Making Our Rural Roads Safer

The dangers of our rural roads were revealed when accident statistics were published late last year.

3,115 people – car drivers, horse riders, cyclists, and pedestrians, – were killed on rural roads between 2018 and 2020.

In addition, almost 30,000 people were seriously injured on rural roads over the same period.

In comparison, 1,880 were killed on urban roads where speed limits are generally lower.

We have sought, with support from the police, to make our rural roads safer by introducing lower and more appropriate speed limits in place of  the existing  “derestricted” speed limits on our rural roads.

The speed surveys for phase one of this project were undertaken last autumn with proposals set to come to the Local Committee in early 2022.  Phase two will follow.

It is currently expected that many speed limits on rural roads around Leith Hill will be reduced from 60mph to 40mph, with some possibly being reduced to 20mph.

In addition, Liberal Democrat County Councillors have called for more funding to be made available to introduce 20mph speed limits across Surrey with priority being given to reducing the speed limit on roads outside schools.

Our Five Point Plan for Ambulance Waiting Times

The Government has blocked our bill to improve ambulance waiting times, continuing their neglect of health services, and patients are suffering as a result.

Our plan would relieve some of the immediate pressure and help fix the ambulance crisis for good:

Community Ambulance Fund: Make emergency funding available to reverse closures of community ambulance stations.

Army Drivers: Call up members of the Armed Services to drive ambulances and ease staff shortages.

Staffing: Launch a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and the ambulance staff.

New Waiting Times Law: Pass the Ambulance Waiting Times Bill requiring accessible, localised reports.

Inquiry: Establish a Care Quality Investigation into ambulance service delays.

Liberal Democrats Demand £15 billion Scheme to Help Families after Months of School Closures and Disruption

The Liberal Democrats are the party of empowering people and supporting parents and children is our top priority in the new fair deal we offer.

To deliver this we are calling for a £15billion investment in education to help a generation of young people whose education has been affected by the pandemic. A third of the money would go direct to parents to spend on whatever help their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

The £200 Catch-Up Vouchers would be doubled, and in some cases tripled, for children in care, for disadvantaged children, and for those with special needs.

We have to remember that our schools were woefully underfunded before the pandemic and pupils from poorer backgrounds were already falling behind. Months of school closures and disruption has only made the problems worse and more urgent.

We need a massive education catch-up fund. The Government’s own expert recommended a £15 billion investment but the Conservatives have offered only a fraction of this.

The Liberal Democrat Plan would give vital extra funding to every school and empower every parent to spend their Covid cash on the support their child needs to get back on track and fulfil their potential.

Liberal Democrats Lead Calls for Action on the Climate Emergency

There is no denying it: climate change is real – and if urgent action is not taken now it could be too late.

This summer saw more wildfires and flash floods across the world. Temperatures are rising year on year.

“It is clear that we must take this issue seriously,“ says Liberal Democrat Leader  Ed Davey MP. “Yet the Conservative Government is delaying climate action and the Prime Minister still cannot make up his mind whether he cares about the climate or not.”

With the UN Climate Conference (COP26) is being held in Glasgow, we believe that this is the chance for our country to lead the world in tackling the Climate Emergency.

The world is watching as the Tories dither over permitting coal mines, introducing changes to planning law that will concrete over the countryside, and slash incentives to upgrade our homes or to buy electric vehicles. We can, and should, be setting an example. Instead we are showing other countries that climate inaction is acceptable. Nationally, the Liberal Democrats are calling for a £150 billion Green Recovery Plan to create thousands of jobs whilst cutting emissions.

The Lib Dem Plan to Fight Climate Change

Protect the countryside: increasing the amount of protected green space, planting 60 million more trees, and working with farmers to restore natural habitats.

Tackle fuel poverty: “greening” every home, improving insulation, and saving home owners money.

Improve air quality: Promoting cycling  and walking, get the right to unpolluted  air protected in law and introduce more ultra-low emission zones.

Greener Transport: Increasing bus   routes, investing in electric vehicles and re-opening railway lines.

More Renewable Energy: Investing more  in offshore wind, removing restrictions on solar power, and supporting communities to develop local electricity.

The Conservatives’ Cost of Living Crisis

Years of Conservative failure have left residents across the country facing a devastating cost of living crisis.

Families already struggling to recover from the pandemic face a triple whammy of tax rises, benefit reductions and record price increases.

The UK’s energy crisis leaves many residents with a choice between eating and heating this winter – with even bigger price rises expected in the new year.

Meanwhile, shops are hiking prices and struggling to get food on the shelves.

This leaves us asking: “Where is the bright future Boris Johnson and the Conservatives promised for the country?”

We all came together to battle through the pandemic, but the Government has abandoned people – and the promises they made to us all – at the first opportunity.

There is a growing fear among people we speak to about how they will cope in the months to come.

Everything is getting more expensive, support from the Government is being cut and tax rises mean everyone will see less money in their pay packet each month.

Instead of helping, the Conservatives are squeezing people already desperately struggling to get by. They must scrap their tax rise and their cuts to Universal Credit.

