As with any other local neighbourhood, the policies and actions which affect the character and future of Lower Sunbury are generally framed and implemented by a combination of local and national government, along with the vested interests and market forces which operate within those frameworks. Lower Sunbury is by no means unique in being under threat from a creaking infrastructure brought about by rapid urban development, the growth of traffic, and other pressures affecting the quality of life and the character of the area.
Working with the local authorities, we see it as the responsibility of residents’ and amenity groups such as LOSRA to address the underlying issues which fundamentally affect their members’ lives, as well as the minutiae of everyday life with which such groups are often concerned.
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Spelthorne Councillors voted to implement a change towards a committee model of governance at a full Council Meeting on 30th July.
The Councillors voted on the motion which paves the way to end the Leader and Cabinet model of governance and introducing a committee system which allows for broader involvement of all councillors in decision making.
The motion, which was originally proposed by Cllr Helen Harvey, was debated with an amendment, submitted by Cllr Jan Doerfel, receiving 20 votes for, 17 against, with two abstentions, reads (as amended):
“This Council resolves to implement a change in decision-making governance arrangements, comprising the cessation of the current Leader and Cabinet model of governance and the implementation of a Full Committee model of governance. This is to be developed during 2020 with a view to the arrangements taking effect at the earliest opportunity, but no later than the commencement of the next Council Municipal Year in May 2021, subject to a legally and constitutionally robust process. The changes are to be debated and agreed by the Council.”
Surrey County Council (SCC) is considering a bid to scrap its district and borough councils in favour of becoming a unitary authority.
If successful, the proposal would have a huge impact on the way decisions affecting the county are made.
The plans would see Surrey's 11 borough and district councils abolished in favour of giving the councty council greater decision-making powers for issues like housing and planning applications. It would also see local parish and town councils empowered.
It aims to reduce the “complexity of governance and reduce costs to the taxpayer”.
MP Simon Clarke, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government said earlier this month that the government would be proceeding with a white paper, a document setting out proposals for future legislation, to have more unitary councils in order to “boost regional economic performance”.
In a statement, SCC leader Tim Oliver said: “The Government have confirmed that a Recovery and Devolution White Paper will be published later this year. We understand that it will set out their thinking on the future shape of local government in England as well as seeking views.
“This will provide a significant opportunity to shape the future of the sector to better meet the needs of residents. With increased local powers and the right structural reform for Surrey, I’m confident we will deliver better services, more value for money and a simplified and more accountable system of local government for residents.
“The government is likely to encourage unitarisation where possible, and we think this could bring a whole raft of benefits for Surrey and its residents if it’s done right. We must be ready to take the opportunities made available in the forthcoming White Paper, and ensure that any future system of government in Surrey genuinely works for all our residents, and makes good economic and practical sense.”
What does this mean for Surrey?
Surrey currently has 11 district and borough councils. Each of these are responsible for providing local services such as housing, environmental health, deciding on planning applications and waste collection.
Surrey County Council itself, meanwhile, is responsible for education, transport, librabries and waste management across the county.
However, the government will be publishing a white paper in the autumn in which they will encourage areas to be governed by a unitary authority. A white paper is a document that sets out a proposal for future legislation.
The “transformative” plan would see Surrey’s 11 borough and district councils scrapped in favour of giving greater power to Surrey County Council. Many large towns and cities have unitary authorities already.
Surrey County Council would become responsible for issues that had previously been managed by the borough and district councils, such as waste collection and leisure and recreation.
Existing unitary authorities currently exist in Dorset, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. It would likely mean a much larger number of members voting on decisions that the council will implement.
For example, Guildford Borough Council currently has 48 members, whereas Buckinghamshire Council has 202 members after becoming a unitary body.
It is not clear what powers would be devolved to parish and town councils, who currently look after hyper-local issues such as parks, community centres, allotments and war memorials.
To see letter from Leader of SCC to Secretary of State, click here
Following a number of requests made through our website, we repeat a posting of the Council advice from earlier this year:
"We are seeing a sharp rise in the number of complaints about garden bonfires.
"Many people are having to stay at home due to the coronavirus (covid-19) (and this includes those who are working, those that do not or are unable to work and/ or those convalescing). This, along with the good weather is drawing people into their gardens. We therefore urge everyone to be considerate towards your neighbours, particularly during this difficult time.
"We know that you will have more difficulty disposing of your garden waste at this time (normal refuse collections should not be impacted), but please do not have a bonfire - whether it be an open fire or an incinerator. Not only can it be a nuisance, it can cause distress to your neighbours particularly those suffering from respiratory and/or other medical problems. The smoke caused by a bonfire will make those problems worse.
"Instead, if possible, please store what you can until things get back to normal and/or consider composting your waste.
"Domestic, trade or building waste should not be burnt.
