hersham-village-signHersham Village Ward – Questions for Prospective Councillors!

Last week we submitted a list of questions to all participating candidates in the forthcoming Elmbridge Council elections for Hersham Village and Esher wards.

The questions were all suggested by local residents so should very closely reflect your interests and concerns, click on each heading to jump to the answers provided. Answers are listed in the order they were recieved.

  1. Planning

What would your policy be with regards any further planning and development proposals within Hersham?

  1. Community Policing

Now that Hersham has lost its local community officer what will you do to ensure this loss doesn’t have a negative impact on the community. PC Bourn was very active and accessible within the community, how can the same level of support be achieved?

  1. Condition of Roads

There was huge concern about the condition of roads and potholes. Wheelchair and Pram/Buggy Users asked for more dropped kerbs and more controls about parking across dropped kerbs.
Whilst we appreciate that this is a matter for Surrey County Council, how will you ensure prioritisation by SCC? And what measures will you offer for communicating, tracking, and accountability of any re-prioritisation to concerned residents?

  1. Local Transport

Concern was raised over accessibility issues at Hersham Station (and also Walton Station). What would you do to improve this?
A lot of inconvenience has been caused by recent changes to bus timetables. Were the route changes communicated well enough? Was there an adequate forum for bus users to provide feedback on the changes? Overall, how would you address this concerns now that the changes have been made and how would you propose to improve communication and consultation?

  1. Traffic Controls and Speeding

Specific points mentioned multiple times were: a Pedestrian crossing for  Molesey Road (near shops/Hersham Road junction) and at Lamas Lane (at the end of the dual carriageway).
Improved Speed enforcement on Esher Road and Burwood Road,
Speed calming measures were requested on Pleasant Place, also the lack of pedestrian footpath was a great concern.
Rather than offer a direct question I’ll leave this open for you to comment.

  1. Parks and Outside spaces

None of the entrances to Riverside are accessible and the state of the paths is very poor.
Footpaths were mentioned in general terms a number of times, but specifically for Riverside (as above), Vaux Crescent and Esher Rd to Molesey Rd.
Comments about dog mess and concern that the current measures are not achieving their objectives.
Lack of amenities for children of teen age in the Hersham Area, i.e. Skate Park.
Again, rather than offer a question I’ll leave this open for you to comment.

  1. ‘The High Street’

We are seeing more and more empty shops, how would you encourage small business to move in, and support them once they did.
There were concerns about business rates – how are these calculated? Do you think it’s a fair formula?
How can we get a Free Cashpoint in Hersham that is available 24 hours a day.

  1. Hersham Parish Council

What is your view on the mooted subject of a Hersham Parish Council. Do you believe there would be a benefit to the wider Hersham Community.

  1. Boundary Change

Many Hersham residents will now be represented by what they perceive as ‘Esher’ councillors – to those Esher candidates how can you assure them that they will have an equal voice and be equally represented. Additionally, how would you ensure that you were physically accessible to those in need in the ‘Hersham’ part of Esher Ward.
To Hersham Village candidates how would you support residents who may feel cut off from both Hersham and Esher by these boundary changes.

  1. Final Question

On what single issue local issue do you think you can make the biggest impact, and why?

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    1. Planning

What would your policy be with regards any further planning and development proposals within Hersham?

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): Firstly, it is important too reflect upon the fact that I am campaigning for the creation of a ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’ which would give Hersham residents serving on the HCC a statutory right to be consulted on planning matters affecting Hersham (i.e. the whole of Hersham as we know it now). As an elected Councillor, for Hersham Village, I would seek to consult/represent residents in the whole of Hersham on planning matters. That being said, I would judge each application on its individual merits. Obviously, some developments may need to be opposed – others could be worthy of support. For example, if housing is being proposed, there is a need for planning applications that display ecological social housing that is being built for an easily affordable rent or price. However, I consider that all developments should/must respect the green belt, and the safety of our environment.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party): The Green Party are fundamentally opposed to building on greenbelt. This is a policy that I fully intend to uphold in Hersham. I am keen to preserve our green spaces, these are vital spaces for us all to enjoy with our families and our pets. I will not point blank refuse to back new developments, however I feel they should all be in fitting with our village, environmentally sustainable and fulfil genuine needs of the community.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):  Hersham is uniquely attractive, a wonderful place to live, precisely because of its village environment, its open spaces and precious green belt and all these we are absolutely committed to preserve. We believe our record as active Hersham Councillors on planning matters has demonstrated that unswerving commitment to preserve and protect that which we all hold dear.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we oppose all development, we do need more housing and particularly that which is more affordable for young families. And we also welcome the expansion of RES and the new Lidl store.

By law, we do have to treat every planning application on its own merits but we shall judge them as to whether they are sensitive to our high standards of design, scale and impact.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  We need to make sure we have a balance between the green spaces and developing the commercial life within Hersham Village. I would certainly listen and look and expect to have an active role in any decision making. As the sole Liberal Democrat candidate I would be expected to collaborate with colleagues and may not have the final word, but that does not mean I could not voice opinion and argue a case where I felt the result was going to lessen the quality of life for the village.

