I have lived in Cobham all my life and feel passionate about improving our local area. Until very recently, I’d not been involved in local politics, but I’ve seen our area change and not always for the better. Rather than just complaining about how the Liberal Democrats run the council, I want to do something about it. This is especially the case when it comes to improving our green spaces.
I also run two local businesses and have been a long-standing member of Cobham Chamber of Commerce, which is also a huge part of why I decided to stand – small, local businesses are critical to the character of our area and I want to make sure they are supported.
It has been truly heartwarming to see local people and local businesses working together to support each other over the past 18 months. Whether that's ‘Cobham at Christmas’, our Heritage Day, Remembrance Day, or simply putting the flags out to recognise national events or the national team in international events.
Knocking on doors and speaking to people in Cobham and Downside over the last few months has only reinforced why I chose to stand. It’s very clear to me, and the locals I’ve spoken to, that the Liberal Democrat led council isn’t doing a good enough job.
How voting Conservative will protect the Green Belt in Cobham and Downside
The national government asks every planning authority in the local council to put together a ‘Local Plan’ to set out how the council will make sure there is affordable homes for our children and local families, while also protecting the environment and the Green Belt. The Local Plan is how the council then directs and shapes how planning applications are treated. Critically, it’s the way a council can successfully stop inappropriate or out of character development meaning affordable housing is only built in the right place and sensitively.
Despite running the council, the Liberal Democrats have not got a Local Plan in place for many years, with no sign of one being in place any time soon. As it's election time, they're trying to pass the blame to central government by misleadingly quoting "national housing targets", but the real problem is the lack of a Local Plan.
This might all sound academic or like petty bureaucracy, but it really matters. This was made very clear last week when the Planning Inspectorate allowed a planning appeal in Walton-on-Thames against a planning decision made by the council. The lack of a Local Plan was specifically referenced in the decision.
We therefore urgently need a Local Plan in place that is based on the actual affordable housing numbers we need, with the kind of houses we need, and critically in the areas we need them. To date, the council's various consultations on a Local Plan have included significant Green Belt development in Cobham, even including the site at Chippings Farm. They have also introduced the concept of ‘poorly performing Green Belt’ as an attempt to weaken the protection of the Green Belt further.
Fortunately, Conservative councillors have consistently objected to this and consistently argued for the urgent need to get a Local Plan in place, so there is hope. The Conservatives are only a couple of Councillors away from being able to take control of Elmbridge from the Liberal Democrats. With your vote and support on the 1st July, we will be one step closer to protecting and improving our area.