Climate Change

Beyond our current policies – As minimum to mitigate climate change I would campaign for the extension of the climate change levy into a carbon tax and use it to meet a minimum aim of being a country in the better half of impactors on climate change rather than be one of the the 35rd worst countries (out of around 200) by 2030.

I would set up an organisation whose task is threefold:

  • One group of independent experts would estimate the likely production of climate change gas each country would be producing in 2030 and provide the data for a target for Britain.  This target to be set so that Britain is on the less polluting side of the median of countries in the world – in the better half.
  • A second group of independent experts would analyse the polluting factors involved in climate change and work out whether they are significant to bother counting, can be suitably measured and what the carbon tax figure would be appropriate for them.
  • A third group of independent experts would establish the carbon tax rate that would be needed to hit the target set by the first group using the figures produced by the second group.  This tax rate would always be set five years in advance.

The target will be dynamic as each country develops in its own way.  If other countries become more active in mitigating climate change then our task will be become harder. The carbon tax rate will rise faster.  If other countries are lax then our task will be easier and our carbon tax will rise more slowly.  However, as we are currently 35rd worst we have our work cut out in any case.

All this work would be public to allow for independent scrutiny.

In independent taxation system will provide a neutral way of nudging consumers into making decisions that favour the environment (often without consciously thinking about it because the cost is subsumed in the purchase price of what they are buying) and nudging industry to invest in more sustainable projects.  Because the taxation is set in an independent framework business would be able to rely on the direction of travel.  Although having the carbon tax set for five years hence can be quite short term for many industries such a move is far better than what we have now.

This tax would replace road fuel duty either partially or fully depending on whether or not road user charging was introduced.  It would also replace all the special charges, grants and funding that government currently undertake to clumsily attempt to influence the economy – picking winners as it is often called.  Government investment in research is fine as is investing in demonstration projects but subsidizing industries is counter productive.

The tax could either become part of general taxation to reduce other taxes – to raise the threshold for income tax higher for example and/or fund the insulation of homes and the general decarbonizing of commercial activities.

Record number of Jobs

Employment levels have hit new records today, with almost three quarters of working aged people now in work.

 

Youth unemployment has continued to fall over the year and our successful apprenticeship programme, which the Lib Dems prioritised in government, will help improve that further. Wages are now rising continuously faster than inflation and living standards are rising too.

 

The role of the Liberal Democrats in government has been crucial to promoting economic stability and a strong recovery. And the work  the Lib Dems have led to deal with abuses in zero hour contracts and strengthening the national minimum wage, will help ensure the recovery is also fair.

Weybridge Town Centre Traffic

Baker Street websiteWeybridge town centre needs a comprehensive overhaul – from Balfour Road to Monument Hill and all points in between.   Last year I posted about what we could achieve for Weybridge.

What was lacking was not the ideas or the commitment but the availability of funds.  However, there are government funds especially in place for enabling extra investment in transport infrastructure of the M3/A3 corridor.

But we have to bid for these funds and for our bid to be successful we would have to detail why improving Weybridge would be a benefit of the M3/A3 corridor as a whole.  Not only has Weybridge one of the highest GVAs in the country based on the flagship companies located in the town but its transport infrastructure is restricting growth its further growth potential.  Weybridge is such a popular destination it is notoriously difficult to enter the town from any direction in the morning.

I believe that a case can be made for improving Weybridge’s infrastructure but such a case costs money to design.  We need to bid elsewhere for to the funds to develop a feasibility study.  Again this can be done.

Morrisons

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallThank you for all your questions and comments.  These are the answers that Morrison gave me today at our meeting.

When will Monument Hill be opened?  This afternoon.

Will all of the street work be complete?  No there will be short closures from time to time.  The pedestrian crossing is still to be finished and the landscaping will be completed in November – apparently the best time to plants trees.

What about the illumined sign at the rear of the store?  Morrisons says it will look again at the sign facing Baker Street.

What about the contractor parking problem?  Morrisons says that it has made park and ride facilities available to all contractors so if anyone finds any problem parking then call Simon Whittingham on 07964 245 239.

When will the store be opened? The intended day for the opening of the store will be Monday, 24 November. Morrisons invite ideas for the opening – any thoughts?

How will the store manage traffic after opening?  Morrisons expects a larger than usual number of visitors in the first few weeks so it has laid on extra resources to ensure that the flows are well managed.

What is the employment situation?  All the twenty or so departmental managers have been recruited and Morrisons is in the final placement stage for the general staff of 200. Most of which are very local. Morrisons has worked with the job centre next door to recruit long term unemployed people and the apprenticeships will be in place soon. further recruitment will begin soon to fill in any gaps.

Where will the staff park?  Morrisons says that in off-peak times those staff members who need to park wills use the under-croft parking at the store.  At peak times Morrisons says it will provide off-street parking (not Elmbridge public car parks).

Will there be trolley tokens to stop trolleys being left all over the place?  No there will not nor will there be any trolley mechanism to stop the trolleys leaving the store. However, Morrisons beleives that the design of the store is such that people will not take trolleys out of the store. That will be one to watch.

Will Morrison seek further planning change in the future?  Given that the Weybridge store is the only one in the country that does not have deliveries on all of its opening days, I expect Morrisons to apply again at some point in the future to have some of the delivery restrictions set aside.  Said the that I thought it would be unwise to pursue such a course until its stock with the burghers was considerably higher than it is at present. It would need to demonstrate that the local fears regarding noise were unfounded – if that be possible.

