Monday, 17 November 2014

Elmbridge Council votes to retain elections by 'thirds', but that might be bad news for Molesey

Elmbridge Council tonight voted by 29 to 23 to retain the present arrangements of electing councillors by thirds - but that may not be a good thing, as I will explain.

Firstly, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the thirds system of electing councillors, here's a short explanation. Elmbridge currently has 60 councillors who are elected to serve a four year term. In year one of a cycle, 20 council seats are contested, followed by another 20 the next year, and then the final 20 in year three. In year four the county council elections take place and there is no borough council election, and the year after the cycle begins anew.

On Monday night (November 17th) councillors met for a Special Meeting to debate moving to 'whole council' elections in which all of the seats would be elected in one go every four years. This would save Elmbridge residents £40,000 a year (around a million over a decade) which could be ploughed back into council services or grants for non-statutory services like meals on wheels and citizens advice - it might also pay for new facilities for our children and young people.

As the Leader of the Council, John O'Reilly, said, the Conservative group has no set view and whip on this matter, this was entirely up to each councillor to vote as they wished. Tonight, after giving the matter a lot of thought, I cast my vote for whole council elections.

I didn't do so for the money, important though saving taxpayer funds is, my bottom line was the need to protect Molesey from being carved up in the impending ward boundary review.

The Local Government Boundary Commission is currently looking at all of the wards and will consider whether to reduce the number of councillors from 60 to something like 48. If the council retains thirds - which it has now voted to do - the Commission will insist on three member wards. The six two-member wards that currently exist in Elmbridge will be redrawn and there will be a ripple effect, regardless of whether there is a reduction in councillors or not. My concern is that Molesey will end up with streets sliced off and joined to neighbouring wards, or other communities bolted on. From my conversations with the people of Molesey over the years I believe most value Molesey's community identity and would not want to see it diluted in this way.

The only way to avoid this would have been to switch to whole council elections in which it would have been possible to have 2 or 1 member wards and thus keep communities intact even with a reduction in the number of councillors. Unfortunately all but two of the Molesey Residents Association councillors (Cllrs Axton and Hopkins) voted tonight to keep with thirds - I suspect for political reasons in order to keep their annual opportunity to win power - and in my view they have imperilled Molesey.

In a year's time if Molesey is carved up electorally RA councillors will be quick to criticise the Boundary Commission and the Conservatives for inviting a review. But they can't say they weren't warned of the consequences as these were spelled out very clearly in the debate. The bed having been made by the MRA and its allies, we must now all lay on it.

I start this process as a supporter of thirds and believed like many residents that an annual vote keeps councillors on their toes, as well as offering unsuccessful candidates a chance to try again the following year. I didn't have the luxury of safe seat when I first entered Molesey politics and it took three attempts at standing for Borough Council before I was able to build a majority. Under a four year cycle I am not sure I would have persevered.

So thirds have been good for me personally and I appreciate the lifeline they offer, as well as allowing an Administration at Esher to adjust course in reaction to poor election results. Few would say that Parliament is undemocratic because it doesn't hold annual elections, and I think most people would accept that the period of stability is required between elections for the Government of the day to implement its manifesto. The same would be true in Elmbridge and at the end of four years voters could take stock and judge a ruling party on whether it had delivered, and dismiss them in one fell swoop (rather than not where majorities can only be slowly eroded).

However the vote on Monday was not about what is good for me or the political groups at Council, but what is right thing to do for residents and our communities. The Boundary Review will undoubtedly be far reaching and we have squandered the opportunity to exercise a degree of control over what those new ward boundaries might look like. I very much regret that.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Important changes to elections in Elmbridge: Tell us your views

ELMBRIDGE Council is considering significant changes to the way councillors are elected and wants to hear your views.

A vote of the council will take place on November 17th to decide whether to move from the current system, where a third of the council is elected each time, to ‘all-out’ elections where the whole council is chosen every four years.

There are substantative arguments for and against both systems. Under the thirds model residents have an annual opportunity to hold the council to account, by electing borough representatives for three consecutive years followed by Surrey County Council elections in the fourth year.

If they are unhappy with a particular policy they are able to express their feelings at the ballot box. On the flipside this also allows parties to see where they are going wrong and adjust course.
The downside is that parties are constantly looking ahead to the next May’s elections, and could be less inclined towards long term and sometimes unpopular decisions.

