Reverse the Charges for Disposing of Household Waste

Liberal Democrat County Councillors have written to the Minister of Local Government asking him to intervene and scrap the County Council’s unpopular charges for dumping certain household waste at our local Community Recycling Centres.

The County Council introduced the fees last year despite residents making their opposition to the charges clear during the public consultation on the charging proposal and despite 1,584 residents signing a petition calling for the charges not to be introduced. Since their introduction, more than 7,000 residents have signed a subsequent petition calling for the charges to be abolished.

In expressing their opposition to the charging proposal, residents have said that this service should be kept free at the point of use and have expressed fears that the charges will result in increased fly-tipping.

Meanwhile Hampshire County Council have recently suspended plans to introduce similar charges pending government advice.

Part Night Streetlighting

The County Council has adopted a Part Night Lighting Policy for its street lights which will commence in Mole Valley in early 2017.

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This new policy covers around the 50,000 (of a total 89,000) streetlights located in residential roads and these lights will be switched off between midnight and 5am.

The streetlights which are not subject to this policy are:

* locations where traffic calming measures have been installed or formal pedestrian crossings are present – in such cases, some street lights in close proximity will be left on all night or the road itself may be excluded entirely;

* roads in close proximity to train stations or bus routes where the last train/bus arrives close to or after midnight will be switched off later than midnight depending on the specific circumstances; and

* the principal road network of traffic routes (A, B and C roads) and  roads in town centres.

The Part Night Lighting programme is expected to save at least £210,000 per annum.

Sign the Petition for a Pedestrian Controlled Crossing on Chalkpit Lane: Create a Safer Walking Route to St Martins and The Ashcombe Schools

We have been seeking to install a pedestrian crossing on Chalkpit Lane near Triangle Stores to create a safer walking route to St Martins and The Ashcombe Schools since we lost the crossing patrol person (and were unable to replace them – partially as it was thought to be unsafe to have a crossing patrol at this location) in 2010.

The County Council met with County Councillor Hazel Watson in Chalkpit Lane on 14 September 2016 to re-review this proposal and this meeting has resulted in the potential scheme for a pedestrian crossing in Chalkpit Lane being added to the County Council’s Integrated Transport Scheme list for potential funding.

The next step is for the required funding to be approved by the Mole Valley Local Committee. To help the Committee decide in favour of funding  this pedestrian crossing, please add your name to this petition. The more signatures we get, the more likely it is that we will get a pedestrian crossing where we used to have the crossing patrol.

The petition can be signed at: https://signme.org.uk/1266

Fly-tipping Set to Increase Across Surrey as “Tory Tip Tax” is Introduced

The County Council’s introduction of charges from 1 September 2016 for using the Community Recycling Centres, coupled with the reduction in their opening hours from 1 April 2016, is likely to lead to even bigger increases in fly-tipping across Surrey.

This warning was given following the recent publication of figures which showed that fly-tipping across the county has already doubled in the last two years: from 2093 tonnes in 2013/14 to 4441 tonnes in 2015/16.

The reduced opening hours and the introduction of the new charges have attracted heavy criticism from both Liberal Democrat councillors and local residents, all of whom have all pointed out that these proposals make it harder for residents to do the right thing when it comes to disposing of waste.

The full effect of the changes are:

* the Dorking and Cranleigh tips closing a half hour earlier each day and for one day a week, and having the types of waste they can accept limited;

* households being limited to one free bag of certain garden or building waste a day, with further bags costing £4 each (but green waste remains free);

* charging for loose waste – £50 per car load; and

* a £5 fee for disposing of tyres.

It was clear from the consultation and petitions presented to the County Council last year that Surrey residents valued and wanted to retain this service with no charges at the tip. Instead of listening to residents’ views, the opening hours have been cut and new charges introduced – both of which will result in damage to our beautiful countryside as fly-tipping increases.

County Council Responds to Call to Fix Crumbling Footways

Surrey County Council has responded to the Liberal Democrat campaign which calls on the County Council to invest in repairing footways across the county.

Project “Pavement Horizon” is a 6-year programme that will see over £20m invested in Surrey’s most heavily used pavements. This investment consists of funding £6m of works in this year (2016/17), and £3m in each of the subsequent years (2017/18 – 2021/2022). This is a significant increase from the £1.5m per year that was previously spent on pavements.

The programme will comprise:

  • (1) Reconstruction schemes (which will make up approximately 60% of the total budget) targeted at pavements around schools, shopping areas, health centres, hospitals and village and town centres.
  • (2) Reconditioning schemes (approximately 40% of the total budget, but only costing about 10% of the unit cost of reconstruction schemes), prioritised as for reconstruction schemes but also intended to ensure our entire network is kept in a reasonable condition.

The poor state of the pavement on the south side of Ashcombe Road between Station Road and The Ashcombe where children walking to school often have to walk in the road to avoid puddles of water and on the north side of Church Street between Station Road and Myrtle Road where elderly residents are unable to walk along the pavement as the camber is 1 in 8 (it should be no more than 1 in 30) are both scheduled for repair / remedial work in the current financial year.

