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Proper consultation needed

February 15, 2013

The Policy and Resources Committee meeting this week commenced with a discussion on the allocation of the Strategic and Community Investment Grants in Kingston. Two considerations for increases in the amounts were bought forward by members of the public who represented Kingston Carers Network and Oxygen. Cllr Karen George and Cllr Howard Jones both supported the rise of funding for Kingston Carers Network. Kingston is behind on the levels of funding per young carer compared to our neighbouring boroughs and this needs to be reviewed.

Cllr David Cunningham and Cllr Howard Jones strongly urged the revival of a sub-group to assess each Grant application, because over the past 3 years it has become apparent that the Council needs to be able to review each grant individually, as in the Neighbourhood Committees, rather than breeze them collectively through the chamber.

The Lib Dems have failed to allow us to properly scrutinise how people’s money is spent and potentially wasted money.

The budget section of P&R brought up a flurry of questions from the Conservative Group. The issue of the Consultation which represented less than 2% of the total population of Kingston and yet justified the raising of Council Tax – despite only 0.9% of the responses being in favour of a rise – was brought forth and highlighted the administration’s willingness to pull a veil over the eyes of Kingston residents.

Overall, the meeting further proved that the Lib Dem Administration don’t have the good of the borough at heart and actually want to spend public money, simply because they can 

Last week’s Comet featured passenger complaints at fare prices and deteriorating services at Surbiton train station. Cllr Karen George said the train company is struggling to handle the influx of people relocating to Surbiton. She said ‘People have discovered how quick the service is from Surbiton to London and the trains are not catering for the volume.’ Cllr George said she would be interested to open negotiations with South West Trains, to discuss how they can improve the service.

Another train story last week was that rail users in Kingston & Surbiton could have their journey times halved under plans to build Crossrail 2, a new line connecting south west and north east London. Cllr Andrew Day, who represents  Chessington North & Hook said ‘Kingston and South of the Borough are very poorly served for train services. If it comes off it will definitely be a boost for the area’.

London Assembly member Tony Arbour said ‘My constituents pack themselves onto some of the busiest trains in Britain, so clearly I will back any proposal that improves conditions for those in Richmond and Kingston’.

 Earlier on this month the Comet wrote that a security lapse and general lack of experience had been blamed for the mistakes that led to a group of travellers pitching up in Kingston last year. An internal review identified two complete failures during the incursion on Fairfield Recreation Ground and Surbiton Fishponds in June 2012. As well as the failings, the report pointed to an outdated protocol for traveller incursions that did not include up to date legal information or leadership guidelines. Conservative Leader Cllr Howard Jones said ‘The bottom line is they were caught with their trousers down and tried to regain the initiative blaming Securitas.’

Finally new streetlamps will soon be installed in the centre of Surbiton. Residents voted for a traditional design to replace the existing lamps. Cllr Karen George said ‘It is highly regrettable we will be losing the lighting we have that gives Surbiton its character. The consultation showed what people were in favour of, but it did not give the choice of the original lamps.’

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