Tag Archives: Independent

Sun Brow Litter Pick

I was delighted to go out litter picking on Sun Brow on Friday with the Love Haslemere Hate Waste team, Transition Haslemere and councillor colleague, Claire Matthes.

This was the first time using the grabbers, portable bins and safety gilets I was able to fund with my Surrey County Council Members Community Allocation.

Huge thanks to the brilliant girls who worked so hard to clean up our town- all from St Bartholomew’s Primary School.

Sadly there was so much litter so, there are plenty more litter picks planned.

Statement: Retiring as Haslemere’s Surrey County Councillor

As Haslemere’s retiring first Independent Surrey County Councillor, I am delighted to have been asked to share some perspectives on representing the town at County Hall. 

My message to the next County Councillor is that a community mindset trumps any political affiliation.  

My own experience shows that being free from the constraints of party politics has enabled me to challenge and speak up for the best interests of our community. 

Having as my only motivation the desire to serve the town has enabled me to bring together positive and collaborative partnerships in projects and initiatives that serve our town.  

I am an accidental politician, drawn to stand for the first time in 2013 having been so appalled as I witnessed Surrey County Council (SCC) planning to install parking meters throughout the town. 

Revenues from the parking meters were estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, with no clear benefit to the town and obviously negative impacts on local people and businesses.  

I was appalled that such a radical and negative change to our town could be ushered in by the back door with minimal public engagement, so I decided to challenge the closed shop and back room deals of the then one-party politics in Haslemere. 

They were exciting times – some may recall Haslemere’s second street demonstration since 1912, when hundreds of residents marched through the town to protest against the parking meters in support of our local traders and independent businesses. 

The event that sealed my decision to fight for the community was a Surrey and Waverley Local Area Committee meeting in Witley Village hall where local councillors were going to approve the parking meters in the town. 

Posters and banners were forbidden so we wore yellow t-shirts printed with the slogan “Haslemere demands a proper process and consultation”.

I had in my possession copies of letters from the clergy in Haslemere objecting to the installation of parking meters around churches.  

I was shocked to hear the committee chair state that there were no objections to the proposals, so I stood up twice and challenged this.  

Much to the amazement of the crowd, in response to my request that objections from the churches be properly considered, the Chair called for a security guard to physically remove me from the meeting and I was escorted out the building. In today’s world of zoom meetings, I am sure this would have gone viral, Handforth-esque! 

Following the meeting, a letter was sent to the Leader of SCC, setting out the case for a judicial review due to the total failure by SCC our then County Councillor to listen to the community… the meter plans were dropped. 

So shocked at what I had witnessed, I decided at the very last minute to stand for election as the first Independent for Haslemere.  

I did not expect to win but wanted to fire a shot across the bows of the tribal politics, to demand that Haslemere’s electorate deserved better.  Stunned, I won by the narrowest of margins, just 20 votes.

Much of my first term was spent challenging the established ways of local politics and being innovative including using social media (@HaslemereFirst). 

Although I will have been seen at first as an irritation to the party-based groups in the town, at Waverley as well as at County Hall – evidenced by fellow councillors often coughing comically and rudely rolling their eyes when I spoke – my desire to create a mindset of community-focused and transparent representation for the town resonated with local residents. 

My majority in 2019 increased from 20 to 1500, more than all the votes cast for the other party-political candidates put together.  This mandate has given me greater confidence to speak out for the town and to push back when decisions are not in the town’s best interests or do not faithfully represent the wishes of local residents.

I am proud to have called for public scrutiny of many issues, including challenging: councillors who vote against the wishes of their constituents on protecting our green spaces, cuts to the fire service in our area, lack of adequate budgets for mental health provision in Surrey and proposals to saddle the town with massive debts for an unnecessary multistorey car park. 

I have not been afraid to stand up for, and support residents and community groups, for example, where I played a lead role in the successful campaign to save the Alzheimer’s Centre, now The Hunter Centre and successfully lobbied SCC to enable the outstanding Stepping Stones school to expand into Undershaw in Hindhead. 

Throughout my term of office, I have consistently spoken up on the key issue of climate change and sustainability.   As a member of the SCC Climate Change working party developing the recent Climate Change Strategy, and on the Highways and Environment committee, I continually pressed for rigorous policy making to reduce carbon emissions. More locally, as a founder member of Haslemere Vision, the Neighbourhood Plan and as a member of the Town Council Neighbourhood Plan working party, I have supported the clear priorities of the community to protect the precious green countryside, rich in biodiversity that surrounds the town.  

