Nikki Barton – Independent councillor for Surrey County Council (Haslemere Ward) and Haslemere Town Council (Haslemere South Ward). Serving community interests and not political interests. Haslemere first.
In today’s row over County Council’s budget, Residents’ Association and Independent County Councillors spoke up that SCC’s budget may be balanced, for now, but it is certainly not sustainable in the medium term. CouncillorNick Darby representing The Dittons argued,
“This budget comes following years of failing
services, of austerity, of hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts from central
government funding. One off government payments, however welcome, will not be
sufficient to deal with the underlying issues, or cover anything other than the
short-term position. This year we are still budgeting for nearly £40million of
‘efficiencies’. In other words: cuts. The fairer funding review is outstanding
as we speak. […]
It is time we looked at council tax again. We need two
extra bands at the top end, covering those living in the most expensive houses.
Darby quoted a number of concerning
sections from this years’ budget report,
“It is important to be clear that it will
not be possible to offset all demand and pricing pressures indefinitely in the
medium term without potentially more serious societal impacts or the risk of
being in breach of statutory obligations.” […] “Net expenditure is still
increasing at a rate that is not likely to be sustainable in future years.”
Councillor Nick Harrison,
representing Nork & Tattenhams argued along similar lines,
“The government has given us more money
than expected this year. However, the government’s commitment to the funding of
local government and adult social care has been pushed down the road for yet
Councillor Eber Kington,
representing Ewell Court, Auriol & Cuddington spoke about an area untouched
by Tory austerity,
“While most budgets are being cut, held or
increased in a slower upward trajectory, the council’s spend on top pay is
increasing and increasing rapidly. Last May senior staff costs amounted to just
over £5 million, yet today it is £5.4 million.
there has to be an annual opportunity for councillors to monitor top pay costs
to see if it is providing value for money.”
For further information:
Nick Darby – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Harrison – email@example.com
Eber Kington – firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd June 2019 – attended meeting of Haslemere Town Council’s Haslemere Vision steering group with Melanie Odell (Chair of the steering group), Stewart Brown (Chair, Haslemere Vision), Kirsten Ellis (Independent Councillor) at Haslemere town hall.
4th June 2019 – shared further update online about Thames Water works in Tennyson’s Lane. More here. (This work has now been completed and the road is open.)
5th June 2019 – Surrey County Council meetings in Kingston including first meeting of Climate Change Task Group chaired by Cllr Goodman, Cabinet member for Environment and Waste. Also, met with passenger transport team to discuss rail partnership initiative.
5th June 2019 – shared notification of pavement reconstruction in Beech Road from 17th June for approximately 5 weeks. More here.
6th June 2019 – attended #DDay75 anniversary memorial in Haslemere.
6th June 2019 – shared online the South Downs Rambler Rail Bus link this Summer between Winchester and Petersfield rail stations, from Hampshire Community Rail Partnership colleagues. More here.
9th June 2019 – notified postponement of Beech Road pavement repair. More here.
10th June 2019 – Rethinking Transport – Member Drop-In Session at County Hall, Kingston. The Rethinking Transport project is fundamentally reimagining transport in Surrey: developing new, sustainable transport options where journeys are wanted or needed, while also rethinking how residents access communities, employment, health and social care, education and other key services to avoid unnecessary travel. More here.
12th June 2019 – attended LoveHaslemereHastWaste event at Haslemere Museum. Follow on Facebook here. You may also wish to read the article about the event in The Haslemere Herald, here: Keen Support for War on Waste.
13th June 2019 – chaired inaugural Steering Group meeting of the Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership – Haslemere, Milford and Witley stations with Godalming and Farncombe planning to join us. More here. Read The Haslemere Herald article here: On track to deliver passenger satisfaction. South Western Railway’s latest stakeholder newsletter is here:
13th June 2019 – shared online update re. signage for College Hill footpath. More here.
14th June 2019 – interviewed by BBC Surrey to talk about The Community Rail Partnership. Transcription here.