Anne Hill (HVS):  The council are currently formulating the various township heritage plans which affect the planning in
each ward. We would like to continue to have representation on this working party so that we can have impute on behalf of Hersham residents on matters affecting the village.
Our main concerns are the protection of the Green Belt and open spaces, we believe that where development takes place it must blend in with the local area and must not be unneighbourly.
The infrastructure of the surrounding area must always be taken into account and constant provision made for social and affordable housing.

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    1. Community Policing

Now that Hersham has lost its local community officer what will you do to ensure this loss doesn’t have a negative impact on the community. PC Bourn was very active and accessible within the community, how can the same level of support be achieved?

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): I note that the Labour London Mayoral Candidate, Sadiq Khan, has promised that he will re-establish neighbourhood policing. It would be ludicrous to have community policing in Kingston, but not in Elmbridge/Hersham. I would campaign, with local residents, for community policing. Such issues are about political priorities, and one of mine would be to push for improved community policing.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  Sadly, the loss of community police officers is another impact of Osbourne’s austerity measures. Here in the community we are not able to reverse this decision but we must put safeguards in place to ensure that Hersham’s crime rate remains low. It is our responsibility to ensure all residents know where to turn in times of need, be it domestic abuse, theft or other crimes. I strongly feel that the public sector should be a safety net for those in need and I will continue to fight against austerity. There are still some excellent public and charitable organisations around, we need to point people in the direction of the quickest and most appropriate help for their needs. We need to ensure residents, especially children are fully educated on how to keep themselves safe and who to call in times of emergency.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):  Sadly it now appears that Neil, who was an outstanding friend to us all in Hersham, will no longer serving us as the police leadership has remained adamant on their decision. That is most regrettable but we have now to move forward. We will work closely with PC Chris Smith whose remit will include looking after Hersham and will have regular meetings with him. Hopefully, Chris will follow Neil’s remarkable record of reaching out imaginatively to residents. And of course we mustn’t forget PSCO Vicky Holdaway, our friendly and approachable PSCO who is often seen walking around Hersham, and holds regular “surgeries” inside Costas and elsewhere.

We need to explore whether reinstating more formal meetings to discuss local policing priorities might be feasible.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  This is where we need some kind of local hub which can be seen as a valid place for the kind of information that was previously imparted. Noticeboards could be a valuable source of information and the police commissioner ought to play a more active role in making sure that all the communities are kept up to date/schools get visits on certain issues like internet safety/road awareness etc
I see police cars making a sweep of my estate from time to time which is reassuring and I cannot think it is too much to ask for the police to continue to have a supportive presence.

Anne Hill (HVS):  We are very concerned that Hersham is now without a full time local Policeman and believe that
Proactive policing rather than reactive policing is important. People like to feel assured that their streets are safe to walk and that their properties are secure. There is no better deterrent than a Policeman walking the streets.
What can we do? We support the setting up of the Hersham Community Council who can oversee these matters and may even be able to pay the annual wages of a Police Constable.

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  1. Condition of Roads (This was the most repeated concern throughout our sample)

There was huge concern about the condition of roads and potholes. Wheelchair and Pram/Buggy Users asked for more dropped kerbs and more controls about parking across dropped kerbs. Whilst we appreciate that this is a matter for Surrey County Council, how will you ensure prioritisation by SCC? And what measures will you offer for communicating, tracking, and accountability of any re-prioritisation to concerned residents?

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): I would like to promise that I would eradicate all potholes in roads. Sadly,I would not have the power, funding, or responsibility, if elected as an Elmbridge Councillor. What I would do is encourage Central Government, and Surrey County Council, to do more. I would also seek to encourage the reporting of potholes. For example, Surrey County Council provide a very good reporting service – see https://classic.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/road-maintenance-and-cleaning/problems-on-roads-and-highways/report-a-defect-part-ii?defectid=237135

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):   In my leaflet I have come up with some cheap and innovative ways of tackling this issue. Please do take a look: Green Party Election Leaflet. The roads and pavements are constantly in such a poor condition. I do a lot of walking around the village and often point out how impractical the pavements are for buggies and wheelchairs. We do have an excellent Green Party Councillor on Surrey CC at the moment, he is always willing to listen to my concerns and ideas and to advise us what we can do at a local level. I am confident that together we can really start to make the changes that Hersham residents have been asking for all these years.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):   And, no surprise, these were also overwhelmingly the key concerns we have encountered everywhere in Hersham we have been canvassing. And as the Hub notes, frustratingly these are matters which we as Borough Councillors have only a very limited capacity to influence being an SCC responsibility.

As residents rightly expect, we report the poor state of a particular area to the County authorities but the inevitable reply is that the budget is so hard-pressed and demands so great, that remediation will be a painfully slow process. Such a response tends to infuriate people even more and the cycle of disillusionment lurches one more turn.

