Posts Tagged ‘SW Surrey’

Mike Simpson discusses pressure for housing in Badshot Lea. The Tory controlled Waverley Council are considering doubling the size of the village!

Why is Badshot Lea being targeted by Tory-controlled Waverley Borough Council for major housing development which would double the size of the settlement?

In February I spent an afternoon with Badshot Lea Councillors, looking around the village and the neighbouring green spaces. I was shocked to read the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment which suggests that the village might accommodate another 950 homes. The village clearly could not cope with such growth and the level of developer’s contributions would not be adequate to rectify major infrastructure problems in and around the village. In any case much of the land is unsuitable due to its frequent flooding.

Waverley Borough Council commissioned Baker Associates to conduct the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and Badshot Lea is the largest housing site identified by them, with one area alone being earmarked for up to 850 houses.

The refusal to agree to the proposed eco-settlement at Dunsfold will inevitably lead to huge pressures on other areas to take major housing development. I will be urging Waverley Council to ensure a fair and reasoned approach to the allocation of housing and that at least 25% of any new housing is affordable housing for local families. Once again Farnham is being pushed by Waverley Council to take the pressure off other areas, but if past experience is anything to go by, Farnham will not get the facilities and services it needs to cope.

Hunt is said to be taking an interest in the issue, but he really needs to lobby his fellow Conservatives and get them to see sense over this issue. I suspect that, with the General Election coming up, there might be a re-think, at least for the time being.

Please can everyone join the Facebook Group ‘Help Dan’ – he’s a guy from Godalming – as the Facebook Group says, ‘Daniel Eley, a wonderful young man who used to work with street children in South America and is currently teaching English at a school in Cali, Colombia, had a terrible accident on 1st Jan 2010. He dived into a river in a remote area and broke vertebrae in his neck.’ He needs our help. Click here to go to the Help Dan Facebook group
Dan’s family need financial help to pay for an air ambulance to get him home to the UK. Give to the appeal to raise funds by clicking here.

Jeremy Hunt tried to claim for a 1p phone call

The Conservative MP for South West Surrey won the award for the most penny-pinching expense claim, as all the national newspapers told us today. Jeremy Hunt, who last summer was estimated by the Spectator Magazine to be worth £4.1 million, tried to claim for a 1p mobile phone call.
And it wasn’t some technical error. The claim was actually hand written!
Like my mother would say, “Look after the pennies ….”

See the actual claim by clicking here

For the Spectator report estimating Jeremy’s wealth click here

Updated 2nd June 2009 10.15 hrs
Last Friday Jeremy Hunt MP held a public meeting to explain himself over his expenses.

In response to my questions Mr Hunt admitted that the Conservative Party Agent for the area has lived rent-free in his taxpayer funded ‘second home’ in Farnham.

Current Parliamentary rules say,

‘Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation’.

The 2006 rules said,

‘You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA (second home) claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money. You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is obtaining immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation.’

Taxpayers are entitled to ask why we are paying for the Conservative Party’s professional agent to have free accommodation at taxpayers expense in Jeremy Hunt’s second home.

Jeremy Hunt said at the public meeting that he thought this was for just 7 months ‘after the election’ and that he had allowed her to use a room, but after I emailed him to ask him to explain how his agent was on the electoral roll up to September 2008, Mr Hunt changed his account of events.

He now says that she lived there for over 2 years after the election.

In contrast local residents interviewed by a reporter said that they ‘never see’ Jeremy Hunt at the address.

Jeremy Hunt says that his Hammersmith address is his main home. He has owned this property from October 1997.

In the interests of genuine ‘transparency’ I call on Jeremy Hunt to explain himself fully. Perhaps he might explain to his electorate why he thought it was OK to have his Political Agent live at his taxpayer-funded ‘second home’. We await with much interest his attempt to justify this sorry state of affairs.

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

Mike Simpson has called on the Conservative MP for South West Surrey to explain why he has claimed over £37,000 in his first 3 years as an MP for ‘the cost of staying away from his main home’, rather than commute to London from Farnham. Farnham is just 45 miles from Westminster and trains take less than an hour to Waterloo.

Mike Simpson, the new Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate says “If Mr Hunt think he needs a third home he should tell us how he justifies the expense to the taxpayer”.

The figures published for Jeremy Hunt, for the first 3 years he has been an MP, show that he claimed an average of £12,566 per year despite having a home in Farnham and a ‘half-share of a holiday house in Italy’. He is also reported (by the Spectator Magazine) to own a home in Hammersmith. You can read the Spectator report on Jeremy Hunt’s wealth and property by clicking here.

‘Extraordinary’ expense

Mike Simpson said, “If Mr Hunt does not own a home in Hammersmith it begs the question where does he live? He is now claiming ‘SECOND HOME’ expenses for his home in Farnham! It is extraordinary that the Conservative MP claims thousands of pounds every year for accommodation, when so many of his constituents commute into London. There are plenty of late trains or he could drive the 45 miles back to his home in Farnham. He is a wealthy man and I wonder why he thinks the taxpayer should pick up the tab if he chooses to have a third home somewhere else.”

Mike Simpson would commute to Westminster if elected

Mike Simpson has made a commitment that if he is elected he will commute to London and would not be charging the taxpayer for any second home expenses. “As I am not an MP at present, I can’t afford two homes, let alone three and if elected I can say now that I would not claim a penny for a second home. I just can’t see how Jeremy Hunt justifies at least £37,000 in 3 years for an alternative home paid for by the taxpayer. In addition to this money we have still not been told how much he has claimed for 2008/9. Why is he keeping silent on these matters?”

