Maria Mateo and Nikki Barton – Your Haslemere South Ward Candidates

In March 2017,  the local press reported that three elected councillors – half way through their term – have resigned from Haslemere Town Council.

This has caused by-elections to fill these councillor vacancies including one by-election in the Haslemere South Ward (2 vacancies) where Maria Mateo and Nikki Barton live.

Mateo and Barton are your Independent candidates for this by-election.

The by-election will be on Thursday 8th June. As you are aware, this is the same day as the general election.  You will have two ballot papers on this day at The Georgian House Hotel polling station.  One will be to vote in the general election for an MP (one ballot paper, one vote).  The other ballot paper will be to vote in the Town Council by-election for two new town councillors (one ballot paper, two votes for two councillors).

On the ballot paper, which will be a green colour, you’ll see our names – MARIA MATEO & NIKKI BARTON – and there will be no party political logo; after all, we feel in a local election, local decisions should simply be about people, not political parties.

ABOUT MARIA

Maria Mateo

I care about Haslemere. My family have lived here for over ten years. I am actively involved in our wonderful community. I have worked as a solicitor and local adviser with Citizens Advice and now training as a Waverley Supervisor with this charity.

I’m a volunteer and have given many hours to several community groups (Haslemere First Respondents, Orchard Club, and Haslemere Rugby and Football Clubs). I organised a local school’s walking bus.

As your independent councillor, I will be open and transparent, listening to Haslemere residents and representing your views in the Council Chamber.

ABOUT NIKKI

Nikki at HillFest

With experience as your County Councillor, I have a proven track record in putting Haslemere first. I moved to Haslemere South with my family a decade ago and have engaged with the local community through: school governorship; Haslemere Hockey Club; Fringe Festival; Haslemere Vision; Chair – Haslemere Community Rail Partnership.

I will continue prioritising community engagement with openness and transparency.  Never afraid to speak up and my record as Haslemere’s first Independent SCC can be seen via the pages of this blog.

With a wealth of experience and understanding of local government, I will champion good traffic management and child/pedestrian safety as a priority.

Nikki’s Surrey County Councillor Final Update for Haslemere

Surrey County Councillor Final Update

This is Nikki’s final update as your Independent Surrey County Councillor, it has been a real privilege to serve the community of Haslemere for the past 4 years.

Highways Issues

I would like to thank the SCC Highways team for all their input and patient advice during my term in office.

I have held regular meetings with the Highways team, and local residents to discuss a range of local issues as well as giving updates to Haslemere town council.   Other key issues include:

Lower Street:  road safety

Lower Street residents contacted me as they were concerned about traffic speeds, pedestrian safety and disabled access.  I set up a meeting with SCC Highways officers.  Residents proposed a number of measures to address safety issues- including a pavement in front of their properties, a one way traffic system, speed reduction, a ramped access to the high pavement, better parking enforcement and the poor state of the steps accessing the Waitrose car park.

Highways officers response: unfortunately Lower Street is physically too narrow to put in a pavement on the north side, it would only be feasible if a one way system was put in place- but costs and practicalities mean this is not a viable option.  A ramped access, although potentially feasible would be prohibitively expensive.  The Waitrose access is the responsibility of Waverley BC.

Traffic speed reduction was agreed to be the most possible to address.  Traffic speed data analysis along Lower Street indicates an average speed within the threshold to permit consideration of a 20mph zone.  The current financial crisis facing SCC means there is little chance of implementing this in the immediate term, it was recommended residents consider a community speed watch to monitor traffic speeds, and raise awareness of the issue.

An open meeting will be held on May 10th, St Barts School at 6.45pm.

 Lion Lane:  Shottermill Infant School- new pedestrian crossing (photo to come)

Shottermill Infant school governing body requested a zebra crossing to make it safer for children and parents crossing Lion Lane to get to both Shottermill Infant and Junior School.  I gave the proposal my full support and worked with the Highways team to secure funding for the scheme.  Most of the work has been completed, electrical work on the belisha beacon lights will be finished in the next 2 weeks and the crossing fully opened.

 Critchmere: highways drainage

Critchmere residents in recently built homes were experiencing severe drainage issues causing recurring property flooding.  I asked SCC Highways officers to help resolve the issues. After many months of investigation Kirby Homes accepted responsibility for the problem, a new drain culvert was put in preventing further flooding.

College Hill footpath public inquiry successful outcome for the town

The College Hill footpath, used for generations as a safe passage was blocked last year by developers Mr Warner and Mr Robbie. A public inquiry was held and in Jan 2017 the inspector found in favour of the community- the footpath (FP 604) was reopened and now has official ‘rights of way’ status.

