South West Surrey Organiser Peter Webb gives us his September campaign diary. A big thanks to him for all his hard work which we appreciate so very much:
Backed by Anne Milton MP we had attempted to get into dialogue, similar to that operating with Surrey CC, with all 11 boroughs. The only one to allow this was Waverley where we met on 9th September. Peter Rauch, Barry Smith and myself for TPA met Richard Gates (Leader) and Mary Orton (Chief Executive). We had given pre-briefing with questions strongly derived from TPA reports eg the 10% Challenge. Discussion was of a skirmishing nature and specific points were not addressed but we did get agreement to our participation in budget consultation early in 2009. Questions have been pressed since and this is ongoing.
On 18th a public meeting chaired by news presenter Nicholas Owen was organised by Surrey County Council under its “council tax unwrapped” programme. It concentrated on difficult social service issues and funding particularly for care of the elderly. TPA members Ernie Hughes and Angela Mayer attended. Questions and explanations were varied and gave Leader Nick Skellett the opportunity to highlight the unequal government grants which put Surrey at a disadvantage.
The MD Audit Commission, Martin Evans, replied to the letter of challenge previously reported, in a letter of 18th September. This contained some authoritive answers which can perhaps be developed but mainly avoided issues with a ‘political’ content.
It was noticed that a well-known Guildford political ‘elder statesman’, Bill Bellerby, had a letter in the Surrey Advertiser commenting on several points of governance. It included reference to the SW Surrey TPA not being pleased about Members allowances.
On 9th September we were consulted about governance change for Surrey CC. The choice, under new legislation, is between a directly elected Mayor, and a strengthened Leader and cabinet. Some individual members are known to have put in views and a TPA response was submitted on 1st October. This opted for a mayor but qualified this with five comments stating the taxpayer attitude and related ‘better government’ factors which cause disquiet.
Special note: In compiling the above I am conscious that I am not diarising some activities by individual members. This is because I really need copy from those people and they are not necessarily consciously acting with a TPA hat on. But there are many acts and opinions which have some connection with our lower taxes and better government campaigning objectives. Also it is advantageous to our cause and perhaps to the individual for collective strength by association. I will reflect on this and consult around.
The TaxPayers Alliance in Surrey
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