14 June 2019 – Merrow SCC highways depot – met with Cllr Matt Furniss, SCC Highways portfolio holder and Richard Bolton, SCC Local Highway services group manager to discuss SCC highways issues and forward strategy. Change in Kier provider, Flowline (the subcontractor providing Surrey’s gulley cleansing and drainage maintenance services) will be replaced by a new provider, Drainline. Tour of highways laboratory, where a team of experts analyses road surfaces taken from cores, identifies why road failures occur, tests new materials and carries out work for many other counties.
17th June 2019 – shared online update about pavement repair works in Beech Road. More here.
17th June 2019 – shared update re Surrey County Council’s preparation for a new Surrey Waste Local Plan. More here.
19th June 2019 – met with Mark Youngman SWR at The Station House to discuss the Surrey Hills to South Downs rail partnership potential bids to SWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement fund. The rail partnership has a range of project ideas generated at the launch.
20th June 2019 – shared agenda for Waverley Local Committee meeting (28th June). More here.
20th June 2019 – shared Councillor update from Tim Oliver, Surrey County Council Leader on Surrey County Council’s Transformation Project Overview. More here.
20th June 2019 – attended Surrey Climate Commission launch at the World Wildlife Fund eco-centre in Woking. Read more about its aims here. Was very positive that SCC Cllr Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste gave Surrey CC backing for the commission.
24th June 2019 – received draft minutes of Haslemere Town Council Amenities June 2019 committee. Read here.
25th June 2019 – shared update re next Teen Parenting course arranged by Tennyson’s Sure Start Centre. More here.
25th June 2019 – County Hall, Kingston, meeting with Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Dave Hill Exec Director Children, Families and Learning and Simon White, Executive Director Adult Social Care and Ruth Hutchinson, Deputy Director Public Health. All provided helpful overview of services and challenges facing the County. Particular focus on transformation of children’s services given long term failures as identified in Ofsted reports. Austerity cuts mean Surrey receives some of the lowest funding for these vital services – which present a real challenge. Many social issues remain hidden in Surrey.
25th June 2019 – received South Western Railway’s latest stakeholder newsletter, The South Western Report, which can be downloaded here.
26th June 2109 – County Hall, Kingston, meetings with SCC Transportation Planning Development officer and Passenger Transport team manager to discuss SWR Customer and Communities Innovation Fund bid.
27 June 2019 – met with Head, Shottermill Infant School, Haslemere, parked my bike in the scooter hub, very impressed with the school’s work to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals.
28th June 2019 – attended June 2019 Waverley Local Committee. Read papers here including item re petition for Critchmere Hill and Woolmer Hill here. At the meeting, I agreed I will be arranging a site visit meeting with the petitioner and SCC Highways officers. Also, at this meeting, there was mention of Waverley’s s106 database (which includes Surrey CC covenants as well as Waverley’s). Here is the link, for interest: http://pfm.exacom.co.uk/waverley/index.php
I am pleased to advise that SCC’s drainage maintenance subcontractor, Drainline, took over provision of this service from Flowline as of Monday morning. All but one of the operatives has transferred across, and Drainline have provided a number of brand new machines, which will improve productivity and reduce the number of breakdowns. This will be at no additional cost to the County Council. There remains a limited backlog of work which was not completed by Flowline, but, Drainline are expected to complete this work by the end of this month.
You may be interested to read Surrey County Council’s Customer Service Snapshot May 2019 which I received this month. Link here.
This is my first councillor update since being elected to Surrey County Council and re-elected to Haslemere Town Council.
6th May 2019 – received update from South Western Railway regarding electric charging points at Haslemere Station. The update states South Western Railway will be installing eight electric vehicle charging points in Haslemere station car park. Read more here and here.
7th May 2019 – travelled by train and bike to County Hall in Kingston for meetings and to sign Surrey County Council declaration papers.
7th May 2019 – received a Surrey County Council invitation to join a member reference group to support the development of a refreshed Surrey Climate Change strategy. I will sign up to join this group.
10th May 2019 – meeting with SCC highways officer to discuss way of future working together.
11th May 2019 – took part in Haslemere’s Critical Mass Bike Ride. Read my write up here.
13th May 2019 – attended Surrey County Council Residents’ Association/Independent group meeting County Hall in Kingston.
13th May 2019 – attended Haslemere Town Council induction meeting.
14th May 2019 – promoted information online about Members’ Community Allocation Funding to support local community groups. More here.
