Surrey Residents Living in ‘Unsafe’ Care Homes

Liberal Democrat County Councillors have expressed their concern that Surrey residents may be living in “unsafe” accommodation after it was revealed that six care homes which have contracts with Surrey County Council have been rated as “Unsafe” by the Care Quality Commission.

 We recognise that the County Council does not send new residents to care homes that have received a poor rating and that it puts in place an action plan to improve care homes which have received this rating and have existing Surrey residents.

However, it should concern us all that we have Surrey residents receiving care packages paid for by the County Council who are living in accommodation which is rated as “Unsafe” by the Care Quality Commission.

We fully support the County Council’s corporate priority which sets out that residents should ‘live and age well’, but believe that it is not possible to age well in an environment that has been deemed unsafe by a national regulator.

As a result, we have called on the County Council to pro-actively work with care homes and to take immediate action to improve standards where necessary to ensure that no Surrey resident in receipt of a care package paid for by the County Council is living in a home that has been rated as unsafe.

Where is Surrey’s Money?

Theresa May asked the country to elect a strong and stable government on 8 June and to avoid a coalition of chaos with Labour and the Scottish Nationalists running the country. But, instead she has given us a weak and wobbly government only kept in office through confidence and supply agreement with Ulster’s Democratic Unionist crackpots.  

In short, she is in government but not in power.

Earlier this year, Councillor Hodge, as Leader of Surrey County Council, sought more money from central government to fund local services. He also sought to enlist the 11 Surrey Conservative MPs, including four Cabinet Ministers, to help him. But they came back from Westminister with nothing, saying that there was no “magic money tree”.

Furthermore, Councillor Hodge underpinned his financial forecasts for the future with the expectation that this Council would be able to retain the business rates raised in the county next year under a pilot scheme to reform local government finance. A proposal that this Council’s Conservative Councillors were depending on but a proposal which the new Conservative government, reliant DUP support, has ditched.

And whilst Councillor Hodge and Surrey’s 11 Conservative MPs get nothing for supporting the government, the 10 DUP MPs supporting the Government have shown that the “magic money tree” denied to Surrey’s Conservative MPs really does exist. They have obtained an extra £1billion for schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and public services in Northern Ireland. In fact, just the sort of money that Surrey needs to protect its services.

This really does beg the question: If ten DUP MPs can get £1billion for supporting the government, why can Surrey’s 11 Conservative MPs not get anything for providing similar support to the government?

Similar numbers of MPs but in reality very different levels of influence over the Prime Minister. And Surrey loses out.

Dorking and Cranleigh Recycling Centres to be Axed?

Liberal Democrat County Councillors have expressed their anger and opposition to proposals to axe four Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) across the county.

The proposals follow on from the reduction in opening hours the introduction of hugely unpopular charges to use the CRCs which were implemented last year – actions which would appear to have resulted in increased fly-tipping across the Dorking Hills.

The County Council’s preferred proposals are to:

  1. Permanently close four smaller CRCs – Bagshot, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham
  2. End the free daily allowance of non-household waste
  3. Close the remaining CRCs on two weekdays so all sites are open for five days a week
  4. Restrict users of vans, trailers and pick-ups to larger CRCs only
  5. Ensure CRCs in Camberley and Farnham are only used by Surrey residents

It is clear that these proposals, if implemented, will make it harder for people to do the right thing and dispose of their waste responsibly and that increased fly-tipping – which the National Trust, farmers / landowners and the District Council will have to pay to clear up – is likely to be the end result.

It is also clear that these proposals are being brought forward because of the financial crisis at County Hall caused by the Conservative Leader’s failure to persuade his Conservative colleagues in central government to provide a better funding settlement for social services.

We are totally opposed to these proposed closures and urge residents to make their voices heard in this consultation – which can be accessed via the County Council’s consultation web page – and to tell this out of touch and arrogant County Council exactly what they think of their proposals.

County Council Cuts Wasteful Expenditure

Liberal Democrat County Councillors in Surrey have welcomed the news that the Conservative administration at County Hall has started to adopt the proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrats in the recent County Council election campaign.

In doing so, the Conservative administration at County Hall has finally agreed to cease the publication of its unpopular “Surrey Matters” magazine which has cost taxpayers £1,200,000 since 2011 and to scrap the four Cabinet Associate posts which have cost the taxpayer nearly £200,000 since they were introduced.

Liberal Democrats had consistently called for this self-promotional magazine and these cabinet associate posts, which only served as a means to pay Conservative councillors increased allowances from the public purse, to be scrapped and for the money saved to be used on front line services.

However, whilst we are delighted that the Conservative administration has finally taken this action, we are disappointed that it took so long for the Conservative administration at County Hall to realise that public money should not have been spent on self-promotional propaganda and unnecessary allowances paid to themselves.

At a time of tight financial constraints for the County Council when front-line services are being cut, when fees for services are being introduced and increased across the board, and when the Council Tax is being increased, it is vital that every penny is spent wisely.

Yet it became clear during the election campaign that this was simply not happening under the Conservatives – and it is no wonder that whilst only 39% of Surrey residents said in a recent survey that the County Council provided value for money that support for the Liberal Democrats increased across the County.

Liberal Democrat County Councillors will continue to hold the Conservative administration to account over the next four years and will continue to highlight examples of wasteful spending and where we think efficiencies can be made.

Dorking Hills Election Result

The County Council election result last Thursday in the Dorking Hills division was:

Hazel Watson                   Liberal Democrat                2,906

David Mir                          Conservative                       1,675

Jacquetta Fewster           Green                                      231

David Payne                     UKIP                                       167

Emma Davies                   Labour                                   155

Majority 1,231                   Turnout 48%

 

County Council Election Campaign Launched

Surrey Liberal Democrats have unveiled a full slate of 81 candidates across every division in Surrey to take on the Conservative-administration at County Hall in May’s elections – the only opposition party to do so.

