News to 16 June 2013
Tricia Bland, Chair of the Retailers' Association and HonSec of the Residents' Association, writes:
Second High St Summer Fair16 June 2013
"This isn't the boy you're looking for...."
photo by Lesley Evetts
The second High Street Summer Fair took place on Sunday 8th June, 1-4pm, organised by the Thames Ditton High Street Retailers' Association under the auspices of the Thames Ditton and Weston Green Residents' Association. Our Union flags went up to herald the event and once again we had glorious weather and well over 1,000 people attending. The programme of entertainment was better than ever, there was a magician (courtesy of Smiles Dental), face painters, oodles of games and activities, but undoubtedly the star of the show was 'Rod Stewart' who, rumour has it, turned down an invitation from the 02 to be with us on the day. We also had the Star Wars Storm Troopers, including Darth Vader, with us for the duration, mingling with the families of Thames Ditton and luckily keeping their laser guns to themselves! All the shops put on fantastic promotions and activities for all the families and the Retailers' Association unveiled their 'Think Local. Shop Local' campaign supporting businesses and retailers in the High Street with many of the shops offering special incentives, supported by Elmbridge. Food and refreshments, including Pimms and cocktails provided by the local pubs, plus fantastic Italian ice cream and cakes from the cafes sustained the crowd while the community pulled out the stops to make the event a day to remember – the Brownies provided a tombola, local schools painted the hand made bunting while residents from Linwood Care Home made the beautiful red, white and blue paper flowers decorating the streets. There was singing from TD Infant School Choir, dancing from local Starlight Academy of Dance and an amazing display of Zumba fitness from Adrienne & Co. Kingston Aviation gave an amazing display of 100 years of locally designed aircraft and, once again, we had some fantastic competitions – including TD's Hottest Dogs. Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed and to all those who joined in the fun on the day – it was certainly a Fair to remember!
Tricia's photographs of the event are here
Planning under threat25 March 2013
Councillor Ruth Lyon has sent the following letter for publication in the Surrey Advertiser:
Planning under threat
Members of council planning committees will not be surprised to read the exposé in the Daily Telegraph of the way some councillors use their position to help their developer friends and then appear happy to boast about it. Readers may ask themselves how councillors with known connections with developers can be allowed to sit anywhere near a planning committee and then, in the words of the Daily Telegraph, use their position to “effectively circumvent the rules”, but this is just part of a system which is constantly allowing inappropriate developments to be approved.
Our local - Conservative controlled- council of Elmbridge, which includes Esher, has recently approved draft development plan proposals which would considerably damage the environment, allow an automatic 30% increase in the size of buildings in the Green Belt, seriously weaken protection for local employment sites and shopping centres, allow building on playing fields such as the Old Paulines in Thames Ditton and identified as “opportunity sites” for development valued sites such as Esher public car park which serves the public who wish to visit the Civic Centre, the Police offices, the shops, restaurants, the CAB, Esher Library, the cinema and St George’s Church.
Only the independent - Residents Association - councillors opposed these proposals.
What is sad from Elmbridge's point of view is that our neighbouring Conservative borough of Richmond has brought in more robust protection. It is not as if Elmbridge cannot meet targets for house building as our record shows. If implemented, these proposals would seriously affect the character of our borough. Why is Elmbridge seemingly wanting to paint itself as the developers' friend?
Elmbridge Councillor, Thames Ditton Ward
Hospital Friends' panto rasies £4100 so NHS patients can get hearts monitored locally16 January 2013
Supporters of the campaign to develop the Thames Ditton Community Hospital at Emberbrook and so restore to local people their community hospital beds raised £4,100 last Saturday 12th January at a fund raising dinner in the Vera Fletcher Hall.
The event was organised by the Friends of Thames Ditton Hospital with the act sponsored by Dairy Crest. 100 guests enjoyed splendid French cuisine and the after-dinner pantomime “Three Musketeers” presented by Charles Court Opera.