14th May 2019 – shared information online about road surface dressing works in Lion Lane, Haslemere. More here.
14th May 2019 – met briefly with Haslemere First Scouts and local WBC councillors in Critchmere and Shottermill ward to understand the history of this scout group’s dealings with the previous WBC administration in respect to their tenure at The Youth Campus.
14th May 2019 – attended steering committee meeting for Haslemere Vision, discussing the future of Haslemere’s Neighbourhood Plan.
14th May 2019 – shared a note about the process of Mayor Making here.
15th May 2019 – attended South Western Railway Community Rail in the City at Waterloo station to promote Haslemere’s businesses and beautiful surrounding countryside.
16th May 2019 – attended Haslemere Town Council’s full council meeting. Papers here.
19th May 2019 – a great Little Lumpy event – over 600 riders raising funds for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. It was fun cheering the riders as they crossed the line. Well done Ken Griffiths and his amazing team of volunteers – including all the cake makers. I have promised to ride next year, I invite all my fellow councillors to join me!
21st May 2019 – attended my first Surrey County Council Full Council meeting since being elected. Papers here.
28th May 2019 – shared information about Tennyson’s Lane road closure for Thames Water works. More here.
29th May 2019 – met residents and Thames Water on site to discuss the Tennyson’s Lane road closure and major diversion. Major works are being carried out to the main trunk water pipe that supplies a large part of Haslemere. I liaised with the Highways team to agree an improved road management program that will reduce the time Tennyson’s Lane is closed. Thames Water letter here.
29th May 2019 – received notification that the Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership has been officially recognised by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. The original Haslemere Community Rail Partnership, successfully established in 2015, is expanding to include, as a first step Milford and Witley stations.
30th May 2019 – met with Highways officers on site at the road junction by St Stephen’s Church that is in very bad condition. It was on the winter maintenance list last year, but works were not carried out. I am pressing for a full resurfacing of this busy junction as a matter of urgency.
Notification of Future Events/Meetings
1st June 2019 – planting session for Wey Hill In Bloom. Volunteers are asked to meet at 10am outside Haslewey.
It is a challenging time to be standing for election as a Surrey County Councillor. The council itself has significant challenges. In the past few years, note:
Failure to deliver some of the most basic services (Failed Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services, Failed HMI inspection of Fire and Rescue, cuts to local highway budget)
Poor Financial Management (CIPFA Report)
Cuts to Services
High spending on high level permanent and interim staff and the rejection of an RA/Independent proposal for the open monitoring of the high salary costs
Additional allowances for Conservative councillors
There has never been a greater need
for Independent councillors who are able to scrutinise and challenge decisions
free from party politics.
The council is composed of 81 elected Councillors, and in all but one election since 1965 the Conservative Partyyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey_County_Council has held the majority- there are currently 59 Conservatives, 9 Independent/Residents Assoc, 9 Lib Dems, 1 Labour, 1 Green. And, 1 vacant seat.
I am contesting the vacant seat.
More detailed reading below:
Residents will no doubt be aware of the poor state of Surrey County Council’s finances. It is of course partly the result the Government’s reduction of the grant funding allocated to the County Council, but an independent Report by the well-respected Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and commissioned by SCC itself, has severely criticised the County Council for its financial management and budget planning. https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-county-council-faces-unbridgeable-15161504
January 2019 SCC
Fire & Rescue service declared Inadequate
Following on from
the 2018 Ofsted Report which severely criticised SCC’s Children’s Services as
failing, an Inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and
Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has reported that SCC’s Fire and Rescue service is
“Inadequate” at efficiently keeping people safe, and is failing to make the
best use of its resources. This is further worrying evidence of a
council failing in the delivery of some of the basic services which it is
legally required to provide. https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-fire-rescue-rated-inadequate-15575032
Spending on High Level Temporary Staff
At a time of cuts
to services it is interesting to note that over the past year SCC has spent
almost £2.5 million on temporary and interim staff, mostly on high level
salaries. In one case SCC paid a recruitment company over £294k “to
source and manage an interim Adult Social Care director” for a year.
