Welcome to the website of the Liberal Democrat Group on Surrey County Council
Liberal Democrat County Councillors have expressed their surprise and anger after it was revealed that Surrey's unpopular "Tory Tip Tax", where residents are charged to use local Community Recycling Centres (CRCs), could be illegal.
Legislation was passed in March 2015 by the then coalition government which prevented councils from charging residents to use household waste recycling centres, either at the point of entry, exit or disposal. The government guidance makes it clear that residents should not be charged for disposing of any waste from DIY, as it considers DIY waste from households as a type of household waste. But Tory-run Surrey County Council last month introduced charges for people disposing of household waste from DIY, despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and local residents, and a consultation which resulted in massive opposition to the scheme.
The Conservatives have broken their promise to Surrey residents not to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, after the government backed the option recommended by the Davies Report today. The Tory U-turn is in direct contradiction to promises made by David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, who said in 2009 that ""The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts." The Conservative manifesto of 2010 promised no third runway at Heathrow, and Surrey residents have been clear in their opposition to airport expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick.
Surrey Liberal Democrat County Councillors have welcomed the decision by Surrey's Cabinet to reject proposed cuts to the Winter Maintenance budget which could have put Surrey residents at serious risk of harm.
Earlier this year, Liberal Democrat Highways spokesperson Cllr Stephen Cooksey chaired a Winter Maintenance Task Group which was requested to consider proposals to make budget savings of £340,000 including reducing the salting network , not filling the network of grit bins and scrapping one of the County's mini salting vehicles.
Liberal Democrat Councillors have criticised Tory-run Surrey County Council after it was revealed that residents who are set to lose their street lighting at night were not formally consulted on the proposal.
At a meeting of the Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 18th October, the ruling Conservative administration agreed proposals that would see 44,000 lights switched off between midnight and 5am. However a consultation which was carried out in August that boasted a 75% approval figure for the plan, was actually conducted through the Council's residents' panels, drawn from people all over the county, rather than those specifically affected by the turning off of street lights.
Liberal Democrats in Surrey have warned that the County Council's finances face an uncertain future after the Conservative administration today rejected a 4-year funding offer from the government.
The funding offer consisted of a guaranteed grant from the government lasting until 2020, but part of the deal involved having to pay back £17.3m to central government in the final year. The decision by the Conservative-administration to reject the offer means an even worse funding deal could be foisted on the Council by the government. This follows a decision last month by the Tory administration to tighten its belt even further by reducing planned expenditure for next year on vital services such as adult social care, children's services, highways and transport.
Liberal Democrat Councillors have warned Conservative-run Surrey County Council that it is facing a continuing crisis in adult social care, after the Council forecasted a £7.4m overspend for this financial year. The figures were revealed just weeks after Tory bosses agreed to charge disabled residents over £1m a year more for their care.
Questioning by Lib Dem councillors has uncovered that Surrey County Council youth centres are only open for a very limited number of hours, with one centre in the county that is only open for just over ONE hour per week.
In a response to a question by Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, it was revealed that a total of 23 youth centres across the county were open for only 5 or less hours per week, making it difficult to meet the needs of young people in Surrey. The Tory-run County Council also admitted that 254 hours a week of youth work is not being provided due to vacancies within the youth service.
Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have revealed almost £67m of public money has been spent on buying properties outside the county, using a council-owned property company called Halsey Garton Property Limited. The properties purchased with funding from the Conservative-run Council were mainly warehouses situated in locations such as Wiltshire, Bristol, Worksop and Salford. The most expensive acquisition was an office in Bristol, at the cost of just under £20m.
Liberal Democrat Councillors have criticised Tory-run Surrey County Council after discovering that residents have still not been informed about plans to turn off thousands off street lights at night.
In response to a question at the July County Council meeting from Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Highways & Environment, the Council stated that it was planning to permanently turn off 45,000 street lamps from midnight until 5.00am. The first phase of 33,000 lights was scheduled for 1st October 2016 and the second, of 12,000 lights, for December or January. But Surrey County Council have admitted that the process has been delayed and that they cannot give a date as to when residents will find out if they will be left in the dark by these proposals or not.