Councillor Karen Randolph, Chairman of the Friends of Thames Ditton Hospital, thanked Councillor Ruth Lyon for organising the evening and guests and local businesses for their generosity in supporting the campaign. Following the success of previous years' fund-raising, the Friends this year are purchasing echo cardiogram equipment costing £40,000. This will complement the existing consultant cardiologist clinics held at Emberbrook and enable patients in the Esher/ Thames Ditton area to be diagnosed and treated more quickly and at a lower cost to the NHS than at present. This year the fund raising is to purchase a 24 hour ECG machine and event monitoring equipment which will supplement and enhance the consultants’ cardiology service at Thames Ditton so that patients can get a complete consultant service without needing to go to Kingston.
The Friends continue to work both for out-patient services and for the provision of NHS intermediate care beds for local people in Thames Ditton and the surrounding area requiring short term care. NHS Surrey's financial problems have resulted in the loss of more than 30% of Surrey's community hospital beds; close to home this has meant that Molesey Hospital has only 12 beds in spite of an extensive waiting list of patients in Kingston and other hospitals. GPs have had significant problems admitting patients directly into local community hospitals such as Molesey.
Our two Residents' Councillors, Karen and Ruth, called for recognition of the contribution our local community hospitals can make to reducing the costs of the NHS and improving the quality of care of patients.
Food Waste Recycling Project at Cranmere Primary School18 December 2012
Recycling raptures - Ruth Bruce and Cranmere students
Ruth Bruce writes:
Back in the Summer, members of the Cranmere Primary School ‘Eco Club’, run by school Bursar, Mrs Sesemann, contacted Councillors Tannia Shipley and me (Ruth Bruce) as they were unhappy about the ten black bin liners worth of rubbish produced by the school each week going to landfill.
They said, “We think Elmbridge is brilliant because you recycle the food waste from all our homes. But we think you can do better! Please help us to be greener and start recycling the food waste from our school ”.
Well we know a challenge when we see one and so we beat a path to the Environmental Care Team at Elmbridge Borough Council, who in turn consulted with Surrey County Council – as both the Education authority and managers of our domestic food waste recycling scheme.
Finally in October, two special 140 litre food waste recycling ‘wheelie’ bins were delivered and some initial supplies of the special large bio degradable food waste bags were donated to get the project off the ground. As well as recycling the food waste, the aim was to reduce the amount of food waste produced to start with.
I visited Cranmere earlier in the week to see how the project was progressing and met with Eco Club members Alex D, Thomas W and William T and Mrs Sesemann.
Alex told me how they had explained the changes planned for the lunchtime routine to the whole school in an assembly. Now there are two bins to choose from when scrapping down those food trays – things like clingfilm must go into the black bin liner in the black bin. Food waste goes into the special white bin. However to encourage everyone to reduce the food waste generally, everyone who finishes ALL their food and creates no food waste at all is awarded a special sticker. The boys told me that more and more stickers are needed each week. This is great news.
Even the Caretaker, Mr Waddilove has a part to play. He takes the bio degradable bags to the special bins stored outside. The on Monday nights he wheels them out to the road. He reports that the bags and bins are not so heavy as when the scheme started which means that the waste amounts are reducing which was just what was wanted.
Well done everyone, and especially the young pioneers and Mrs Sesemann from the Eco Club who are now working on a ‘Car Free Friday’ initiative. Other schools have been carefully watching developments at Cranmere as they are keen to recycle their food waste too.
Changes to permitted development rights - the chance to have your say.29 November 2012
Our Planning Convenor Graham Cooke writes:
Members will have read about the Government's plans to make significant changes to the rules regarding the building of extensions to properties and, in particular, when planning permission needs to be obtained. This issue, which has proved very controversial, is now at the consultation stage and anyone can make their comments known so long as they do so before 24/12/2012.
Full details of the consultation and how comments can be made can be found here
We urge all members to make representations.. The Association has considered the proposals and will be making the following comments:
Whilst we applaud plans that will reduce bureaucracy and costs, we do not believe that there is anything to suggest that these plans will succeed in doing that
There is no evidence to suggest that there are substantial numbers of property owners who are put off extending their properties due to current planning rules
There is also no evidence to support the idea that these proposed changes will have any real affect on the economy
The Royal Town Planning Institute, the professional body for planners, has issued its comments on the proposals*, below are some of them
The current level of Permitted Development Rights has been determined following a number of reviews and is designed to reflect a balance between undue interference in a householder’s activities and the possible adverse impacts of these on the neighbourhood; .
