Thursday, 16 February 2012

A word from the Editor

Hello and a warm welcome to the first Molesey News of the new year! I am Steve Bax, editor of the Molesey News (and this website) and an aspiring councillor for East Molesey.

It’s been a busy couple of months since the last edition. In late November the Pavilion Appeal hearing took place at Elmbridge Civic Centre to decide whether 76 homes could be built in Hurst Lane, on land that was supposed to be reserved for community leisure and sport.

I was grateful for an opportunity to speak at the hearing and was hugely impressed by the passion and professionalism of the Molesey Community Action Group, who were more than a match for the opposition and carried the day.

A big well done to all of those residents and congratulations on a great victory. Looking ahead, 2012 has the potential to be a truly memorable year for Molesey. The Olympic cycle races in July and August will give our town unprecedented exposure to a massive global audience.

The spectacular views of Hampton Court Palace and the Thames are sure to inspire UK and overseas visitors to come here for a long time to come. Many of us may have a chance to see the Olympics up close and for free, and it will be great to see our town centre bustling with tourists. I hope this gives a welcome boost to our local shops who have endured some very difficult times recently.

Regrettably the road closures will bring disruption and inconvenience, but overall the benefits should outweigh the bad.

2012 will be a big year for me personally as I will be getting married in July at St Mary’s Church, East Molesey. It is likely to be the last wedding officiated by Rev. Carole Bourne before she retires, and is therefore a great honour for my fiancee and me.

You and I will also have the chance to elect new councillors on May 3. I will be standing again in East Molesey and will be putting forward some positive ideas on how to improve our area. It would mean the world to me if I were elected your councillor this time, and when you next hear from me I will set
out what I hope to bring to the role.

In the meantime I want to hear what your priorities are so that I can reflect them in my manifesto so please email your thoughts to My best wishes to you for a happy and prosperous 2012.

Olympics: The eyes of the world on Molesey

Picture by Flikr user Vick jg
reproduced with her permission
MOLESEY will be seen by millions of people from all over the world this summer when it hosts three cycling races in the 2012 Olympics.

A massive global TV audience is expected to tune in to watch the fastest men and women on two wheels, as they race past the grounds of Hampton Court Palace and along the length of Hurst Road in Molesey.

They will race on to Walton, Weybridge, Woking, Guildford, the Surrey Hills and Dorking - passing hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the route - then lapping Box Hill several times and heading back to Hampton Court Way in Molesey (via Leatherhead, Oxshott and Esher).

The Men’s Cycling Event on Saturday July 28th will see the first gold medal awarded of the 2012 games, and one of the favourites is expected to be the BBC British Sports Personality of the Year (2011) Mark Cavendish.

The women’s cycling takes place the following day, Sunday 29th, with a time trial cycling event on Wednesday August 1st.

Conservative councillor Jan Fuller has been overseeing Elmbridge borough’s preparations for more than three years, and told The Molesey News what the Olympics will bring.

“There is going to be tremendous media interest from around the world, and Molesey is a key part of the route,” she said. “Elmbridge has taken the view all along that this has vast opportunities for the residents
and businesses of the borough. In 2009 our ‘visitor economy turnover’ was worth nearly £230million. The Olympics will be a wonderful advertisement for us.”

Surrey County Council, which is responsible for roads, will be decorating the route with bunting and flags and Elmbridge will be using funds which it has secured from Central Government for ‘one off projects’ to
celebrate and commemorate the games.

Cllr Fuller, who is the Elmbridge Cabinet member for leisure and culture, set-up a cross-party task group of back bench councillors to draw up a list of projects to celebrate the Olympics and the Queen’s 60th Jubilee.
The idea being to leave a “lasting legacy” in the borough.

Walton councillor Andrew Kelly, who chaired the group, said: “We will mark the route in a permanent way and this will allow cyclists to enjoy it in future; we will invite sports clubs to apply for funds; put table tennis
facilities in some parks; as well as extra plants on roundabouts and hanging baskets in Olympic or Jubilee colours.”