At the inquiry I was concerned that the taxpayer was footing the bill for the SCC legal team in the inquiry when the defence case lacked any tangible evidence.  SCC’s legal team agreed to make claim for costs. In April 2017, SCC was awarded full costs of over £7000.

Bunch Lane posts

Residents of Bunch Lane requested wooden posts to protect a section of footpath from parked cars and traffic damage. I secured funding for this scheme.

Old Haslemere Road

Residents requested the replacement of a damaged grit bin.  There are new strict criteria for grit bin replacement, and I provided the additional necessary councillor support to achieve this.

Night light switch off

A number of residents have raised their concerns over the recent SCC cost saving night time street light switch off- in particular along routes used by commuters.  Unfortunately there are strict guidelines for this, I have challenge this and requested an extension until 01.00 hours. I trust my successor will continue this.

Haslemere Train Station

Haslemere Community Rail Partnership – helped organise the official opening of community information hub in the station shop. The partnership has funded a part-time hub manager to coordinate a team of volunteers that will man the shop over the summer months- promoting the town, its businesses, events and surrounding countryside.  The shop has already welcomed many visitors, including a couple of walkers from India who arrived at Haslemere station from London to explore the South Downs without any maps or local information.

Visitors to the Station Hub

The partnership has also funded the clearance and replanting of the flower beds on the platforms and planters to screen the new car park.  Plans include window boxes outside the waiting rooms and an improvement of the station flower beds on Lower Street.

Spring Planting along the platform at Haslemere Station

The SWT funded forecourt works are nearly complete, with unfortunate delays to the paving at the station entrance.

The new trees and hedging plants are beginning to screen the new car park structure, I gave very clear input to SWT during the pre-construction consultation that native species should be used rather than the planned ‘ivy’ walls.

The station travel plan survey identified the need for additional sheltered waiting places for travellers outside the station forecourt to reduce congestion at the station.  A 12 metre bus shelter (3x4m) with some seating and lighting has been ordered for the bus layover on Lower Street.  This should be installed by mid-June 2017.

Agreement has been reached in principle with SWT, SCC and the Station House development to fund a traffic calming scheme at the station to reduce speeds and improve safety for pedestrians- and particularly those using the bus stop on Lower Street.  A design will be drawn up by SCC Highways.

The provision of real time bus information is the final element of the station improvement scheme to be finalised.

Other key community issues and events: 

Marjorie Grey Hall Alzheimer’s Society Day Centre– under threat of closure following the Alzheimer’s Society decision to withdraw from the centre with a mere 3 months’ notice. I attended a number of meetings to see if a community led rescue solution could be found.  SCC provides funded and referral places at the centre, and highly values the provision it provides for a large geographic area of SW Surrey.

A group met with Jeremy Hughes, CEO Alzheimer’s Society. I had discovered other day care centres had been given 6 months’ notice, and asked that the Marjorie Grey centre be given the same to give the chance to save the centre and the services it provides.

An additional 3 months was granted until the end of June, 2017.  A working party has been formed.  To date:  NHS property board has formally agreed to transfer the lease to Haslemere Town Council, securing the future of the building for community day care use.  SCC is continuing to refer clients to the centre, discussions are on-going with various partners and an appeal has been made for donations to a transition fund to help keep the centre going until a new structure has been fully established. Please contact Haslemere Town Council if you wish to make a donation.

SCC youth services: meeting with SCC youth services officers and Haslemere Town Council to agree how to provide additional sessions at the Weycentre in the face of SCC cuts, with the result that there are no SCC funded youth sessions.  It was agreed that priority should be given to sexual health and well-being, HTC agreed to fund a weekly session for a 6 month trial period.  Unfortunately due to SCC cuts, Surrey were unable to provide a key worker for these sessions.

NHS: Stroke services consultation– attended a meeting with NHS managers to discuss local concerns over NHS plans to relocate stroke services to Frimley Park and St Peter’s hospitals.  It is critical that a stroke sufferer receives a lifesaving injection within 2 hours of the stroke. The NHS plans are based on 2 highly unrealistic assumptions that an ambulance arrives immediately on the scene in Haslemere, and also that journey times are 45-50 minutes to Frimley or St Peter’s Hospital.  The South East Ambulance service has been failing to meet its response targets and has been identified as a failing service. We were told by the NHS management that a consultation process was consider these concerns but there was concern by many that the plans were presented as a ‘fait accompli’. Coverage here in the Herald.

Hillfest, Woolmer Hill school music festival- it was a great pleasure to attend Hillfest where a sell-out crowd to listened to the many excellent music acts in the sunshine.