Moving to whole council elections every four years could allow for more effective planning, and there would be considerable savings to be made from holding fewer elections (around £42,000 per year).

However there is another complicating factor. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is carrying out a review of all the Elmbridge Council wards. Led by Sir Tony Redmond, it will take soundings from councillors and residents, and consider reducing the number of councillors from the current 60. This is likely to result in a redrawing of the council wards themselves.

The Molesey Conservative Residents feel the thirds system creates greater democratic accountability, but we understand that if thirds stay then the Commission will insist on three member wards.
This creates the danger of Molesey’s wards either being merged with neighbouring towns, or having non-Molesey communities bolted on. But with an all-out elections model the Commission will allow two or even one member wards to be created, which would make it more likely that Molesey’s community identity can be preserved. The MCR believes this is important.

To take part in the consultation and read more of the arguments, please go to and click on the ‘Have Your Say - voting consultation’ link. This closes on November 2nd, so please don’t delay.

I will be required to vote on this matter on November 17 and is keen to hear your views. Please email or post below.

Unholy build-up of fat and grease are blamed for the 'Bridge Road pong'

A BUILD-up of fat and grease in Molesey’s Victorian sewer system have been blamed for the notorious ‘Bridge Road pong’.

In September residents of Bridge Road and Palace Road complained of lingering unpleasant smells, which were particularly bad outside the Albion pub.

I asked our Borough Council’s environmental team to intervene, and after a lot of to-and-fro with Thames Water and a couple of false starts by its contractors, eventually some 700 yards of the sewer tunnel along the length of Palace Road was flushed clear. The cause of the smell was found to be from an unholy mix of fat, cooking oil, grease and wipes congealing together to defeat the sewer routes beneath the effected roads – all things which should not be disposed of into our sewer system via sinks, drains and toilets.

I took the opportunity to question Thames Water about the robustness of this sewer system, particularly in view of the fact that any development at the Jolly Boatman and Hampton Court Station sites would use the existing 19th Century tunnel network.

Its spokeswoman said: “We believe the sewerage system serves the needs of local residents as it is running freely and there are no operational issues such as infiltration or collapses. It could not cope with the amount of inappropriate items being disposed of. If used correctly the system operates without any problem or inconvenience to residents.”

Thames Water is distributing ‘Bin It Don’t Block It leaflets’ with advice on the proper disposal of cooking fat - in short: pour it in a container, allow to cool and then put in the rubbish bin. A full copy can be viewed here.

The Molesey Conservative Residents have been informed that the area’s sewers have been put on a schedule for regular inspection

Elmbridge Full Council and Cabinet meetings to be broadcast on the internet

In my election leaflet in May this year I listed several ways that I wanted to see local democracy improved at Elmbridge Council.

One of these was broadcasting council meetings on the internet so that voters could watch the debates and scrutinise their councillors and the decisions being made more closely. Therefore I am pleased to be able to confirm that the Conservative administration is embarking on a 12 month webcasting trial from the end of this year.

A budget of £10,000 has been made available for hosting the footage and for the purposes of the pilot scheme the by-monthly Full Council meetings and Cabinet meetings will be the only ones filmed. As usual all meetings are open to the general public without the need for prior appointment.

More good news: the long standing and slightly archaic restrictions on the filming and recording of council meetings have been lifted. Bloggers are now welcome!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Heathrow to bring an early end to its airspace trials over Molesey!

Fantastic news! Heathrow Airport has announced that it is ending its airspace trials over Molesey on November 12th, rather than in late January!

This is great news for all of those residents who have been enduring noise nuisance from an increase in the number of overhead flights whenever an easterly wind is prevailing.

Councillor Steve Bax and the Molesey Conservatives have been leafleting residents to encourage them to write to Heathrow's complaints email, so that local views are taken into account by the airport in any proposals for permanent new flight paths. From 2020 aircraft will switch from ground beacon-based navigation to satellite technology, resulting in narrower, more concentrated flight paths. MP Dominic Raab's public meeting at St Mary's Church Hall in East Molesey on September 24th was packed with around 120 people.

Dominic said this week: "I am very relieved local residents will be able to enjoy Christmas without the disproportionate noise from these trials. Councillor Steve Bax and I worked hard to get Heathrow to act on local concerns, and it’s good news that the authorities are listening. Now, we need to work together to make sure we don’t see any return to those kinds of noise levels in the future."