The ‘Welcome to Elmbridge’ signs including the one in Molesey will be replaced to reflect the borough’s status as an Olympic host borough, added Cllr Kelly.

One Olympic-inspired innovation the council plans to roll out is a ‘tourism App’, which visitors to the borough can download to their phones to get directions and information on approved local attractions and businesses.

Cllr Fuller said: “People will be flooding into Hampton Court Station. There will be tourists coming in, whether British or from overseas, and station is going to be an enormous hub.

“People will walk out and be right on the route. We hope they will watch the race and then come to Hampton Court Parade or the Walton Road shops to buy a coffee or a meal. I would encourage businesses to think outside the box and make the most of this opportunity.”

The Molesey News heard anecdotal evidence that some businesses lost trade during the Olympic trial run in August, but Cllr Fuller believes this is because many spectators last year were local people who simply went home after the action had passed by. This year you are going to get the tourists,” she said.

One downside of the Olympics passing through Molesey is that the Hurst Road and Hampton Court Way will be closed before, during and for a time after the race has moved on.

This will mean residents in some streets will be unable to leave except on foot. However if the emergency services need to reach any homes cut off by road, then the race will be stopped.

For the Saturday and Sunday races the roads will shut in the early hours to be swept clear of debris. Any cars left on the street will be towed away, but residents will receive leaflets in advance to warn them of the danger.

Cllr Fuller said: “We hope this will be a really good celebration and will leave a lasting legacy for the borough. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope people enjoy the spectacle.”

Will the Olympics be good for Molesey? Please click on the headline of this article for the comments box where you can add your views.

‘Free car park could de-clutter roads’

Parking in Palace Road, East Molesey

A SURVEY conducted by the Molesey Conservative Residents suggests there is a groundswell of support for the Walton Road car park to be made free to stop town centre users parking in residential streets.

Following the lead article in the last Molesey News we invited householders to go to our website to tell us their views on ‘nuisance parking’ in side streets.

Some 87% felt the Walton Road car park charges of 10p for half hour, 20p for an hour and a £2 all day were reasonable. But many expressed a view that a free car park would be the ‘only way’ to entice shoppers, shop workers and commuters, to use the Walton Road car park instead of clogging up residential streets.

A Bell Road resident said: “This is the only solution. Even the smallest charge is an incentive for people to park in the streets. I have lived in East Molesey for 22 years. When it was free, I used the car park regularly. Now, I never do; not because I can’t afford it but because I worry I may get delayed and end up with a parking fine.”

A resident of Spencer Road added: “I object in principle to charging for the car park. I walk or cycle around Molesey due to parking difficulties, but every resident I speak to wants to return to free parking. It would be a brave and honest council who admitted it was a mistake and hasn’t worked.”

One view from Kings Chase was that there should be signage at Hampton Court Station asking commuters to use the car parks and “show more respect to residents”.

However a Manor Road resident who supports the status quo, said: “If the business comunity need a free car park let them fund it.”

An Arnison Road correspondent claimed free parking would not deter commuters from parking in side streets because they “wouldn’t be prepared to walk to Hampton Court Station from Walton Road”.

Elmbridge has 28 car parks and only one is exempt from charges - the tiny 21 space Thamesmead car park in Walton. Molesey’s 128-space town centre car park generated a £16,011 loss in the last financial year due to its £48,000 ‘operating costs’, which include lighting and maintenance and enforcement, and business rates. However the council made a £950k profit from Elmbridge car parks as a whole.

The survey asked whether people were in favour of residents parking permits as a way of de-clogging residential streets, such as School Road or Palace Road (pictured left).

A resounding 80% said they did not want permits and would begrudge having to pay for them.
Steve Bax of the Molesey Conservative Residents said: “My thanks to those who took part in the survey or who sent emails. It helps to build up a picture of the scale of the problem in Molesey and what people want - and do not want - to see done about it.