I have also supported Shottermill Infant school’s innovative green waste scheme – funding hot bins to compost school lunch waste instead of it being thrown out for landfill won an SCC award – and was a founding member of Haslemere South Residents Association.

My efforts have also secured funding for critical road safety and improvement projects across Haslemere and Grayswood including building a safe network for pedestrians and cyclists across town and major road resurfacing under SCC’s Project Horizon. . A key priority has been to improve Haslemere for walking and cycling, and gradually positive steps are being taken through bringing together Surrey Highways and our local community Active Travel group

I have thoroughly enjoyed establishing and Chairing groups such as the Surrey Hills to South Downs Community Rail Partnership – this extended the local partnership to link Haslemere with other stations on the line to promote Haslemere as a gateway to the South Downs, Surrey Hills and National Trust countryside – and liaising closely with the community to make sure I distributed every penny of my members allocation funds to support the activities of a wide range of local groups.

The list could go on, but perhaps the key point about my tenure as County Councillor is that, as we emerge from Covid and look forward to a brighter future, the principles of openness, transparency and the independent mindset that is not constrained by any political party is the most effective way for Haslemere’s voice to be heard and the most effective way to make differences for the town that matter.

My challenge is for the next County Councillor to leave their party politics behind, to encourage the post-pandemic spirit of the community working together and simply put Haslemere first.  

I look forward to continue serving Haslemere as an Independent Town Councillor for the Haslemere South ward.

(An abridged account appeared here in the Haslemere Herald last week.)

Reminder: Surrey ‘Be a Councillor’ event for Independents Saturday 16th January from 10am to 12pm

An event for anyone who is considering standing as an independent candidate in the local elections in May 2021, election agents or anyone who has expressed an interest in being a councillor.

This virtual event will provide current and prospective independent Surrey County Council (SCC), Surrey Borough and District candidates and election agents with:

  • Insights to develop your election plan
  • Information to develop themes and key messages for your manifesto
  • Guidance on how to use social media to engage the electorate
  • Provide insight and tips on running your campaign

Due to the sensitivity of the event, individuals will need to sign up and they can do so via the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/133243166899 The virtual conference details will be sent to signed up attendees closer to the date of the event.

We have an excellent group of speakers including:

  • SCC Independent Cllrs Nick Darby, Eber Kington, Nikki Barton and John Beckett
  • Cllr Julia German, Leader Cornwall County Council and Vice Chair of the LGAs Culture, Tourism & Sport Board
  • Cllr Neil Prior, Cabinet Member for Transformation at Pembrokeshire County Council and Deputy Chair on the LGA Improvement & Innovation Board 
  • Cllr Paul Woodhead, Cannock Chase District Council and Leader of Chase Community Independents Group
  • Cllr Jason Zadronzy, Leader of Ashfield District Council and Independent representative on the District Council Network (DCN)

Surrey ‘Be a Councillor’ event for Independents – Saturday 16th January

The local elections in May 2021 will provide independent councillor candidates with an excellent opportunity to stand and be elected.

This virtual event will provide current and prospective independent Surrey County Council (SCC), Borough and District candidates and election agents with:

  • Insights to develop your election plan
  • Information to develop themes and key messages for your manifesto
  • Guidance on how to use social media to engage the electorate
  • Provide insight and tips on running your campaign

This event is open to anyone in Surrey who is interested in standing as an independent councillor as well as for election agents. Whilst many of the topics will be especially relevant to those standing in May 2021, this event is open to anyone who has expressed an interest in standing as an independent candidate in Surrey, so please feel free to share this invitation.

We have an excellent group of speakers including:

  • Cllr Nick Darby, Leader of SCC Independent Group
  • Cllr Julian German, Leader Cornwall County Council and Vice Chair of the LGAs Culture, Tourism & Sport Board
  • Cllr Neil Prior, Cabinet Member for Transformation at Pembrokeshire County Council and Deputy Chair on the LGA Improvement & Innovation Board 
  • Cllr Paul Woodhead, Cannock Chase District Council and Leader of Chase Community Independents Group
  • Cllr Jason Zadronzy, Leader of Ashfield District Council and Independent representative on the District Council Network (DCN)

Due to the sensitivity of the event, individuals will need to sign up and they can do so via the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/133243166899 The virtual details will be sent closer to the time of the event.