A petition to stop the trials and not make the changes permanent has been well supported by residents of Teddington, which is under the same flight path, and Molesey.

Here's that Heathrow statement in full:

Heathrow shortens current future airspace strategy trials

Heathrow Airport today announced that it will be ending the current airspace trials on 12th November, instead of its original scheduled end date of January 26th 2015. Heathrow will also be postponing trials scheduled to commence later this month.

These trials being run in conjunction with NATS, are being driven by Government’s Future Airspace Strategy, which requires that all airports implement changes to modernise airspace by 2020.

Heathrow’s current easterly and westerly trials affect departing aircraft, and began on July 26th and August 25th respectively.  The trials have been testing concepts and techniques necessary to inform how airspace can be better managed in the future.  The routes are not indicative of future flight paths.

To date, the trials have been successful in collecting large amounts of data and have provided valuable insight into the design and feasibility of operating precision routes and how Heathrow could maximise noise respite for local residents with new airspace design. In light of residents’ feedback and after meetings with local authorities and Members of Parliament, Heathrow asked NATS to consider shortening the trials. It is the view of NATS and Heathrow that sufficient data will have been collected by 12 November to confirm the findings of these trial. Given that is the case, the trials will stop on that date.  

Additional trials scheduled to start on 20 October are being postponed until Autumn 2015

Heathrow, like other airports throughout the country, is still required to provide the necessary data to inform the Civil Aviation Authority’s plans for future airspace modernisation and will be required to run other trials in the future.  The reaction to the current trials has been much stronger than previous trials held earlier this year.  Heathrow will therefore review how any trials are carried out in future and will ensure the details of future trials are fully publicised to residents in advance.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:

“These trials are crucial in helping us develop ways to manage our airspace more effectively and to reduce noise from Heathrow. We do, however, appreciate that some residents will have experienced a temporary increase in noise as a result of these trials. The feedback we have received during the trials is very important to this process. We are always looking to minimise the disturbance residents may experience as a result of flights around Heathrow, and so we are pleased to have been able to work with NATS to bring an early end to the trials.”

Any permanent changes to airspace require Government approval and will be subject to full public consultation.

Monday, 8 September 2014

New cricket pitches and children's park for Molesey

CRICKET pitches have been ‘reintroduced’ to Molesey Hurst Recreation Ground to replace those that were lost years ago.
A square of seven turf strips and one artificial strip were in- stalled at the rec behind Hurst Pool in June by Elmbridge Borough Council. The grass wickets will ready in 2015 once the fine turf has fully established itself, but the artificial strip is already in use (pictured are the East Molesey Cricket Club Colts training on it with Councillor Barry Fairbank, the Mayor of Elmbridge).
The Council says the artificial strip provides “realistic bounce and spin, enabling youth cricket to be played in all weathers”. It should come in handy for East Molesey Cricket Club which has been seeking new facilities for its Colts aged 5–17, and wishes to expand girls and disabled cricket provision. It can also be hired by non clubs for £25.
The Molesey Conservative Residents often hear it said on doorsteps that there is not enough for young people to do in Molesey so we welcome the new facilities. The £28,150 price tag sounded surprisingly high to us, but on comparing prices online we discovered a new cricket strip can be anything from £3,000 to £7,000 with install and ground preparation! Nothing is cheap these days it seems.
Additionally councillor Steve Bax recently had a chance to inspect plans for a new children’s play park in East Molesey. The play area will include a trim trail and various climbing frames, and will be created on land at Barge Walk off Graburn Way, and adjacent to Molesey Boat Club. It will be a replacement for the very basic existing children’s park which is being removed to make way for the boat club’s proposed indoor rowing tank. The new equipment and install is expected to cost £60,000 with 10% of the money coming from the boat club.
Elmbridge placed the order in June and is hopeful of the facilities being open during the summer school holidays. There will be a chain link fence and picnic benches. While an existing shelter is being removed.