“The prevailing view at the council is that the cost of running car parks should be borne by those who use them, rather than from council tax which everyone pays regardless of whether they own a car. But I think further debate is needed and would encourage you to email me your views and ideas.”

Want to comment? Click on the headline of this article for the comments box.

Find out what Molesey was like in wartime

WHAT was it like to live in Molesey during the dark days of World War Two?

A new exhibition from the Molesey Local History Society will offer an insight for those of us too young to remember or a trip down memory lane for those who were there.

The exhibit will be at the Royal British Legion in Walton Road, East Molesey, on March 9th and 10th. Find out more at

Appeal for Police Commissioner candidates

RESIDENTS will go to the polls in November to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey.

The Conservative Party would like to field a candidate for this important role is looking for a high calibre candidates. They might be from business, police or military backgrounds, or even politics.

Commisioners will set policing priorities and be accountable to the local electorate, so if you or someone you know would make a good candidate, please apply at

‘Molesey Shield’ found after seven year search

A DOGGED pair of local residents have tracked down one of Molesey’s most significant historical artefacts.

Paul Gossage and Steven Baker spent seven years searching for the ‘Molesey Shield’ - a 3,000-year-old Bronze age shield which was discovered in the Thames near Molesey in 1864, and has been missing for four decades.

They painstakingly trawled through records at Surrey Archeological Centre, and enlisted the help of Marion Uckelmann - the leading expert on European Bronze Age shields - to determine that an artefact on display at the Hunt Museum in Ireland was in fact the ‘Molesey Shield’.

Paul told The Molesey News that the shield was first discovered by a boatman in the 1860s, during a low river, and about a mile upstream from Molesey.

Shortly after its discovery it was bought by a James Milner of Palace Road, Molesey, and was featured in the prestigious Victorian periodical ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’. In 1867 it went on display at the emminent Society of Antiquaries in London.

Paul and Steven believe the shield stayed in Molesey until 1882 when it was sold to a collector named Augustus Pitt Rivers for his private museum in Dorset.

Over the years its provenance was lost and in the early 1970s the sheild was sold by Pitt’s grandson to the Hunt Museum along with two other items from North-East Ireland. It became known as the Antrim Shield, a name still used.

Paul, 57, a former ambulance technician, said: “We think there is a really strong case for it to be renamed The Molesey Shield - its a far more honest and descriptive title - and the museum has accepted its provenance.”

He added: “When we found out it was in Ireland my first thought was to get it into the British Museum’, but the irony is it is being better displayed at the Hunt Museum and has pride of place.”
Paul and Steven (whose father is the Molesey historian Rowland Baker) are creating a Wikipedia page on the internet to tell the fascinating story of the shield. And a display has been put up at Molesey Library in Walton Road.

The shield is 64cm in diameter with a dome shaped central ‘boss’, and is a superb example of the craftmanship of its time. It will have been created from a single block of bronze, forged in an open fire and beaten thinner - a painstaking process that will have been repeated at least 200 times.

It most likely had a ceremonial use and may have seen battle before it was placed in the Thames as a ‘votive offering’ to the gods.