voted down an RA/Independent recommendation to “amend the Terms of Reference of
the People, Performance and Development Committee to provide for the monitoring
of the costs of senior management salaries, interim appointments and
redundancies” thus rejecting openness and transparency in regard to senior
Closure of Children’s Centres
Additional charges for household waste – construction wood and roofing felt, despite concerns over am increase in fly tipping
The free travel concession for disabled pass holders will no longer start at 9.00am but will in future start at 9.30am on weekdays, all day at weekends and on bank holidays
Further cuts to the local highway budget, the money allocated to fund locally determined highway maintenance work & improvements. So more bad news for our highways
Children’s Services rated as Inadequate by OFSTED in May 2018
May 2018 Surrey County Conservatives Vote Themselves More Money
At the May 2018 Surrey County Council Meeting, the Conservatives
voted to create four new Deputy Cabinet Member posts to be filled by Conservative
county councillors, with an allowance each of £10,000. In addition, and
despite an Independent Review Panel recommendation that allowances be not paid
to all Committee Vice Chairmen, the Conservatives also decided that they should
continue to be paid.
In 2013, Haslemere voted for its first ever Independent Councillor
for Surrey County Council.
Vote for Nikki Barton to turn that bottom corner of South West Surrey white again.
The seat is vacant due to an absentee Conservative councillor. The Haslemere Herald reported on this. More here.
The Lib Dems and Greens locally have agreed not to contest this Haslemere seat.
“Rather than put forward our own candidate, we have decided to stand aside and give Independent Nikki Barton a free run in the hope that she can win again. Before doing so, we asked Nikki to confirm that, as County Councillor, she would fight any cuts to Haslemere Library and she was happy to do so. So, with that assurance, we’re backing Nikki and are confident she will again be an excellent representative for Haslemere on Surrey County Council”. John Leston, Haslemere Liberal Democrats.
“With the forthcoming Surrey County Council By Election in Haslemere on 2nd May, we have decided not to stand a candidate but rather support Nikki Barton in becoming a councillor. Nikki has a proven track record as an outstanding Independent county councillor, she fully supports the principles of sustainable development and has for example taken the initiative to set up projects that promote more sustainable transport. Furthermore, in backing Nikki the aim is to avoid splitting the vote. You can find out more about her campaign via http://www.haslemerefirst.com/ and we urge all local residents to vote for her”. Dr Susan Ryland, Guildford and Waverley Green Party.
Haslemere Town Council, Haslemere South ward
Salmon pink ballot paper for all town council seats.
You have four votes to choose four Haslemere Town Council councillors for Haslemere South.
You do not need to use all four votes.
Since the 2015 Haslemere Town Council election, two Conservative councillors quit mid-term and one had a poor attendance record in the Haslemere South ward
Please ensure you use one of your Haslemere South votes to re-elect Nikki Barton to represent you.
Waverley Borough Council
White ballot paper.
There are no Independent candidates.
A list of all candidates will appear in The Haslemere Herald today.
the spirit of cooperation, here are links showing which Lib Dem and Green
candidates are standing in different wards for the town council and borough
When I was Haslemere’s Surrey County Councillor (2013-2017), I did not only fall back on the online reporting system and wait for potholes to be repaired. Rather, I worked with the highways team to negotiate funds for proper road repairs especially where the potholes were potholes on potholes. I also did regular cycle tours of the town to report potholes.
Here are a few examples of how my intervention helped
directly with road repairs:
Funding from Waverley Local Area Committee was found to repair
the following roads (ii)
Sturt Road – £22,900 (including drainage repairs under the railway bridge)
Lower Street at the junction with Sandrock – £23,367
Kings Road near the entrance to The Herons leisure centre – £19,730; and
High Lane – £14,217.
I arranged a full repair of a potholed section of College Hill (iii)
I arranged a full repair of the road outside St Bartholomew’s School. This road was unadopted but I felt it was important to repair the road – it was in a state of poor repair and it fronted a local authority school. I had discovered that the then Leader of the Surrey County Council had enabled a road repair in his constituency outside a state school and I used this as a precedent in my negotiation.
Following extensive discussions with SCC highways Wey Hill was fully resurfaced. It was surprising to discover that Wey Hill was not included in the major Project Horizon road repair program. I worked with the Surrey County Council Highways team who agreed that the extremely poor condition of the road warranted a full repair. (iv)