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Sun, sea, sand and .... consultations?


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With Kingston Conservatives, public consultations are like buses – you wait ages to be asked your opinion, then twelve fourteen come along at once, just as many residents are about to go on holiday!

I do hope Kingston residents will take the time to respond to this sudden abundance of consultations. Here is a summary timeline to help keep track of them.

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Lib Dems believe consulting with residents is good. However, some of these consultations are purely tick box exercises as increases to Homecare Charges for elderly and disabled residents (unhelpfully called “contributions policy consultation”) have already been approved by Kingston Conservatives when they voted through their budget for the coming year at Budget Council in February 2016.

School holidays

When asked why all the consultations were happening over the summer months and mostly during the school holidays, the Conservative Leader of the Council said he didn’t believe this was a problem as residents don’t go on holiday for the whole time!

I think Kevin Davis is wrong – these consultations include some big and important questions that will affect Kingston residents for many years to come - so despite the poor timing and them all coming at once, we encourage as many residents as possible to respond.

Cllr Liz Green

Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group


Update Fri 8th July: Obviously Kingston Conservatives did not consider the twelve consultations over the summer months to be enough, so they have added two further planning consultations - details have been added below. So there are now FOURTEEN vital consultations for residents to consider! Over the summer holidays.  Happy summer holiday reading!

Here is a summary of the consultations (with links to complete the consultation)


Planning and housing consultations


Future of housing services

Changes by central Government have meant that the Council Housing service has a reduced budget and therefore needs to look at how services are delivered in the future. The paper presents 2 options:

  1. For the Council to continue to manage the service, but with a change to the staffing structure and maintenance contracts.
  2. For the service to be managed by a different organisation.

Tenants, Leaseholders and residents are asked for their views on both options.

Closing date: Friday 26 August 2016 


Draft Cocks Cresent SPD 

This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is a guide for developers to know what the Council may find acceptable in any planning application on the Cocks Crescent site. Whilst it talks about a new town square, re-provision of a leisure centre with swimming pool, affordable housing and retaining open public space, none of it is a requirement of any development. After the consultation, the SPD becomes part of the planning policy, so any changes must be made before it is adopted by the Council in September. We encourage all residents to give their views on what should be guaranteed to be included on any development of this site.

Closing date: Monday 29 August 2016


Statement of Community Involvement

The Statement of Community Involvement describes how the Council will consult with residents with regard to planning applications and ensure their views are taken into account in the decision making process. Whilst the recent applications seem to have ridden roughshod over residents’ clear views and there is no guarantee this will not happen in the future, commenting on this consultation is an opportunity to try and ensure that this changes going forward.

Closing date: Monday 29 August 2016


Direction of Travel Consultation

Possibly the most important of the planning consultations as this document lists the areas of opportunity within Kingston Borough boundaries. Areas of Opportunity, once formally adopted by the Mayor of London, are expected to have a greater density of housing. Originally only Kingston Town Centre was listed, but this document also lists Tolworth, Norbiton (including London Road and Cambrigde Road Estate), Berrylands and Hogsmill Valley, New Malden and Chessington – so pretty much all of the borough! It also comments on a review of the Green Belt in the south of the borough.

If adopted in its current format, whilst not a formal planning policy document, it sets out the broad strategic development areas that might be worked up in the emerging Local Plan. In the autumn the Council will begin to consult on “issues and options “ which will inform the Local Plan. This Local Plan, which will be written over the coming couple of years, replaces existing planning policy and becomes the ‘rule book’ for developments in Kingston.

Closing date: Monday 29 August 2016


Draft North Kingston Development Brief

The third planning document to cover North Kingston in as many years. This one is to "shape opportunities for growth and change', as part of the Kingston Futures regeneration. The document calls for 'intensification of land use' for this 'ineffectively used and underperforming part of Kingston Town Centre'. Many residents may have a different view of their community.

Closing date: Monday 5 September 2016


Duty to Cooperate Scoping Statement

Since 2011 Councils have a Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring planning authorities and other partners when producing their Local Plan. This joint working on strategic issues includes homes and jobs needed in the area; provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development; the provision of infrastructure for transport, water, flood risk; the provision of health, security, community and cultural infrastructure; and climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including landscape.

Closing date: Monday 5 September 2016


Vulnerable residents’ consultations


Contributions policy consultation

 

This poorly named consultation is actually about how disabled and vulnerable residents are charged for the services they receive at home. These services are what many of us take for granted such as washing, dressing, cooking etc, but for a disabled person they may need help to perform these tasks.

Currently 75% of available income (after certain allowable expenses) is taken into consideration when calculating the charge to service users, this policy proposes increasing that to 100% of available income. It may mean increases in charges of £60 per week of some disabled residents, for others it may be the difference between a weekly treat to go to the cinema or not.

Whilst this is listed as a consultation, the money saved from increasing the charges has already been factored into the annual Council budget – agreed last February! So many are questioning if this is a true consultation or a simple tick box exercise required by law.

Even if you are not directly affected by this change, all residents of the borough can respond to show that it is not the right place to be saving money.

Closing date: Friday 9 September 2016


Delivering information and advice services

Again the title of the consultation does not describe what the Council is seeking residents’ views on! This consultation is actually about information and advice to support residents who may be experiencing issues and contacted the council about debt management, welfare benefits including housing benefits, immigration, employment/finding a job, housing or mental wellbeing.

