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.
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.”
Under the Localism Act 2011 it’s now possible for local communities to develop and implement a neighbourhood plan introducing planning guidelines and requirements for their communities. After speaking to local residents it seems clear that getting a neighbourhood plan for Onslow would be the best way of dealing with multiple problems which currently slip through the cracks.
For example, in Ashenden and other estates it’s clear that there’s a problem with family homes being bought up and converted into houses of multiple occupancy with families being slowly priced out of the area, damaging the local community. Yet in other parts of the country where they’d had this problem neighbourhood plans have introduced policies to ensure balanced communities, such as Exeter.
Neighbourhood plans can also cover things like protecting green and community spaces, identifying ways in which the local area can be improved and which kind of developments should go where.
It’s not possible for a neighbourhood plan to contradict the council’s own Local Plan but it does provide a way for a community to decide what the local planning priorities are in detail.
The first step on the road to a Neighbourhood Plan is the creation of a representative Neighbourhood Forum and the last step is a binding local referendum on the proposed Neighbourhood Plan with lots of consultation, participation and drafting in between.
Unfortunately, with Guildford council’s decision to delay the finalisation of the Local Plan until after the general election it seems unlikely that any Neighbourhood Plan could be drawn up until the Local Plan’s been published. But that’s no reason that work on the preliminary step of setting up a Neighbourhood Forum couldn’t start before then.
So, if I’m elected next May I’ll do all I can to make sure that we get a Neighbourhood Plan for Onslow Ward. And between now and then I’ll be speaking to local residents about the idea to find people interested in forming a Neighbourhood Forum as a starting point. After all, something like this really needs to be led by members of the community and not just by politicians.
Guildford Borough Council’s Conservative administration have been forced to take the Local Plan back to the drawing board.
Following widespread public objections, the draft local plan for Guildford, which proposes building 2,500 homes on Blackwell Farm in the greenbelt north of the Hog’s Back, will be consulted on for a third time following May’s local elections. The first consultation took place over the summer and resulted in 18,000 comments from 6,500 individuals.
The news comes following a Lib Dem freedom of information request which revealed that the bungled plan to build 13,040 has already cost the taxpayer £250,000.
Guildford Liberal Democrats previously voted against the draft plan going out to the original consultation on the grounds that it was flawed and premature.
Onslow Lib Dem councillor Tony Phillips commented “Guildford Lib Dems voted against the draft Plan going out for consultation, it just wasn’t ready. We thought the consultation was premature and sadly we have been proved right. It cost a lot of money to run this consultation, and local taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill again next year.”
We’re now calling for two key changes to the Council’s approach to the Local Plan, to make sure that the Council gets it right this time:
The proposed housing target needs to be evaluated. It would lead to massive traffic congestion, environmental degradation and unnecessary loss of precious Green Belt countryside.
The Local Plan should be produced bottom-up: the Borough Council must consult and involve all Borough Councillors and the communities they represent in the preparation of the next draft.