The Leader to make a statement.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.
The Leader of the Council made a detailed statement. A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix A.
Members raised the following topics:
· Noted that potholes were a major problem and there was a dangerous amount, it could no longer be said that Surrey’s roads were improving compared to a year ago.
· Noted that the Highways service was overwhelmed and Surrey’s roads were disintegrating, sufficient money was needed for repairs to ensure public safety.
· Noted that highways were a major concern for residents, and residents were entitled to expect the delivery and timely repair of potholes and to be kept informed.
· Provided examples of roads potholed to a dangerous extent in Elmbridge, loose stones, incomplete work and resurfacing not carried out, bridge replacement delayed, cars swerving to avoid potholes, residents facing poor lighting, broken suspension and significant costs; in line with encouraging cycling, Surrey’s roads must be safe.
· Noted sadness at Tony Samuels’ resignation and thanked him for the immense amount of hard work and help given to Members.
· Noted surprise that the Leader praised the recent national Budget which signalled the worst decline in living standards in living memory and offered no new support on the cost of living; residents would continue to struggle due to the lack of help from the Government and the Council needed to lobby the Government to help the most vulnerable.
· Noted that the Leader stated that a key priority for the Council was improving health outcomes, yet residents were suffering worse outcomes due to insufficient funding; the national Budget signalled no extra money for the NHS despite hospitals having costly repairs backlogs and NHS services were struggling.
· Welcomed the announcement of Government funding for a special needs school in the north of Surrey but noted that more special educational needs places in Surrey were needed; asked the Leader to confirm when a site selection and planning application would be done for this school.
· Residents were frustrated with the state of Surrey’s roads and things were going to get worse as next year's 2024/25 Highways budget would be reduced by £51.8 million with Members losing their £100,000 divisional allowance; asked whether the Leader would reverse those cuts.
· Highlighted that Lime Tree Primary School in Redhill, approved by the Planning and Regulatory Committee in 2014, was built on a green urban site by claiming special circumstances, despite the alternative site assessment which proposed that housing could be built on that site.
· Regarding new school delivery, noted that the Planning and Regulatory Committee had rejected plans to move Reigate Priory Junior School to Woodhatch Place, asked whether the Council would apply its new transport policy and place the new school in the middle of a 20-minute neighbourhood.
· Asked whether the Council would properly assess the site options for the Reigate Priory Junior School, and for the Leader to confirm that the same scheme would not go back to a Planning and Regulatory Committee primed to approve it, instead asking for a commitment to realign the Council’s new school planning to its climate strategy, transport plan and residents’ wishes.
· Noted the members of the public in attendance at the meeting to protest about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision, and asked how proposed new SEND places would impact on the ballooning Home to School Transport budget.
· Asked whether the new SEND school in Dorking would be served by the Council’s expanded on demand bus service.
· Noted that the Budget statement did not refer to councils’ key role in delivering climate outcomes through public transport expansion, retrofitting homes, different approaches to health and wellbeing, early help and prevention through more children's centres, not just in fixing more potholes; asked whether the Leader agreed that Government help was required.
· Noted that the Leader referred to the Chancellor's “inspirational” Budget, asked whether the Leader could provide any details of how he thought the budget would benefit Surrey’s residents.
· Welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of increased childcare, but asked how it would be organised in Surrey, where would the facilities be and staff found, and would they be adequately paid.
· Regarding potholes, referred to the leaflet received by Members from the Leader investing in Surrey’s future with £188 million invested on Surrey's roads and pavements, which only equated to just over £2 million per division.
· Highlighted a newspaper headline which reported that “potholes misery deepens as roads across the country would be resurfaced every 116 years”; there was a long wait to see many of the roads in Surrey resurfaced.
· Asked whether the Leader had any idea of how many new electric vehicle (EV) charging points would be provided across Surrey and whether measures would be put in place to stop people parking non-EV vehicles in these spaces.
· Asked the Leader whether there were any controls on temporary traffic lights, raising concerns that these were sometimes in use where work did not appear to be taking place.
Eber Kington left the meeting at 10.49 am and joined remotely.