There is honestly no easy ‘fix’. Both SCC and EBC have seen funding from central government drastically reduced for many years and it’s only going to get worse. But that makes the imperative of a more joined-up approach even more essential. One option that we are keen to progress is for greater devolution from County to Borough so that we as ‘grass roots’ representatives can try and get things done faster without the bureaucracy that seems so prevalent at the moment. We wouldn’t be able to work miracles and it would be dishonest to claim we would, but having a direct say in priorities for Hersham would be a step forward. As would the increased accountability.

Finally, it’s not all bad news: a number of roads in Hersham such as Rydens Grove, Green Lane, Mole Road and Primrose Road, Molesey Close, Ashton Close and Eastwick Road have all recently been completely resurfaced and a number of drop kerbs have been installed along the Burwood Road to aid mobility for those with electric buggies.

But, yes, we still have a long, long way to go!

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  Following the winter a couple of  years ago when the roads deteriorated badly, I took it upon myself to photograph the worst potholes near me and send in reports to the council online. This worked. I had to ‘remind’ them and kept an eye on the progress online – but the pot holes were filled in. Nobody asked me to do it, I think anybody can! I would encourage us all to be more active in this process and show that we are mindful of the state of roads and pavements. I think that the key factors are showing that these roads and pavements are used by so many different people with wildly differing needs. I see people struggling with prams/children on scooters/elderly people in motorised scooters nearly toppling over/wheelchair users and people who need help in mobility.
I believe it is time the council had a massive programme to sort out the conditions of the paths and roads and I plan on shaming them into finding some funding to prioritise this as a concerned citizen, whether I get elected or not! Clearly my voice will be one of many; if elected, I would hope to have a bigger voice! The Liberal Democrats pride themselves on seeking to find solutions for their local area and are extremely community minded.

Anne Hill (HVS):  Although roads come under Surrey County Council we would wish to work in a proactive manner
with the county councillor for Hersham and other local councillors to have regular meetings with county officers to discuss the highway and footpath repairs situation.
We would work with the Parking staff at Elmbridge to play a greater role in ensuring that people who park across dropped curbs etc. are reminded that it is illegal to do so.

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    1. Local Transport

Concern was raised over accessibility issues at Hersham Station (and also Walton Station). What would you do to improve this? A lot of inconvenience has been caused by recent changes to bus timetables. Were the route changes communicated well enough? Was there an adequate forum for bus users to provide feedback on the changes? Overall, how would you address this concerns now that the changes have been made and how would you propose to improve communication and consultation?

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): If elected, I would take up such matters personally with relevant responsible bodies. My own view is this would be an excellent issue for an ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’ to campaign on. The views of a statutory recognised body, that provides a collective voice for Hersham, would be of great benefit on such issues.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):    As a non-driver I am reliant on public transport. I have spent the last year working with local groups to fight against the cuts to our services. Ideally public transport would be nationalised, meaning that the profit is put straight back into improving services. I will continue campaigning for this change to be made by government. In the meantime I will vote against any further cuts and ensure bus users are consulted.

The best way to improve communication is to get out there at bus stops and on buses and speak to passengers. People do not complain about things that they aren’t aware of, I’m sure the timetable changes took many bus users by surprise, by which time it was too late.

Accessibility to public transport is a fundamental right. The train companies are supposed to adhere to European Standards of Practice in accessibility. I would work to ensure that Network Rail work alongside South West Trains to make sure both Walton and Hersham stations are fully accessible for all users.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):   We have pressed for some years to have better disabled access at Walton on Thames.  SW Trains have said that it is included in the Government’s Access for All programme to deliver access improvements and the scheme will see new footbridges and lifts installed at 5 stations by 2019 including Walton on Thames.  We have also battled with SW Trains for improvements at Hersham and some minor improvements have taken place but access remains a real problem due to its position.  We will keep up the pressure for easier access at Hersham for our physically less-able residents.

The bus service is another that falls within SCC’s remit and we have certainly been aware of unhappiness about the changes, most noticeably in Whiteley Village some time ago. But the issue of inadequate feedback and inadequate consultation has not featured prominently with us so far on the doorstep though doubtless the process of seeking opinion and then modifying proposals could have been better.

One undoubted positive is that the 555 service that used to terminate at Walton station now travels on to Hersham Green, where it links with that to Whiteley Village.

One of us (John) is as a non-driver and thus a periodic user (when not on two legs or two wheels) of the buses serving Hersham: they do seem to rather busier than in the past. That must be a good thing!

