Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: “We have been allocated just over £235,000 for use as a discretionary scheme to support residents who were not entitled for the government’s energy rebate payment. We see those who live in Council Tax bands E – H homes and in receipt of Council Tax Support as the priority for this financial aid. Payments will be made directly to people who pay by Direct Debit. Anyone else will need to apply online. Eligible residents will be able to start applying in the next few weeks and more details will follow.
“Earlier this month the Council discussed, voted on and agreed to act on three motions put forward. The first will see us write to the government to request that they resolve an existing anomaly when it comes to their current policy surrounding the energy rebate payment of at least £400 (proposed by Cllr David Preedy). As it stands, only homes that have a direct relationship with electricity companies will receive a payment; unfortunately this does not include the majority of Park Home residents. We’ll be asking the government to find a solution in this matter to ensure that all households receive the energy rebate.
“We have also, with Council’s backing, written to fund managers at the Surrey Pension Fund – which we are a member of – to request that the Fund, and its investments, are net zero by 2035, and that suitable interim carbon budgets are also set (proposed by Cllr Claire Malcomson). We declared a climate emergency over two years ago and are doing everything in our power to become carbon neutral by 2030. We want to know that other bodies are committed to acting now too.
“Lastly, it was agreed at Council to call on the Chancellor of Exchequer to give more powers to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) to prevent bank companies from closing branches which, in so doing, is very clearly disadvantaging many vulnerable or older residents who are unable to bank online, or travel a long distance, to the nearest available branch (proposed by Cllr Vyvyan-Robinson). Following the meeting, the responsible Cabinet Member not only responded to the FCA’s consultation on the branches shutting or having opening hours reduced, but also invited all Members to respond individually by the closing date of 26 July.
“We have been advised of planned strike action in Elmbridge and Surrey Heath by Amey employees – who empty bins and carry out street cleaning services under a joint contract that includes Mole Valley, Elmbridge, Surrey Heath and Woking – from Monday 1 to Friday 19 August. I want to reassure residents that Mole Valley crews were not involved in the ballot for industrial action. A range of contingency plans are currently being worked on to minimise the impact on core services across the four partnership areas, should the strikes go ahead. At this time we don’t know what those plans look like, and whether they could impact on our district’s waste services. We will keep you updated.
“The current contracts for the respective operators of Dorking Sports Centre (Places Leisure) and Leatherhead Leisure Centre (Fusion) will soon be coming to an end. It has been decided that the best option from an operational and financial perspective is to begin a procurement process to find a single operator to run both centres and provide high quality leisure services from December 2023. We will be in a position to provide further updates later in the year.
“You will have probably seen reports of the frightening wildfires across the country in recent weeks, not least at Hankley Common in Surrey. Wildfires are devastating for our countryside, wildlife and people’s lives and livelihoods. Often the cause of wildfires is people being neglectful, particularly when using disposable BBQ’s out in the open. Prevention is the key, and Surrey Fire and Rescue is urging people to pack a picnic rather than a disposable BBQ and to remember to please take your litter home with them.”