We are delighted that we are fielding such a strong set of candidates for the County Council elections in May. We need a fresh start in Surrey and an end to the ‘crisis management’ at County Hall which has resulted in the 15% council tax fiasco, £123m of cuts to services, ‘gentleman’s agreements’, secret recordings and leaked text messages, all of which saw Surrey in the newspapers and TV bulletins for all the wrong reasons.

In recent weeks, Liberal Democrat County Councillors led the successful campaign to stop the 15% council tax increase proposed by the Conservative administration at County Hall and we will continue to oppose any future attempts to impose such a large council tax increase on Surrey residents.

Now, Liberal Democrat candidates across the county are fighting for an end to the financial waste and culture of secrecy at County Hall and are campaigning to improve the condition of Surrey’s roads and footways, to re-instate the opening hours of tips and an end to the “Tory Tip Tax” on DIY household waste, to introduce more special educational needs places within Surrey, to increase the amount of youth service provision, to give more support for carers and the voluntary sector, and to improve road safety across the county.

We are also opposed to the expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick airports and are committed to protecting the Green Belt from oil drilling.

Surrey needs a fresh start, an end to the chaos at County Hall, and only the Liberal Democrats can provide it.

Petition Launched to Stop Surrey Schools Losing £37million by 2020

Liberal Democrat County Councillors have launched a petition to fight against school funding cuts in Surrey. This follows recent figures published by the National Union of Teachers which show that schools in Surrey will lose £37 million in real terms by 2020.

Current levels of funding in Surrey are not enough if schools are to manage the new cost pressures that they face such as increases in National Insurance and a new tax to pay for apprenticeships.

In addition, the County Council is being squeezed by the Conservative Government’s 75% cut in the funding it uses to support school improvements and provide local schools with music lessons, ICT equipment and accounting advice.

As a result, schools across the county are considering drastic cost-cutting proposals, including increasing class sizes and reducing the number of teachers and teaching assistants. One school has even warned of a four day school week,

This is why we have launched the petition calling for the Government to increase funding for Surrey schools to protect them from the need to make damaging cuts in the face of reduced funding and increasing costs over the next three years.

The petition can be signed at: https://surreylibdems.org.uk/en/petition/stop-school-cuts-in-surrey

Leader Survives No Confidence Motion

The Leader of Surrey County Council has survived the motion of no confidence in his leadership. As a result, the residents of Surrey have been denied the fresh start that is so desperately needed.

This outcome does not solve the excessive secrecy within the County Council, which has been the hallmarks of the current Conservative leadership, and it does not repair the County Council’s damaged reputation with the residents it was elected to serve.

Instead it means the continuation of a secretive culture at County Hall which serves its own interests, and those of the Conservative Party, rather than those of Surrey residents. It also shows that Conservative Councillors have endorsed the Leader’s 15% council tax strategy, which was totally and utterly rejected by the people of Surrey.

We note that almost a fifth of the Conservative Group did not vote for the Leader or did not show up to support the Leader of the Council – hardly a ringing endorsement. We therefore look forward to the County Council elections in May where residents can have the final say on this discredited administration.

Liberal Democrats Call for Leader of Surrey County Council to Quit

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have called for the Leader of the Council, Councillor David Hodge, to resign or face a Motion of No Confidence following the release of emails last night which revealed he had written to the Prime Minister asking for more cash “so that Surrey will continue to be a heartland for the Conservatives“. In another email he bemoaned the fact that the Conservative Government “ties my hands and fails to support…(the)…largest Conservative Group in UK“.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we cannot go on like this, with a Leader of the Council whose credibility is being continually undermined by new revelations, leaked emails, text messages and secret recordings. This has become a hugely time-consuming distraction for the County Council from what it should be concentrating on, which is to serve the residents of Surrey.

We are very clear that Surrey County Council needs a fairer funding deal with central government to fund the gap in adult social care. However, the Leader of the Council has approached this in totally the wrong way with the use of secrecy, calling in favours, “gentleman’s agreements” and an unwillingness to share vital information with elected councillors and residents. I think this approach has failed and has damaged Surrey’s case for getting a better deal from government.

The judgement of the Leader of the Council came into question when he and his Cabinet colleagues unanimously voted for a 15% council tax rise and a referendum to take place on 4 May, only to back down a week later at the Council’s Budget meeting, following opposition led by the Liberal Democrats and a huge outcry from Surrey residents.

The Leader of the Council should quit now as we need an end to the revelations, speculations and leaks so that the County Council can focus on providing services for residents. We need a fresh start with a new Leader of the Council who will approach the running of the council in an open and transparent way, focusing on serving Surrey residents.

Only 39% of Residents Agree that Surrey County Council Provides Value for Money

Liberal Democrat County Councillors have expressed their concern as new figures reveal poor levels of public satisfaction with Conservative-run Surrey County Council.

According to the latest figures from the county council’s own survey, just 39% of residents agreed that the county council provided value for money. The poor figures follow the Tory-run council’s decision to cancel a 15% council tax rise after a public outcry from Surrey residents.

Other findings included:

33% agreed that they can influence decisions by the county council

40% were satisfied with services for older people

33% were satisfied with road maintenance

38% were satisfied with the places provided for young people to meet

33% were satisfied with services for people with disabilities

Sadly this confirms what Liberal Democrat councillors have been saying for years: that the County Council is remote, inefficient and does not provide good value for money.