Thursday, 16 February 2012

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.

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