Welcome to the website of the Liberal Democrat Group on Surrey County Council
At the Budget meeting of Surrey County Council on Tuesday 9 February, the Liberal Democrats called on the Conservative administration to protect vital services for Surrey residents.
Leader of he Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, Cllr Hazel Watson said: "Whilst I support the level of Council Tax proposed by the Conservative administration at County Hall, I oppose their Budget as it does not do enough to protect vital services for Surrey residents. Clearly the top priority is the funding of care for vulnerable adults and I support the 2% part of the Council Tax increase for that purpose. The County Council has repeatedly overspent the Adult Social Care budget because there was insufficient money to meet the growing demand for services. This additional money for vulnerable adults will be a life line to help meet this growing demand."
Cllr Watson continued: "However there are other vital services which are being under funded by the Conservative administration. These include, the youth service, bus services, Community Recycling Centres (refuse tips), road safety and drainage.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the County Council to take into account the quality of life of local residents, including noise levels, when making decisions about different road surfaces.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Surrey County Council said: "When roads are surface dressed in order to prolong their life by sealing them and to save money before a full surfacing the road becomes noisier for residents living nearby.
"At present the County Council does not take into account the noise levels or the quality of life of residents living nearby to a road that is being resurfaced with a surface dressing. This needs to change so that local residents are not unnecessarily disturbed by noisy road surfaces when this can be avoided.
"I am asking the Conservative administration at County Hall to change its policy to take into account not just cost but also the quality of life of local residents, including noise levels of different road surfaces when deciding on types of materials and processes for surface dressing or full road resurfacing.
"Surrey residents should not have to suffer as a result of a noisy road surface when a quieter surface could be provided. Quality of life does matter and the County Council should be seeking to protect it for Surrey residents."
The Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council are calling on the Conservative administration at County Hall to put more money towards improving Surrey's footways.
Cllr Stephen Cooksey, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Highways & Transport said:
"Surrey's footways are crumbling and need to be brought up to a decent standard for pedestrians. 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 by the Conservative administration to tackle the problem of Surrey's sub-standard footways while they have been concentrating on resurfacing Surrey's roads.
"The condition of Surrey's footways is just as important for pedestrians as the condition of Surrey's roads is for motorists. Footways and pedestrians have not been given the priority they deserve. It is a Cinderella service in Surrey.
"I am calling on the Conservative administration at County Hall to redress the balance by funding a programme of resurfacing and re-paving of Surrey's footways to bring them up to a decent standard. This continued neglect of our footways must not continue."
The Liberal Democrats have opposed the Conservative-run County Council's flawed decision taken by their Cabinet today to reduce the opening hours of Surrey's tips (known as Community Recycling Centres) and to introduce charges for DIY waste, gas bottles and car tyres at the tips.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition said:
The Liberal Democrats launched the "Lib Dem Fightback" to reconnect with Surrey residents and started planning for the County Council elections at a well-attended Conference in Guildford this weekend. The Conference follows on from a series of Council by-election wins in Surrey since the general election where the Party held council seats in Mole Valley, Elmbridge and Woking and gained a seat from UKIP in Mole Valley.
Liberal Democrats are calling on the Conservative administration at County Hall to ditch their controversial plans for changes to Surrey's tips as they would increase fly tipping across the county.
Cllr John Orrick, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Surrey County Council, said:
"The County Council's recent consultation about Surrey's tips angered many residents because the changes would increase fly-tipping. The proposed changes included charging for disposing of DIY waste at the tips, reducing their opening hours or even closing some of them.
"The wording of the consultation only gave unacceptable options that would make it more difficult for residents to recycle or dispose of waste at Surrey's tips. It gave no opportunity for residents to say that the tips should stay the same or improve.
"Fly-tipping is already a big problem in Surrey with rubbish being dumped on land and roads. Not only is it a blight on Surrey's beautiful countryside, but it is hugely costly for landowners such as the National Trust, as well as district and borough councils, to clear up the mess. These so-called 'savings' would just push the costs onto others.
"Surrey residents should send a message to the County Council telling them to ditch these unacceptable changes to the tips. Residents can show their opposition by signing the online petition on the County Council's website."
Cllr Orrick concluded:
"I hope that the Conservative administration will listen to Surrey residents and drop these misguided changes."
The Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council are calling for urgent action to tackle the sharp rise in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Surrey's roads. This follows the recently released figures for 2014 showing that Surrey had the third largest increase in people killed and seriously injured in England and Wales. The number of deaths on Surrey roads more than doubled, increasing from 18 to 38 deaths.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Will Forster (Woking South) said:
"The number of people killed and seriously injured on Surrey's roads is unacceptable. Each person killed is a tragic loss and impacts severely on their family and friends. This cannot be allowed to continue. The Conservative administration at County Hall has clearly taken its eye off the ball and not given road safety the attention it deserves.
"I am calling on the Conservative administration to give much higher priority to road safety. This must include more funding for road safety education such as through Drive SMART, road safety outside schools and highways improvements. Much more could be done to make Surrey's roads safer, for example by making sure that all roads have appropriate speed limits, warning signs and road markings to alert drivers to hazards, pedestrians crossings to help pedestrians cross the road safely, cycle lanes and junction improvements."
Cllr Forster concluded:
"This is a wake-up call to urgently improve road safety to save lives on Surrey's roads."
The Children's Improvement Plan 2015 to improve Surrey's inadequate Children's Services was today published by the County Council. The plan was required following the Ofsted inspection report published in June 2015 that rated Surrey's Children's Service as "inadequate". Inspectors concluded that there were "widespread and serious failures that potentially leave children at risk of harm."
New figures released by the Department of Health show the Conservative Government is planning a £2.2m cut to the public health budget across Surrey.
The public health budget pays to relieve pressure on local NHS hospitals and clinics by helping people to solve their own potential health problems before they become more serious. The budget includes work to help people to exercise more, give up smoking and tackle drug addiction.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said "Surrey parents want their children to be safe going to and from school and 20 mph speed limits outside schools help to achieve this by reducing traffic speeds and improving road safety. A reduced speed limit warns drivers that they need to slow down near a school and in general drivers do slow down."
In Mole Valley, the County Council introduced three trial 20 mph advisory limits outside schools and following the trial the 20 mph advisory limits were made permanent. However, whilst making these trial 20 mph limits permanent, the County Council also decided not to roll-out the trial to cover the roads outside other schools in the district.
Cllr Hazel Watson said, "There can be no justification for the 20 mph advisory limits to be restricted to just these three schools in Mole Valley. If a 20 mph advisory limit is appropriate for the road outside one school then it is almost certainly appropriate for the roads outside almost all, if not all, schools in the district. The safety of all our children is paramount, not just the safety of the children who attend a school selected for a 20 mph advisory speed limit trial."
Cllr Watson added: "Requests for 20 mph speed limits stretch across the whole of Surrey. Just to give a few examples within my own Division of Dorking Hills, a 20 mph speed limit is needed on Ranmore Road near to St Martin's School in Dorking and also outside the Abinger Common site of Surrey Hills School on Abinger Lane where there is a 60 mph speed limit and no pavements. Also requests have been made by the school and the local community for a 20 mph speed limit near Boxhill School in Mickleham where the boarding houses and the school are on opposite sides of the road - a situation which led to a fatal accident at another school in the South East in the recent past."
Cllr Watson continued: "Whilst many Surrey parents want 20 mph speed limits to be implemented outside their child's school as is common in many areas outside Surrey, Surrey County Council is being very slow to introduce them. This begs the question: Why is it so difficult to get a 20 mph speed limit introduced here in Surrey? I believe that the answer is that it is not a high priority for the Conservative administration. To quote the Leader of the County Council when giving evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee in 2014: The problem is that it is all very well putting in a 20 mph limit, but unless somebody is going to enforce it you have wasted a whole lot of money. My view is that I have no intention of wasting public money putting in 20 mph zones."
Cllr Watson concluded: "I simply do not believe the Council Leader's analysis. The evidence across the country shows that drivers do slow down where there are 20 mph speed limits outside schools and any reduction in traffic speeds outside our schools is welcome. I am thus asking the Conservative administration to respond to Surrey residents in a positive way by prioritising funding to implement 20 mph limits outside those schools where the school and the community request them. We must not wait until a child is killed or injured crossing the road near their school before introducing a 20 mph limit. The safety of Surrey's children must be a top priority, not put at the bottom of the pile."