Palace's Jolly Boatman landscape offer

HISTORIC Royal Palaces, which runs Hampton Court, has offered to landscape the Jolly Boatman site in time for the Olympics.
It will pay for the derelict, fly-tipped site to be transformed in time for the August cycle races, or it will send in its own gardeners.
Steve Bax (right) at the Boatman site with Tony Nockles
of the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign.
Elmbridge Council is backing the idea and will press the site owner, Gladedale Ltd, to agree, at a meeting scheduled for early February.
Conservative candidate for Molesey East, Steve Bax, also welcomed the move, saying: “I am fully supportive of this generous offer from the Historic Royal Palaces and I would urge Gladedale to agree to it. The idea of clearing up and landscaping the Boatman site for the Olympics - when we’ll have TV crews and aerial filming - is something I have raised with the leader of the council on several occasions since last year.
“I am delighted it has a chance of becoming reality but we mustn’t forget that the site is in private hands and the council can try to persuade the owners, but ultimately it is Gladedale’s decision. I hope they will snap up this offer.”
Gladedale and Network Rail currently have planning permission to build a 46-bed hotel at the Boatman site, as well as homes, retail, parking and a care home on land surrounding Hampton Court Station. But the scheme has been on hold for three years due to a legal appeal brought by the former Hampton Court consultant architect, Keith Garner. The appeal has been widely supported in Molesey where many people fear a hotel will obscure views of the palace.
In November the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, meaning that as things stand the way is clear for the developers to proceed.
Elmbridge will make enquiries at the February meeting about what the developer intends to do.
Under planning law construction must begin by June 16th 2013 or the developer will need to go back to the council for fresh planning permission.
We will keep you posted on what happens with the Jolly Boatman.

Hairy Bikers boost Elmbridge Meals on Wheels

REQUESTS for Elmbridge Council’s Meals on Wheels are up 83% after the service was highlighted on the BBC’s Hairy Bikers programme.

The bikers, real names David Myers and Simon King (pictured above with Elmbridge chief executive Rob Moran), visited the Molesey Centre in School Road, East Molesey, where up-to 100 fresh meals are prepared every day and delivered to elderly and infirm residents.

They helped to modernise the menu and raise awareness of the service and its constant need for volunteers to deliver meals. As a result of the series being broadcast in September and October, Elmbridge received enquiries from 40 new potential volunteers and a huge uptake in the service.

Other councils are seeking to copy the borough’s model and it has even had emails from the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

Conservative councillor Christine Elmer, the Elmbridge cabinet member for Social Affairs, paid tribute to the staff and volunteers who took part in the programmes.

She said: “At Molesey as well as filming which took place over an extended period, they also maintained the day to day service. For the future, the aim is to roll out ‘fresh’ menus across all centres once there are volunteers in place with the preparation.

“The Hairy Bikers have offered their full ongoing support and our thanks go to them and the film company Optomen, for choosing Elmbridge and helping raise awareness of volunteering.”

Users of the service pay £3.25 for a meal and can request a supper too. Last year Elmbridge delivered nearly 60,000 meals.

If you would like to find out more or can spare a bit of time to help deliver Meals on Wheels please call the volunteer coordinator on 01372 474552.

Making homes greener and affordable

Cllr James Browne is responsible for housing.

ELMBRIDGE councillor James Browne has been speaking to The Molesey News about the major housing challenges facing our borough.

Cllr Browne is the Conservative councillor for Cobham Fairmile and has been the Elmbridge Cabinet member with responsibility for housing for 18 months – a role he is especially suited to given his background as a barrister specialising in landlord/tenant disputes.

He says his two biggest challenges at the moment are increasing the availability of affordable homes, and helping those who could find themselves unable to pay the rent due to a national cut in housing benefits.

Cllr Browne said: “It used to be that the Government paid up to a maximum of 50% of the market rent as housing benefit, but since April this has dropped to 30%. Our fear is that there will be an increase in people in private sector housing coming to us for help. So far it has only been small and we have coped perfectly well, but if we get a tidal wave we could struggle.”

The housing benefit bill in Elmbridge is around £40million a year with 1,322 claims in Molesey, and there are some 1,400 applicants on the waiting list for a home in Elmbridge.

Cllr Browne continued: “Our other big issue is to promote the development of affordable housing. The major problem in Elmbridge is that property prices are so high that it makes it very difficult for key workers and families on low incomes to afford to live here.”

Through the council’s partners, including Elmbridge Housing Trust, it has brought 185 new homes on stream in the last financial year, up to April 2011, and expects to create around 90 more by April 2012.

New builds, such as the development in Faraday Road, West Molesey, will increasingly utilise renewable materials and contain environmentally-friendly features such as solar panels and heating systems that circulate warmth from bathrooms and kitchens to the rest of the home.