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  I honestly think that communication is a big issue generally. For those of us who use social media and have our council tax by email – we could be informed through those channels/ newspaper ads could be used to inform us/posters at bus stops and rail stations – and local radio stations all need to participate and be used to inform, particularly when changes are about to happen.
When I moved to this area all those years ago, I was immediately struck by the lack of buses serving the area. I have never lived anywhere before which is so poorly served and with so much unavailable in terms of accessibility. A fact brought home to me when my father came to stay and was wheelchair bound. It comes from the perceived demographic that everybody will have access to a car, regardless of whether they wish to lessen their carbon footprint.
We need to highlight the issues to the right people in local government and the case for improvements at both stations for a start. I don’t know the right channels, but I am very good at asking lots of questions to find out!

Anne Hill (HVS):  The Hersham Village Society has a Public Transport Officer (Terry Duhig) who liaises with the
county council and the various operators on transport matters. The Society were responsible for having the 555 bus extended from Hersham Library to the bus stop on Hersham Green on a Sunday and now on weekdays as well.
There is a need for better consultation by the county council on all county controlled matters and we would hope that our county councillor would take this up on behalf of residents. If not we will push for it through the Resident’s group representation at county hall.

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    1. Traffic Controls and Speeding

Specific points mentioned multiple times were: a Pedestrian crossing for  Molesey Road (near shops/Hersham Road junction) and at Lamas Lane (at the end of the dual carriageway). Improved Speed enforcement on Esher Road and Burwood Road. Speed calming measures were requested on Pleasant Place, also the lack of pedestrian footpath was a great concern.

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): Again, if elected, I would listen to local residents and take up such matters personally. That being said, these again are matters that could be pursued by a to be created ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’. I want to improve and expand local democracy – with local Hersham residents given much more power and influence over the community they live in.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  Many of you will know that Green Party led councils have the best records on improving traffic controls and road safety. Hersham is a village and but is sandwiched between busy 40mph roads. It is very easy for drivers to unwittingly speed when they turn off a fast road. Road signs and traffic calming measures are vital to making drivers aware that they have entered a residential area. I personally would be pushing for a 20mph limit in the village centre, minimising the danger to children and pedestrians. I would make pedestrian safety a priority, implementing safe crossings and sensible speed limits. Getting people walking is absolutely essential if we hope to tackle the issues of pollution and obesity.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):   We certainly agree that this a major concern to Hersham residents and have been doing our utmost to make progress and with some positive results.

Following a petition by local residents that attracted wide support we have worked closely with them and SCC to achieve the pedestrian crossing and other improvements along the Green in Burwood Road.

But that was just the first step. We are very pleased to report that, following recent further discussions with the County, additional calming measures for the Pleasant Place and Memorial Gardens areas with enhanced pedestrian capability will be shortly be produced for consultation.

In addition, working with the residents of Faulkners Road and SCC, we are exploring possible measures to relieve the heavy traffic misusing that narrow street as a short-cut.

The saga of a pedestrian crossing in Molesey Road, close to the Library, has been frustrating indeed over the years. We feel the time has again arrived for another revisit, but some new thinking will be required on all sides, or the process will once more end in failure!

Tackling speeding was always the top priority at the former Hersham Police Panel meetings and rightly so, particularly for the Esher and Burwood Roads. Our volunteer speed check teams do a wonderful job and we as a Hersham community should do more to promote the initiative, encourage more volunteers and above all increase the regularity of the checks themselves.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  I must say this area has a cornucopia of speed bumps which all need to be maintained in my opinion if we add to the number. Many are positively dangerous and people swerve to avoid hitting the broken asphalt, thus adding to the chaos. They kind of work, but people just speed up in-between them and then hit them harder. I’m not sure lots and lots of bumps are the answer.
The dual carriageway is a green light for faster drivers and I have seen people standing in the middle of the carriageway trying to cross.
I don’t know if the council is planning to do anything about any of these issues. If a voice is needed to raise this, I am quite prepared to be that voice.
Pleasant Place has several issues with narrowing road and the school and with the doctors’ surgery too there is a lot of activity in that area. I am surprised that more has not already been done.

Anne Hill (HVS):  There is an urgent need for a crossing on Molesey Road by Hersham Library/Homefield. Hundreds of
school children from the Longmore estate cross the road at this point as well as the elderly from Homefield.
But where do you put a crossing? There are certain laws requiring the placement not to near junctions etc. It seems the only natural place would be close to the roundabout.
This is something we will be taking up with county officials and raising at the local county committee.
We would do the same for a crossing at the bottom of Lamas Lane in Esher.

Esher Road: When Esher road was built in 1960 it was done so that traffic which used the old road by the river and frequently flooded would have a safer highway. The traffic in those days was not so heavy and provision was also not made for any crossing points.
It is time for the county to re-address the problems on Esher road –especially taking into account that nine people have died on the actual road in accidents-We have managed to keep the official speed down to 40 mph (the police wanted to raise it to 50 mph) but that does not deter the speeding motorists.
Traffic cameras are the first item that must be put on the road.
Narrowing of the road down to one lane on the straight stretch by Riverside road and a Pelican crossing at the northern end of Riverside road would help the many people crossing at this point.
There is no reason why sleeping policeman cannot be put on Pleasant Place. Where do residents want a footpath? There is not much room on the narrow stretch just past the school entrance although the acquisition of land on the corner by the bend would help matters. This is something that our county councillor could be pursuing.
We would also like to see a footpath on the stretch of Burhill Road by Piglets etc.
Speeding on Burwood Road, could be cut down by the imposition of a 20mph limited in the centre of Hersham from the Barley mow roundabout to Westcar lane on Burwood Road and Queens Road. We believe that by taking away some of the yellow lines from Queens Road and allowing parking on the road would reduce speed on Queens Road. These lines were put down before the bypass was build and it was the only road through the village to Weybridge.

