The Conservative manifesto, produced for the local elections held in May this year, promised residents “they would be consulted rigorously and widely when the Council proposes changes in policy.”
But behind closed doors, in early July, the Conservative Leader of the Council, Councillor Kevin Davis, signed an official request for action agreeing to consider moving the Health and Wellbeing Centre from Surbiton Health Centre, next to Lime Tree Primary School, to Hollyfield House, Hollyfield Road.
Cllr Liz Green, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group explained:
“The procedural Standing Order (SO32) is signed only when an issue is considered to be so urgent it cannot wait to be discussed at the next committee meeting. “
But last night, at the Residents, Health and Care Services Committee, red-faced Conservatives were forced to back down when the Administration were confronted by opposition from local residents.
Councillor Liz Green said:
“They botched the consultation as the Standing Order failed to initiate a full and proper consultation with residents, establishing that the engagement process should ensure the community is informed about the work of Kingston Wellbeing Service but said nothing about consulting widely.”
A petition of over 1000 signatures has been collected in the last 2 weeks against the proposed site for the alcohol and drug treatment service due to its proximity to Fishponds Park and Alexandra Recreation Ground.
Liz Green continued:
“Before the petitioners even had a chance to speak, Cllr Julie Pickering, Lead Member for Health and Social Care withdrew her own recommendation that would have seen the service relocate to Hollyfield House. Thankfully she had a change of heart and moved an amendment for a new analysis of all sites and a full and extensive consultation with the community, relevant Neighbourhood Chairs, Ward Members and Opposition Spokes.”
“It seems the issue is no longer urgent and the Tories actions have not only been shown to be trying to by-pass local residents but also will now cause further delays in providing this vital service to vulnerable people.
I am delighted, all be it at the 11th hour, she realised she needs to consult properly.”