Village and Common Wards

    What the Ashtead Independents say:

    Election letter from Mary Cooper

    Electors in Village Ward will have received a letter from Ashtead Independent candidate Mary Cooper within the last few days.  A copy of this letter follows for reference

     It has been brought to our notice that this letter failed to display the required election “imprint” as follows:

    Printed by: Surrey Litho, Units 48 & 49 Bookham Industrial Park, off Church Road, Great Bookham, KT23 3EU

    Promoted by Roy Ronald Guy, 26 Cray Avenue, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 1QX

    On behalf of the candidate Mary Cooper, Oakwood, Farm Lane, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 1LR

    We apologise for this omission and to any elector who has been misled or inconvenienced by it.

    Click on the link  Village Ward’s Response

    Click on the link  Common Ward’s Response


  8. Green Lane Crossing – Petition

    Surrey County Council says:

    Your petition has been approved, and is now available on the website at the following address:

    http://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/GreenLane/

    Your petition reads:

    We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to support the retention and improvement of the railway line crossing between Green Lane and Links Road, Ashtead.

    The Green Lane footpath crossing over the railway line has been in use consistently and openly as a public path since the advent of the railway in 1856 and Network Rail’s own website describes this crossing as a ‘Public Footpath Crossing’.

    Surrey County Council’s own Definitive Map shows this crossing as a Public Footpath. This crossing is used by an average of over 230 people a day, in excess of 1600 per week, amounting to over 80,000 crossings every year, figures which indicate the importance of this crossing to local residents.  There has not been a serious accident here since 1967, a remarkable fact given the frequency of trains and that in the intervening 50 years, millions of pedestrians have responsibly and safely traversed the track. Given the extraordinarily high level of pedestrian usage and the unusual geographical predicament of the ‘landlocked’ residents to the north of the crossing who are isolated by the railway tracks, this public footpath crossing is a vital link for cyclists and pedestrians to local shops, schools, and bus routes, while many residents south of the crossing use it to access the common for recreation.

    Please sign it folks (I’ll be checking!) and spread the word.

    I should point out that the rules say one signature per email address.

    Paula


  9. John Northcott

    Visitors to this site will almost certainly have seen the many fulsome eulogies, in the local press and on the Ashtead Residents Association website, to John who sadly died on 16 March having resigned from the Council only a few days previously due to his deteriorating health.  The Ashtead Independent Councillors would like to add the following brief tribute.

    John had had an exceptionally good grounding in the ways of local government, having been on the Ashtead Residents’ Standing Committee for many, many years before he stood as an Ashtead Independent for the Common Ward in 2000.  He had a prestigious appetite for “reading the paperwork” and you knew that we would always be fully briefed on the topic in hand.  What he didn’t know about Planning wasn’t worth knowing and the fellow Councillors and Council Officers listened carefully when John spoke about Planning matters.  He was extremely well respected at Pippbrook by his fellow Councillors & Officers;  so much so know that, on learning of his death, the flag at the Council Offices was lowered to half-mast and as his funeral began, there was a minutes silence at Pippbrook – a mark of respect from those there and a mark of the man.

    John also “took on” Thames Water when there was a spate of flooding in his Ward;  unsurprisingly, John prevailed and the matter was dealt with.  He also took a very keen interest in the Level Crossing, a feature of his Ward, and was frequently seen visiting the overnight works in the early hours of the morning, making sure he knew what was happening, in case he wanted to revert to Network Rail.

    It may seem from the above that John was “all work and no play” but that would be very far from the truth:  he had many other interests and enjoyed a good laugh, often at his own expense.

    He was a lovely man, who will be sorely missed by his fellow Ashtead Independents, and Councillors of other hues, along with many in Ashtead.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gill, his wife, and his children, Richard and Clare, and the wider family.


  10. Resurfacing of the A24 through Ashtead

    Surrey Highways had intended to carry out resurfacing between Bowyers Close and Parkers Hill and between Uplands and the Knoll roundabout imminently but the latest we hear is that this may not happen until April or May 2016.  Whenever it does happen, considerable disruption is likely, especially if it coincides with the expected second closure of Pebble Hill.