Real Consultation or a Public Relations Exercise?

This morning, I in common with other residents of Mole Valley received a letter headed “Your chance to help decided where new homes should be built.”

This is all very well, and maybe the Council Officers will pay regard to public consultation.  But the final word rests with our elected councillors.  Not so long ago, without any similar prompting from the Council, more than three hundred people wrote to the Council with their views concerning an exclusive golf course and luxury hotel on the Cherkley estate.  Two thirds of those letters opposed the development.   The Council Officers no doubt took that into consideration when producing their report, praised by Justice Haddon-Cave, to reject Longshot’s proposals.

Did our elected representative take note of public opinion?   No; the majority ignored public representation and thought they knew better than their officers.   What guarantee is there that elected councillors will not disregard public opinion again?

One councillor recently said he would be listening to the public.  But the evidence so far is not encouraging.  Despite widespread opposition to the Council going to the Court of Appeal over the recent Cherkley decision, the councillors voted to do so.   When the LRA held a packed meeting on 2nd December at which we had presentations by Mr Rowland McKinney concerning the Green Belt and by the Save South Leatherhead and the Poors’ Allotment groups, our District Councillors were noticeable by their absence!  It is true, there were apologies received from two of them, but not the proverbial dicky bird from the others!

Besides, we poor members of the public do not have proper information. We read at the beginning of the second paragraph in the Council’s letter: “The main objective is to prevent inappropriate development in the Green Belt … .”

But, as I have pointed out before, the Secretary of State rejected the application for five traveller families having their temporary permission to occupy 4.7 hectares of Green Belt being made permanent because it would cause “substantial harm to the green belt.”   If this is so, then I completely fail to see how Mr Pickles could allow any residential development of the Green Belt.

  • We need to know by what criteria Mr Pickles deemed occupying 4.7 hectares of Green Belt would cause substantial damage.  
  • We need to know, therefore, by what criteria any of the Green Belt can be deemed appropriate for residential development.

As we’ve have seen both with the Cherkley Court application and with the Randalls Road travellers’ application, the elected councillors can override Officer’s recommendations; and with regard to the latter application, we , we saw that the Secretary of State can call an application in at the request of our local MP.   So I ask two further questions:

  • Why should those same councillors not similarly override whatever recommendations are produced as a result of this current consultation?
  • How can the Council retain control of where development takes place if, at the request of our MP, the Secretary of State can call an application in?

MVDC: Recycling Plastics in Mole Valley

Message from Josh Lambe, Recycling Officer, MVDC.

Hopefully the following information regarding plastics will be valuable to the group:

Firstly, it’s important to understand that ‘the message’ and how it’s presented to 100,000 residents is of vital importance. Mole Valley DC promotes a deliberately straightforward and hassle free message when communicating what items we can accept for recycling.

In practice, this means we keep the message as broad as possible, and purposely shy away from giving residents huge great lists of items which we can accept. It also means we deliberately do not publish the Recycling Identification Codes ( ). Research shows that you’ll gain the highest yield of plastics for recycling when you keep the message simple, as it is understood the ‘average recycler’ will be put off by always having to check the code on every article they’re disposing of, or
having to check a long list of products/materials.
So, in Mole Valley, we try to give the consistent message that as far as plastics go we will accept:


And that’s it.

So, when considering whether a plastic item is fit to be put in the recycling, firstly, if it is a plastic bottle of any kind, it is accepted for recycling. Secondly, if it is a plastic tub, pot or tray that held any kind of food substance, it is accepted for recycling.

For those diligent recyclers who wish to know what codes can be accepted, the codes we can accept are:

  • 01
  • 02 (but not plastic carrier bags)
  • 03 (but only in bottle form)

However, some plastic items may have one of the above codes, but will be of the hard plastic variety. We cannot accept what are known as ‘rigid plastics’. Therefore a good rule of thumb is that if you cannot bend the plastic by hand, it is not suitable for recycling via the green bin (plastic kitchen utensils and children’s toys are good examples of this). Conversely, some plastic items may have one of the above codes, but be ‘flimsy’. The second rule of thumb then is that if you can crush the plastic in your hand and it stays in that shape,it is of too low-grade to be recycled (plastic bags or cling film are good examples of this). Lastly, if you think the plastic item could fall in between rigid and flimsy but you’re still not sure, the test is that if it is pretty hard plastic that still bends, but you can snap it in your hand, then it’s not accepted for recycling (flower pots are a good example of this) I hope all that will be of use. I’m always happy to answer any further questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. I’m sorry I could not make the meeting.