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    1. Parks and Outside spaces

None of the entrances to Riverside are accessible (for wheelchairs) and the state of the paths is very poor. Footpaths were mentioned in general terms a number of times, but specifically for Riverside (as above), Vaux Crescent and Esher Rd to Molesey Rd. Comments about dog mess and concern that the current measures are not achieving their objectives. Lack of amenities for children of teen age in the Hersham Area, i.e. Skate Park.

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): Not enough is being done to keep clean our environment. There is certainly a lack of amenities for children of teen age. Local Councillors should listen to the views of local Hersham residents (including residents groups) and draw up a list of priority areas for environmental cleaning. All such issues, relate to limited financial resources – the only way to tackle such issues is by agreeing which areas require frequent attention.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  Walking is my number one hobby so I have first-hand experience of many of the residents’ concerns on this topic. I absolutely love animals and I must congratulate the vast majority of dog owners who are responsible in cleaning up after their animals. We owe it to them and to other walkers to make the area as pleasant as possible and show that the penalty for dog mess is not just an empty threat.

Teenagers are too often the forgotten age group when it comes to town planning. I spend time encouraging young people to vote, this is the best way to get their views listened to. I am not prepared to speak on behalf of that age group but want to give them a voice themselves. I would look at setting up consultations with young people on what THEY want and how this can be achieved, maybe even a Hersham youth council.

At the same time, this gives young people the opportunity to see democracy in action, understanding the limits of local council and seeing how engaging in the electoral system allows them to influence their surroundings. As a teenager, I travelled to Guildford to use the skate park which was fun but not feasible for a couple of hours break from studying. Children and young people have so much pressure academically we owe it to them to provide the best environment to suit their needs, they are our future!

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):   Sorry for the length but our leisure and green spaces are such a valued part of Hersham’s identity:

Riverside Park is maintained by the EBC Countryside team and we are fortunate to have many enthusiastic volunteers over the years dealing with clearance of footpaths and to improve certain points of access.   The Park is overwhelmingly (95%!) used by dog-walkers and has 4 access points (Brittain Road, Conyers Close, Thrupps Lane and New Berry Lane).

Some time ago a considerable sum was spent on re-routing one of the main pathways to allow for easier access between New Berry Lane and Conyers Close, particularly during the winter months.  Nevertheless, there can be no denying that access should be re-addressed, particularly for those with a disability and also with buggies,  to enable far more people to enjoy pleasant riverside walks.  Easiest access is via New Berry Lane, behind Waitrose car park.

Dog Fouling: A campaign to deter people from allowing their dogs to foul the footpath, – “pick it up or face a £50 fine” – has been launched and is proving reasonably successful. Residents are contacting our Environmental team who have in turn gone out and put large notices on lampposts and garden fences to act as a deterrent. We would welcome any ideas about how further to combat this anti-social behaviour.

Lack of amenities for teenage children: Two parallel conversations are taking place: one with local residents about amenities they would like for teenagers and the other (naturally!) with our young people about their preferences. The possibility of a skate park has been raised but experience elsewhere has shown that these can be contentious depending on their location.

There is a possibility of installing an outdoor gym in Hersham – again this will be subject to need and public consultation.

Our tennis courts are well-used with free access and free coaching.  And the hugely popular Hersham Youth Centre has a basketball court and many other facilities for young people 11-19. It open 5 days a week approx 7pm – 9pm or 10pm for older sessions plus Saturday afternoons 1.0-5.0pm. Football/Pool tables/Music room with recording facilities etc. All info available on their website.  A shameless plug!!

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  Although this is not something about which I am knowledgeable, I think we have a fabulous array of open spaces, but there does seem to be a lack of amenities for our youngsters and as a former teacher I know how appreciative young people can be when given responsibilities and offered facilities with them in mind.
Lightly tarmacked pathways are very much in line with the roads in needing attention. The tree roots raise the tarmac too and cause ructions all along. Impossible for anybody who has difficulty walking or is on wheels of some description.

