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Update from you LibDem Councillors - Friday 30 October

October 30, 2020 6:57 PM

Dear friends, here is our latest update covering the period since our last message on 16 October.

At the time of writing it looks like we may be facing a more severe "lock-down" either locally or indeed nationally. Given the fast pace of change and general gloom we decided to not cover COVID at all in this update, instead please follow the government and Borough websites https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and https://www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk for updated info (and be wary of the media getting it even more wrong that the politicians!).

Borough news - The Good,….:

  • Many thanks to one of our readers for bringing the Remembrance Trail at the Woodland Trust Langley Vale Wood from 4th to 30th November to our attention. It should be a great way of getting exercise, giving remembrance and seeing autumn colours. Details here https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:b2a84dca-c4cb-4f64-8edb-21cd1bf61765
  • Our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) bids to get funding to improve security in Alexandra Rec and to improve the surface of Rifle Butts Lane have got through the first round of scrutiny. We now need to do more work and final decisions will be made in January.

Borough news - …The practical….:

  • As we warned last time, the new booking system at the recycling tip is in force from 5 November to reduce queues. Each slot is 15 minutes long and residents can arrive at any time within that period. Slots will be available to book up to 14 days in advance. More information and a link to the system can be found at https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/community-recycling-centres/epsom
  • Please consider pets during fireworks! (and remember our previous email about hedgehogs).
  • The government's decision not to do its usual 3 year Comprehensive Spending Review means continued uncertainty for our local finances (as well as the national uncertainty).

Borough news - …and The Bad and The Ugly:

  • At the Strategy & Resources Committee on 27 October the ruling Residents Association sought a further £25k to spend on amended plans to build flats on the Wells Centre. Responding to the massive and focused local opposition to these plans, David proposed an amendment to enable the local residents' alternative ideas for a community-run centre to be investigated. It was defeated 6-3, an example of the Residents Association not wanting to listen to the residents!
  • At the same meeting, the ruling RA's very undemocratic Constitution that prevents residents from asking a question about any item on the Agenda was highlighted. Julie has previously tried to get this changed and we will try again - it is very "unusual".
  • Claims for Universal Credit in the Borough have increased by 300% between February and July. Some £39k of funds have been released to the Foodbank to help their work. As we emailed earlier this week, there is also a Surrey-wide petition by the LibDems to seek to get SCC to review its approach to help children who would normally get free school meals https://tinyurl.com/LidDemSurreyPetitionSchoolMeal

National issues that caught our eye:

  • The 2019 Conservative Manifesto included a section on setting up a Commission on the Constitution, Democracy and Rights. As yet, there has been no movement on this, so the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have created their own survey to see what issues the public think it should cover. Options include the electoral system, the House of Lords, devolution and deliberative democracy and many more. It takes less than a minute to complete and is open until 12pm on Monday 2 November - please take part!
  • The inability of the civil servants to stand-up to government ministers is a continuing worry but there was a laughable example this week. The Department for International Trade tried to make a topical Tweet about soy sauce, Bake Off, and the UK-Japan trade agreement. Unfortunately for them, their claims that the UK-Japan deal would lead to lower prices for soy sauce were wrong for about 3 different reasons! Their attempts at a climbdown were even more embarrassingly cack-handed.
  • The normal flu is also a danger, the NHS are trying to encourage vaccinations, please see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/
  • Changing times - Paris Charles de Gaulle is now a busier airport than London Heathrow, an early sign of the impact of Brexit?
  • Finally, at our autumn conference the LibDems voted in favour of examining how a Universal Benefit Income could be introduced, and are now calling for volunteers (with the right qualifications) to produce more detail, please see https://www.markpack.org.uk/166062/lib-dem-ubi-policy/

All the best, and please stay safe

Julie and David

Friday 30 October