Invitation: Be a Councillor Event – Thursday 10 December 2020

Sent on behalf of the LGA Independent Group

I am writing to let you know about a virtual Be a Councillor event that the LGA Independent group are holding for people interested in running as an independent candidate in local elections. Please share this with anyone that you know has considered or is interested in standing as a councillor.

The event will be held on Thursday 10 December 2020 from 6pm – 7.30pm. The event will include a presentation covering an introduction to being a Councillor, followed by an opportunity for a Q&A session with a panel of experienced independent councillors.

To register for the event, individuals need to email: independent.grouplga@local.gov.uk including their name and local authority area. The Zoom joining details will be sent out by the LGA Team to those that have registered, at the beginning of the week of the event.

Best wi

Aimee Wittams-Smith

Political Officer (Independent Group)

Local Government Association

18 Smith Square

Westminster, London

SW1P 3HZ

W: https://www.local.gov.uk/lga-independent  

Surrey County Councillors fail to press leader to justify £250K single unitary bid

I am part of the Independents and Residents’ Association group at Surrey County Council. I was also shocked and disappointed that the Conservatives refused to engage in any debate about the hundreds of thousands of tax payers money they have wasted on our behalf. Full article here.

Residents’ Association and Independent Councillors raise the alarm about Surrey County Council’s Budget

PRESS RELEASE, issued yesterday.

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. Councillor Nick Darby representing The Dittons argued,

Councillor Nick Darby

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. “

Cllr 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 another year.”

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.

So 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:

County Councillor Nick Darby                         –                                  nick.darby@surreycc.gov.uk

County Councillor Nick Harrison                    –                                  nicholas.harrison@surreycc.gov.uk

County Councillor Eber Kington                       –                                  ekington@epsom-ewell.gov.uk

Councillor Update for Haslemere, June 2019

2nd June 2019 – shared update about HillFest, an amazing event organised by Friends of Woolmer Hill.

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.

With Tom, British Legion standard bearer

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.


16th June 2019 – shared guest blog post by David Goddin: Why I’m Supporting the Community Rail Movement

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

GENERAL NEWS

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.

Here is Transition Haslemere’s July 2019 newsletter.

My next county councillor update will be in September.

Councillor Update

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.

11th May 2019 – attended Gourmet Geezers charity dinner. All proceeds for the Gourmet Geezers cookbook (on sale in Haslemere Bookshop) will go to The Hunter Centre.

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.

17th May 2019 – attended Haslemere South Residents’ Association meeting and drinks at The Georgian Hotel.

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!

Pictured with Robert Groves, professional hand cyclist

21st May 2019 – attended my first Surrey County Council Full Council meeting since being elected. Papers here.

Greeting peaceful Climate Change activists outside County Hall before Full Council

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.

20th June 2019 – Launch of the Surrey Climate Commission. Event information here.

28th June 2019 – Waverley Local Area Committee Meeting,
Waverley Council Chamber, The Burys, Godalming GU7 1HR.

12th July 2019 – Surrey’s Rural Economy Conference 2019,
Cranleigh School Cranleigh Surrey GU6 8QQ

Thank you

This is the result of the Haslemere by-election for Surrey County Council, 2019:

  • Nikki Barton, Independent – 2,665 votes – ELECTED
  • Malcolm Carter, Conservative – 1,159 votes
  • Adrian Paul La Porta, Labour – 263 votes

This is the announcement:


Below is an interview with Rebecca Curley of the Surrey Advertiser.

Interview with Rebecca Curley after winning the seat

These are the results of the Haslemere Town Council seats for the Haslemere South ward:

  • Nikki Barton, Independent – 972 votes – ELECTED
  • Gareth David, Conservative Party Candidate – 466 votes
  • Simon Paul McMillan Dear, Conservative Party Candidate – 587 votes – ELECTED
  • David William Dullaway, Conservative Party Candidate – 480 votes – ELECTED
  • Kirsten Lisa Ellis, Independent – 505 votes – ELECTED
  • Jennifer Mary Radford, Liberal Democrats – 468 votes
  • Tom Van Den Broek, Conservative Party Candidate – 384 votes
Announcement of results for Haslemere South ward of Haslemere Town Council, 2019