Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Public Meeting and AGM THURSDAY 1ST DECEMBER 2011 at 8.00pm


Public Meeting and AGM
THURSDAY 1ST DECEMBER 2011 at 8.00pm

Every resident in the area is invited to a meeting at
6 Langley Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 6LN

Guest Speaker
Dr Phil Moore

The leading Physician at the Central Surgery, Oakhill Road & one of the surgeries going into the new Health Centre will talk about and answer questions on The new Surbiton Health Centre and our Community - at odds or buddies?

preceded by
The Annual General Meeting of the Association

Receive the annual report
Receive a financial report
Fix the annual subscription for 2012
Elect Officers and Committee of the Association for the
Year 2011-2012
Consider a proposal to have Residents’ Association Candidates at Future Elections
Any Other Business
Close 9.45pm


Oakhill & District Residents’ Association (OADRA), part of the Surbiton Hill Ward, came into being to help look after the interests of the residents of the area, specifically with regard to the environment and planning matters. At the first general meeting of the Association on the 5th May 2010 the need for an Association was overwhelmingly endorsed and an interim committee was established. At the first Annual General Meeting on the 7th October 2010 a committee was voted in and the meeting was addressed by members of the NHS and the Borough Council on the necessity of having a school and a health facility on the Surbiton Hospital site.

From late 2010 until the decision was finally taken on the Hospital site in March 2011, your committee and other committed residents have read hundreds of pages of reports and documents issued by the Council and have undertaken their own studies and demonstrated that there were viable alternatives to putting a school as well as a healthcare centre on the same site. This was argued at numerous meetings. However, in this and in other matters we received no assistance from our Councillors—quite the reverse—and, as you all know, the work on the site is proceeding.

Several things are interesting to note about this saga. The first is that certain Councillors clearly had not read the documentation and just voted for the scheme. Secondly, the parties voted as a group, nobody departed from the Party line either for or against the proposal—quite remarkable. Thirdly, although the plan was to move 8 GP surgeries to the site (and we were told they had been consulted and were in favour of relocating), only four have actually agreed to participate. Fourthly, although the Council argued that the need for a school on this site was overwhelming, because there were so many children in the area needing places, the published criteria for places at the school does not list children who live nearest the school as the top priority. The School Travel Plan assumes that children will come from within half a mile, and that 90% will walk to school. Fifthly, this project (costing some £25 million) has gone ahead despite only 121 local people responding in favour of the joint scheme, out of a claimed 36,000 consulted. Many homes in Oakhill received no consultation papers.

It was clear at last year’s AGM that many residents were strongly in favour of rebuilding the Hospital, but were not convinced about centralising almost all GP practices, by the “ambitious” travel plans, nor by failure to explore other options for a school. The people of Surbiton raised money originally to buy the land for healthcare, and a covenant on the land forbade a school. Now it seems we are buying part of the land again, for several millions of pounds (although details of the deal with the NHS seem to be secret).

Other matters in which the committee has been involved have been enforcement of the Planning Inspector’s decision regarding Tudor Lodge—still a live issue, despite the fact that councillors at a Neighbourhood Committee gave six months for works to be completed, one year ago. Also, the Police Federation Building and the road humps in Langley Road. In all of these cases, the Councillors were at the least ineffectual.

On a larger scale, the new RBK Core Strategy (part of the Local Plan), which will affect everyone who lives in the Borough for the next 15 years, has been through the Examiner’s review. Representatives from your Association attended some of the examination hearings, after making comments on the draft. We await the Examiner’s decision soon. One major impact in our area will be the proposed development of homes on Surbiton Station car park, and the likely reduction of car parking spaces there. The Association will keep a close watch on what is proposed.

The lack of care and attention to the views of the residents of our area has led us to consider the desirability of having our own Residents’ Association candidates standing for Borough election in 2014. They would be free of Party Political interference and able to concentrate on what is good for the Ward as well as for the Borough. Discussions have begun with other Residents’ Associations in the Borough to see if this idea will catch on. Our neighbours Epsom and Ewell have had a successful Residents’ Association-led Council for very many years, and Elmbridge and Mole Valley have Residents’ Association Councillors.

It has been a hectic year for the committee and I should like to thank the members for their hard work. Special mention must be made of the work done by Alan Manchester who really led the Association’s research on the Hospital site and the new Core Strategy, and spent very many hours reading documents and responding to the inconsistencies which lay therein. Special thanks are also due to Graham Goldspring as our Publicity officer who kept the OADRA name to the fore, with several articles and letters being published in the Informer (now defunct), Guardian and Surrey Comet newspapers.