* download RTPI Briefing number 3 dated 12th September 2012
The latest official figures show that 88 per cent of householder applications are permitted and that 84 per cent of applications are decided on within eight weeks ;
Ultimately this proposal without safeguards, may produce poor quality development and create neighbourhood conflict, without any real evidence that it would boost the economy or increase housing supply.
In short, we feel that these proposals are ill thought out and should be abandoned.
Are you going to San Francisco? Be sure to wear....20 November 2012
The streets of San Fran
In a scenario worthy of San Franciscan author Armistead Maupin's hilarious "Tales of the City," San Francisco lawmakers, faced with increasing numbers of naked bodies around and about, will today vote on whether to prohibit the exposure of genitals in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transport, except on permitted occasions like the annual Gay Pride parade and the Folsom Street fair which highlights a variety of sexual themes including S&M. If they vote for the ban, they may face a federal case filed by advocates of free expression.....
All a far cry from 1808 - or is it? I was tracking the movements of Catherine Lambert of Weston Green who, according to her diary, was wont to drive with friends in her carriage to the East Cliffs at Brighton when resident in that town, when I came across the following most instructive case at the Sussex Assizes held in Horsham in March 1809 concerning indecent sea bathing at the East Cliffs the previous year. In Rex v. Crunden Mr Crunden was indicted for "indecently exposing his naked person in the presence of divers of his Majesty's liege subjects... on a Sunday forenoon, in July last, he bathed in the sea opposite the East Cliff at Brighton, undressing and dressing himself upon the beach. Till within a very few years there were no houses near this spot, and whole regiments of soldiers used to bathe there at the same time. There is now a row of houses erected on the cliff, from the windows of which the defendant might be distinctly seen as he undressed and swam in the sea. There was no evidence of his having been guilty of any wanton indecency, or having exposed his person beyond what was necessary for the purpose of bathing."
His counsel argued that he had not been guilty of an indictable offence. He was simply enjoying a healthy recreation, without criminal intention to corrupt public morals. Besides, the practice of bathing at this place had continued for many years; "and if it was a nuisance, the inhabitants of the newly-erected houses had come to the nuisance, and had no right to complain of it. If the building of a house within sight of a spot appropriated to open bathing, rendered it a misdemeanour to bathe there any longer without a machine, the poor might soon be prevented from bathing on any part of the southern coast of the island. According to the principle contended for, all bathing must likewise be put to a stop to in the Thames, and every other navigable river; for they are all public highways on which his Majesty's liege subjects are constantly passing and repassing; and Millbank, at which the Westminster boys have from time immemorial been accustomed to bathe, is fully as much exposed to public view as the East Cliff at Brighton."
Judge Coram McDonald C.B. however ruled that the defendant was guilty of a misdemeanour. "Whatever his intention might be, the necessary tendency of his conduct was to outrage decency, and to corrupt the public morals. Nor is it any justification that bathing at this spot might have a few years ago been innocent. For anything that I know, a man might a few years ago have harmlessly danced naked in the fields beyond Montague House; but it will be scarcely be said by the learned counsel for the defendant, that any one might now do so with impunity in Russell Square. Whatever place becomes the habitation of civilized men, there the laws of decency must be enforced."
An interesting argument, and evidently still relevant. The defendant was found guilty.
But I couldn't help wondering why a couple of smart middle-aged ladies - Catherine Lambert and Lady Julia Howard - would be taking a drive up there in their carriage!
They did it their way...7 November 2012
Gaynor on the right side of the law
Resident Gaynor Owen writes:
Last week, runners from around the World were encouraged by the Mayor of New York to still travel to the city to participate in the ING New York City Marathon despite widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Many of us felt uneasy about doing this and would have preferred that the Marathon be either cancelled or postponed as residents in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn (areas we were due to run through) had been left homeless, without power & water and in some cases, dead. However, the message was clear - “the show must go on” and the Marathon was to be used as a symbol of unity and strength to help get New York back on its feet.
