Newsletter: Spring 2017

Download a PDF copy here: whlp_newsletter_2017-spring.pdf

Welcome

Hi, I’m Dan.

Welcome to the new newsletter from your local Labour Party. This will be the first of what we hope will be a regular feature of communications for Walton and Hersham residents. We will tell you what we have been doing, comment on local issues and explain our position on topical matters. Please visit our website for more information.

We’d love to hear from you. Daniel Ewen: Chair@WHLP.org.uk

Popping up all over the place

Have you seen us on a street corner near you?

Over the last few months we’ve been setting up our stall on a Saturday morning and talking to local people about what they like about living in Walton and Hersham and what the issues are that really need attention.  Many thanks to everyone who has stopped to chat and share their views. Whilst there was a huge range of issues raised there were also a lot of common themes – and a clear difference between the local areas.
Key in Walton was the lack of affordable rented housing, both the availability of it and the high rents of what is available (both by the council, housing associations and privately) – as well problems associated with the narrowing of Terrace Road, and dog mess on the pavements. Meanwhile in Hersham there were concerns about cuts to local bus services, congested street parking and speeding cars around Hersham Green/Burwood Road.

We also visited Ashley primary school. The roads around Ashley school are very busy, especially at school times. There are nearly 500 children (plus siblings and adults) walking through the school gates at any one time and eventually this will rise to near 700 children. The pavements and crossings around Ashley school are not wide enough. There are only traffic controls on the junction of Ashley road and New Zealand avenue. The Traffic islands in between these crossings are extremely small and the timing of the lights isn’t always long enough to get across the road safely.

Ashley is an excellent school. We must ensure that the pupils’ safety is not compromised and is the primary concern.

We most recently popped up to #CareForTheNHS on 21st January (above). We’re going to keep popping up to find out more about what you think – do stop and tell us.

Nowhere to Live

We are facing the biggest housing crisis in a generation and the Tories have no answers
This government and the previous coalition have completely failed to tackle this serious issue.

In the Walton area the cost of housing has escalated to such an extent that according to the Land Registry price paid data for KT12, between 1995 and 2015 the average house cost has increased by a staggering 495% from £89,475 to £532,500. Frequently young people in particularly, who were born and grew up in the area, are having to move away from their friends and relatives in order to have somewhere of their own to live in.
The provision of social housing is totally inadequate and the availability of shared ownership is practically non-existent.

If anyone wants to know where the Government’s housing priorities lie, it’s there for all to see in The Housing and Planning Act 2016.
A divisive, aggressive, flawed Act, which includes an all-out attack on social housing.
It will lead to the loss of affordable homes.
It fails to help those in the private rented sector.
It fails to offer genuine help to those trying to get on the property ladder.
And it totally fails to help the ever increasing numbers of people up and down the country facing homelessness.
In truth, there’s little of any merit in this Tory Government’s plans for housing.
This is not just a crisis for those who are homeless or those who are living in overcrowded slums. It’s a crisis for all of us.
We are facing the biggest housing crisis in a generation and the Tories have no answers other than building starter homes for the few.

So what would a Labour Housing and Planning Act look like?
We would remove the shackles from local government so they could build the homes of all tenures and infrastructure their communities need.
Labour will commit to building over a million new homes over the next Parliament with half social housing, and invest in the construction skills to tackle the skills shortage and train up a generation.
And through our National Investment Bank and regional development banks, we’ll also provide the necessary infrastructure.
In the private rented sector end of tenancy is a rising cause of homelessness, so we would change the rules on tenancies where a three year lease becomes the norm.
Setting up not-for-profit lettings agencies to promote longer-term, stable tenancies for responsible tenants and good landlords.
Introduce a national standard to ensure private rented properties are fit to live in.
We would reverse the Government’s ‘Pay-to-Stay’ policy and, following the examples set by Wales and Scotland, we will suspend the Right to Buy. The right to buy can only make sense in a time of surplus, in a time of shortage it makes no sense at all.
The difference between us and the Tories is they think housing is about property but we know it’s about homes and life chances.
Only Labour will deliver this desperately needed solution to our housing crisis.

Fat Cat Local Councillors Increase their Allowances and Cut Meals on Wheels

On the 9th December 2016, the councillors of Elmbridge voted themselves an increase in their expenses allowances of 12.4%. At the same time, Surrey County Council cut the support for Meals on Wheels.

What made this insensitive timing even more unpalatable was that the clear majority of councillors who voted for the increase were Liberal Democrats and their coalition partners, the so-called independents, made up largely of local resident associations. Even more surprisingly, when challenged by Walton and Hersham Labour Party to justify this avarice, whilst imposing vicious cuts, they did just that. So much for our caring LibDems/Residents Societies.

The Tories retorted, smugly, that they had voted against an increase but refused to acknowledge that their colleagues in National and County government had slashed the funding, on the vital support for the elderly and needy of this borough. Now the County council want you to fund their excesses by increasing the council tax by 15%. These heartless policies must be replaced with compassion, which, of all the major political parties, only the Labour Party has in abundance.

We’re Hungry

No child growing up and living in poverty should feel shame. They should not feel less valued as a member of society because they have a sibling with special needs or parent with a disability or mental health issue, circumstances beyond their control meaning that they can’t work.  No teenager should feel inferior because they can’t go on the school trip, or even just afford to go into Kingston on the bus with their mates.

No-one should have to rely week after week on food from one of two Foodbanks in Walton and Hersham here in affluent Elmbridge, where house prices are 220% above the national average but where there is also a desperate need for social housing.  Despite 2300 households being on the housing register in 2014, just 40 affordable new homes are being provided in the year up till March 2017.

In North Walton one in five children live in poverty according to official statistics published by Walton Charity in 2014 for Surrey County Council.  That figure should shame us all.

Download a PDF copy here: whlp_newsletter_2017-spring.pdf

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