Other council meetings attended include:

SCC Full Council March 2017: Budget– A totally shambolic day in the Council Chamber.  We arrived expecting to vote on whether to hold a referendum to raise council tax by 15% in the face of a financially unsustainable position.  (CIPRA had carried out an official audit that raised serious concerns about SCC financial management, and sustainability).

The meeting was adjourned for several hours. On our return to the chamber it was announced that the 15% hike had been dropped, and we were to vote on a 4.99% rise.  There was no detail of any kind on this new budget, without this vital knowledge I abstained in the vote.  Numerous Conservative councillors congratulated the Leader David Hodge on his success at securing a special deal with central govt.  I asked a question about this “special deal”, and for detail on how much extra money SCC would be getting.  I was told there was no special deal what so ever.

Read press release here: Residents’ Association Councillor asks “Can things get any worse for David Hodge and the SCC Conservatives”

David Hodge’s texts sent to the wrong “Nick” subsequently revealed that a sweetheart deal had been brokered. This was denied by central government and despite 5 SCC MPs holding cabinet positions, I presume was unable to be seen to give financial favours to Surrey. To my knowledge no extra funding has been received, meaning the SCC faces a highly challenging financial crisis.  SCC will be allowed to take part in the business rate pilot earlier than planned.

Brightwells/East Street development, Farnham- although outside my division I am very concerned about the lack of process in the decision by SCC to invest £30 million into a property development scheme when many experts have challenged its viability.  Even SCC audits consider the financial investment is on the margins of viability, justifying the investment in terms of ‘community benefit’ that will accrue.

I asked a question about the moral case for investing £30 million of Surrey tax payer’s money, in a questionable scheme given the county is in financial crisis- with cuts expected to essential services going forward.  I was given an extremely hostile response by Conservative councillors to my question.

Waverley Local Area Committee– Hale Institute, Farnham. Papers here.

Haslemere Town Council– gave county concillor update

Members Allocation: 2016/17 total allowance- £10,296

Waverley Skateparks Open Day 2016 – £500

A Place to Be Youth Group: A Place to Be Yourself project – £300

Tennyson’s Sure Start Children’s Centre: provision of a crèche for Parenting Puzzle course – £452

Woolmer Hill School:  Orchestra Day and Young Musician of the Year event – £680

Crossways Counselling: Equipment for creative counselling sessions – £1280

Haslemere Hockey Club: Schools program – £240

Haslemere Great War: Great War Centenary Flagpole project at St Christopher’s Church – £400

Haslemere Community Rail Partnership:  Train station information hub – £750

St Bartholomew’s School: One Book project – £1500

The Orchard Club: Neighbourhood Lunch Club – £500

Transition Town, Haslemere: Community allotment – £300

Haslemere Citizens Advice Bureau: Purchase a lap top and mobile phone – £580

Woolmer Hill School: Library refurbishment – £2606

Haslemere String Competition: Local competition for talented young musicians on 18th May  – £200

AND FINALLY…

When I look back over 4 years, I clearly remember a shop keeper in Haslemere saying he would bet £100 on me getting elected. He said it was a safe bet as it would be impossible for an Independent to succeed.  He also said that if by chance I did get elected, I wouldn’t be able to achieve much – as I wouldn’t be part of the Conservative ruling majority party.

I did get elected on a manifesto of openness, transparency and community engagement, and believe I have managed to get quite a lot done for the community over 4 years.

A few of my achievements

  • Regular updates on haslemerefirst.com, sharing all my SCC activities and decisions.
  • Blackdown Lane resurfacedHigh Street conservation area- declutter of all redundant signage, signage upgrade and all street furniture painted black
  • Derby Road East resurfaced- the section of private road outside St Bart’s school until then refused resurfacing
  • Weyhill resurfaced- inexplicably not included in Project Horizon resurfacing program despite being main road through town
  • Student concessionary train fares for 16-18 year olds in full time education- negotiated with SCC officers to extend the scheme to pupils travelling south from Haslemere, previously only those travelling north were eligible
  • Sandrock- new conservation lighting columns along a previously unlit section heavily used by commuters and school pupils
  • Weyhill- new zebra crossing
  • Lion Lane- new zebra crossing serving Shottermill Infant and Junior schools
  • Haslemere Community Rail Partnership- set up the partnership with SWT, and other key community groups to improve the station and promote the town
  • Station travel plan commissioned to develop a more holistic travel plan for Haslemere and the station
  • College Hill footpath reopened following SCC legal challenge to blockade by developers- and I requested the successful claim for appeal expenses against the defendant
  • Stepping Stones school- provided support from SCC education that was vital in securing successful planning permission in an appeal

Thanks very much for reading my blog. I hope you have found my updates useful and I wish the newly elected County Councillor for Haslemere much success representing residents.