Thanks to all those who sponsored. Well done, Gaynor - as the news came in, our hearts went out to you after all that training. I know those little hills in Central Park! - Ed
Many of you will have heard that on Friday evening with 36 hours to go and after all international runners had arrived in New York, the Marathon was cancelled. A dreadful situation had arisen in Staten Island making the Marathon an impossible and inappropriate event at this time but while many runners were in complete agreement with the cancellation (including me), many of us were upset by such a late decision when it was clear that it should have been cancelled as soon as the hurricane hit.
So, with no official marathon to run any more, tens of thousands of international runners staged the first Unofficial New York City Marathon in Central Park tagged “Run Anyway” on Sunday 4th November, 2012 instead. Thousands of runners had travelled from around the world, many having raised huge amounts of money for charity or to run in memory of loved ones and many of us didn't want to return home without completing what we had set out to do. We were offered no official help, were not allowed to wear our racing numbers and were forbidden from crossing the official finish line which had been given a police guard for the day! After being poorly treated by the New York media, we decided not to take "NO" for an answer and ran laps of the very hilly (!) park until our tracking devices hit 26.2 miles. None of this was really reported by the press!
I ran with a British chap who I had only just met called John who was running for a children's cancer charity - this was his second Marathon and he stuck with me every step of the way, refusing to leave my side. We had no idea what response we would get but thousands of New Yorkers came out into the park to cheer us on, offering water, food and apologies for the unfair treatment. The atmosphere was amazing! People from all different countries were shouting out my name (some interesting pronunciations!) which was on the front of my Cancer Research UK vest and John and I carried Union Jacks for the final lap to yet more cheers from the crowd. I am delighted to report that we finished the Marathon distance of 26.2 miles (unofficially, of course) in 4 hours 6 minutes....if I never see another hill, it will be too soon!
I went to New York to run the Marathon in memory of my "Uncle" Alan and to raise money for Cancer Research UK – over £3,600 raised so far and the money is still coming in. While this might not have been the Marathon that I had in mind, it was a marathon none the less and I did it! No one will ever be able to take that away from me......and I do have the medal to prove it but shhhh, the Marathon never happened so officially I wasn’t allowed to wear it in America! I did, however, wear it with pride when I collected my girls from school after arriving back in the UK yesterday.
"Who needs a car park?!"5 November 2012
"Who needs a car park?!" - writes a resident of Ashley Road, who sent in this photo, taken the morning of Monday 5 November, "when you can just leave your vehicle in the middle of the road.
There was no sign of the owner - fortunately the fire engine managed to squeeze round."
Can you cap it? Ashley road car park costs a short stay parker 20p on a weekday.
Residents maintain area of Milbourne Pond29 October 2012
Peter Dodge and young helper add to the pile
Organised by local resident Peter Dodge, who has for many decades taken a close and active interest in preserving Milbourne pond, residents tackled some of the overgrown margins of the pond on Sunday last. Tannia Shipley writes:
"We had a wonderful morning clearing around the pond today. We started at
10am and we were nearly finished by 11 30 so much was the enthusiasm of the
volunteers that turned out to help. Peter Dodge organises this event on a
regular basis and we had advice and guidance from one of EBC's Countryside
Team last week. We had a few youngsters helping us - what a help they were too! They might have had tiny
hands and little legs but they were back and forth to the ever increasing
mountain of cleared vegetation. They learnt about community spirit and how
to stack the greenery in order to facilitate the rapid and efficient
loading onto the EBC truck that was to collect it all on Monday morning. Ann Dodge
provided us with the much appreciated mugs of tea and coffee
and we were all very pleased with our morning's work. "
Comment: Excellent. A couple of weekends ago, several parents and children of Weston Green School went on a sponsored walk to Kingston and back round the towpath, raising about seven hundred pounds towards the works needed for the pond. This was organised by parent and Residents' Association Highways convenor Andrew Roberts.
On this pond-clearing working party, I couldn't help noticing that both Tannia and our other councillor for the ward, Ruth Bruce were working hard with the others. Needless to say, there were no "cuckoo" candidates from the political parties - who are never anywhere to be seen until their calls are heard in Spring about a month before election times!
