Originally sent as a newsletter to members 10 April 2022
"So what difference does it make to have a Lib Dem council leader?" "I don't see any changes." "I didn't even know a Lib Dem leads the council."
These are the sorts of questions I get asked and, to be fair, if a local resident is not involved with local politics they will often not be aware of the situation. So today I thought it would be a good idea to outline five ways in which having a Lib Dem council leader is good for you. There are more than five, of course, but these are a good start.
1 Introduced greater transparency in decision-making
To improve management of risk in decisions, an independent member of the audit committee has been appointed.
Far more information is now available to residents (eg Benwell Court). Decisions are being taken by committees (with genuine discussion) and not by a small clique of Cabinet members.
2 Created a cross-party initiative to reduce Local Plan housing numbers
Council Leader Lawrence Nichols, with cross-party support, has written to Kwasi Kwarteng explaining why the housing numbers imposed on Spelthorne are unacceptable. Despite compelling evidence that 611 new homes per year is unreasonable, nothing has happened to reduce the number. Just warm words from our MP, but no action.
3 New Corporate Plan agreed after two years of Conservative delay
The old Plan expired in 2019 and Tories didn't get a grip and push it forward. Now we have a plan that includes a new focus on Service Delivery and with outcomes that can be monitored.
Originally sent as a newsletter to members 3 April 2022
Delivering leaflets. Simple, right? Well, yes, but there are a few things you may not have thought of if you have not done this for us.
"No Junk Mail" stickers
Would you post? Generally, I would say yes because we are delivering a communication from a local councillor; letting residents know what's happening is part of our commitment to them. However, there are many versions so do read them and make the decision for yourself. There is one house I (don't) deliver to because the sign says "We need trees more than pizzas" - that speaks to me!
This was originally published in our members and supporters newsletter on 19 March 2022.
If you have seen the film Network, with the wonderful Peter Finch, you'll remember the powerful scene in which he implores people to scream from their window. The past two years have seen me wanting to scream from the window at times.
A new office to help people find jobs and improve their skills has been opened in Staines
Lib Dem Councillor Sandra Dunn opened the new office of Fedcap Employment in Staines on Friday 4 March.
Not-for-profit organisation Fedcap Employment is delivering the UK Government's Restart Scheme in the region, helping the long-term unemployed to pick up skills for the modern workplace, fill local vacancies, and get the experience and confidence to find a suitable job and build sustainable careers.
Our local home is one of eight to be closed across surrey
Staines South Lib Dem Councillor Chris Bateson writes:
In a recent Focus Newsletter article, I expressed my concerns about the future of Meadowside care Home in Staines as had a number of local residents - and this week, Surrey County Council's Cabinet agreed to close eight residential care homes, include our local one.
Lib Dem Councillors on the Surrey Police and Crime Panel have criticised the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for raising Council Tax and drawing on reserves to expand their own office's budget by 17% to £3.3 million a year, while Surrey Police will have to make do with 50 fewer frontline staff than they need to address performance issues.
Spelthorne Liberal Democrats has read with deep concern the hastily contrived cuts to train services on the main line through Staines and Ashford and the even more drastic reductions on the Shepperton branch, all taking effect from Monday 17 January 2022. This coincides with significant increases in train fares introduced earlier this month. Long suffering commuters and travellers are in effect suffering a double blow of yet again paying more for a worse service.
The main line from Reading has always been heavily used and rush hour trains are often crowded. However the even more drastic reduction on the Shepperton Branch is totally unacceptable. The halving of the service to one train an hour, apart from a condensed period in rush hour and withdrawal of all peak hour trains via Richmond, makes travelling on this line difficult and distinctly unattractive even more so than before.
As we come out of the Omicron peak with Plan B restrictions to be reviewed shortly, the timing of this rushed and unjustified decision needs an urgent rethink. We will be taking significant steps to return to a fair degree of normality very soon, with people steadily returning to the office and leisure travel also increasing. The expectation is that passenger numbers will steadily increase again.
We call upon SWR to look again at what they are doing, particularly on the Shepperton Branch to restore the justified half hourly service on this line at the earliest opportunity.
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