Town masterplan revealed

Guildford Borough Council has published its draft masterplan for the town centre and six weeks of public consultation on it will start in October.

A key focus of the masterplan is reconnecting the town centre with the riverside area and tackling traffic problems and an overview of some of its key features has been described in a Guilford Dragon Article. Key features include two preferred options to close the gyratory system, pedestrianising North Street and potentially making the town centre a car free zone. Above all the masterplan will be used at the heart of the 20 year local plan and is meant to create more housing, office space and shopping areas while making the overall urban environment more open and attractive.

Artists impression of how the riverside could look when looking across to where the car park in front of the George Abbott pub currently is

For those interested the full draft masterplan can be seen here (warning: large file).

Commenting on it Lib Dem Councillor Caroline Reeves, leader of the opposition on Guildford Borough Council said:

Leader of the opposition at Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) said: “I am very pleased that this is now moving forward, we need to have a clear direction for the town so that we can stamp the identity we want on future development.

“The importance of our heritage and the countryside around us has been acknowledged, as well as the need to enhance the river and improve life for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Improvements to our traffic management are key to the future success for the town and we need to ensure that when the final Town Centre Masterplan is agreed, we hold our nerve and create a town for future generations to enjoy, and where business can continue to flourish.

“I look forward to talking with residents during the course of the consultation, we need everyone to really engage with this important document for the future of our town.”

Onslow bus service safe under Surrey proposals

The number 18 Onslow circular bus service is safe under proposals published by Surrey county council following a review intended to save £2 million across Surrey. This follows a consultation where Onslow residents wrote in to make the case for the importance of the number 18 bus service to our community.

The proposals produced by Surrey county council will now go out to a second consultation but no changes are proposed to bus services affecting Onslow directly. You can read the proposals here and you can find out how to respond to them here.

Commenting on the news, local Onslow Liberal Democrat campaigner George Potter said:

“This is very welcome news. Since the number 18 bus is subsidised by the county council there was a real worry it could have been hit by the planned £2 million of cuts to the transport budget but under these proposals it’s safe for at least the next financial year.

“It is disappointing that there are no improvements proposed to the number 18 route – such as more buses at times of day when people might need to use it to get to work or a Sunday service – but these are things we can try and lobby for in the future.

“For now everyone in Onslow who responded to the consultation deserves a big thank you for helping to keep our bus service – especially Onslow Village Residents Association who did a lot of work to encourage people to respond to the consultation.”


Landlord accreditation scheme launches

A new accreditation scheme for landlords in Guildford has been launched following work by a Liberal Democrat councillor. Under the new voluntary scheme landlords and agents have to meet certain standards of property maintenance and tackling anti-social behaviour and in return institutions like the University of Surrey promote these landlords to people looking for accommodation.

The scheme came from a council group led by Lib Dem Councillor Caroline Reeves and aims to raise standards in private rented accommodation both for tenants and for neighbours. The scheme is funded by Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey in partnership.

The new scheme is especially good news for Onslow neighbourhoods like Ashended, Dennisville and Guildford Park where the number of houses of multiple occupancy have increased dramatically in recent years.

Talking about the scheme, Cllr Caroline Reeves said:

“I have lived in the same house for 27 years, very close to the town centre, and have seen the changes in the community now that so many homes are let to families or tenants sharing.

“Houses of Multiple Occupancy or ‘HMOs’ are the only way that many can live in the town, and increasingly it’s young professionals not students who have to share. As a ward councillor, I receive complaints from both tenants and the neighbours of rented properties, and it seemed to me that there must be a way of ensuring that as an authority we can help all concerned.

“We worked together with the University of Surrey and Surrey Students’ Union and obtained input from all our further education bodies plus a number of agents and landlords, to design a scheme which will provide improved quality assurance for all landlords, letting agents, tenants and their neighbours.”

Thank you!

The results of the local elections are in and Onslow has elected Tony Phillips and David Goodwin as Liberal Democrat councillors for our area (along with Adrian Chandler for the Conservatives).

We all just want to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for us in the local elections. Your support and trust means the world to us – and to those who didn’t vote for us this time we’re determined to try and win your trust by the time of the next election.

The next priority for all of us in the Onslow Lib Dem team is to keep on working hard for local people, particularly over the local plan, and to do our best to help local people with any issues they’re facing.

The national result was very disappointing for the Liberal Democrats but here in Guildford we managed to retain 9 seats on Guildford Borough Council meaning we stay as the official opposition. And we’re determined to hold the Conservative administration to account on behalf of the people of Guildford over the next four years and to fight for the policies of our local manifesto which you voted for.