Keeping it out of the fan29 October 2012
Despite a ban on heavy lorries from ten till six overnight, the result of long and hard battles by residents in years past, residents of The Woodlands and Douglas Road were kept awake all night in the middle of last week by a convoy of tankers conducting shuttle runs up and down their streets. Our residents' councillors Ruth Bruce and Tannia Shipley - and retired Councillor Maureen Sheldrick - were quickly on to it: to learn after much investigation that there was a problem at the treatment plant at Farm Road, Esher which needed emergency attention by Thames Water. There was no option in the circumstances but to subcontract lorries to cart the sewage away, round the clock from Wednesday till Friday. Accoriding to Thames Water, the body responsible, the problem (described as an "operational incident") was confined to the treatment plant and did not, as earlier reports suggested, involve a leak into the Mole.
For future reference the public can, in theory anyway, find out what's going on by checking Thames Water's website:
Scroll down the right hand side until you see the subhead "What's happening in your area?"
TDIS doings29 October 2012
food for thought at harvest festival
On Thursday October 25th Year 2 pupils from Thames Ditton Infants School visited the Thames Ditton Community Day Centre in Mercer Close to distribute food and goodies collected at the school during Harvest Festival. The children also sang a jolly harvest song and as always, charmed the Day Centre regulars - just before the Hallowe'en celebrations...!
After lunchtime on the same day, the school held a special outdoor memorial service for David Lowe who as well as being a former Residents' councillor, was the Chair of Governors from 2008 until his untimely death last year.
Governors, staff and pupils joined with Connie, David’s wife, close family and friends to unveil a plaque, a newly-planted tree and a specially commissioned bench given to the school by David’s family. After an address by the current chair of governors, acknowledging David’s enormous contribution to Thames Ditton Infants School, there followed a moving response from David Lowe’s eldest son. Headmistress Rebecca Hicks also paid tribute to David Lowe’s dedication to and personal affection for the school. Year 2 pupils then rounded off proceedings with an uplifting version of‘Top of the World’ by The Carpenters. To honour David’s memory, the school will make a half-termly award to a pupil for excellence in ICT - a subject always close to David's heart!
Commons clean-up22 October 2012
Organised by resident Lewis McGuinness, about sixteen residents met outside the Chocolate Tea Pot on 19 October, where owner Jane supplied a huge pot of tea before the team went litter-picking on the Common. Elmbridge Borough Council supplied the bags and collection afterwards. Participant Tannia Shipley writes: "We collected several sacks of rubbish – it was an extremely successful event and we had lots of fun! It was interesting to see some beautiful cyclamen on the common, and some amazing fungi! We finished back at the Chocolate Teapot and enjoyed an assortment of goodies and a good chat before we all left for home.
Future of Red Cross office uncertain28 September 2012
Elmbridge Council have commented on claims that its Conservative-led Administration has ordered the Red Cross Medical Loans office at Elmgrove in Walton to quit its office at Elmgrove, Walton, just before Christmas. The Red Cross medical equipment service, staffed by volunteers, provides short-term loans of equipment for the recently handicapped or incapacitated residents of the Elmbridge area, helping them return to their own homes after a hospital stay, enabling them to go on holiday with friends or family, and promoting independence. Equipment loaned includes wheelchairs, backrests, bath seats, walking sticks and frames, and commodes, bedpans and urinals.
A senior council officer has acknowledged that EBC did serve notice on the Red Cross in February this year, but said that they intend to discuss a suitable alternative location for the office within the Borough.
Problems with school policy and planning23 September 2012
At Dominic Raab MP's Town Hall meeting in Thames Ditton on 19 September several searching questions were asked by parents, school governors and Nick Fry, the Head of the Junior School where the meeting took place. The burthen of the questions was that the government gives support and funding to academies and new free schools, which can limit the number of pupils they accept, while our outstanding schools in the state sector are required to accept increasing numbers of pupils leading to overcrowding and threatening the standards attained. The population is growing and it is easy to predict that the bulge now experienced in primary education will surge upwards to secondary education but county planning, particularly for new schools or expansion of facilities where space allows at existing schools is woefully inadequate or incompetent.