Anne Hill (HVS):  We do not understand the statement that none of the entrances to the riverside are available.
It is possible to gain access to the River via Old Esher Road and entrances to the Hersham Riverside Park via, Britain Road, Thrupps Lane/Conyers Close and from new Berry Lane.
The rest of the land is in private ownership. It has long be a wish of the Hersham Village Society that a footbridge be provided over the river to link up to the footpaths on Garson’s Farm and up to West End, Esher and beyond. Now that CIL money may be available this is something we will be pursuing.
Yes the Riverside Park paths are in need of repair and renewing, this is something we will take up with the council.
Dog Mess: Ever since the current administration took away Pooper scoops to save money there has been a big increase by irresponsible dog owners by letting their dogs mess on pavements and parks.
The RA Group on the council will look to bring back this facility and increasing the number of dog bins especially for dog mess.

Older Children:
Since the county council closed the Drill Hall Youth Club, the Hersham community with the support and backing of Elmbridge have provided a new voluntary run youth club in Arch Road. But there does need to be thought given to young people and if there is a demand for a skate park, the HVS will work to provide one in Hersham.

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    1. ‘The High Street’

We are seeing more and more empty shops, how would you encourage small business to move in, and support them once they did. There were concerns about business rates – how are these calculated? Do you think it’s a fair formula? How can we get a Free Cashpoint in Hersham that is available 24 hours a day.

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): The government are delegating responsibility for business rates to local authorities like Elmbridge.  We need to ensure that we support local businesses – they are vital for jobs and helping to create and establish our local communities.  The Walton & Hersham Labour Party are calling for free car parking in all town centre car parks (or free for a period of two or three hours) to encourage businesses and shoppers.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  Unfortunately, local businesses are struggling due to our Conservative government giving tax breaks to multinational chains who are able to price smaller businesses completely out of the market. It would be a lie if any candidate claims to be able to solve this issue. The absolute best thing that we can do as Hersham residents is to support our local businesses if we want them to stay open!

Business rates are set by the VOA, however councils do have the ability to offer relief to small, enterprising or charitable businesses. The best thing for the environment is to have local businesses selling locally grown produce or locally manufactured items. This is because the goods don’t travel miles to get to the shop. It also has quality benefits of fresher produce and traceable sources. Once elected I can help small businesses by encouraging them to apply for business rates relief and arm them with the information they need.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):  We are absolutely committed to encouraging and supporting our Hersham businesses. There are several council initiatives currently available, including grants for new businesses to help them start up while existing businesses have benefitted from the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund (ECIF) which can fund up to 90% of the costs for business enhancements such as marketing initiatives, new shop fronts etc. Many businesses in Hersham have already received welcome support, including the Hersham Centre itself for new signage etc. We actively promote ECIF in Hersham and frequently help with the required form filling.

At present we have no control over business rates, we are simply collecting agents for the government but we are happy to raise any specific concerns with our Member of Parliament who we meet on a regular basis. However, longer term as a result of reforms, councils will be able to reduce business rates (but not increase them).

We are appalled that Hersham Residents have no access to a free cash machine and earlier this year we approached Waitrose in Hersham about installing a free cash machine on their premises. They listened sympathetically and are currently looking into it. We expect to get their decision soon. We will not give up on this.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  For businesses to thrive in any place, there needs to be a driving force to go there. Some businesses continue to manage to maintain their presence but I don’t know at what personal cost.
It’s interesting answering this questionnaire because of course, without any ‘authority’ I don’t just go along and ask people how they are doing or how much their business rates are! I think I might get short shrift if I did, or be perceived as nosy!
Where I think I would ask the questions is of current councillors to see what they have managed to glean and what has been prioritised so far. The issues are not new, so what has been done in the past couple of years that is discernible?

Anne Hill (HVS):  There are no empty shops or shops where the leases have not been signed currently in Hersham. The
coming of the new Lidl store will make a tremendous difference to local shopping bring more people in to use the current shops in Hersham. The Society is against the law which says that shops can be turned into residential without planning permission; we have lost over 22 shops in Hersham in the last 20 years. The Society would like to see more shops in Hersham not less.
Local councillors have no control over business rates so it is no good us commenting.
Encouraging local trade is something we are working on, having yellow lines on Molesey Road where they are not needed does not help and we will work to get the county to set up a survey on all yellow lines in Hersham and see if they are still necessary.
Without having a Bank in Hersham it is difficult to see how a free cashpoint could be provided, however we may be able to persuade Waitrose or even Lidl to allow one on their premises.

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    1. Hersham Parish Council

What is your view on the mooted subject of a Hersham Parish Council. Do you believe there would be a benefit to the wider Hersham Community.

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour): I am totally committed to the idea of a Hersham Community/Parish Council. Indeed, I am calling for Elmbridge Council to hold a referendum of local residents on this matter. Such a ‘Hersham Community Council’ would have a statutory right to be consulted on planning matters – so local Hersham residents will have a say. I would also like to see Elmbridge Council delegate ‘care in the community’ responsibilities to a to be created HCC. This could enable local residents to seek to influence the care of the sick, elderly, and needy, in our Hersham community.

