Dear friends, welcome to our first of our monthly updates on local (and some wider) news for 2023. We also post stories as they break on our Facebook page which you may wish to follow.
Council & Borough updates - the Local Plan:
- The biggest news is the publication for consultation of the draft Local Plan (governing how housing and other development in the Borough will be managed in the period up to 2040). The document can be read here and the consultation is open until 15 March. Please try and take time to study the proposals. If you want to be notified of updates and make comments, then you need to register your email on this page.
- The Draft Plan does include proposals for building on some Green Belt land but we recommend you read the document thoroughly. There is a great deal of misinformation going around on social media sites about building on the Green Belt.
- Once adopted the final version of plan and its standards will form the base for approving or rejecting future planning applications. It is therefore important to try and get it right and to consider residents' views. We (the LibDems) have invited our members to a meeting on Tuesday 28th February to discuss the documents before submitting our formal response to the consultation (contact us if you've lost that email!).
Other Council & Borough updates:
- At the Strategy & Resources meeting in January, David voted against increasing Councillors' pay but was out-voted.
- At the same meeting some financial estimates and budgets were set out. David welcomed one initiative to help reduce the cost of temporary housing, but voted against some other (confidential) proposals that did not take a holistic approach to tackling the Council's finances and were therefore, in his opinion, sub-optimal.
- Regular readers may remember David objecting to an item being discussed in private at another Committee meeting rather than to let the public hear the debate. Papers now in the public domain let us confirm that the item was a proposal to build a pet crematorium or cemetery in the Borough.
- The forthcoming Council meeting on 14 February will vote on the new rates of Council Tax, and the budget for the coming year. It is highly likely that the Borough component (which is about 10% of the total with the rest going to County and Police) will be increased by the maximum allowable of 3%.
- A new council Constitution was discussed at the Standards & Constitution Committee meeting. This followed months and months of weekly meetings (which Julie attended), involving hundreds of hours of council officers' time, reviewing council procedures and processes with a fine toothcomb. Unfortunately, the agreement reached during these weekly meetings, which would have made it much easier for residents to present petitions to the borough council, was thrown out at the eleventh hour by the ruling RA group.
- The Community & Wellbeing Committee agreed to fund £170,000 for a new dojo (martial arts centre) in Alexandra Recreation Ground after demolishing the old one. No time frame at the moment. Most of the remaining capital programme agreed was for urgent car park and roof repairs!
- The first Fixed Penalty Notice for idling has been issued, to a driver who had previously been warned.
- Other Boroughs in Surrey have adopted a different approach to developing their Local Plan, with the LibDem-run Mole Valley seeking to remove all proposed development on the Green Belt.
- What on earth is going on with Burgh Heath Road? The road surface at the top is virtually undriveable. The more reports the better - Highway issue - What is the issue? - Surrey County Council (surreycc.gov.uk)
- This week saw the anniversary of leaving the EU. There have been numerous studies showing the damage it has done to our economy, politics, culture and global standing, but one easy highlight to illustrate the impact was from the LSE that showed Brexit had added £210 to a typical households food bills.
- Meanwhile the Tories just seem to have scandal after scandal - and Julie and David can confirm their tax situations are both simple and fully paid!
All the best
Julie and David
Wednesday 1st February 2023
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