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Update from your LibDem Borough Councillors - Friday 19 February 2021

February 19, 2021 6:41 PM

Dear friends, welcome to our latest Update. This differs from our last one of 5 February as it concentrates on the Borough Council's budget passed at full Council on Tuesday 16 February, and how this impacts your overall Council Tax for 2021/22.

Our "useful COVID links" are still at the bottom of this Update, but we have included fewer other COVID-related news. However the gridlock up at the Downs this evening, apparently caused by a hoax Social Media post about vaccinations being available, shows the need to be sensible and use the reliable sources below rather than rumour.

Key points about your Council Tax

  • The Borough Council decided to increase their part of the total Council Tax (see next point) by the maximum allowable without needing a referendum, so the charge for a Band D home will go up to £208 from £203.
  • Most of our Council Tax (about 90%) actually goes to the Conservative-run Surrey County Council and Police Commissioner. The aggregate increase proposed by them is nearly 3%. Combining all the components together, the total council tax for Band D will be £2,043 up from £1,985.
  • The total budgeted to be collected from the EEBC's share of the Council Tax is £6.9m, compared to an expected net expenditure of £9.1m. The gap of £2.2m will come from existing reserves and government grants.
  • In our speech responding to the budget proposals, we did not object to the Council Tax proposal but emphasised how more could be done to use our significant capital reserves to invest into "Green" projects - both to save money and to reduce our CO2 emissions.
  • We also objected to the cuts in the staff numbers in the Parks & Rangers department.
  • Full details of the Budget are on the Council's website here, while a copy of David's speech can be downloaded here.
  • We accepted the Borough's proposed Council Tax because the impact of the Conservative government's policies around local authorities really led to no alternative.
  • The LibDem Councillor group at the County Council objected to the County's budgets since there is much waste on items such as the work on a single Unitary Authority, and other areas where efficiency could be improved. Details of that meeting is available here.

Other local news:

  • Several updates on Planning:
    • The proposed development at Langley Bottom Farm was rejected at Committee on 16th
    • The developers at South Hatch are seeking a change in the s106 agreement (which controls how the development proceeds). This will be reviewed at the Committee in April and you can make comments here.
    • The operators of the Chalk Pit site are trying to extend their activities. They are allegedly doing more than in the past and the impact on air quality, traffic, verges and noise is causing concern. You can have your say here (this is a County application). You can also log any immediate issues with the Environmental Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk
  • A group of dedicated individuals are trying to get proper recognition of the historic and cultural significance of Horton Cemetery that served the cluster of mental hospitals. This is a key part of our local history and if you would like to get involved please contact the team here.

Wider issues:

  • The government has been found to have acted illegally in not publishing the majority of the £15billion worth of PPE contracts within the required 30 days. The story is here (with further links).
  • The Courts are expected to decide soon on another case against the government around awarding a £564m consultancy contract to a firm run by Cummings' friends.
  • An unpublished government report has shown the importance of social deprivation as a driver for COVID rates and severity - wonder why they haven't published it!

And finally, here is a quote we saw in a newspaper from a manufacturer moving jobs to France: "Britain used to be great but no longer," he says, blaming Tory politicians at the top of government. "To adapt a phrase from our most famous leader, 'Never in the field of British business has so much been destroyed for so many, by so few.'"

COVID - useful links:

Up-to-date information is available on the following links - please let us know if you have ideas for this list which we will repeat at the end of each future Update for ready reference:

  • Latest statistics on cases around Surrey are available here (showing a continued reduction in cases).
  • This page from Surrey Heartlands gives up-to-date information on the vaccination roll-out.
  • Information about council (Borough and County) services is available on their websites here and here.
  • And the national government page with restrictions etc is here (you need to drill down for updates since landing page still refers to cases rising).

MAY ELECTIONS

If you want to apply for a Postal Vote for the May County elections which have been confirmed you can download a form here.

Julie and David

Stay safe

Friday 19th February 2021

  • Please encourage others to subscribe at https://epsom-ewell-libdems.org.uk/en/subscribe-by-email
  • We can't knock on your doors right now, but if you have an issue you would like to discuss or a matter where we might be able to help, please let us know and we can set up a Zoom call.