In order that we can progress as an Association and monitor what is happening in the Borough and make our voice heard on behalf of the residents, we need more people to become members of the Association, and for some to give a few hours a month to serve on the committee or as road representatives. We hope to see you at the AGM on 1st December and to hear your views about the issues that concern you.

Robert Lewis - Chairman

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Surbiton Hill By-Election - Thursday 15 September 2011

We have recently received the latest edition of Focus from the Liberal Democrats. It has once again distorted the facts.

1. With regard to the hospital site, they talk about positive consultations, whereas the truth was that what the majority of people wanted was completely ignored - the consultations were a SHAM. It was politically driven and the result was already a forgone conclusion. No attempt was made to find alternative sites for a school.

2. They say it has been a pleasure to meet residents and to hear their views BUT in no instance have there views been acted upon
a. Langley Road the humps and road works will cost over £20,000 of tax payers money, with practically no justification
b. Tudor Lodge.It is well over 6 months since the owners were told to complete the works. The concrete is still in place. It is hardly accurate to claim the delay was caused by lengthy indecision by previous councillors.
It was this set of councillors who have kept the delay going.
c. Police Federation - our councillors did very little to support the case against building in the back gardens. They hardly opened their mouths and the residents themselves had to try in their allotted 5 minutes to make the case, which was not pushed by our councillors. The running was made by councillors outside the ward who had no interest in preserving the area.

Now Councillor Parekh is resigning. We shall always be at the beck and call of Party Politics unless we can find our own Resident Association Councillors who live in the ward and represent the wishes of the people in the ward. Is there someon in the Ward who would be willing to start the ball rolling and stand for election. Time is short.

Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate must complete a nomination paper and hand deliver it to the Returning Officer before NOON on Thursday 18 August 2011.

For voters
The deadline for registering to vote at the by-election is midnight on Wednesday 31 August 2011.
The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5.00pm on Wednesday 31 August 2011.
The deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 5.00pm on Wednesday 7 September 2011.

Robert Lewis - Chairman of Oakhill and District Residents' Association

Friday, 4 March 2011

Development Committee Meeting 3rd March 2011

The farce continued at the DC meeting on Thursday when Councillors met to determine the hospital site planning application. It was as expected a foregone conclusion with the Liberal Democrat majority following the party line set by their leader Ed Davey voting for the proposal and the Conservative minority voting against.

Lip service was paid to the excellent case presented by the members of OADRA and others, but it was a gesture towards democracy – a sop to the masses. Councillor Parekh on three occasions stated how he was the Ward representative, but he represented nobody except his party’s interests. It will ever be thus until we have Residents’ Association Councillors who actually live and have an allegiance to the Ward. We should be thinking seriously about this.

One member of OADRA, who has spoken before, also spoke in favour of the proposal, but unfortunately he was not concerned with the alternatives that exist.

The OADRA Committee are looking at what they can do next. The proposal has to be approved by the Greater London Office, and we shall try and influence them. We could do with a good planning lawyer in the Association – step forward any volunteers!

Thanks to all the people and members from other resident associations who turned up to hear the proceedings – it was a salutary lesson, with a wonderfully biased summing up by Madam Chairman.

Monday, 28 February 2011


Over 100 residents of Surbiton requested that the Executive Report to Council of January 2011 should be called in and reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee as it was believed the Executive had:

• Failed to consider alternative sites despite the frequent requests of local residents to do so
• The Council is trying to push through this decision with undue haste and inadequate consultation with local residents
• The environmental concerns of residents have been brushed aside
• The proposal involves the demolition of buildings of townscape merit in a conservation area
• RBK does not own the site and will have to purchase it when other sites within its ownership are available

Planning matters could not be considered as that was for the DC committee on the 3rd March.

A strong case was made by Graham Goldspring, supported by Paul Johnston, Robert Lewis and Alan Manchester, but we fell foul of supposedly sensitive legal information which the committee had before them and which we were not allowed to see. The whole scenario fell into the realms of farce with Councillors not able to speak about “sensitive” matters which fell into the mysterious “part 2”. Apparently some of this sensitive material referred to the NHS’ legal team advice on the covenant question.

The upshot was that the Chairman found there was no case for reference of these items back to the Executive or to the Council as a result of the material they could see but we could not. So much for democracy and open government!

We also tried to have the Liberal Democrats removed from the DC committee and certainly our local representative as they had already made up their minds and had illustrated their support in copies of the Liberal Democrat leaflet, Focus. That was somehow left in the air.