Conservatives' 2020 vision for Elmbridge Council

Elmbridge Council has set an ambitious goal of becoming ‘self-funding’ and free from its dependence on the ever shrinking Government maintenance grant within six years.
Tim Oliver, Cabinet member for Resources in the borough’s Conservative administration, is driving forward a strategy of property in- vestments that will give the borough a stable income in the near future.
He told our newsletter The Molesey News that the grant Elmbridge receives from Central Government to run services has diminished by 50% in the last four years, and will continue to go down.The council has successfully reduced its spending by £8million since the current administration took office in 2006, without impacting frontline services. But making efficiencies is only part of the solution and the council also needs to find new sources of income.
Cllr Oliver (pictured) said: “We have set the goal of financial in- dependence from the Government grant by 2020. All local authorities want to be in that position but for most it is not realistic. Elmbridge is one of the few councils where that is achievable, because of the decisions we’ve taken.” Elmbridge receives a ‘New Homes Bonus’ stream of money from the Government, which the council has used to build its reserves by around three to four million each year.
Cllr Oliver added: “This has allowed us to invest around £13million so far in ‘local as- sets’, for example we purchased a row of shops in Cobham. Our investment crite- ria is that it has to be in the borough and make a minimum annual return for the taxpayer of 6%.”
As Resources portfolio holder Cllr Oliver oversees Elmbridge’s legal department, IT, finances and asset management. He is married to Debi, a GP, and has three children. Though now a borough councillor for Esher, he was formerly East Molesey’s county councillor from 2005 until 2009.
Cllr Oliver, 54, brings a wealth of experience from the world of busi- ness to the council. In 2000, the year he was first elected,  he launched his legal services company, Prabis, and grew it from a turnover of £2million to just under £200million this year. It employs 2,500 people. Whilst doing that Cllr Oliver was also chairman of the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice for a number of years and oversaw its merger with Chase in Guildford. He is now deputy chairman of his company, a less hands-on role which allows him more time to spend on council work.
Cllr Oliver said: “Local government isn’t just about emptying the wheelie bins. Elmbridge can be a top borough to live in. We’ve got the environment and the quality of life and it’s up to the council to see how we can add to that.”

Molesey councillors to decide on Boat Club application for funds

Steve Bax, second from right, at the Molesey Boat Club ground breaking
ceremony for the rowing tank on June 15th.
The first formal meeting of the Local Spending Board for East and West Molesey will be held this Thursday (September 11th) at the Council offices in Esher.
It will meet to consider applications from local good causes for a share of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money. This is a tax that Elmbridge Council levies on developers who are building in the borough, to ensure that development pays towards local improvements.
The spending board is comprised of Molesey's nine Elmbridge Borough councillors, among them our very own Councillor Steve Bax, and will debate requests for funds from three applicants - Molesey Boat Club, the Thames Project and St Paul's Church.
At the last 'informal' hearing earlier in the summer, members provisionally agreed to allocate £40,000 to Molesey Boat Club to help towards the creation of an indoor rowing centre in Graburn Way. This would be a replacement for the tank that was lost when Elmbridge's old leisure centre was demolished in 2004 and replaced with the Xcel Centre at Walton.
Bill Raspin, Chairman of the Boat Club, said: “The rowing tank will be available for the whole community to use and will en- able us to provide a safe and stable environment for both able bodied and disabled people including schools and clubs to try out rowing and gain confidence before going onto the water.”
The facility will cost close to £300k and will be mainly covered by fundraising and donations. The club has asked Molesey councillors for £80,000 but as there is only £81,000 in the pot currently (that was the figure in June - it may have increased) it is likely to be offered around half.
A separate bid from the Thames Landscape Strategy seeks to enhance the entrance to Hurst Park from Barge Walk at a cost of £5,700. While St Paul's Church in East Molesey is seeking £10,000 to cover unexpected costs that have arisen from essential repairs being carried out to its spire.
Elmbridge's Conservative run council is leading the way as the first local authority to charge CIL, which is a more local version of the previous Section 106. The Council charges developers £125 per square metre, and £100 psm for a retail development.
CIL bids can be made by going to www.elmbridge. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Steve Bax elected the new councillor for Molesey East