Elmbridge has also joined forces with London-based Catalyst Housing to set-up a £1million pot of money to help local first time buyers to get on the housing ladder here. Buyers can apply for cash towards their mortgage deposit and this is repaid when they come to sell their home years later.

Cllr Browne said: “So far 14 or 15 applicants have been helped. On average people stay in their homes for seven years, so the hope is it won’t be long before the scheme becomes self-financing.”

Following the last edition of The Molesey News a resident got in touch for help regarding an empty home in Bell Road that was in a poor state of repair.

Cllr Browne said generally people look after their homes in Elmbridge, but the council can serve notices on owners to upkeep their properties, particularly if there is a health risk such as loose tiles or damp impacting on neighbours.

Despite the need for more homes, Cllr Browne insists planning applications from developers will always be properly scrutinised, and opposed if councillors deem them inappropriate.

He said: “Planning is the biggest issue that people contact us about, and people in Elmbridge are very good at making their voices heard when they don’t approve. We don’t allow developers to do as they please, but if all the developers walked away there would be a housing shortage and no money in the pot for affordable housing or children’s playgrounds, and the housing market would stagnate.”

A little help from Molesey Library's Friends

A FRIENDS group has been created to support Molesey Library and find ways to increase its usage.

It follows the very welcome news that Surrey County Council has changed its mind about ‘closing’ our local library and re-launching it as a volunteer-run service.

The U-turn was announced by Rose Wilson, head of the library service, at a meeting with the library steering committee of concerned local residents.

She suggested the change of heart may have been due to the distance to alternative branches, as well as the fact that Molesey Library is larger than the 10 others due to become volunteer-managed. It also has 1,000 more active borrowers than the next biggest library.

The meeting resolved to form a ‘Friends of Molesey Library’ group chaired by residents James Moore and Peter Ellis.

Mr Moore said: “A strong and active Friends organisation will be critical in developing the profile of the library and avoiding future threats. Some areas of activity will include outreach work involving schools and other community groups, events linked to the library and input to the facilities and services provided.”

For more on the Friends see

Streetlight upgrade raises fears over loss of heritage

Old and new streetlights

WORK is under-way in Molesey to replace all orange glow street lamps with modern energy-efficient white lamps, but concerns are being raised over the loss of the town’s distinctive 20th Century posts.

Surrey County Council has agreed a 25-year deal with its contractor Skanska to replace, upgrade and maintain 89,000 streetlights across all 11 Surrey boroughs.

The project is being financed by a Government grant and is intended to save 60,000 tonnes of carbon across the county and ‘at least £12 million’.

The new lamp-posts will use mobile phone technology to communicate with a central computer in Guildford, allowing faults to be automatically detected and for the lights to be dimmed remotely to save electricity. The white lamps are also said to deter criminals by illuminating the streets better, and create less glare into homes.

The Molesey News understands that posts under 15-years-old will have their heads swapped, but around 70,000 older posts will be uprooted entirely.

In conservation areas such as Molesey’s Kent Town (encompassing Palace Road and other streets close to Hampton Court) Surrey plans to install ‘heritage style’ swan-necked lamp-posts, although residents will be consulted on their preferred choice of heritage design.

People living outside the conservation area will be able club together if they wish to pay the extra £150 per post for a swan neck design.

Steve Bax of the Molesey Conservative Residents said: “We welcome the opportunity for the county to reduce its carbon output and save taxpayers millions in electricity payments. But in looking to the future we shouldn’t abandon our past.

“The lamp-posts from Palace Road to Spring Gardens, Bell Road to Vine Road are good examples of early 20th Century street architecture and design and greatly enhance the character of those streets. It is worth exploring all options to see if the existing columns can be retained, cleaned-up and upgraded with the new heads if possible.”

After making enquiries the Molesey Conservative Residents were told by the county council that “upgrading the old high level gas service columns is not something we could consider”.

