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The March meeting of Labour members examined the issue of housing with a strong focus on the local situation in Guildford.

To remind everyone of the plight of those who have no home at all, the meeting heard first from Cellou Diallo from Guildford’s Homeless outreach team. He outlined the work of the unit and identified some of the problems which lead to homelessness, pointing out that most of their clients are local people.

We then heard from local party member Nick Bragger who looked at the issues for those renting houses in the town. Issues range from the cost of renting, which goes ever upwards, the uses of clauses to ensure leases are short term and the quality of housing. He is exploring the possibility of creating a Renters’ Association to represent the interests of this group.

Our second external speaker was Greg Melly from the University of Surrey. Greg provided a great deal of data on the growth of Guildford, both as an economy and in population. He gave some in-depth figures for the impact of students on Guildford’s housing market and accepted that there has been a massive market failure. The University is trying to address some of the issue with its own housing developments, but accepted that the university and the town need to work together to provide more suitable housing.

Finally Lynda MacDermott gave an eloquent appeal for quality in the housing that is built, insisting that everyone deserves a decent space to live.

But there was one overwhelming theme from every speaker; Guildford needs to build far more houses than it has so far managed. The shortfall between the number of houses built and the need for houses is large and getting worse every year. If the town is to continue to thrive it needs to get to grips with this basic fact.

Guildford needs more housing

The March meeting of Labour members examined the issue of housing with a strong focus on the local situation in Guildford.

The roads that run through Surrey have among the highest levels of use in the UK, providing access to jobs, schools, services and businesses. This high level of use makes road management a principle task for Surrey County Council.

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Matthew Smith, Labour candidate for Guildford South West, inspects one of many potholes in the ward.

In the latest National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey, which polls residents on their opinion of highways maintenance, SCC ranked 18th out of 27 for overall satisfaction across the survey, for County Councils that took part.  Surrey’s roads are a mess and are poorly managed and maintained, yet the Tories recently extended their highways contract with Kier which started in 2011.

Labour will break up this relationship and introduce proper competition, coordination and planning for the benefit of all residents improving safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.  We would invest in maintaining and improving the quality of Surrey’s roads to reduce the number of potholes, increase the speed of repair and improve drainage.  We will also work to improve the condition of our pavements which have been repaired haphazardly and inadequately for too long.

Improving Surrey's roads

The roads that run through Surrey have among the highest levels of use in the UK, providing access to jobs, schools, services and businesses. This high level of use makes...

Surrey has one of the highest council tax charges in the UK and Councillors have voted to further increase it by a 4.99% rise this April.

Surrey County Councillors are paid nearly £2 million a year and have awarded themselves 58% pay rises and they pay the Surrey County CEO almost twice as much as the Prime Minister.  They have created a top heavy administration with 11 districts councils, 11 CEOs and dozens of high ranking staff.  This has to stop.

While spending this money on themselves they have run a huge deficit and have failed to deliver proper services to Surrey residents.

In the county council's very own survey just 39% of Surrey residents believe it is providing "value for money". The most recent Surrey Residents' Survey, the council's quarterly resident opinion survey of 1,650 residents across Surrey, also showed that only 40% were satisfied with services for older people, 33% were satisfied with road maintenance, 38% were satisfied with the places provided for young people to meet and 33% were satisfied with services for people with disabilities.

We will reduce the tiers of local government and overpaid staff. We will provide savings through efficiencies not cutting of services.

We will reverse the council allowance rises. Councillors are the public’s servants, they are not our council tax beneficiaries.

We will invest in businesses and assets to provide revenue streams besides the council tax and reduce the financial burden on you.

We will give you a real say in the services you use and where efficiencies should be made.

We will be transparent on how your money is spent.

No more 4.99% council tax rises – Responsible financial management

Surrey has one of the highest council tax charges in the UK and Councillors have voted to further increase it by a 4.99% rise this April.

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