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Update from your LibDem Borough Councillors - Saturday 6 March 2021

March 6, 2021 3:05 PM

Dear friends, welcome to our latest Update covering material since our last one on 19 February.

Local COVID updates:

  • The NHS-run vaccination programme continues to go well, with this infographic showing the progress being made locally.
  • In-line with other universities, UCA is planning on re-starting tuition over the next few weeks with a detailed programme of testing in place.
  • The Council is starting to plan for a gradual reopening of services, but we will press for decisions to be based on data will be more important than arbitrary dates.

Other local news:

  • Congratulations to a local boy who has been raising money for Save the Children by running and walking regularly - inspired by his awareness of the inequalities in our world. Details of Mathi Glover and his fundraising are here
  • And still on health, the forthcoming Horton Art Centre has an exhibition of portraits inspired by photographs of past patients in the Hospital Cluster that can be seen in the windows of WH Smith. Details here.
  • The government has confirmed that leafleting for the County Elections can now start, with appropriate care.
  • We repeat our appeal made in our last edition to object to the planned extension of activity at the Chalk Pit on College Road - the increased noise and dust is already causing distress and environmental damage. See here(for County application, deadline for comments 15 March) and here (for Borough application).
  • This week a team from the LGA, has been carrying out a review of the Borough's finance team and how it sets strategic direction and plans for the future. The report is not expected for a few months but the comments made by the reviewing team were totally in line with those made by David in his budget speech.

Wider issues:

  • The budget proposes a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, and no financial recognition of their work over the last year. This is a slap in the face for staff, and the government will probably do another of their u-turns.
  • The budget also announced three tiers of local areas to receive regeneration funds. There seemed little correlation between levels of depravation and need and levels of financial support - with prosperous Richmondshire (the Chancellors' constituency) being placed in the "most needy" tier! Full coverage in various papers with the FT being most detailed (but with a firewall) and the Guardian here.
  • More generally the budget had:
  • nothing to tackle the Climate Emergency, other than headlines with no substance (see later point below);
  • nothing to fix social care, where is the 'oven ready plan' we were promised by the Prime Minister?
  • nothing to deliver more social housing, or to tackle the cladding scandal which is destroying people lives;
  • And lastly, nothing to help those excluded from COVID support packages; the LibDems will continue to fight in all these areas.
  • Given the problems with the £37 billion Track & Trace programme and the public unease with it (see here) it is interesting to see Lambeth Council is taking over the programme in their area.
  • The census will be on Sunday 21 March. You can self-identify with more than one "national identity" - and in addition to ticking, for example, British and English, you can also write in "European" as per this initiative.
  • A Parliamentary Committee has criticised the government for not having any serious plans to reach its stated "net zero" position by 2050. The full report is a public document here and the BBC article is here.

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

MAY ELECTIONS

If you want to apply for a Postal Vote for the 6th May County elections you can download a form here.

Julie and David

Stay safe

Saturday 6th March 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.