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  • Writer's pictureCllr Graham Woolgar

The Walton Society e-newsletter, 7 February

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

There is an election coming. Not just any election - an Elmbridge Borough Council election.

On May 4th every resident on the Elmbridge voter’s roll will be able to vote for a candidate standing in their Ward. There are 16 wards in Elmbridge and each will elect a councillor to form part of the new Elmbridge Council. The 16 persons elected, either new councillors or re-elected ones will the join the 32 other councillors whose turn it will be to stand for election in subsequent years. Each councillor serves for a 4 year term.

Parliamentary Elections and Surrey County Council Elections have no obvious connection to Elmbridge ones. Elmbridge is one of eleven Boroughs or Districts within Surrey and comprises the Constituencies of two MPs.

There is a financial connection. At Elmbridge we collect council tax used to finance Elmbridge Borough itself, Surrey County Council and Surrey Police. We get a small amount of money for performing the collection, but that keeps our costs down. Of the money you pay in Council Tax, 75% goes to S.C.C. 14% to Surrey Police and only 11% is for Elmbridge Council. Elmbridge also collects Business Rates for Central Government. Currently we collect about £65 million and are allowed to retain about £2.4 million. The rest of the money goes to Central Government who may use it to subsidise other local authorities.

One other thing all these type of elections do have in common is that they are generally fought, as in Elmbridge, by National parties particularly the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems. These national parties are each controlled from a “Central Office” which basically tells its members what to do.

Elmbridge Borough elections are unusual, in that they offer another choice of candidate – a set of Independent Residents’ candidates. The Residents' don’t have a central office, they have, instead, themselves.

Elmbridge residents rather like this idea and they have been electing Independent Residents' councillors for many years. Those candidates get elected under their Residents' Associations’ names. In Walton that is “The Walton Society”.

At present the Group of Independent Residents’ councillors is the largest “party” making up Elmbridge Council. They comprise 20 of the 48 councillors. There are 15 Conservative councillors and 13 Lib-Dem councillors.

The Residents' Group have formed a coalition with the Lib-Dems because we have much in common with them, for example, our policies on Climate Change. Being in coalition gives us the power to pursue those policies where there is opposition from the Conservatives.

However one thing we don’t share with the Lid-Dems is having a Central Office. If you favour voting for one of the national parties in a General Election, fine. But voting for them in an Elmbridge election? That won’t help that party at Parliamentary Election time. (Note that the latest date for the next such election is 17th December 2024). Whereas, a vote for a Residents’ councillor will help keep Elmbridge residents in charge.

Residents’ councillors have often lived in their ward or nearby for many years. They know about local issues at first hand. It is comparatively easy for them to look through residents’ eyes.

Keep local people in charge – Vote for your Walton Society candidate on May 4th.

Showing ID When You Vote

From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections. You can read more about this by following this link:

There will be changes to Postal Voting but not until August, after the Elmbridge Elections.

Bird Corner

I am always interested to see new birds, but in this case they are a little more exotic than I expected. In November a Sparrowhawk visited our garden. I saw it perhaps half a dozen times, perched amongst our bird feeders, looking for unwary small birds. The unfortunate consequence seems to have been reduction in the numbers of small birds visiting the feeders since, even in the coldest weather.

The Black Swan is not exactly a bird that is new to me. I have seen the odd bird, or sometimes a pair on the river over a number of years, but not one has ever offered a good photographic opportunity. However I got lucky earlier this month.

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