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your Monthly update from your LibDem Borough Councillors - covering May 2022

June 2, 2022 8:55 AM

Dear friends, we hope you are having an enjoyable long Jubilee weekend - including some of the events in the Borough and more widely. Here is our update on local and "not-so-local-but-relevant" developments during May.

Council updates:

  • The main news is that the Chief Executive of the Council, Kathryn Beldon, is leaving, with her last day in the office being Monday 6 June. This was only announced on 26 May. We shall see whether the ruling RA Group are able to manage the disruption this will cause.
  • That news may have been the cause for many of the planned Committee meetings during May being cancelled or having very light agendas.
  • The main item of interest to residents is the approval of a timetable and process for drafting the very important Local Plan. A Local Plan gives us our own policies concerning development, heights, renewable energy requirements etc. Without this, our current status, we can have limited ability to refuse inappropriate planning applications. The periods for consultation are very short (and can go over school holidays) but despite our request for extensions these were not accepted. Details of the agreed timetable and process can be read in the papers for this meeting, but should eventually be on the Council's website in a more user-friendly format (at least, that is what we have asked to happen).
  • One aspect of the papers supporting the Local Plan covers how residents are consulted about planning applications. The Council's approach is to do the bare minimum (eg only contacting the immediate neighbours for non-major applications) although we pressed for a more common sense, and wider, approach to be taken - referencing several recent cases that you have brought to our attention.
  • We are keeping an eye on how the Council is processing the Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme. If you are aware of people who should have benefited but have not please let us know.
  • We have three bids going forward for the Infrastructure Levy fund charged to developers. New notice boards for all the allotment sites, new playground equipment and some refurbishment works to 9 tennis courts.
  • It is now less than a year before the next Borough-wide Council elections in May 2023. If you would like to stand, please contact one of us for more information about what it involves.

Other Borough updates:

  • By the time you read this the celebrations may be over, but just in case, you can check what is on for the Jubilee here.
  • Council officers have finally taken enforcement action at the Chalk Pit. Community Protection Warnings (CPWs) have been served on all businesses accessing the rim area, requiring the compulsory fitting of chain guards to prevent the high pitch clanking noise. A further CPW has been served on the worst offender which prohibits them from accessing the rim area entirely.
  • Work is starting on the Great Pond Dam in Epsom Common which might take a few weeks to complete.
  • Last month we mentioned the launch of the Epsom & Ewell Times. David had an article published in it recently which you can read here.

County and other local news:

  • Many of the 11 other Boroughs in Surrey had elections in May, and the LibDems did very well, taking control of Woking Borough Council, maintaining its control of Mole Valley and doing very well in all other Boroughs. Let's see what we can do here in 2023!
  • The possibility of a "County Deal" involving some reorganisation of responsibilities between the County and local Boroughs has resurfaced. We will be pressing for both efficiency and retention of local democracy in any proposal.

National issues:

  • So now we know that blasting out ABBA late at night and being sick in the office does not constitute a party. Our prime minister and governing party continue to make our once sensible and fair country a laughingstock in the rest of the democratic world. The interview with Mumsnet is worth a watch ! Further examples below on Climate, Ukraine and Brexit:
  • Climate: Our sensible Queen decided to give the State Opening of Parliament a miss since she had clearly seen the speech and couldn't bear to deliver it! One striking gap was anything on climate and ecology.
  • Ukraine: Despite the bluster, the generosity and openness of British citizens continues to be frustrated by the draconian visa regime.
  • Brexit: Analysis shows that the cost of Brexit is running at £173m per week. We didn't see that on the bus did we !

And finally, a new section of our Update. Each month we will promote a Podcast or something similar that one of us particularly enjoys (or that you recommend to us, please let us know). This month, David is recommending a weekly Podcast called The Rest is Politics which is Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell chatting through national and international matters. They can be hilarious when discussing Johnson.

Have a good long weekend

Julie and David

Thursday 2 June 2022

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