Molesey Conservatives chairman Steve Bax (left) has been elected as one of three Elmbridge Borough Councillors for Molesey East.
Steve, who is 40 and lives in Cambridge Road, West Molesey, was successful in ousting the incumbent Molesey RA councillor Tony Popham - who polled 835 votes to Steve's 953 at the Elmbridge Borough Council election on Thursday May 22nd.
UKIP's Trevor Marshall was third with 125 votes, Labour's Marc Doran was fourth with 121 and Liberal Democrat Paul Nagle finished fifth with 71 votes.
It was Steve's fourth election in Molesey, having first stood in 2011 and lost by 1,000 votes, and then worked hard for a year to reduce the margin against him down to 107 votes in 2012, and then 24 votes at the county council elections last May.
Councillor-elect Bax said: "I am thrilled, humbled and a little relieved to have won at last, after three years of hard work and many setbacks along the way. Perseverance has paid off and I could not feel more grateful to the people of East Molesey for giving me this amazing opportunity to serve - I will certainly not be resting on my laurels and will be working hard to deliver my manifesto."
Steve campaigned on a platform of restoring democracy to Elmbridge Council by pledging to press for the principle of local decision making, rather than at Westminster, for greater transparency of the council's decisions - with broadcasting meetings on the internet as an important step, and tackling contractor overcharging and excessive pay at the Civic Centre.
He also pledged to lobby the Conservative administration at Elmbridge for an hour's free parking in Molesey's Walton Road car park and implement a short residents parking restriction in roads around Hampton Court Station to prevent all-day commuter parking.
Steve, a former local newspaper reporter, has also promised to continue producing his popular Molesey News newsletters, to keep residents informed of local issues and of decisions that are being taken at Borough and County Councils in Molesey voters' name.
Polling day was an intense and close fight between the Molesey Conservatives and Molesey Residents Association with both sides working hard to get their vote out, and not helped by the bizarre weather which lurched from sunny and hot to rain and hail stones.
In Molesey North our candidate Grahame Throm Jones (right) took the fight to the MRA's Stuart Selleck with a popular pledge to restore the historic East-West Molesey boundaries which were altered in 1991, affecting the value of homes in places like Hurst Park. He also campaigned on the issue of Hurst Park School moving to a new site without adequate parking, and on the state of local roads.
Grahame polled 364 votes to Cllr Selleck's 1105. Molesey North has only ever voted MRA in 40 years so a change is long overdue and the Molesey Conservative Residents will build on our showing this year to continue to offer voters a more compelling alternative to the status quo.
In Molesey South our experienced candidate Christian Mahne (left), a Molesey resident and serving County Councillor, finished second to the MRA with 349 votes to their 1,157.
Steve Bax said: "I would like to thank voters in all three Molesey wards who supported our candidates and we will continue our efforts in Molesey East, North and South to raise issues of concern and to provide a new and energetic approach to local problems."
The results of the election mean that the Conservatives will continue to form the administration at Elmbridge Borough Council with an increased majority and currently hold 32 of the 60 available seats, with 1 seat in Molesey and 8 seats held by the Molesey RA.
For the full election results go here.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Refurbished Mole Hall is a great new day centre for Molesey

MOLESEY’S older residents have been giving their approval to the new look Mole Hall, which reopened in February following major renovation work.
The centre in Bishop Fox Way, West Molesey, has been transformed at a cost of £400,000 to combine a hall space with the features of the old Molesey Day Centre; it now has a large dining area and canteen, kitchen space for the borough’s meals on wheels service, a hair salon and offices.
Guests are greeted by automatic doors, and inside there are moveable partitions which allows the floor space to be customised for hirers.
Manager Jane Pritchard said: “Our users really like it. For our first special lunch we were able to make the dining area L-shaped and get an extra 20 people in.”
I accompanied councillors Jan Fuller and Christine Elmer, who oversaw the project at Elmbridge Council, during their visit to the centre. They confirmed their satisfaction on inspecting its new facilities, saying that Molesey now has a first rate facility that will serve it for years.
The Molesey Conservative Residents welcome this substantial investment in our town’s community facilities and resources, it’s something we need much more of.
Renovations have included installing a suspended ceiling throughout and additional windows to increase the natural light. The floor was replaced, a new mobile stage purchased, and the moveable partitions installed. An outdoor storage facility will be added later.
The decision to merge Mole Hall and the Molesey Centre on the one site was controversial, but is a win-win situation for Molesey. The old day centre in School Road, East Molesey, was cramped and dated, and the land was due to be sold for affordable housing - together with the adjacent Radnor House in Hansler Grove. At the same time Mole Hall, under DC Leisure, was being hired only 27% of the time, putting its long time viability at risk.
L-R: Cllr Christine Elmer, Steve Bax, Cllr Jan Fuller and Grahame Throm-Jones

Good news: Molesey Library is turning the corner!

