Schools champion Mary Lewis to seek re-election to Surrey County Council

Mary Lewis has received the enthusiastic backing of Conservative Party members for a second term as Cobham's county councillor.

The former teacher was first elected in 2013 and quickly established a reputation for hard work on behalf of her residents. She earned a promotion to the post of Cabinet Associate for Children, Schools and Families at Surrey County Council and is playing a key role in school expansion and improving children’s social care.

Mary, who lives in Stoke D'Abernon with her husband David, a former Chairman of Esher & Walton Conservative Association, said: "I am honoured to have been selected to stand again. I am in no doubt that, if elected, the four years ahead will be challenging, but I am looking forward to the campaign and very grateful for the continuing support of our local members."

Mary had outlined three priorities for her first term: to improve communication with the Cobham voters; to put a strong focus on education and to increase school places for Cobham children; and to improve life for the less well off in the ward. Since then there have been regular newsletters and Mary has built a 900-strong following on social media. The Cobham Free School (CFS) has opened on her watch and a new permanent site has been found at Munro House in Portsmouth Road from September 2019.

Mary added: “I wasn’t always popular when I defended CFS, but suddenly everyone seems happy with school place provision. I have close ties to all the schools in the Division and I am pleased that, with our own secondary school and St. Andrew’s Primary School is becoming a feeder school for Esher High School, Cobham parents at last have a choice of two good options at the secondary phase.”

She had not imagined that helping the more vulnerable in our community would involve becoming Deputy Chairman of a bus company. However, it became apparent to her that there was a variety of social needs not being met in the area due to a lack of transport around Elmbridge. Mary joined residents to set up the Cobham Community Bus CIC which now runs the Chatterbus service and provides a link to the Weybridge job centre and the shops at Brooklands, enhances the lives of elderly people and reducing social isolation.

Mary was concerned to learn that Cobham is one of Surrey’s teenage pregnancy hot spots and pressed the County to reintroduce youth work to the area. "We have a new youth club with professional youth workers for the 14+ age group and outreach workers in a yellow bus on the Queen Elizabeth 2 Recreation Ground each week,” she said.

Surrey faces huge financial challenges in the years ahead, not least in the area of social care. Last year, leader David Hodge declared that the SCC budget was balanced but not sustainable. SCC was required to make huge savings at a time of increased demand,  for example in both Children’s and Adults’ Social Care.

Nonetheless Mary pledged that, if elected, she would still retain her three priorities which aligned with the SCC priorities of health and wellbeing, resident experience and economic prosperity, especially by working to ensure that Surrey’s education system produces the high quality workforce needed in the local economy.