Finally, with the new Conservative government already announcing attacks on support for the disabled, human rights and massive new assaults on civil liberties it’s more important than ever that there is a strong liberal voice in Britain to fight for what’s right.

That’s why it’s been absolutely incredible to see that over 11,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats nationally since the election with our membership in Guildford increasing by 20%. So if you believe in our values and that Britain needs a strong liberal voice now more than ever the why not join us?

Balancing the books

Since the Liberal Democrats took office in 2010, 53,900 Guildford residents have enjoyed an average £800 pound annual tax cut and 3,100 low earners have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether. There have also been 3,900 new business start-ups in the Guildford area which have benefited from over £150,000 of loans championed by Liberal Democrat policy.

Today the UK has the strongest growth of the major world economies since the crash of 2008.

It has record numbers in work, low inflation and rising business investment. Whilst life for many families remains challenging, pay levels are starting to rise faster than the cost of living. Without the Liberal Democrats in government this recovery would not be happening.

Our policies of cutting taxes for working people, of boosting apprenticeships, of driving up investment in the regions are at the heart of the recovery. Since the Liberal Democrats took office in 2010, 53,900 Guildford residents have enjoyed an £800 pound annual tax cut and 3,100 low earners have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether. There have also been 3,900 new business start- ups in the Guildford area with the benefit of loans to the value of over £150,000 championed by Liberal Democrat policy.

Yet the economic repair is not complete. We aim to find around £30 billion to close the gap between what we spend and what we raise in taxes. However, national insurance, VAT, income tax and corporation tax rates will remain the same. In fact, one of our main acts in the first year of the next Parliament would be to further reduce income tax for millions of workers by raising the personal allowance to £11,000.

The Tories propose to tackle the deficit by cutting public spending alone – this is unfair. It leaves those on low and middle incomes to endure most hardship from the austerity measures. Instead, we ask that those with the broadest shoulders carry their fair share of the burden by increasing taxes.

We will raise £8 billion in tax measures targeted at ensuring the wealthiest continue to make a contribution and that large businesses pay their fair share. These include:

  • introducing a High Value Property Levy;
  • increasing charges for those who own UK property but are not living here;
  • increasing the Banking Levy (an annual tax paid by banks).

Our parliamentary candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell said “This approach is sustainable and fair. It asks something from everyone, but the most from those who have the most. We believe that both the Labour and Tory parties, by themselves, would jeopardise the recovery. The Conservatives’ policy of cuts alone would have damaging social and economic consequences. Whilst Labour has theoretically signed up to tackling the deficit by 2017/18, they appear to have no concrete plans to meet this goal at all. For them, it’s deficit reduction on the ‘never, never’. Our proposal is the only plan that keeps the foundations of our economic recovery intact.”

Students out litter picking again

Last Wednesday (the 25th of February) myself and other students from the University of Surrey were once again out picking up litter in residential areas. Five bags of rubbish were collected by volunteers in Guildford Park Avenue.

What’s more, the University of Surrey Students Union (USSU) is making plans to organise a litter picking session of their own in the area between the main entrance to the university and the Tesco roundabout. Anyone who’s walked through the area will know that there is a serious ongoing problem with litter so it’s great that the USSU is taking the initiative to do something about it.

And for anyone who wants to organise their own litter picking session it’s surprisingly easy. The council can provide loans of equipment (including bags, gloves, litter pickers and hi-vis jackets) and collect the rubbish afterwards if you contact them (01483 50 50 50) so all you really need to do is find volunteers and set a date. And if you do decide to organise one, don’t forget to invite us – we’ll happily come along to help if we can!

OVRA Annual General Meeting on 10th March

Onslow Village Residents Association (OVRA) will be having their annual general meeting on Tuesday 10th of March at Onslow Village Hall with people being asked to arrive at 7.15pm for a 7.45pm start.

Entry is free to members of the residents association or £3 for non members.

The meeting will be followed by a talk by Jenny Seagrove from the Mane Chance Sanctuary in Compton which rescues abandoned, neglected and abused horses and rehabilitates them.

For more details of OVRA you can visit their website.

£300 million extra to help local businesses

It’s been announced that the Regional Growth Fund, launched in 2010 by Nick Clegg, will be getting an extra £300 million to invest in local businesses.

So far almost £3 billion has been invested in regional companies through the fund, helping them to expand and take on more staff. Local businesses from any sector are able to apply for funding, with over £1.1 billion invested in manufacturing already.

