Monthly Archives: July 2009

Surrey Police

There is a full Elmbridge council meeting tonight and on our agenda is an item requiring us to authorise the re-billing of all of our residents in order to reduce their Council Tax for the current year.

Now I’m all in favour of tax cuts, but not this one. What has happened is that Surrey Police set a “precept” – their share of the Council Tax –  higher than the maximum allowed by the Government. They felt they had no choice about this because of the cuts forced on them by central government. The Government then responded by capping their budget, forcing the re-issuing of all Council Tax bills across Surrey at a cost to the police authority of £1.2 million.

The effect of this is that 47 police jobs will be lost. This will be done by not filling posts as they fall vacant. It will stretch the existing force and will hit neighbourhood policing particularly hard.

Surrey Police have the support of the local community. They have promised to take policing strategy decisions in the interests of Surrey residents and not in order to keep up to targets set for them by central Government. So I think I could be forgiven for concluding that the Labour Party’s decision to cap their budget was motivated at least in part by spite.

We as a Council are obliged by law to pass this motion. We will do so through gritted teeth. “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”? Another hollow Labout promise, another soundbite, another gimmick. Only 10 months to go now and we can get rid of this shower.

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Sainsburys – part 3

The latest news is that the planning officials at Elmbridge BC have refused Sainsbury’s permission for the roof-top lettering, both the set which they have already erected over the car park and also the illuminated set they wish to place on the roof facing the A3.

They have granted permission for the rest of the development. No order has been made in relation to deciduous or evergreen trees, they have merely ordered that Sainsburys complete their landscaping to the satisfaction of the planning department.

The story has been covered in the Elmbridge Guardian and the Surrey Advertiser.

On to 27th July for the next instalment.

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Good news from Europe

Now that’s something I have never written before. The first piece of good news is that the Conservative MEPs have created a new grouping in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists. The second is that on Tuesday this group elected Michal Kaminsky to be their leader.

Mr Kaminsky is a 37 year old Pole who grew up during the occupation of his country by the forces of Soviet communism. He had the chance to defect but chose not to, preferring to campaign from within. His first speech to the European Parliament was a tribute to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. 

The Tories have been accused of getting into bed with all sorts of extremists by the liberal press. This is a media fabrication. Let’s remember that the EPP, which the Conservatives have just left, includes Alessandra Mussolini, a fact the BBC always ignore. The bottom line is that the vast majority of Conservative supporters, and of course the vast majority of people in this country oppose an “ever closer union”, an aim to which the EPP is unequivocally committed.

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Cricket

I’m afraid I am a bad Dad. I insisted on watching the last hour of the Cardiff Test whilst my little girls begged me to switch over to Charlie and Lola.

Unfortunately for them their Dad is a cricket nut whose formative years were dominated by the heroics of Botham, Gower and Willis in the great Ashes series of 1981. It’s hard to believe it now but between 1981 and 1989 the Aussies were there for the taking, series after series. And then they took over and from 1989 to 2005 it was thrashing after thrashing for the hapless Poms until it got to the stage where serious Australian cricket commentators wondered if a 3 match series would be enough.

Then came 2005 and hope returned – only to be snuffed out 18 months later in a 5-0 thrashing down under. Since then however Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, who had put a whole generation of England batsmen to the sword, have retired and the new Aussie bowling attack looks decidedly ordinary. Their batting line-up is as good as ever.

The draw was a good result given the England bowling attack’s failure to apply any pressure to the Australians in their innings. However the entire team (Collingwood excepted) are going to have to improve at Lords, where the Australians always play well. It’s going to be an interesting series.

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Sainsburys – update

I have been told by the Planning Enforcement team at Elmbridge that they are going to serve a notice requiring the lettering to be removed within 14 days. If Sainsburys fail to do this they could be prosecuted. Watch this space…

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Strip mall Cobham?

The Sainsburys store in Cobham is closed for a re-fit following recent enlargement. Local residents are unhappy about two aspects of the new-look supermarket: loss of protection from light and noise, and the proposed erection of 4 feet high lettering on the roof of the new building.

The previous layout offered protection to nearby residents in the form of a strip of evergreen trees. These had to be removed as the enlargement was in progress and Sainsburys want to replace them with deciduous trees. Neighbours are concerned that this means there will be no protection from light and noise pollution during the winter months.

The four foot high lettering is objected to on the grounds that it is unsightly and makes Cobham, a small town which grew up from a village, have the look of an American style strip mall.

On 27th July these issues will be decided by the local planning committee at the Civic Centre in Esher at 7.45pm. If you want to see what happens, it is a public meeting and anyone can go along.

What I find personally disappointing is that Sainsburys have decided not to wait for the councillors’ decision and have put the lettering up already, effectively defying the elected representatives to order them to take it down. This is hardly in the spirit of community engagement. If you object to this, the telephone number of the local planning department is 01372 474811

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Grass verges

Elmbridge Borough Council has recently taken over responsibility for cutting roadside grass verges. If anyone in the Cobham Fairmile ward is aware of a grass verge that has been missed, please let me know.

Making this service operate closer to the communities concerned should improve the appearance of our neighbourhood.

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