THREE years ago Library was one of 11 Surrey libraries threatened with closure by the county council due to low footfall.
It was granted a reprieve, mostly due to the distance between the next available branches - either the big library in Walton or Dittons library - and happily the whole misguided idea of closing and relaunching libraries as community run enterprises was quietly, ahem, shelved.
One good thing that came out of the episode however, was that the Molesey community was reminded of how much it - and we - all value our library and how much the poorer we would be if we lost it. This is a fantastic local resource providing books free of charge to expand our learning and bring us enjoyment.
I am a regular library goer, although admittedly these days most of the books I borrow are children's stories that I read to my two boys at bedtime. When I get to read a book for myself, which isn't as often as I would like, I am reminded what a simple pleasure this is. More people should make time for it.
A lot has been done to improve Molesey Library. Surrey has weeded out less popular stock and improved the floorplan so its now more spacious and inviting. Innovations like the ‘Molesey Library recommends’ book stand, and children's rhyme time session, or computer classes for the elderly have all started to pay off.
The Friends of Molesey Library, which was formed to try to preserve our local library, has raised funds for purchases like signage and furniture, it held a Love Your Library Day in summer 2013 to bring people in and holds regular Friday coffee and cake mornings that are very popular with visitors.
Liam Dixon, the buyer for the Surrey Library Service (pictured left with Pauline Morozgalska of the Friends of Molesey Library), was the guest speaker at the Friends of Molesey Library’s annual general in January. He said on that occasion that 1,448 more books were issued in 2013 than the previous year, which was a 2.5% growth. This was on the back of 10% more visitors in December.
In January this year 723 more books were issued than the same time last year, and this is significant because issues are the yard stick with which libraries' success or failure is measured.
Molesey Conservatives support our local library and want it to prosper. We will give political support where and whenever necessary but all of us have to do our bit too by continuing to use the library and to take out books and in doing so we will be enriching our own experiences but also helping this valuable local service to remain in our community.

Molesey dodged a bullet over the floods, but lessons must be learned

Thames bursts its banks at Hampton Court
I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman from Wolsey Road this week, regarding Molesey's close shave with flooding earlier in the year. His point was that the Environment Agency had predicted flood waters levels way in excess of where they actually rose, and that the insurance companies would base premiums on EA projections - if so residents of East Molesey, Thames Ditton and Walton might face rising home insurance bills.

This was an article I wrote in the Spring Molesey News on flooding and my suggestions of some practical steps Elmbridge Council might take to be better prepared in future.

MOLESEY'S flood defences were severely tested following three months of near constant heavy rain.
As the Thames burst its banks at Sadlers Ride and Hurst Meadow, the river engineering works at Molember Road thankfully held up to the challenge from the Mole and Ember, to the relief of those in homes adjacent to those rivers.
However I spoke with householders in Riverbank, and Hurst Road and Feltham Avenue who had endured the misery of dirty water and sewage in their basements, homes and gardens - a small number were forced to evacuate.
The Met Office calculated that some parts of the South East received as much as five months of rain in the period of mid December until the end of January.
Council responce
Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) worked with Thames Water and the Environment Agency during the crisis, to monitor river levels, issue advice and check on the vulnerable. The council opened a 24 hour rest centre at Walton for evacuees and distributed some 8,500 sandbags and sacks. It also provided Portaloos for home with unusable toilets.
Robert Moran, Chief Executive of the council, said: “For the most part, residential and business properties in Molesey did not suffer river flooding on this occasion. Damage was reported from some residential properties in Feltham Avenue, Riverbank, Hurst Road and Molember Road (two properties) as a result of groundwater flooding and the backing up of the sewer system - which is the responsibility of Thames Water and where technical expertise is required.”
Mr Moran said vulnerable residents in East and West Molesey had received a “very good service and regular information and practical support” throughout the flood period. The council had also assisted in the clean-up and established a hardship fund.
This was at odds with the experiences of some residents I spoke to, who complained of a lack of timely information and being ‘passed from pillar to post’ by the various agencies as water invaded their homes. Others said sandbags, when they did arrive, came without warning and were quickly snapped up, apparently not always reaching those householders in the greatest need.
Hurst Meadow or Hurst Lake?
Elmbridge and its partners worked tirelessly to help residents over a wide area during the recent crisis and their efforts are to be applauded.
However it is clear that the various authorities can learn lessons from what went wrong this time in order to improve their response if the events of this winter are repeated in future.
One measure the Molesey Conservative Residents are proposing at the borough council elections in May, is to establish a flood warden for every at-risk Molesey street.
They can liaise with residents and the various authorities to ensure that information, sandbags and all other practical help can be targeted to the most vulnerable.