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  • Surrey Boroughs and Districts
    Article: Aug 31, 2020

    The Tory administration at Surrey County Council have proposed, to Boris Johnson's government, the creation of one single 'Monster Surrey' local authority in Surrey. The idea is described as 'revolutionary' (their language) by the Tories and it would be the end of all eleven borough/district councils, including Runnymede Borough Council. Instead they would be merged into Surrey County Council, creating a behemoth of 1.2m residents.

    Liberal Democrats regard this as a shameless power grab by the Conservatives in Surrey, as well as nationally. Having lost their majority in several Surrey boroughs, it's seen as a Tory tactic of trying to stay in control by centralising political power even more than is already the case.

    The 'financially distressed' Surrey is trying to sell the idea of a single Surrey-wide mega council to residents as a way of saving money by making things simpler. But in Runnymede the Lib Dems question whether the Tory scheme is just a guise for robbing our 'piggy bank' as our own finances in the Runnymede Borough Council are robust.

    Liberal Democrats are all for streamlining and economising local government by establishing unitary authorities. But the answer is not in a bloated and wasteful bureaucracy, where residents' needs are compromised and the promised savings evaporate in pursuit of the Tories' ruthless drive for more centralised control.

    Here are five good reasons why we must oppose the Tory plan to create a 'Monster Surrey' authority. Instead we should seek to establish three or four reasonably sized unitary authorities, which are responsive to resident's needs and service-minded in their operations. What's more, being nimble in size and culture they would also save money, not waste it in inefficient bureaucracy.

    Reasons why we should oppose the Tory plan for a single mega-size Surrey authority:

    #1 Surrey residents have been ambushed

    The Tory administration at Surrey County Council has ambushed Surrey's residents by charging ahead with a single 'monster authority' proposal without asking for our opinion. We must insist on a proper and orderly consultation before Boris Johnson with his cabinet of yes-men get to impose the plan on us.

    #2 Financial estimates pie in the sky

    The Tory proposals promise lots of 'back of the envelope' savings by creating one elephantine local authority in Surrey. These are pie in the sky ideas based on estimates by politicians and designed to sell the plan quickly with a 'sign here now' tactic. Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is a sensible reaction to this 'high pressure' sales approach.

    #3 The voice of local people will be marginalised

    A single council of 1.2 million people would be too remote and even more unaccountable as is already the case with Surrey County Council. With all decision-making concentrated in just a few hands for the entire county, the voice of local communities and people will be marginalised and sidelined.

    #4 Surrey have mismanaged their existing services

    Surrey County Council are incompetent and wasteful at managing services as is, let alone coping with the mega-sized bureaucracy required for the whole of Surrey. Would you trust them to do it well? Just check out their poor track record in Fire Services, children's services, roads with potholes, ongoing cuts to social care, mental health and disability services. And yet their management costs remain among the highest of any county council in the country.

    #5 A politically motivated manoeuvre at our residents' expense

    You have to ask why the Tory administration at Surrey County Council and their sponsors in Boris Johnson's Conservative cabinet have decided to embark on 'revolutionising' (their language) our local government in the middle of the worst ever pandemic and with a prospective no-deal Brexit round the corner? What's more they are rushing to do it without any regard for the views and preferences of Surrey's residents. It's nothing but a politically motivated manoeuvre at our residents' expense.

    A better alternative

    Liberal Democrats believe that three or four unitary authorities in Surrey would strike the right balance in terms of democratic accountability, quality of services and value for money. The key principle in any re-organisation of local government must be put to our residents first.

  • Article: Jul 9, 2020

    Countless families are facing serious financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. More than a million people have lost their jobs and many more are worried about losing theirs in the weeks and months ahead.

    We are also facing big challenges in deep-seated inequality and the climate emergency.

    We must ensure no one is left behind.

  • County Hall
    Article: Jul 8, 2020
    By Don Whyte - Group Leader, Runnymede Liberal Democrats

    Surreys Conservative administration have announced their plans to scrap all 11 local borough councils in Surrey and instead administer everything through a single Surrey wide administration. This means that all the services provided by Runnymede Borough Council such as bin collection and planning will be controlled by one Kingston based administration, which is not even in Surrey.

  • Article: Jun 24, 2020

    It's been four years since the EU referendum and the UK has left the EU.

    Liberal Democrats are passionately pro-European and while this is a hard pill to swallow for many of us, the issues now at hand are not about Leave or Remain.

    It is unthinkable that the government would rush through a half-heated deal, or worse get no deal at all.

  • Ways to help Poster
    Article: Jun 22, 2020

    We are looking for members who are able to help out with local party activities so that we are ready for next year's local elections. Please get in touch if you need to know more, any help will be greatly appreciated.