Kind regards,
Josh Lambe
Mole Valley District Council
01306 879118

Other information from correspondence:

Thanks for the information. I only have one question, which is, what happens if we put an item in the recycling bin, which should not be put in there? Does this invalidate the whole contents of the bin, or is it just a nuisance because it has to be fished out?

Hi ,

When our crews notice something in a recycling bin that is not accepted for recycling, they will reject the bin and leave a ‘contaminated bin’ sticker on it, to inform the resident. The onus is then on the resident to fish the errant item out and present their recycling again next time round. Sometimes things are only discovered once the load is delivered to the recycling facility. This will then have to be handpicked out by one of the ‘pickers’ at the site.

We’ve had bad instances in the past where people have put things in their recycle bin so bad that it has meant the whole vehicle load has been rejected at the recycling facility. For example, someone once tried to dispose of a whole massive tin of cooking oil via a communal recycling bin. This burst inside the compacter in the vehicle and… well, you can imagine the mess. A similar thing happened when a resident tried to dispose of a bottle of engine oil. Not good!

Kind regards,
Josh Lambe
Mole Valley District Council
01306 879118

MVDC: Want to make a difference?

At Mole Valley District Council we are looking ahead at the forthcoming elections in the following areas on May 3rd:
Ashtead Common
Ashtead Park
Ashtead Village
Bookham North
Bookham South
Dorking North
Dorking South
Fetcham East
Fetcham West
Leatherhead North
leatherhead South
We are keen to encourage our residents to consider becoming a councillor. Consequently we will be holding an information session on 29 February at 7pm here at the Pippbrook offices. The attached poster has been designed to promote this session and I would be most grateful if you would be willing to display it somewhere prominently.
I would be very happy to supply you with these posters in either A3 or A4 format. Please let me know the size and quantity, and a postal address, and I will send them out to you.
Kind regards
Louise Bircher
Customer Service and Communications Manager
Mole Valley District Council

Tel: 01306 879155
Follow us on Twitter @MoleValleyDC

Mole Valley District Council and Social Media

Yesterday I received the following from Louise Bircher of Mole Valley District Council:
I am hoping to canvass your and your residents’ views on how Mole Valley District Council uses social media please. By this I mean our website (, Twitter (@molevalleydc), Facebook (, YouTube and, more recently QR codes. We are wanting to engage with as wide range an audience as possible so, in addition to the traditional methods of magazine, leaflets, posters and information available over the telephone and face to face, we are also making use of these aforementioned social media engagement tools.

Our Twitter and YouTube accounts have been live for about six months and our followers are steadily growing. I would like to know whether or not you and your residents make use of these forms of communication and whether you find them useful? Are there other forms of social media you would like to see us using? Or could we use what we use now more effectively?

I would be most grateful if you could encourage your residents to consider this and let me have their views – perhaps through your newsletter if one is imminent or via your website or whatever means you consider appropriate…

Louise would like to collate all responses by Friday 20th May. If you have any observations please add them as comments.

Thank you.

Mole Valley District Council – Shaping Your Community

On 13th December 2010 the Government announced its Localism Bill. This was the first stage in an important process which over the next few years will see the structure of the planning system being ‘radically’ reformed.

How the Localism Bill and the changes in the planning system impact on the preparation of the Mole Valley Local Development Framework (LDF) is an extremely important issue for the Council and its communities. The Council has therefore prepared a Discussion Paper outlining a number of key issues that need to be considered.

The Council is seeking views on this Paper from Friday 4th March until Friday 8th April 2011.  The Discussion Paper and Comments Form can be downloaded from

Also there will be a longer article on Localism by our Chairman in the LRA Spring Newsletter. Please read it.