Other amounts claimed by Jeremy Hunt

Mr Hunt also claimed over £54,000 from the ‘The Incidental Expenses Provision’, which can be used ‘to meet the cost of: accommodation for office or surgery use; equipment and supplies for office or surgery; work commissioned or other services; and certain travel and communications’.

He also claimed £10,668 in 2007/8 from the ‘Communications Allowance’, which includes paying for websites and constituency newsletters.

These expenses exclude the substantial sums claimed for staff to support his work.

Mike Simpson Liberal Democrat candidate for South West Surrey in the May 2010 General Election

Who would be an M.P. these days? It’s a hard life for them travelling between multiple residences, having to submit expense claims for every can of cat food or bag of manure, arranging to have one’s swimming pool cleaned on the state… and all for a salary of just £64,000 plus tax free expenses which are embarrassingly splashed across the front pages.

Once upon a time it was an honour to be elected as a Member of Parliament. The scandal that has been rightly exposed over the last week or so is no joke. We need to shake up our whole political system and make politicians much more accountable for their behaviour. Part of the problem is the fact that MPs seem to expect to live a privileged existence at taxpayers’ expense.

There are of course good M.P.s in all Parties, but not enough of them understand ordinary people’s lives and struggles.

When there are such dire economic circumstances and we face so many huge challenges, it is critical that people can trust their elected representatives to act honourably and without duplicity. It is clearly not good enough for M.P.s to say, ‘I kept to the rules’, because they drew up the rules allowing themselves to rip off the taxpayers. It is especially galling when the rest of us have to tighten our belts.

I aspire to be the M.P. for South West Surrey, but the torrent of shocking news about M.P.’s expenses makes me wonder how few people will even turn out to vote at the next General Election. The number of people using the phrase, ‘You’re all as bad as each other’ is likely to rocket and who can blame people for thinking that?

The problem is that the political class don’t want to give up any of their power or the accompanying perks. They have the same attitude as the top bankers who have so comprehensively messed up our economy. We must challenge the politicians and make them genuinely accountable to the public, because they, along with the bankers, have failed us so spectacularly. Challenging those in power, particularly for the sake of the less powerful, is one reason why I am in politics. And I still believe it can be a noble profession.

You can read more about my background and experience by clicking ‘About Mike Simpson’

Mike Simpson has been selected as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey. He secured 80% of the votes of party members.

Mike says, “Now the real work begins – winning the votes of the people of South West Surrey. I don’t underestimate how much hard work I will have to put in to achieve that, but I think increasingly people are having doubts about the desirability of having another Tory government. The Liberal Democrats are certainly coming up in the opinion polls and that’s partly because we have consistently shown wisdom in our economic policies and a strong standing with the public on environmental and civil liberties issues.”

Tory Failure in Surrey

Mike Simpson says, “Today Lord Laming presented his review of child protection services. The Tories said it was an ‘indictment of the state of child protection’ in England. I say that is hypocritical given the scandalous state of child protection services in Tory-controlled Surrey, a wealthy County with services rated as low as Haringey, infamous for the Baby P scandal.

Tory-run Surrey is one of only four Council’s to be awarded just one star by the Audit Commission for its performance in 2008.

This came after Ofsted’s Joint Area Review (JAR), published in July, found the Tory run County Council was failing vulnerable children.

The Audit Commission’s summary of Surrey County Council said: “Services for vulnerable children and young people do not meet minimum requirements and safeguarding is inadequate.”

Shockingly the JAR had revealed that council workers in contact with vulnerable youngsters had not even undergone Criminal Records Bureau Checks (CRB).

Disabled children were also found to be staying at home because there was not enough care for them at school and teenage abortion rates were among the highest in the UK.

I have managed services for vulnerable young people for many years and I know how tough it can be to deliver the highest standards but the response of the Tories in Surrey is truly shocking. Astonishingly, instead of accepting the need to improve services, the Tory controlled Council has applied to the High Court for a review of Ofsted’s assessment of its children’s services. The Tory leader of Surrey said the appeal to the High Court was necessary because a one-star rating would lead to increased inspections for the council, which would cost more money!

Lord Laming said that child protection issues in England had not been given “the priority they deserved” and that a lack of funding had made child protection a “Cinderella service”.

That has certainly been the case in Tory-controlled Surrey.

It is nothing short of a disgrace. I am sorry to say that this fits the pattern of the Conservative approach to services for the vulnerable and it is one more reason why we cannot afford to have a return to Conservative government in our country.

View Lord Laming’s full report here.

Read more about Mike Simpson

In the recession some recyclable materials are piling up as the market price plummets.

The introduction of fortnightly bin collections in Waverley shortly before the 2007 Council elections was one reason our Party fared so badly in that election, especially as many residents believed the Tories were promising to bring back weekly collections. Even the Tories own website quotes one resident saying, “It was with hope that the Conservatives would make a significant change to the re-cycling arrangements that many people voted for them. This clearly is not going to happen and is very disappointing”.

Mike Simpson says, “The public feel misled by the Tories over waste collections. There is still a lot of anger on this issue especially in the recent winter weather when many bins were not emptied for 4 weeks! Local papers were full of complaints.”

Read more about Mike Simpson

I spent Saturday in Godalming and Haslemere meeting people and enjoying the Spring-like sunshine up at Gibbet Hill, Hindhead. What a fine County. But already I have heard about a number of planning issues which threaten that special environment. I talked through some of this with a friend who is a senior planning inspector (they’re not all bad!) The Liberal Democrats need to be on the right side of these issues, preserving the County’s special character. Read more about Mike Simpson