Sunday, 12 February 2012

Worcester Park Ward By-election: Roger Roberts - Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.

Liberal Democrats - Roger Roberts                                                  


Supporting Local Shops & Businesses:

We need to keep Worcester Park and North Cheam as thriving shopping centres that are well used by local people. We have been fortunate in winning nearly £2 million to be spent entirely on these two areas. I intend to make sure that local people will be closely involved in deciding how this money will be spent.

One thing that I'm already campaigning for is dual parking bays in North Cheam to make it easier for people to park and shop. The traders in the area have told me that this is really important and so have the local councillors. However the Mayor's Transport for London doesn't seem to agree.

I intend to write to the Mayor, saying that this is unacceptable and that he should direct Transport for London to get this fairly minor change done as soon as possible.


Crime & Policing

We are fortunate to live in an area with fairly low crime levels but that does not mean that we should be complacent.

I remember what it was like a few years ago when we only had one sergeant across two wards and I was pleased when the decision was made to have two separate sergeants for Worcester Park and Nonsuch wards.

When the neighbourhood police teams were introduced, we were given an assurance by the then Mayor that this would be permanent but now the present Tory Mayor has cut back to one sergeant running both wards again. I am concerned that our police teams will be overstretched and unable to maintain the present low crime rates.

And given that the Mayor is expected to make more cuts to the police budget, could we lose more police in Worcester Park? I am determined to make sure that doesn't happen.

Education

We are fortunate in Worcester Park to have very good schools that parents want to send their children to. But this is putting pressure on the number of places available. The council has taken steps to cope with this increase in demand by increasing the number of classes, firstly at Dorchester and now with the new building at Cheam Common Infants.

This will be followed by extra accommodation at Cheam Common Junior School.

I am pleased that in these difficult times the council has been able to find the funds to put into education for the benefit not only of the present children in the schools but the ones who will follow on. We want to keep class sizes low and maintain the excellent standard of our local schools.

Traffic

This has been a problem for all the many years I have lived in the area and unfortunately with the increase in car usage it is set to continue.

Lib Dems have campaigned for a long time to persuade the traffic control department to link up the traffic lights all the way from North Cheam to the railway bridge. This has now been done and does seem to have made some difference. However I believe that they also need to carry that on all the way to the New Malden roundabout to ensure that there is a continuous flow of traffic towards the A3. I'll be working closely with the Council and Transport for London to achieve this.

Local Health Services

When we asked the local NHS in the past for more Doctors' surgeries, we were told that there is no need for any new ones and that if people sign on with a particular doctor and it is overcrowded, then the NHS will increase that capacity. With the growing population in the local area, I don't think we have enough health care in Worcester Park and I am campaigning for a new doctor's surgery. I am pleased to see that we have a new dentist opening up soon in Central Road.

I am also working with local MP Paul Burstow to protect vital services such as A&E and the Maternity Unit at St Helier Hospital. I believe it is important that local residents have access to a good local hospital and depending were in Worcester Park you live I think both St Helier and Kingston hospitals are well placed to serve residents.

Council Tax & Service Cuts

I am pleased that for the third year running the Council has not increased council tax and I am sure that householders will welcome it.

The Liberal Democrats on the Council have managed to find ways of saving money without cutting vital services like libraries and children's centres. It is obvious in these difficult financial times that many things that we would like to do may have to be put on hold, but over the last few years we have worked with our neighbouring councils to deliver some services jointly and so save on both staff and costs.

So while I think there will be challenges, I believe that this will impact less on us than on some other councils nearby. I was really shocked to hear that Surrey County Council is closing libraries but still increasing Council Tax by nearly 3%.