They say energy suppliers will no longer work on the older columns on health and safety grounds, and claim posts would need to be transported to the North of England to be upgraded, at a cost of £3,000 to £4,000 per column, rather than carrying out upgrades at street level.

The MCR is working with local residents to investigate other alternatives, but we want to hear your views. What do you think? Should Molesey’s older style lamp-posts be saved or should the modern replacements be embraced? Click on this article's headline for the comments box.

Car park empty, streets full

An empty Walton Road car park

EAST Molesey residents have complained of their streets being ‘clogged up’ by shopper and commuter cars, while the town centre car park lays virtually empty.

The problem is said to be particularly acute in narrow School Road, but The Molesey News has heard accounts of people being unable to get out of drives or park outside their homes in Hansler Grove and Palace, Wolsey and Matham roads.

Meanwhile the 138-space Walton Road car park is still being under-used on weekdays, despite a reduction in charges in recent years to 20p an hour or £2 for the day.

A School Road resident invited the Molesey Conservative Residents’ Steve Bax to walk the street with him and see the problems there first hand.

He said: “The real problems started when the charge came into effect in the Walton Road car park, and we now have a glut of cars that don’t belong to the street, who park here on a regular basis.

“My wife and I have lived here over eight years and have learnt to live with the problems. But other residents seem to be getting miffed and are leaving notes on cars and getting grumpy.”

He feels the solution is to restore the free parking at Walton Road, so Steve contacted Elmbridge Council’s head of parking services, John Strachan, to discuss options.

It transpires the car park generated £32,653 in the 2010/11 financial year, but its operating costs were £48,664 (this includes business rates, lighting, maintenance and enforcement) resulting in a loss to the council of £16,011.

However when you take into account all 28 Elmbridge car parks, including Thamesmead - the free 21-space car park in Walton, the borough covered its costs and made a £950k profit in the last year.

A congested looking School Road in Molesey
Steve Bax said: “Free parking at Walton Road would give Molesey businesses a boost and address some of the antisocial parking that residents have complained about. But we need to bear in mind that charges contribute to the running costs of our car park, which otherwise would have to be borne by all council taxpayers – including those who don’t drive.”

An alternative to free parking is for residents to request a parking permit scheme for their street.
Mr Strachan said these typically cost each home £50-a-year for one reserved parking bay or £70 for two, with the money covering the costs and enforcement.

But he warned permits can result in an overall reduction in parking spaces and resentment from residents at having to pay to park outside their own homes.

Want to comment? Please click on this article's headline to display the comments box.

Molesey Police Station to close but officers will stay local

SURREY Police has given an assurance that officers will continue to have a base here despite the closure of the police station in East Molesey.

At present there are four PCs, five PCSOs, a sergeant and a neighbourhood team co-ordinator working out of Molesey Police Station and serving the communities of East and West Molesey, Western green, The Dittons and Hinchley Wood.

But later this year they will be transferring to the Elmbridge Borough Council offices in Esher, as part of Surrey Police’s strategy of closing lesser used stations to fund 200 new frontline officers.

The building is already closed to the public, with the front counter having shut in March 2011.

Elmbridge Neighbourhood Inspector, David Hollingsworth, said the plan is for Molesey officers to have access to a local police post where they will be able to carry out paperwork and have their meal break. This will be in a “shared facility with a local partner”.

He added: “The re-location of Molesey officers in suitable new premises is still a work in progress. We are negotiating a potential alternative at present, but as we are still at the agreeing stage it is too early to provide details. I can say it is in East Molesey and it is a suitable alternative.”

Conservatives support Surrey Police in its goal of freeing up money for frontline officers. We think it is vital that officers continue to have a base in Molesey and be accessible to the public.

We would like to see the station put to positive use after the police move out, possibly as an extension to the Orchard School.