The Hon Member for Esher and Walton replied that it was not the case that Government regarded state schools as lower priority. Of the approaches to him by constituents on this matter, the majority were about choice - not getting a child into their preferred school - rather than any shortage of overall capacity in the area. He said that this was the first time he was hearing such arguments about local inadequacies and urged constituents to put the case to him in writing.
The following day Nick Fry, with the full support of the governing body of the excellent Thames Ditton Junior School (and, we are sure, of all concerned residents of the area) wrote to Mr. Raab outlining the issues as below:
In 2009 and 2010, Thames Ditton Infant School was asked to expand on a temporary basis to provide additional reception places and was given a portable classroom to enable them to do so. The first of those classes have joined us this term and the second will do so in September 2013. TDIS have subsequently been asked to take another additional class in September 2012, and although a promise was made by Liz Hanrahan at a meeting in February that TDIS would only be asked to take another additional class in 2013, ‘if no other option could possibly be found’, there appears to be no viable alternative. Those children who join TDIS in 2012 and 2013 are likely to join us in 2015 and 2016; therefore we appear to be in the position of having a ‘permanent temporary’ expansion.
Comment: an excellent and clear statement. We'll keep you abreast of any results.
My belief is that an ideal size for a junior school is in the region of 300 to 350 pupils. The ethos of which we are very proud, is to create a secure environment and close-knit community in which our children can flourish. The significant increase in numbers not only puts pressure on the physical resourcing of the school, but also affects our ability to sustain this ethos. If the decision is made to expand further, serious consideration to provide adequate communal facilities is a necessity. Initially when a permanent expansion to our school was being discussed an architect visited to consider the feasibility of a new hall etc. When this idea was abandoned, we have been left with a de facto expansion of the school, but without the facilities needed. Funding has been provided for us to build a science lab which we very much appreciate and this will make a real difference to the quality of teaching that can take place within the school, but various pressures have been created including:
We will mange all of the above – because we will have to – but this is not a situation with which I am happy.
- the increased number of children in the building and on the playground will create health and safety issues which could potentially lead to more accidents as a result of more children playing in a restricted space; it is therefore likely that we will need to stagger playtimes and lunchtimes which in turn will present us with timetabling issues;
- the hall will no longer be big enough to accommodate all of the children and therefore we will no longer be able to hold whole school assemblies which are an integral part of our school week;
- there will an increase in the number of staff creating pressure on the use of the staff room, staff toilets and car park;
more children will be coming to our school from further afield leading to an increase in the amount of traffic and congestion around the school. As well as putting the safety of the children at risk, many more cars are now parked in the area around the school which has led to complaints from local residents; the manager of the doctors’ surgery raised a planning objection before our recent expansion, as a result of parents parking within their car park;
- an increase in the number of pupils – and the consequent increase in the number of parents - will also increase pressure upon the school office.
I realise that there is a demand for places throughout Surrey and we also need to look at this from a wider perspective, but I am concerned that there is no long-term plan (or even medium-term plan) despite projected figures that show that the demand for primary places will continue to rise until at least 2020.
Last term I met with several very concerned parents of pupils in year 6 who had been allocated secondary schools a long distance from where they live (including Epsom and Ewell, Thomas Knivett and Southborough). They were particularly worried about the long journeys that would be necessary to get to and from school and the difficulty in making social contact when living a considerable distance from the school. Most of the children were subsequently given places nearer to their home, but in the meantime there was a lot of stress and uncertainty. Bearing in mind the increased numbers in local primary schools at the moment – as you recognised - this situation is going to get worse in the near future.