"Any bonfires that the Council considers to be a Statutory Nuisance will be served with an abatement notice. Failure to comply with an abatement notice could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000."
Last week's article "A very interesting proposal from Surrey County Council!" certainly generated the degree of interest we anticipated. At the time of its publication and, given the tight time limits (see para 5 of the SCC email below), it was only possible to put it out there and steer readers to make their views known by email to SCC direct.
The sheer volume of emails received has prompted the Area Highway Manager to send the following reply to LOSRA: "Thank you very much for your comments regarding the Emergency COVID 19 Active Travel Measures in Lower Sunbury. We have received a high level of feedback from the local community. The vast majority of feedback is from people who are opposed to the proposed scheme of tactical road closures and modal filters.
"We have reviewed the feedback with Cllr Tim Evans, and it has been decided that we will not implement the scheme as it currently stands. The feedback we have received has identified a number of specific transport issues that we may be able to address, and so we will continue to engage with local stakeholders. We are hoping that through continued engagement we may be able to develop new options to address these issues. This may result in a different scheme being proposed in due course.
"The background to this is that the Government has asked Highway Authorities to develop and deliver schemes to assist with social distancing, and to promote active travel (cycling and walking). The Government is expecting us to take road capacity away from motorists and reallocate this for other modes of transport. For example in Farnham town centre we have narrowed roads and widened pavements to provide more space for pedestrians to assist with social distancing and promote active travel. There is more information about this on our website here: www.ourroads.today/activetravel. The Government is encouraging Highway Authorities across the country to be radical, and we appreciate that this will cause concern for local communities.
"Nevertheless we would like to implement schemes that are supported by local communities wherever possible, and to listen to any feedback that we receive when developing and implementing these schemes. We have heard very clearly that the local community in Lower Sunbury does not want the proposed scheme to go ahead, so we are going back to the drawing board.
"A number of people have asked why we have not consulted the community in the way that we normally would. This is because the timetable set by the Government to deliver the first tranche of schemes was 8 weeks from the date when funding was announced. This did not give us time to undertake the kind of comprehensive consultation we would normally do. Instead we have tried to use local networks to let as many people as possible know what we were considering, and thereby give as many people as possible the opportunity to respond.
"We will now work with local stakeholders, including local schools, local councillors, and the Lower Sunbury Residents’ Association, to assess what alternative options might be available to alleviate transport issues in Lower Sunbuecond tranche of the Government’s active travel programme. The timescales for this second tranche have not yet been announced, but we are hoping there will be time for more extensive consultation. It is also possible that other priorities elsewhere in the County will take precedence depending on the level of funding we receive.
Yours sincerely,Nick HealeyArea Highway ManagerSurrey County Council
Spelthorne Council has a new Cabinet, announced by Council Leader Cllr John Boughtflower.
Cllr Boughtflower, who was elected as leader on 25 June, named a new Deputy Leader and six Cabinet members who will steer the direction of the Council under his leadership.
The new Cabinet comprises of:
Announcing his team, Cllr Boughtflower said: "We are clearly in unprecedented times as we deal with the impacts of Covid-19, which will be felt for a long time to come. My Cabinet will be inclusive, not exclusive, and we will be putting the needs of residents as our highest priority. We will also be working with colleagues from across the Chamber, though joint working groups, to deliver the best possible services for Spelthorne residents."
Residents wishing to contact Cabinet members, as well as their local Councillor, can find their contact details here
The first meeting of the new Cabinet will take place on 15 July.
The email below has been sent to LOSRA by Nick Healey, the Area Highway Manager for Surrey County Council and makes for an interesting read:
"Following the Government’s recent announcements we have been working with Borough and District Council officer colleagues to identify potential Active Travel schemes across the county. One project that is being put forwards is in the Lower Sunbury area. This is an area with significant potential to increase walking and cycling, and which has a history of casualties on all the main roads that run through it. One factor that residents frequently say is a discouragement to walking and/or cycling is their concerns about safety due to the volume and speed of traffic. At school run times, Lower Sunbury can become heavily congested, despite the catchment areas for the local schools being relatively small.
"To try to address this we are developing a scheme of tactical road closures and modal filters. Potential locations for these are marked with a red bar and circle on the attached plan. Where these fall on a bus route, we would implement a “modal filter” which means that only buses, cyclists and pedestrians would be permitted to pass through. Where these do not fall on a bus route, we would implement a “tactical closure” which would be a closure to all motorised vehicles – full access would be maintained for cyclists and pedestrians. The objective of this scheme is to remove all east-west through traffic from the Lower Sunbury area, which means the only traffic entering the area would be residents, or people accessing a specific destination within the area. By removing through traffic, we would hope to make the area much more attractive for residents to walk and cycle within the area – for example accessing local shops or taking their children to school.