Local Plan Protects Our Special Area

Mole Valley District Council has published its next – and fairer – version of its Draft Local Plan.

This new Draft Local Plan reflects the commitments that the Liberal Democrats have made to residents: to protect what makes our area so special and to provide housing that will allow our children to live in the area in which they grew up.

We have challenged the Government’s housing targets for Mole Valley and, to the extent that the Government will allow us to do so, we have restricted development in the Green Belt. Regrettably some of the Green Belt sites which were included in the previous Draft Local Plan following the Conservatives’ call for Green Belt sites to be brought forward for development in December 2017 remain in the new Draft Local Plan to meet the Government’s housing targets.

The stricter criteria that the new Draft Local Plan has applied to releasing sites in the Green Belt for development has unfortunately resulted in some sites close to village boundaries, where small scale housing development had been proposed, being removed from the Local Plan. We have partially addressed this through the Rural Housing Exception Policy.

For details of the new Draft Local Plan and how the proposals will impact on where you live, click on “What does It mean for your area?” at: https://mvld.org.uk/LocalPlan

Extending the Surrey Hills AONB Boundary

Natural England is starting work on assessing whether the current Surrey Hills AONB boundary – which was designated in 1958 – should be extended and will undertake a new collaborative process to engage local communities in developing proposals on where the boundary should be in the future.

The Liberal Democrats have welcomed this review and called for significant parts of the adjacent countryside outside the Surrey Hills AONB – such as the Walliswood area – to be brought into the designated AONB as we believe this area has sufficient natural beauty to be inside the AONB.

Protect British Farmers and Maintain Our Food Standards

Family farming businesses are at risk as the Conservatives continue to botch our transition away from the EU agricultural system with some farmers at risk of losing up to half their entire income as the Government blunders its way towards the new Environmental Land Management scheme and seeks to negotiate new international trade deals.

We support this new scheme, but the Conservatives are failing to commit to maintaining our high animal welfare and environmental standards for imported foods with the result that foreign imports will be able to undercut responsible British farmers and put them out of business.

We believe that our farmers are the guardians of our landscape, that they are the stewards of our countryside and vital allies in tackling the climate and ecological crises. We are also committed to maintaining the beauty and biodiversity of our countryside and we want to ensure that public money goes towards issues like restoring our peat bogs, creating new natural flood protections, and managing land to encourage species recovery.

We would back British Farmers and:

* ensure food imports from trade deals meet the UK’s high animal welfare and environmental standards;

* maintain existing farm payments in full until the new Environmental Land Management scheme is fully rolled out; and

* enhance and protect the British countryside by supporting the farmers who manage the landscape.

The Government has Turned its Back on Leaseholders

The Fire Safety Bill has passed through Parliament and become law without vital protection for leaseholders and tenants against exorbitant bills for fire remediation works.

The devastating consequences of this cannot be overstated as millions of leaseholders who are already facing financial ruin through no fault of their own are now landed with the prospect of even more extortionate bills starting to arrive.

The Liberal Democrats have stood up for leaseholders from start to finish whilst this Bill was being debated and will continue to do so as the fire safety crisis continues to unfold. Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper tabled the original amendment to protect leaseholders and tenants when the Bill was first debated in Parliament and we have fought for those affected through the Parliamentary process. In contrast, our local MP, Sir Paul Beresford, voted for the Bill.

The Government’s failure to address the fire safety scandal properly is a scandal in itself alongside the cladding scandal which has been a protracted nightmare for leaseholders. The government had ten whole months to break the deadlock and propose an acceptable solution but they refused to compromise.

Every day the devastating impact of the building safety crisis becomes more apparent. We will continue to fight for protection for leaseholders and tenants and to highlight the Government’s failure to act.

Clean Up Our Air and Save Lives

Air pollution is an invisible enemy threatening the community spaces we love and those whom we care most about. It kills thousands of people every year and affects the quality of life for all of us.

After the experience of the pandemic, people want action and know that bold action for clean air could bring huge health and environmental benefits and help kickstart the green recovery and the new jobs we all know are so desperately needed.

We have therefore proposed that a £20 billion Community Clean Air Fund should be set up, a fund which would let councils and communities invest in the transport systems they need, rather than Whitehall and Westminster dictating what is right for them.

In contrast, the Conservatives’ have failed to act and the UK regularly breaks legal limits on air quality in so many towns and cities.

The Community Clean Air fund will target all transport emissions affecting local communities with an emergency three year plan to transform local transport options, including:

* new walking and cycling routes (£5.5 billion);

* new light rail and tram projects (£4.5 billion);

* the expansion of bus routes – old ones restored and new ones introduced (£5 billion);

* a hydrogen bus revolution – to convert bus fleets to hydrogen (£2 billion);

* new council-led clean air zones for congested towns and cities (£2 billion); and

* extra electric vehicle charging points (£1 billion).

With air pollution causing 40,000 early deaths a year and transport now the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, our strategy will not only boost the nation’s health but will also tackle the climate emergency.