Today a delivery lorry -tomorrow an ambulance?

Here are two photographs I took earlier this afternoon as the latest ‘victim’ to be denied access to Oaks Close gets stuck.


A bit stuck there on the left! Any better on the right? Well, no! It’s stuck there as well. A bit frustrating though, after loading up and bringing the stuff from Sutton.

Wasting people’s time loading and trying to deliver undeliverable loads and keeping people waiting at the other end as they wait for supplies to continue work is one thing. But supposing the vehicle had been an ambulance; the delay while the vehicle is abandoned and paramedics have to make their way on foot could be the difference between someone’s life and death!

Doesn’t Surrey County Council Care? Could not the Councillors and officers have worked out that if they introduced parking restrictions in neighbouring roads but did nothing in the road nearest the Station it would only exacerbate the already existing problems in that road? Couldn’t they?

The cynics say they knew exactly what they were doing. Being piqued because not everyone was happy with their proposed simplistic ‘solution’, they will let us stew in our own juice so that we will willingly accept whatever they want to impose on us.

My own feeling is that having given up on their proposed solution they simply could not be bothered and let the thing fall by default. In other words it was thoughtlessness and negligence.

Mole Valley District Council, to its credit, is doing what it can about bin collection. MVDC Environment Department are advising cars & vans on Tuesday afternoon that vehicles preventing bin collection on Wednesday will be ticketed by Surrey Police and possibly removed; and the Department is monitoring the situation on Wednesdays. Also if, despite these efforts, no bin lorry is able to get through on a Wednesday, they will send out a lorry on the following Saturday. This use of personnel on Tuesday afternoon & Wednesday morning must cost money and, of course, if a bin lorry has to be sent out on a Saturday even more expense will be involved – extra cost to MVDC thanks to the ineptness of SCC.

We appreciate the efforts of our MVDC Ward Councillor, Bridget Lewis-Carr, in helping to find a solution to the bin problem. How about our SCC Councillor helping resolve the access problem?

Too much piecemeal and incoherent planning

Thanks to one of the residents, the bins in our road were emptied again yesterday. A month or so back, most residents in the road, a cul-de-sac, went for three weeks without any bin collection simply because the bin lorry was unable to squeeze between the cars parked by commuters on both sides of the road! So an enterprising resident made a notice asking cars not to park on one side on Wednesday so that bin collections can be made. So far, to be fair to commuters, the notice has worked.

But why should it be left to a resident to do this? Is this an example of David Cameron’s "Big Society" at work? To save the Council both money and the awkward job of having to make a decision?

When proposals for parking restrictions were proposed for certain roads over a year ago, our Chairman pointed out that this would only push the problem onto other roads and that what was needed was an overall plan for parking throughout Leatherhead. He has, of course, been proved right.

To make matters worse, Surrey County Council in it wisdom decided not to implement any restrictions in two of the designated roads. What a surprise that the situation has got worse! Meanwhile we do what we can to get our bins emptied. But on any other weekday, I see no way delivery lorries, fire engine or ambulance could get up our road. Tradesmen who have come to our house have been amazed that such a situation has been allowed to arise when a solution is so obvious.

Now we have once again talk of yet another revamp of the High Street and the bit of Church Street between the barrier and the High Street. In view of the history of the various past attempts, can we have any confidence that the current efforts will be any more successful? Or will it be another patching up job? And what about the rest of Church Street? Coming into the town past empty shopping premises is not exactly a good advertisement for the town.

What about Bridge Street and North Street? Shouldn’t we be thinking about the whole of the town centre, not tinkering again with just part of it? Would it not make more sense to have an overall strategy for the whole town centre? That of course, must involve parking, which is what I started with.

In my opinion Leatherhead has suffered too much from piecemeal and incoherent planning: we need an overall and coherent strategy for parking for Leatheread as a whole together with a coherent strategy for the whole of the town centre.

Little wonder that some people look back with nostalgia to the days of the Leatherhead & Urban District Council. Give us back out town!