The roundabout looks awful – will Morrisons change it?  The roundabout is Surrey’s idea as is the chevron design. This is a matter that I will be taking up in due course.

Parking responsibility  On-street parking management is perversely Surrey’s responsibility (I think it should be Elmbridge’s but thee you go).  I have no doubt that a review of all local streets will have to take place once Morrisons opens.  Surrey has already said that, in Elmbridge, it will look at Walton first – there is no guarantee that Weybridge would be next – unless we all kick up a fuss.

Baker Street Traffic. This problem should abate now that the road works are almost complete.  As part of the planning application Morrisons has agreed to contribute to the traffic carming of Baker Street.  It is for Surrey to take this project forward.  I have a more radical solution – restrict motorised traffic (apart from buses and taxis) from passing in front of Lloyds Bank. That would remove through traffic completed and civilise the town.

Have I missed anything? Then please tell me.

 

Highest employment ever

UnemploymentIt has taken some hard choices – and the remarkable effort of millions of people and business around the country – but this marks another positive step on the road to a stronger economy.
There are two million more people in private sector jobs, fewer unemployed young people, long term unemployment is falling and we have more women in work than ever before.

The only way we have been able to play our part in turning the economy around is by taking the long view.  Back in 2008-09 who would have thought the Britain would have the highest growth in Europe (bar Iceland) and the seven highest in the OECD (after Chile, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand and Turkey).

But, in my view, we have a long way to go.  Part of the solution is to ensure that any government at the national level is elected with the majority of the voters.  It is unlikely that the recovery would have happened if the Liberal Democrats had not stepped up to provide Britain with a strong and stable government in tough times.  The coalition was elected with 59% of the vote.  There has not been a British national government elected with a backing of over 50% of the vote since the 1930s.  Indeed, in peacetime the present coalition was elected with more support than any other government since the Liberal landslide in the 1860s under Gladstone.

British voting since 1832

Elmbridge Retailer of the Year

An outstanding number of votes were received this year for Elmbridge Retailer of the Year 2014 but not one of the winners came from Weybridge.  Did you vote? The voting closed on Tuesday,  6 May.  The winners were:

  • Best restaurant/café – Dolly’s Tea Rooms, Molesey
  • Best for hair and beauty – Academy, Claygate
  • Best for clothes or gifts – Zebra Boutique, Walton
  • Best deli/grocery/speciality foods store – Paul’s Fruit and Veg, Ditton
  • Best for speciality products – The Art Agency, Esher
  • Best independent retailer in Elmbridge – Ceramica, Claygate

Europe set to have cap on credit card fees

Credit Card websiteThe European lower house (European parliament) voted this month to cap credit card fees to 0.3% and debit card fees to 0.2% of the transaction value (or 6p if lower). These caps would apply across Europe.

Research has shown that a cap in fees could provide retailers with nearly £5 billion in savings and lead to lower consumer prices. However, the upper house (Council of Ministers) has to concur before such caps can become law.

Each year businesses suffer from unregulated and unjustifiably high fees when a customer chooses to pay by card.  Capping these transaction fees will mean businesses can and should be able to pass on savings to consumers, which will directly benefit households across Europe and contribute to economic growth and consumer confidence.

As the Party of In, Liberal Democrats want to strengthen and protect our vital trade links with the rest of Europe. By cutting unnecessary costs for businesses Britain can increase its competitiveness within the world’s largest single market – Europe.

Morrison Noise and Deliveries

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallMorrisons has withdrawn its application for the variation to the planning conditions laid down by Elmbridge.  The reference was 2014/0484  Variation of Conditions 5 (Deliveries/Servicing) and 10 (Plant Noise) of planning permission 2013/1611 (New food store).  There were 228 objections.

 

Weybridge Health Awards 2014

GSK OfficesLast year GlaxoSmithKline donated over £25,000 to local health-related charities to help them make a difference in people’s lives?  In 2014 GSK is offering six awards of £5,000 each to small charities through their annual health awards programme.

The GSK Weybridge awards programme seeks to recognise and develop the success of charities involved with mental, emotional or physical health issues. They invite all health-related charities based within Weybridge and the surrounding towns to apply for an award.

The six winning charities will be invited to the Health Awards event in Weybridge in October where they will be presented with an award of £5,000 each. These cash awards are for use as the charity sees fit and may be used for core funding as well as project work. The winning charities will also receive support from GSK Consumer Healthcare Weybridge throughout the following year in the form of volunteer projects.

Applications for the GSK Consumer Healthcare Weybridge Health Awards must be from community-based groups rather than main branches of national funded organisations involved with any emotional, mental or physical health issues. This may include groups of benefit to the ill, disabled or elderly people, those with mental health issues or learning difficulties or simply those offering emotional help to families coping with difficulties. The programme also includes those charities which assist in the care of the above groups including respite care for carers and hospices.

Any local health-related charity will be considered. All you need to do is complete the application form and return it to us by 30 June 2014. The winning charities will be announced by September 2014. GSK Consumer Healthcare representatives will then visit the six successful candidates to learn a little more about how the organisation works and meet some of the people involved in its day-to-day activities.

For more information and/or an application form please contact Elmbridge community support services on 01372 474474.