A Hersham Community Council, based upon the boundaries of the existing Hersham South and Hersham North wards, would help retain the identity and community of Hersham (as we know it now) for generations to come.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  I have spent many hours out canvassing and I have not heard residents express a wish for a parish council to be formed. Whilst I am not adverse to the idea, I feel we should spend our time and energy ensuring the best people are elected on 5th May. People like me, who know and love Hersham Village and want to retain its character and sense of community.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):  All three of us take a genuinely pragmatic view on whether a Parish Council should be created. However, we reject the notion that one has to be formed because of the boundary changes for one Council. Hersham will still be as Hersham on May 6th as it was on May 4th !

The case for a council should be based on its own merits and whether it can add more to our community than that already provided by Elmbridge and by the Hersham councillors themselves. Also, as a Parish Council can charge its own rate, which is not capped, is it likely to provide value for money?

So we need a serious debate on the pros and cons. But if one is eventually approved following a democratic referendum of residents, it will enjoy our wholehearted backing.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  I am behind the creation of the Hersham Community Council as long as we can have some new faces working for the benefit of us all. It needs to be non-political arrangement, without any party using it to promote their own ends. After all are we not all here to work together to develop and uplift our community? It should be separate from any specific church involvement too. We all need to feel part of our village – and that entails us all doing a little extra to make it the go- to place to live and work. Maybe we have lost that sense of pride in where we live and that has not been helped by the boundary changes which send out a message of being thrown aside.
Hersham would be given a solid voice and if everybody got behind this, we would be acting as one agent for change. I feel everybody needs to know more about what the HCC would wish to achieve and show how it can be a great source of strength for the village.

Anne Hill (HVS):  We believe that a Hersham Community Council (A Parish Council already exists in St. Peters
Church) could be a useful organisation for Hersham to have especially in view of the way we have been treated on the boundary changes. The Village Society supports the idea in principal and would like it to be looked into.

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    1. Boundary Change

Many Hersham residents will now be represented by what they perceive as ‘Esher’ councillors – to those Esher candidates how can you assure them that they will have an equal voice and be equally represented. Additionally, how would you ensure that you were physically accessible to those in need in the ‘Hersham’ part of Esher Ward.

To Hersham Village candidates how would you support residents who may feel cut off from both Hersham and Esher by these boundary changes.

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour):  Again, I believe that the creation of a ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’ would make a major contribution to resolving such ‘accountability’ concerns. If elected, as a Labour Councillor for Hersham Village, then I would have responsibilities across the whole of Elmbridge. Such responsibilities include a need to consult with residents of all communities. Thus, my door would obviously be open to Hersham residents living in what will become wards of Esher, Weybridge etc.

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):   I was disappointed by the boundary changes and am sceptical of the reasoning behind this. At the one end of our village Hersham residents have been forced to vote for Esher councillors and at the other end Hersham residents are forced into the Oatlands ward. Once elected I would be happy to hear concerns from all residents of Hersham even if they fall outside of Hersham Village ward.

As an environmentalist, I am aware that drawing arbitrary boundaries doesn’t solve problems. Pollution from Walton undoubtedly drifts through into Hersham, just as surface water caused by poor drainage in the Oatlands ward will flood Hersham’s roads. Once elected I will work together with councillors from surrounding areas to ensure the best for all of our residents.

jr-ms-rm-web-Q1sRuth Mitchell, John O’Reilly & Mary Sheldon (Conservatives):  We are absolutely confident that Hersham’s unique identity and strength of community will remain unaffected by what is, when all is said and done, one electoral boundary change for one Council. Should any threat emerge to any part of Hersham, then every Councillor of any party must rally to the cause. And they will.

It is also the paramount duty of a local Councillor to be responsive and accessible to every resident in their ward, to take up individual cases and look after the community as a whole. That is what the three of us have strived to do as Hersham Councillors and we are entirely confident that our ‘successors’ representing Whiteley Village, the Longmore area and the Burwood Park area will do the same.

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  I live on the Longmore estate in the affected part and I cannot at all understand why we have been hived off. I feel part of the village and intend to continue with that mind set! I am now standing for a seat which is technically out of my area yet this side of the river which seems to me a natural boundary! When I talk to locals, we all feel non plussed and I will be keeping a very close eyes on things which may affect us and keep chatting with my neighbours and friends to make sure we all feel connected. Come what may, it is that sense of connection which is proven time and time again to make a difference to communities. The Liberal Democrat party has always had a strong sense of fair play and worked hard for a local area. That will be my main goal – to try and connect people with the area and work towards unifying the village communities in what is one of the few villages left

Anne Hill (HVS):  Having a candidate who lives in Hersham part of the new Esher ward could be advantageous to
Hersham residents and although our candidate would be first and foremost a Hersham representative, he would not forget that he is also a councillor for all the Esher Ward and would respond equally if any Esher resident contacted him with a problem, Likewise he would support the whole of the ward on council committees and full council.

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    1. Final Question

On what single issue local issue do you think you can make the biggest impact, and why? 