"Please note that at this stage the number and locations of the proposed closures are not set in stone. For example it has been suggested that an additional closure should be considered either in Pine Wood or Bracken Wood. The closures are being designed so that they could be changed, adapted and / or removed in response to how people actually use and respond to the scheme.
"Funding has now been made available to deliver this scheme. We are now contacting schools and local associations to inform them of the proposed scheme, and also arranging for notices to be put up on site to inform local residents and drivers. This will give people the opportunity to raise concerns or suggest amendments.
"I would be grateful if you were able to use your networks to push this information out into the local community. If anyone has any comments the best way to pass them to the Council is by e-mail."
To see plan and the areas affected, click here
The July/August edition of Sunbury Matters is in the course of distribution.
To view a copy of the latest award-winning magazine online, click here
From Saturday 4 July and in line with government guidance, children's playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be open.
Please follow Government Guidance when using these facilities:
Following publication of the Lendy Memorial History (see below) the Association has been asked by members to publish the link to the following petition
Further to the notice published on this site on 15th June and whilst awaiting the Borough's "work with local communities" we publish here a comprehensive and authoritative historical account of the Lendy brothers prepared by our ex-Chairman, Alan Doyle.
It should be recognised that the underlying reasons for the protests go back to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the historical and current issues arising from that terrible event.
It will be seen that the Council has boarded up the Memorial until (presumably) their work with local communities has been completed.
To view the history of the Lendy Brothers, click here
The Council has made the following announcement:
The Council are currently reviewing all historical monuments in the Borough and will work with local communities to assess the appropriateness of these statues.
In the interim we have decided to close the Sunbury Walled Garden whilst this review is being undertaken.
Six of Spelthorne Council’s most senior Councillors have quit the Conservative Party today, following their AGM last night [This press release embargoed until 9th June]. This means that for the first time in Spelthorne’s history, the Conservatives no longer have majority control of Spelthorne Council. The Conservative Group now have only 17 councillors and the other Groups collectively 22 councillors.
Council Leader Ian Harvey, Deputy Leader Olivia Rybinski, Cabinet members Jo Sexton, Amar Brar and Helen Harvey, along with long serving Cllr Richard Smith-Ainsley have been instrumental in delivering financial security for the borough. ‘’It is with regret that we had to leave the Conservative Group. Increasingly over the past 6 months we have witnessed and endured torrid levels of bullying, misogyny, hounding and intimidation which has escalated during the lockdown. This has made our continuing membership untenable. Efforts to seek assistance from the Party, at all levels, including CCHQ, to resolve this, have fallen on deaf ears’’ said Cllr Rybinski.
"This faction clearly believe that whilst the Council is still at Amber Standing; it is a good time to cause massive disruption and distraction within the Council Executive by seeking a change in the Leadership Team, furthermore What is most upsetting is that this divisive faction within the conservatives have put party politics and their own personal ambitions over and above the best interests of Spelthorne Residents’’ said Cllr Sexton.
Leader of the Council for the past 4 1⁄2 years Cllr Ian Harvey said: ‘’When I took over as Leader of the Council in 2016, the Borough was facing a severe financial crisis due to swingeing cuts to government and Surrey County Council grants, compounded by historic poor financial decisions. Our renowned investment strategies have re-invigorated Spelthorne finances to the extent that we have now embarked on our ambitious second stage of regeneration and have commenced a building program which will deliver over 1200 homes within 5 years. We have delivered a balanced budgetwith increases below inflation for the last 4 years; the lowest Council Tax increases in Surrey this year. I am proud of what has been achieved under my leadership. Our new group, to be known as United Spelthorne Group, will continue to put the needs of Spelthorne residents first".
The Association has been asked by the Parliamentary Assistant to our local MP to bring this newsletter to the attention of our readers.
The following email has been received from the Riverside Arts Centre in Thames Street. We are delighted to reproduce it here and wholeheartedly endorse the award:
We, as a group of volunteers based in Sunbury, have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The RAC is committed to the furtherance of Art and Culture in Sunbury, Spelthorne, and beyond. However, we could not do this without the time and dedication of volunteers past and present. Everyone from the Management Committee to those of our users who dedicate their time make our centre the community hub that it is today - catering for over a 100 event nights a year & a large number of clubs, social gatherings, and classes
Riverside Arts Centre is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’sGolden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are always wonderfully diverse.
Representatives of Riverside will receive the award from Michael More-Molyneux, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Riverside Arts Centre Chairman, James Ford-Bannister says:“I speak on behalf of everyone at the RAC when I say that this is a great honour for all of us. When we were unexpectedly nominated, we were proud just to be considered but to be awarded the QAVS is an achievement that further validates all the hard hours everyone gladly puts in to give back to our local community. However, I know that our volunteers won't relax after this and will continue with the labour of love that is providing arts & culture in Lower Sunbury."