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Update from your LibDem Borough Councillors - Saturday 27 March 2021

March 28, 2021 8:31 AM

Dear friends, welcome to our latest Update covering material since our last one on 6 March. I am sure you are all relieved that NASA has said the planet will not get hit by an asteroid in the next 100 years, so we can get back to focusing on more immediate issues such as:

Local COVID updates:

  • Monday sees some changes in what we can and can't do.
  • As usual our links at the bottom of this Update provide links to where you can get the full information from the authorities.
  • The free NHS asymptomatic testing service is moving from Bourne Hall to Ewell Court House, while the vaccination centre is moving from the racecourse to Sandown Park from 17 May.

Other local news:

  • A reminder that the elections for Surrey County Council (responsible for our roads, schools, social services, the recycling centres, tree planting near roads and much else) are on Thursday 6 May. If you are nervous about voting in person it is easy to get a postal vote using this form.
  • At a Council meeting this week Epsom & Ewell Borough Council made the first step in potentially reducing the number of councillors from 38 to 35. Any change will need the approval of the Electoral Commission and will be subject to public consultation. Changes (which could involve tweaks to the wards) would take place from May 2024.
  • The Borough Council's Local Plan that sets out our planning targets and constraints is over 13 years old. This limits the ability to push back on inappropriate proposals from developers. Unfortunately it seems that the costs of getting a new Local Plan completed are edging towards £1m. We will be doing their best to ensure we get value for money from this expenditure.
  • Some residents have found the forms on the Council's website for reporting fly-tipping, graffiti etc hard to use. Please let us, as well as the Council directly, know if you have ideas to improve the service. Incidentally the recent "downtime" on the website from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13 March was due to a large BT/Virginmedia cable failure that affected several councils.
  • A reminder of our local markets - with Friday 2 April and Monday 5 April being a Taste of the World Market. Regular slots are published here.
  • Finally, a quote from one of our readers: "Cyclists riding on pavements have always been a problem, but it's much worse as pandemic has made cycling more popular. Irresponsible cyclists go on pavements, public footpaths and through subways like the one between Stones Road and Longmead, or fail to dismount where requested by signage. It's impossible to hear these people coming behind one: no bells or horns or even an "excuse me". E-scooters are worse, because they are silent and can't stop as quickly as bicycles." I am sure none of you are guilty of this but please pass the message on.

Wider issues:

  • The government's £37bn "test and trace" programme has so far failed to achieve anything material according to a cross-party Parliamentary Committee. "Yet despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project Test and Trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic, and the promise on which this huge expense was justified - avoiding another lockdown - has been broken, twice".
  • There is now an almost 20-year gap in healthy life expectancy between people living in the poorest and most affluent areas of England. The latest data shows that males living in the poorest areas, such as Blackpool, can expect a healthy life expectancy of 52.3 years, while the figures in the least deprived areas, such as Westminster, is 70.7.
  • The methodology for the government's £4.8bn fund to level up and regenerate areas across Great Britain ignored most indicators of deprivation, according to documents published on Thursday 10 March.
  • Britain's exports to the EU slumped more than 40 per cent in January.

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 (which seems to show a levelling off of the fall 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 27th March 2021