Dr-Jepson-QsDr Peter Jepson (Labour):  The creation of a Hersham Community/Parish Council will have a major impact on our local democracy. It will increase the influence of local residents. It could help protect the elderly and those in need within our community. It can also protect the identity of Hersham for generations to come.

I have been a libertarian socialist for over 40 years and I am totally committed to expanding and improving our local democracy. Creating a ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’ would have a significant impact upon the community of Hersham. It will help create a focal point for the concerns of local residents.  It would give local Hersham residents a real say in their community. It will take power away from the political parties (who should be barred from fielding candidates for the proposed ‘Hersham Community/Parish Council’).

Olivia-web-Q1sOlivia Palmer (Green Party):  I’ve been told by journalists and residents that I don’t seem like a ‘usual politician’. I hope you can see from my answers that I have all the knowledge needed to make a great councillor, however I also bring a lot of original ideas and enthusiasm. I feel I could be a breath of fresh air on all the issues we’ve discussed, leading the way in cleaning up our village and the air that we breathe. More than this, though, I hope to open up politics to everyone. I want to get kids thinking about the future of their village. I want people to challenge me and other councillors to work hard for Hersham. Becoming a councillor isn’t a little extra income and prestige, to me it is a passion to help people and empower all our residents to make Hersham the best it can be, for all of us.

ruth-mitchell-QsRuth Mitchell (Conservative): In a democracy it is the power of persuasion to your peers, who together can make things happen and that’s my approach as a Hersham councillor. Generally our peers would be our fellow Councillors but they could also be County Councillors, the rail companies or any other group or person. I attempt to put a strong case together and work with my fellow Councillors to achieve residents’ wishes. The three of us have an excellent track record of achievements on planning issues, dropped kerbs and road improvements, notably through Surrey County Council, train improvements through South West Trains to name just two.

mary-sheldon-QsMary Sheldon (Conservative): This is an easy one for me.  Why?  Because the reason I wish to continue to represent our residents is to ensure that our village continues to be an attractive, tidy, clean, enjoyable, well-planned, healthy and sustainable place in which to live and visit.     And I can do this in several ways.   As I have done for the last few years as a Hersham councillor, this has meant working within the community of residents and local businesses, encouraging as many people as possible to become involved in what needs to be done, liaising with many partners, including EBC, to get the very best for Hersham.  A borough councillor can enable things to be done, point people in the right direction, and have some influence on decisions to be made that affect our own town or village we live in.

john-oreilly-QsJohn O’Reilly (Conservative): Totally agree with Ruth and Mary. We are such a close team working for all our Hersham residents and voluntary groups and it is that collective force that has enabled us to help achieve the positive outcomes, many of which we have described in answers to the earlier questions, be they leisure, traffic related or planning issues: perhaps we’re Hersham’s three musketeers! On an individual level as a Hersham councillor, the most satisfaction is always derived when your intervention has made THE difference to resolving a problem that has caused desperate anguish. That gives a particular buzz….

js-web-QsJanet Shell (Liberal Democrats):  There will never be one. For me it is somewhat about the social things on offer for the village; the ways of gathering the community and helping us all feel a sense of pride with our area. If I see parts of the village that are looking uncared for, that matters to me because it sends out a message that is not concurrent with how we want to feel. This is why I am promoting the Elmbridge Liberal Democrat idea of OUR KIND OF……what is your kind of Hersham? Can I perhaps ask that if all the above were carried out, would this mean that the heart of Hersham was restored? In an ideal world what would Hersham look like and feel like to live in?

Anne Hill (HVS):  Since 1979 the Hersham Village Society councillors have represented all of Hersham and not just the
ward that they were elected in.
The advantage of a Society councillor is that they are able to devote their time 100% to local issues without being caught up in national matters.
Every councillor has their own abilities and strengths, the Society councillors would work as a team for Hersham even those areas which have been transferred to other areas. We do not see the new boundaries only the people living in them.

Our priorities are:

1) Giving Hersham a voice in local matters
2) Speaking up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves, like the disabled, the
young, families, the elderly and venerable people who need protecting from those in
authority.
3) Encouraging social and affordable housing.
4) Stopping unwanted development on the Green Belt.
5) Encouraging good planning, with amenity areas for children and housing which fits in rather
than crammed in.
6) Improving our leisure facilities especially in Hersham for young people over 15 years of age.
7) Encouraging local shopping, working with shops and shoppers.
8) Improve public transport both bus and train and press for more accessibility at Hersham
station for the disabled.
9) Press Surrey for improvements to roads and footpaths and provision of a crossing on Molesey
Road by the Library and bottom of Lams Lane.
10) To always realise that Society councillors are answerable to the public first and foremost and
not a national political party.
The biggest issue we see is the ability of a councillor to put their ward first above party,
to speak up for their ward above party, and to always put the public first!

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You can read profiles and policies of all the above Hersham Village candidates here

Read about the Surrey PCC candidates here

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