I would also like to make a few wider points on education:
The two main teaching unions, the NUT and the NAS/UWT have issues guidance for their members on ‘Action short of strike action’ as a result of government policy. Personally, I feel that this is misguided and I expect most of the teachers within my school will work as normal; their talent and hard work have been the main factors in ensuring that we are an outstanding school. However, please don’t assume that if the majority of teachers do not follow this guidance, it is because they support the government policy on education – it is because of their professionalism. I would also suggest that this a battle in which the government need to think very carefully about their position; although it may be possible for them to ‘win’ it, at what cost? The wish to drive up standards is commendable, but I believe the biggest factor in creating a successful school is the quality of teachers; by creating a demoralised and depressed profession, this is unlikely to happen; comments by Sir Michael Wishaw, the chief inspector of schools such as, “If someone tells you morale is at an all-time low you know you are doing something right,” can only exacerbate the situation.
At the meeting yesterday you made several comments in support of free schools and academies. There is no great desire for further independence from the majority of primary headteachers – I believe that only 4 out of 300 primary schools in Surrey have become academies. Although far more secondary schools have converted, surveys suggest that the majority of these have done so for financial reasons. The figures with which we have been presented have suggested that an average-sized secondary school would be better off by about £150,000, most primary schools would benefit by about £40,000 – a relatively small figure when the amount of additional work and responsibility is taken into consideration.
I realise that there are huge budgetary pressures on all departments and appreciate that the overall school’s budget has not been cut, but there still has been a real impact on our school as a result of:
I look forward to your response to the above points
- the cut in our delegated annual capital funding from approximately £50,000 to £7,000 has created problems in maintaining and improving our school building;
- the introduction of the pupil premium. As Thames Ditton is in an affluent area, we have a small number of children entitled to it;
- the stand-still budget does not allow for increase in energy costs of 10% and other inflationary costs of up to 5%
We are not part of Kingston23 August 2012
Residents in parts of Thames Ditton are protesting that deliveries to them of the Elmbridge Guardian have, from yesterday, been replaced by the Kingston Guardian. "We are not part of Kingston," they say. This is a pity: the Kingston version carries no news about Elmbridge, coverage of which has been particularly good over the past year in the Elmbridge Guardian.
Calls to the Guardian reveal that the driving force behind this change is the advertising department, which faces pressure from Kingston-based advertisers to extend their market coverage to surrounding areas. "But," as one resident observed, "that won't do them any good if disgusted readers now stick the paper straight in the bin because there's no Elmbridge news in it!"
The Guardian's got this wrong. It's another sign of the immense pressures the local press conglomerates are under. The syndicated Advertiser (Trinity Mirror) carries less and less relevant news, and much of it seems a huge amount of waste paper to those concerned with the environment, while its price has more than doubled in the past couple of years. The syndicated Elmbridge Guardian (Newsquest) has hitherto provided good coverage considering that the paper is free and the space allotted to news is limited. Those with internet access can still read most of the news items in the Elmbridge Guardian online, whereas the Advertiser puts only a few news articles online, and often slightly delayed, in the hope that readers will shell out for the hard copy.
We support the local press - although coverage is not what it was several decades ago, it is still important to have local media that are not controlled by corporate PR in the state and private sector and are therefore less partisan. But people won't read them if their news content is not relevant to them.
Ashley Road car park - use it or lose it11 July 2012
Last week the Elmbridge Cabinet, one hundred percent Conservative, which takes decisions for the borough that are then voted through by the Party, approved a continuation of its strategy for off-street car parks. This includes a review of underused car parks (Ashley Road car park is under-used). Options mentioned for such car parks are to seek alternative use, partial or complete disposal, or retain the status quo.
They want individual car parks to operate at a net surplus. A number of village car parks (for example Ashley Road car park) run at a loss. The Cabinet is unwilling for part of your tax to be used to subsidise them (but they have not consulted taxpayers on that matter). They also want a price index link approach for charges to ensure that there is a rise in income from car parks around the borough every year, although they may stagger this around Elmbridge's car parks (making it harder for objectors as they pick the car parks off one by one rather than hiking the lot, as three years ago, which made an easier target to protest against)
Note that the policy of the previous Conservative Administration could be summed up as follows: raise car park charges to commercial levels; car parks that are commercially viable can then be privatised (= "small government"); car parks that are not viable can be sold to developers. Informally, the present Conservative Administration has lately given the impression that the likes of Ashley Road car park will not be "disposed of" - but it seems that the policy is back in contention.
The full agenda item can be downloaded here