Surrey County Council elections are happening tomorrow – Thursday, 4th May.
Four candidates will step forward for The Dittons & Weston Green and three candidates will step forward for Hinchley Wood, Claygate & Oxshott.
You might have already seen flyers through your door, promoting the different parties and, in light of Elmbridge Borough Council’s consultation on its Local Plan, many candidates are hinting about protecting the Green Belt… but can they be trusted? And how can your vote in the County Council elections affect the Borough Council’s decisions on its Local Plan?
Let’s be clear, Surrey County Council does not have any direct ‘say’ in how Elmbridge proceed with their Local Plan. However, SCC are responsible for infrastructure – for the smooth running of our road networks, transport and schools. Surrey County Councillors, therefore, will recognise that all of these things are crucial to any new development, wherever that may be in Elmbridge. Ultimately, the right candidates might be in a position to help to encourage Elmbridge Borough Council to ensure an effective and sustainable Local Plan.
Over the past few months, The HWLD Action Group has had contact with both County and Borough Councillors. Their actions and reactions with regards to Green Belt and the Local Plan have been noted.
Please understand we consider ourselves a non-political group, but would like to share some details with you in order for you to place an informed vote. We have no allegiance to any representative or any political party; we have simply sought to find out where they stand on the issue of building on Green Belt, particularly Area 58 in Long Ditton.
Through his own initiative, Nick Darby (Residents Association candidate for The Dittons & Weston Green), recently met with members of HWLD Action Group for a walk on Long Ditton’s Green Belt. Nick shares our views on the importance of our local Green Belt in terms of its strategic position and ‘front line role’ in the Metropolitan Green Belt. He also acknowledges how strongly performing the area is, in terms of its community value. Most importantly, Nick has expressed concerns regarding the lack of adequate infrastructure to support a new development in Area 58.
During the Local Plan consultation, Mike Bennison (Conservative candidate for Hinchley Wood, Claygate & Oxshott) has been a strong voice against amending Green Belt boundaries. Mike has spoken out at Council meetings, suggesting sensible brownfield alternatives and encouraging planners to think outside the box.
Other candidates have indicated that they are concerned about development on Green Belt land, but do not seem to have come up with any credible alternatives or had any real active involvement in the process.
Whatever your own views are, please remember that the Local election tomorrow is far removed from the General election planned for 8th June. It does not matter what your political views are – just that you make the right choice for your own local area.