Your OADRA representatives will continue to make their case at the DC meeting on the 3rd March at Guildhall from 7.30pm, but we shall only have 5 minutes to make our case. We need your support at this meeting. Come in your thousands!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

OADRA Comment on the latest circulation of Focus

The latest circulation of Focus from our Lib Dem Councillors has made one or two assertions that do not suggest that our Councillors are working for their Ward.

On the hospital site application, they state that “After a lengthy and lively discussion at the recent Surbiton Neighbourhood meeting, the views of the whole community in the Surbiton area will be forwarded to the council for a decision which is expected to be made on March 3rd.”

The words “whole community in the Surbiton area area” are underlined inferring that Oakhill will hardly have a say.

There is no mention of perhaps there could be other sites.

They also mention the proposal going to the council. Well of course it isn’t. It is going to the Development Committee which is a small subset of the council and on which one of our Ward councillors sit.

There is a reference to the Police Federation Building and they say “At a recent Surbiton Neighbourhood meeting, the future of this iconic building was agreed. ___Your councillors raised their, and residents, objections to the inclusion of 4 inappropriately designed terrace houses at the rear. However, this was overruled by other councillors present (from both parties)”

Anyone who was at that meeting will know what a travesty of the truth that statement is. The residents in the 5 minutes available did their best to raise objections but the councillors restricted themselves to asking a couple of questions of the officers and then making no further comment. The best that could be said for them was they voted against the proposal, knowing the others were going to vote in favour.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Points Made By Robert Lewis at the Neighbourhood Planning Meeting of 2nd Feb 2011

(not necessarily in the order made)

1. The proposal has all the hallmarks of two parties, in this case someone from the NHS and someone from RBK, apparently driven by Mr. Davey, dreaming up this scheme and then asking consultants to justify it. Just read the consultants’ reports carefully and see all the caveats they have put on their findings.

2. The consultation period has been too short for such a major development which will affect the Borough for over 50 years. Our team in the time allowed has found many flaws and inconsistencies and we are still finding them.

3. We are concerned that no mention is made of how this project is going to be funded. No mention of our concern is made in the papers prepared for you by the Officers, but it is raised in our paper. What it costs the Council Tax payer is of vital concern. If it is a PFI as we have heard it will be, then we all know that this can come at a high price over very many decades.

4. There is over development especially as there are other alternatives available and especially as it is stated that the space for the school is about 15% below the minimum standard for primary schools; we believe that if one considers the nursery and special needs, this could be even less.

5. Playing fields has been dropped completely from the proposal

6. The consultants state for the school as if it was a fait accompli that the school will undertake a number of measures to ensure that the number of children travelling to school by car is less than 21%. But it isn’t a fait accompli and may not be achievable and then what. There isn’t like in every other case a plan B.

7. The travel plan states that it is expected that 22% of the 100 plus staff at the Health Centre will travel by car – so it proposes 12 parking spaces – EXCLAMATION MARK.

8. There is no evidence that alternative sites were carefully considered. If one looked at the 80 page Government Guidelines on new Primary Sector schools, Kingston could negotiate to use the land behind Newant House, which has been derelict for 20 plus years, as a two form entry infants’ school. This would allow safe access to Fishponds for their open space requirements. The Junior school could be housed in a redeveloped King Charles Centre. This would allow safe crossing to the playing fields in the first part of Alexandra Rec. The Adult Education could be in a purpose built block on the Hospital or Dysart ground. The advantages are that one could start immediately with the infants’ school and delay the start of the junior school. Alternatively if there was an immediate need for junior school places one could offer them as well. And there are other options which are in our document.

9. We are not the only people making objections. Can there be another agenda, perhaps financial behind all this? To make the sums balance? If so we and I hope the Councillors also, have not been privy to this information.

Mr. Stephen Glands made the points

1. The present DC team are all bought in to the scheme so they cannot give an unprejudiced review of the applications. We request that an independent adjudicator sees over proceedings on 3rd March.

2. We request that more robust, evidence based transport studies are done

3. Full information provided about funding and the finances of the proposed scheme.

4. Full cost analysis of other potential sites and full information about why they were turned down by way of comparison with the hospital site.
There was one person from the floor who spoke in favour of the scheme. He said we were letting down hundreds of children some as yet unborn if the Council did not proceed with the scheme. He blamed 200 people for trying to stop the scheme going ahead. It was pointed out that the Council had had plenty of time to find alternative schemes but had refused to consider any other scheme and it was not the fault of the residents if the scheme was a bad planning application..