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Thursday, 21st September 2017

A few surprises and some shocks- now begins a very busy period.

 

After the summer lull, the next ten days will see some very important developments and some significant challenges.
While welcoming the change of heart with regard to the Community Recycling Centres, I am worried about what reductions in opening hours the service will face and the impact of any reductions.

More significantly, the issue exposes a serious flaw in the way the County Council is managing its finances. The budgetary position of the Council between now and 2020 is entirely predictable in terms of expected income unless government policy changes. That means it should be possible to be open with residents about a schedule of proposed service cuts to meet the budget reduction and the cost pressures of increasing demand for adult social care and in Children’s Services. There should be a plan to cover the next three years which would enable residents to both understand the impact of the budgetary position and enable them constructively to engage in the process of influencing local and national policy. What seems to me to be a very piecemeal approach currently means that every month or two we must expect new proposals for budget cuts and new consultations which will raise hope initially but eventually will wear us all down.

Show us the three year plan in terms we can understand please Cllr Hodge- help us to understand what we can expect, and therefore what steps at more local level we can take to mitigate the impacts on our local services.

The latest damaging proposal relates to the potential closure of the Surrey Performing Arts Library. This wonderful service. The Friends organisation is leading the campaign to save it and I have taken the following from their website. I can’t make the links work so please go to their website if you want to contribute to the campaign: It’s at www.FOSPAL.org.uk.

“The Library’s future is at risk
Many of you will already have received from Surrey County Council (SCC) a questionnaire seeking your views on radical proposed changes to the Performing Arts Library service. If you have not, you can access the survey on-line at surreycc.gov.uk/shapingspal.

We strongly urge everyone who values the existence of a specialist Performing Arts Library to complete the questionnaire and to make contact with FOSPAL at info@fospal.org.uk if you might be interested or able to help FOSPAL co-ordinate a long term future for the library.

News Update – 11 September 2017

• The survey consultation period has been extended and will now close on 1st October.
• Great support from Making Music (the National Federation of Music Societies) in sending information about the threat to SPAL to its members in Surrey.
• Offer of help and ideas have been received by FOSPAL from a number of local groups and individuals – all very gratefully received and useful.
• Dorking County Councillor, Hazel Watson, has organised and online petition in the support of SPAL. You can sign up to it here.
• The SCC user survey is difficult for people to complete who are both members of groups and individual users of SPAL let alone those who use it for other purposes (e.g. research). But please do not give up – please reply to the survey as best you can and please support Option 2. Use the free text box for other comments.
SPAL falls under the Communities Committee of Surrey County Council. You might want to write to the Chairman, Cllr Rachael Lake (r.lake@surreycc.gov.uk) and Vice Chairman Saj Hussain (saj.hussian@surreycc.gov.uk) to tell them about the importance you attach to preserving the performing arts library intact. Write also to your local Surrey County Councillor since the more county councillors are aware of the support for SPAL in the community, the better chance to save it.”

Please support this campaign if you feel you can.

Looked After Children

The County has the third largest number of unaccompanied child asylum seekers. This is partly because of the motorway services at Clacket Lane, and more recently, Cobham, where traffickers seem to be able to abandon their charges. The Corporate Parenting Board, of which I am a member, has overall responsibility for the welfare of these children and the arrangements for their care, education and development.
It was very shocking to read that two of those arrested in relation to the Parsons Green bombing had been fostered in Surrey and were the responsibility of the Board.

Without making assumptions about the outcome of the police investigation, there will be questions the Board has to face about the effectiveness of the Prevent Strategy as applied in the care of our Looked After Children. The Board meets on Monday and I look forward to discussing the impact of this news and how we can go forward.

Next week also sees the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. I will be making representations to support the position of Tandridge on the future of Housing Related Support, about which I have written before. TDC is arguing that any cuts must be phased so that the impact on our most vulnerable residents can be properly managed so as to mitigate the impact where possible. That is a very sensible proposal.

Flood Prevention

Despite the fact that there is a Tandridge Local Committee tomorrow, Friday 22nd, and there is a report on Flood Prevention from the appropriate Officer, it is intensely frustration that the report to be taken says that a feasibility study outlining possible flood prevention measures will be published on 26th September. A suspicious man would think that the date was an attempt to put off debate on the paper by publishing it after the Local Committee. A more open and transparent council would have brought the date forward so that local councillors can discuss it. This is very disappointing. It appears to be on the agenda for Tuesday 26th’s Cabinet Meeting, so why couldn’t local members see it to inform the Cabinet’s deliberations?

Special Educational Needs.

I am looking forward to a briefing on the improvements in the County SEND provision on Friday 29th. I do hope there are some to report.

Councillor Surgery

My next Surgery is at Caterham Hill Library on Saturday 30that 10am. I look forward to seeing many of you then.