Au Revoir …

BBC Surrey interview – What it was like to be a Surrey County Councillor

On Friday, I was interviewed by BBC Surrey, talking about what it was like to be a Surrey County Councillor.

At the end of the interview, I announced that Maria Mateo and I will be standing as Independent Councillors in the Haslemere Town Council by-election on June 8th.

Here is a clip of the interview:

Tesco Traffic lights, Haslemere

I’ve had several emails about problems with phasing of traffic lights by Tesco’s. The current problems with the timings of the TESCO traffic lights are due to 2 faults:

  1. A detector fault, Surrey County Council is waiting for contractors to investigate today or tomorrow. This may explain the signals “favouring” the side roads.
  1. The MOVA unit at the lights is not working. A new unit has been ordered and may take 2 weeks to be installed.  The MOVA unit varies the green time according to traffic flow.  It does not really have set timings as such apart from the inter-green times (safety time period between conflicting greens) and the Green Man times.  MOVA monitors traffic and pedestrian demand on each approach and apportions the green time around the junction to allow traffic and pedestrians to pass through the junction as efficiently as possible.  It detects gaps in the approaching traffic and will trigger the signals to change just as the last vehicle crosses the Stop Line.  However, if any of the detectors are faulty the signals will keep giving priority to the affected approach.

UPDATE on 6th April 2017 regarding repair:

Repairs have been carried out on the faulty TESCO lights- The MOVA unit was installed last week and Surrey County Council (SCC) attended yesterday (5th April)  and uploaded the dataset, enabling MOVA.  The faulty detector was repaired on Friday (31at March).

It does seem to be running pretty well so far, but I’d be grateful for any resident feedback following the repairs for me to pass on to SCC highways. 

Road Safety Improvements – Lion Lane, Haslemere – scheduled for 31st March

Please read here the resident letter re. road safety improvements in Lion Lane, Haslemere. The letters are due to be delivered 23/03/17.

This is the preparation work for the pedestrian crossing outside Shottermill infant School.

NB Lion Lane Haslemere
The works are scheduled to start on 31/03/17.  Sometimes our plans have to change, often due to bad weather or problems on other works in the same programme which can have a knock on effect. If anything changes with the details of these works, we will let you know.

You and your residents can also find up to date details of the works on www.surreycc.gov.uk/roadworks

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 0300 200 1003 or email works.communication@surreycc.gov.uk.

Update – Sturt Road Repair – Haslemere

Works started today to resolve the recurring flooding problem under Sturt Road railway bridge, and associated road surface deterioration due to constant subsurface water saturation.

Project started as programmed end of 2016, but discovered a number of water leaks in Thames water pipes under this section of road, so project halted until repairs carried out.  Project then had to be rescheduled on program list, resulting in delay.

NB -Repair Sturt

Work that started today =  hand digging out trench as electricity and gas mains pipes to be avoided. Aim to lay new 150 mm pipe under Sturt Road to connect existing gullies, so that runoff is removed from the road.

Pipe will be laid and concreted in tomorrow, 16/03/2017. Road resurfaced 17/03/2017.

Road will be closed with diversions in place until 18/03/2017- but still full access to Haslemere Sports Centre and Sturt Road businesses.

I have organised for a vegetation gang to come in while the  road is closed to cut back vegetation, and clear mud and debris from the verges.

Sturt Road, Haslemere – Drainage Investigation Work – begins 14 March for one week

Recently advised that the drainage investigation works were due to start on Sturt Road, Haslemere.  Unfortunately these works will be delayed by 1 day as the council  was unable to get the permit for the 13/03/17.  I can advise that these works will now begin on the 14/03/17.

Information leaflet here.

The council will keep the residents informed by updating its advanced warning signs.

Residents can also find up to date details of the works on www.surreycc.gov.uk/roadworks

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 0300 200 1003 or email works.communication@surreycc.gov.uk.

High Lane, Haslemere, Notice of Road Resurfacing

Please read here the resident letter for the resurfacing work on High Lane, Haslemere. The letters are due to be delivered over the next couple of days.

NB High Lane Plan NB High Lane Mar
The works are scheduled to start on 23/0/3/17. Sometimes the council’s plans have to change, often due to bad weather or problems on other works in the same programme which can have a knock on effect. If anything changes with the details of these works, we will let you know.

You can also find up to date details of the works on www.surreycc.gov.uk/roadworks

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the council on 0300 200 1003 or email works.communication@surreycc.gov.uk.