A word from local MP Dominic Raab

Dominic has been the MP for Esher & Walton since the general election of 2010. This is his article for the Molesey News written in August 2011.

Living up the road in Thames Ditton, it has been a great pleasure getting to know Molesey over the past year or so, as your MP.

I have visited local businesses from West Molesey Trading Estate to high-tech firms like Chelsea Technologies, who designed the sensors used to help clean up the BP oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

I have got to know some of our great head teachers, from Rosalita Edwards’ Nursery to Hurst Park School, and many other schools. I have been down to hear from doctors at Glenlynn Practice and Friends of Molesey Hospital.

Dominic is put through his paces at  Rosalita Nursery.
Whether it is speaking at the Women’s Institute or enjoying the barbecue at the Mid-Summer Magic party at Hurst Park, I’m always impressed with the strong community spirit we have here.

The government is determined to cut the deficit, to maintain economic confidence but also to avoid burdening high levels of debt and taxes on our children in the future.

That involves tough decisions now. But, it also means it is important that the community hears from and informs its local MP. It is important that we ensure the future of Molesey library.

The closure of Molesey police station reflected the changes in the way local policing is organised by Surrey Police. It is important that we retain a local police hub, but even more vital to strengthen the visible policing presence in Molesey.

Above all, I am committed to ensuring Molesey has a strong voice in Westminster.

Since April 2010, I have held three public - town hall – events in Molesey. I am holding another on September 9th, 7.30pm, at St Mary’s Church Hall in Bell Road, East Molesey.

Thank you to all those who have come along in the past. Whatever your political views, I want to hear from you.

Elmbridge in safe hands with the Conservatives

Cllr John O'Reilly pictured outside Averna in Molesey

MOLESEY residents can rely on the Conservative-led borough council to meet the tough economic challenges of the day while protecting services.

This was the message from Councillor John O’Reilly, leader of the majority Conservative group at Elmbridge, in an interview with the Molesey News.

Cllr O’Reilly, pictured, said that although his party has no council seats in Molesey it doesn’t mean it is not working hard locally and at Esher Civic Centre to maintain and improve the quality of life here. One way it is helping is by keeping your council tax bills low so that you have more spending power and more choice. This is all the more important at the moment when household incomes are being squeezed from all sides.

Conservatives have frozen the Elmbridge portion of council tax in four out of the five years that they have run the council. At the same time they have achieved £5million savings – the vast majority of it by cutting waste and improving efficiency.

Cllr O’Reilly said: “People can compare our record to the previous five years when the Residents groups were in charge at Esher and the council tax went up 40%. There was no real focus on saving money or getting value. There was no clear direction or imagination.

“My team is focused on efficiency, maintaining quality services, and keeping taxes low, as times are tough for families at the moment.”

Cllr O’Reilly is proud of the non-statutory provision of meals on wheels for elderly residents of Molesey, where the charges have been frozen despite the rising cost of food. And for the council’s “strong support” of the Molesey Centre in School Road.

He also reassured Molesey residents that there are no plans to close Vine Hall or Mole Hall as opponents have suggested. “We looked into the possibility of the community helping to run these halls to save the ratepayer some money,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

“In the end we couldn’t agree terms. The proof of the pudding is that two years after all the accusations and rumours the halls are still open.”

Regarding the controversial plans by Surrey County Council to introduce on street parking meters in Molesey and elsewhere, Cllr O’Reilly said the county has accepted recommendations that the first half hour of parking should be free.

He said: “Nobody likes to pay but if you can park somewhere all day then how will this help shops? What they need is a churn of customers.”

One thing he believes will be good for business, and for Molesey generally, is the Olympics and the “huge influx” of people that the games will bring to town.

“There will be three cycling races passing through the town and I hope that will be very attractive to our shops, and of course I hope residents will enjoy the spectacle,” Cllr O’Reilly said.

The council will be providing funds for the Olympics in Elmbridge and particularly for local legacy projects.

Want to comment? Please click on this article's headline for the comments box.