The range of companies taking advantage of the RGF is simply astounding with everything from universities and aerospace companies to green energy producers. The variety of industries taking part in the scheme is testament to the Liberal Democrats desire to see balanced growth across the whole of the UK and not just in London.

In terms of funding the scheme, public money is being bolstered by private investment. For every £1 invested through the RGF, the private sector has put in £5.50 and the total investment of private sector support is expected to reach £16 billion.

The Regional Growth Fund has so far created over 100,000 jobs and a further 480,000 are expected by the mid-2020s.

Charity Quiz on 6th March

The Rotary Club will be holding a quiz to raise money for charity on Friday the 6th of March at St Peter’s School, Horseshoe Lane East, Guildford. People are asked to arrive at 7.15pm for a 7.45pm start.

The quiz is in aid of the Harlow Project and the Royal Surrey County Hospital Charitable Fund along with other Rotary charities. Tickets are priced at £15 including a two course supper and teams should be 4 to 8 people in size. The quiz will include a bar, raffle and prizes.

Anyone interested in tickets should contact Des Flanders (01483 573814) or Martin Grant (01483 454224).

Give your views on new levy on developers

Guildford Borough Council is asking for feedback on its proposals for how much developers will have to pay towards the cost of local infrastructure in the future.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a new charge system which lets councils fund, provide, replace or maintain infrastructure (such as transport, schools, GPs surgeries and playgrounds) with funds raised from new developments with the council deciding how much has to be paid per square metre of development.

The consultation runs until 1 March 2015 so if you want to make your views heard then you can respond to the online survey here.

Shared parental leave introduced

From this April, new rules brought in by Liberal Democrats mean that working parents will now be able to split up to 50 weeks of maternity and paternity leave between them however they like. This includes up to 37 weeks of paid leave and is on top of two weeks guaranteed paid leave for the mother.

Lib Dems believe that its important for parents to have the choice and flexibility to decide for themselves how they share caring for a newborn child and leave from work which is why we’ve ended the system where parents were much more restricted in what they could do. Fathers in particular were only allowed two weeks of paternity leave and could only take additional paternity leave if their partner returned to work.

Click here to calculate your parental leave allowance under the new rules.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem Minister for Business, Women and Equalities, who pushed for the changes writes:

“A couple might opt for father to take the entire 50 weeks of shared parental leave or to take an extra three or four weeks at home just after baby is born. A mother might take the first four months, with father taking over when she goes back to work, or a couple could opt to stay at home together for up to six months. Each family can now work out what will work best for them.

Shared parental leave will help to create a family-friendly culture in the workplace where it is just as normal for fathers and partners to take on childcare responsibilities as mothers. Mothers and adopters will have real choice about when they return to work, fathers will have more time to bond with their children, children will have better outcomes.”

8.3 million families benefit twice from Lib Dem tax cut, new analysis reveals

8.3m families will benefit twice from the Liberal Democrat tax cut, new analysis has revealed.

Thanks to Liberal Democrats increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,600, these families will on average be £1,330 better off each year.

New research using HM Treasury’s tax and benefit model shows that our flagship policy of increasing the amount that people can earn before they pay income tax is vital in creating a fairer society.

Income tax cuts for working people were a top priority for Liberal Democrats when we entered the coalition in 2010 and one which we are proud to have delivered for millions of people.

In government Liberal Democrats have fought tooth and nail to deliver a tax cut worth £825 for more than 26m working people – something which the Conservatives said was not affordable.

And by raising the personal tax allowance to £10,600 we have lifted more than 3m people out of paying tax altogether.

As well as helping families make their money go further we’re also lifting the lowest paid out of paying tax.

By April:

340,000 sales and retail assistants will no longer pay tax.

169,000 care workers and home carers will no longer pay tax.

162,000 cleaners will no longer pay tax.

136,000 catering assistants will no longer pay tax.

91,000 teaching assistants will no longer pay tax.

Rubbish on the streets?

Many residents have complained to us about foxes tearing apart bin bags and leaving a mess of rubbish on the streets.

If you see rubbish strewn across the road and pavement please report it to Guildford Borough Customer Services on 01483 505050  or

We’ve also received complaints about wheelie bins being left out on the street past collection day. We can all help by putting our rubbish and recycling out the evening before collection and wheelie bins should be brought in after collection. So, if you know of houses that are abusing this please report it to Customer Services.

Ultimately, it’s a real shame when the guidance for wheelie bins isn’t followed as it can make things very difficult for those using wheelchairs or parents with pushchairs.