Town Council: It’s A “No”

In a close advisory poll on 5 May, Dorking residents declined to set up a town council by 1,971 votes to 1,912.

The two main factors in the poll were whether Dorking would benefit from an elected Town Council that solely represented the town and, if so, whether residents felt it appropriate for an additional levy to be added to the Council Tax.

The District Council will now complete its Community Governance Review and will make a final decision on whether or not to set up a town council, taking residents’ views into account when making the decision.

A New Agenda for Mole Valley: Building a Caring Community

The Liberal Democrat District Councillor team have launched a new agenda for Mole Valley: Building a Caring Community

Caring for our Towns and Villages

Reduce traffic congestion and improve traffic flow in our town centres.

ŸSupport town centres and improve the retail mix by active town management.

ŸImprove the environment of town and village centres by upgrading pavements and ensuring effective litter collection.

ŸRe-introduce tourist information centres to encourage visitor awareness of the attractions of Mole Valley’s market towns and countryside.

ŸIntroduce a 30 minutes free parking period in all District Council operated car parks in Mole Valley.

Caring for our Environment

ŸProtect the green belt from development pressures and oppose destructive national polices; only consider development where land no longer serves green belt purposes and any development has the support of local residents.

ŸAim for a carbon-neutral District Council through energy conservation and solar energy programmes.

ŸPromote ‘green’ alternatives in District Council planning policies.

ŸTake pro-active measures to deter fly tipping through extending the Tips opening hours and using CCTV in rural environments.

ŸSeek to prevent localised flooding by better street cleaning, including clearing drainage channels and culverts.

Better Housing for a Caring Community

ŸUse Local and Neighbourhood Plans to initiate local development opportunities.

ŸPrioritise housing to meet local need, including social housing and housing for rent.

ŸPut planning emphasis on development of small units for sale or rent at prices within the range of local people.

ŸEnsure that the homeless are housed in accommodation that meets the decent homes standard.

Building Better Community Life

ŸGive all necessary support to organisations and services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Dial-a-Ride which provide services for local people and communities.

ŸMaintain and improve sports facilities such as playing fields and playgrounds and develop new facilities including at the Meadowbank football ground.

ŸProvide support for cultural and arts organisations, continue to improve the Dorking Halls and help to secure the future of the Leatherhead Theatre.

ŸPromote the policies in the Mole Valley Cycling Plan which aims to balance the rights of residents to enjoy living in the area with the rights of cyclists to visit the area safely.

Lib Dems Renew Call For 30mins Free Parking

Liberal Democrat District Councillors have renewed their call for the District Council to introduce half-hour free car parking in its car parks.

This follows the Tory Leader of the Council saying, “The District Council does not encourage residents to pop and shop into our market town by lowering the cost of short term pay-and-display parking.”

It appears, from this statement, that the Conservatives believe that residents who need to pop into town to a cash point or collect dry-cleaning should pay a high charge in a council car park or compete with residents to park on residential roads.

This has to be wrong. The District Council should be taking the lead in promoting the viability and vitality of our market town and should be encouraging all residents to come into and use the shops in the town.

Call for Action to Fix Crumbling Footways

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have called on the Conservative administration at County Hall to put more money towards improving Surrey’s footways and to bring them up to a decent standard.

The most recent condition survey in 2014 showed that one-third of the county’s footways were ‘functionally or structurally impaired’. Since then little has been done to tackle the problem of sub-standard footways in the county whilst resources have been concentrated on resurfacing Surrey’s roads.

We have asked the County Council for this additional funding as we believe that the condition of Surrey’s footways is just as important for pedestrians as the condition of Surrey’s roads is for motorists except that footways and pedestrians have not been given the priority they deserve.

Church Street / North Street Residents Parking Permits

We tabled a motion to the District Council on 24 November to bring the charges for the District Council’s Residents’ Parking Scheme for Church Street and North Street residents into line with the charges for the County Council’s Residents’ Parking Scheme in nearby roads.

At present, the cost of the parking permits for residents in these roads under the District Council’s parking scheme is £350 a year. This compares with the County Council charges for on street residents parking permits of £50 a year.

We presented the case as a win-win situation: fairer parking charges for residents, more revenue for the District Council as more residents would purchase permits, and the bringing into use of the usually empty spaces in the St Martin’s Walk Car Park to make this happen.

The motion was unfortunately lost, with a senior Conservative Councillor claiming that it was inappropriate to reduce the cost of the permits as the value of houses in Church Street and North Street would increase if the cost of the parking permits was reduced. We note that the opposite argument (that the value of homes would fall) was not advanced by the Conservative Councillors when the cost of the permits was doubled a couple of years ago.

We strongly believe that the District Council has made the wrong decision in refusing to review the cost of these permits. The high cost of these permits, in our view, reflects the District Council administration’s belief that it is appropriate to charge residents exorbitant fees where it can in order to subsidise the council tax and that it does not need to provide a cost-effective and fairly priced service to residents where it has the ability to charge more. We believe that this is wrong and we will continue to try to get the cost of these permits reduced and a fair charge introduced.