The reason the Council is asking about this now, is that from next year the service will be commissioned to an external provider. The actual consultation consists only of 3 questions – have you previously sought advice? – in the future what’s your preferred method to receive it? – do you have any comments on this? A sceptic may consider that the purpose is to be able to say to the new private provider that via internet is more popular than face-to-face. But surely it depends on the nature of your problem as the suggested list of reasons are very wide ranging? Not a long survey, but you never know when you might need this help and when face-to-face meetings are necessary.

Closing date: Friday 29 July 2016


Refugee and Migrant Strategy consultation

Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are vulnerable members of our society and often have less favourable health outcomes compared to other residents in the borough. The strategy so far has been developed by Kingston Council working in partnership with Refugee Action Kingston, Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group and many other health and voluntary sector organisations.

If you work with this group of residents, or are a refugee, asylum seeker or vulnerable migrant, it is important to consider if there is any aspect that has been overlooked before the strategy is adopted by the Council in September.

Closing date: Friday 5 August 2016 


Cycling consultations


All of these consultations are regarding improving cycling infrastructure in the borough using the mini-Hollands funding won by Kingston Council in March 2014 from the Mayor of London. Each consultation relates to a specific potential scheme. It is not always clear what is being proposed as you enter each consultation. You need to click on the Supporting Documents tab to see the full consultation booklet on each scheme. An exhibition as been set up in a shop on Fife Road, where residents and visitors can see all the proposed schemes and give their views. However it is only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays 11am-4 pm; Thursdays from 4-8pm.

There is limited time to respond to these consultations, as they were only launched with a 4 week window for residents to give views.


Go Cycle - Fountain Roundabout New Malden

The Fountain roundabout is a difficult and very busy junction for all forms of transport – driving, by bus, walking and cycling. The proposal is to remove the roundabout and install traffic lights. It would stop cars and other vehicles from turning right from Malden Road into Burlington Road. It would also provide shared pedestrian and cycle spaces on all approaches to the junction and at crossing points.

Do these changes sufficiently improve the junction for cyclists? Are the proposed shared spaces with pedestrians acceptable? Is removing the right turn for vehicles problematic? Residents with views of any of these questions and others should respond to this consultation urgently.

Closing date: Monday 18 July 2016


Go Cycle - Kingston Station area

The proposals around Kingston Station are to improve the station forecourt, improve cycle connectivity to the River Thames and Kingston Bridge and provide a cycle hub and storage facility at the station. The proposal is also to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on Wheatfield Way, Wood Street and Horse Fair and introduce 6 raised crossings across the area.

Are there enough segregated cycle paths? Will the reduced speed limit and raised crossings help safety or cause delays?  Will the shared use pedestrian/cycle space work for both pedestrians and cyclists? Residents with views of any of these questions and others should respond to this consultation urgently.

Closing date: Monday 18 July 2016


Go Cycle - Surbiton to Kingston area

This consultation covers Palace Road, Claremont Road, Surbiton Crescent, St Marks Hill and Avenue Elmers. Whilst the document states that the trial closure of Surbiton Crescent from Anglesea Road to Surbiton Road (except bikes and buses) from August 2016 does NOT form part of this consultation, it does then go onto to ask for views on it at the end!

Palace Road and Avenue Elmers will get new cycle path markings, but no segregation. Claremont Road will include a new 2-way segregated cycle lane from the Maple Road junction to the Clock Tower, with the removal of parts of the pavement alongside the gardens and a new zebra crossing. St Mark’s Hill will have a one way segregated cycle lane up the hill, and improved cycle markings down the hill. These plans include the removal of some parking bays and new raised tables.

Plans to link the cycle paths around Surbiton station and at the junction at the top of St Mark’s Hill are not yet available.

Does this improve the cycle infrastructure enough to make cycling attractive as an alternative mode of transport to the car? Will the loss of parking bays cause difficulties for local residents? Will the trial closure of Surbiton Crescent add to congestion at traffic lights by the Assembly Rooms? Should the Council have consulted on the trial closure BEFORE deciding to go ahead with it? Residents with views of any of these questions and others should respond to this consultation urgently.

Closing date: Monday 18 July 2016


Go Cycle - Wheatfield Way area

This consultation covers from College Roundabout up to the Rotunda, where it meets the Kingston Station area plans. For the majority of the road it is proposed to introduce a 2-way segregated cycle lane, however at junctions, such as with Brook street, Orchard Way, Fairfield Road and Old London Road, the cycle lane will be shared with pedestrians waiting to cross the road.

Changes to vehicle movements are limited but introduce a no left turn out of Brook Street, 20mph speed limit and raised tables at junctions. There are also 2 small sections where one highway lane is removed.

Will the mixing of through cyclists and waiting pedestrians at junctions like outside Wilkinson’s work? Will the changes to the highway slow traffic to make it safer or create even more traffic jams? Does it tackle the problem for cyclists of getting round Kingston on a busy relief road? Residents with views of any of these questions and others should respond to this consultation urgently.

Closing date: Monday 18 July 2016


Gambling consultation


Gambling Act 2005 consultation

Kingston Council is required to consult and agree policy on applications for gambling.  Essentially the policy needs to give consideration to the statutory licensing objectives of preventing gambling being a source of, or being associated with, crime or disorder; ensuring gaming is conducted in a fair and open way and protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gaming.

Whilst this consultation looks at the important principles and policies of premises and licence holders, possibly the most vital question is whether the Council should allow a casino to operate in the borough?

Closing date: Wednesday 31 August 2016


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