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The Ash Aspect: General Election Candidates For Surrey Heath

Published on: 5 Dec, 2019
Updated on: 4 Dec, 2019

By David Reading

Candidates of all parties are rightly focused on important matters such as the NHS, Brexit, the economy and climate change. But the MPs who are elected on December 12 will also have a duty to the people of their constituencies.

With this in mind, I set out to ask the five candidates standing in the Surrey Heath constituency – which covers Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham – to explain their policies for our local area.

The question was: “What do you understand to be the issues and concerns affecting people living in Ash, Ash Vale, and Tongham and what might their elected MP do to help address those issues in 2020 and beyond?”

The local villages are undergoing changes that are alarming many people. A total of 1,750 homes have been allocated for the Ash-Tongham area in the Guildford Local Plan.

Traffic congestion is likely to get worse and with this in mind, an ambitious scheme is going ahead to build a new road bridge over the railway at Ash – a scheme welcomed by some, but challenged by others.

Flood defences are a major concern in view of the rise in house building. On the positive side, a new £4 million development is planned at Ash Manor School – in response to a large degree to the rising school-age population.

The villages of Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham are on the outer reaches of the Surrey Heath constituency and the Guildford Borough, and people sometimes remark that they seem to have a low priority in the minds of planners and policy-makers.

So how would the five candidates address local issues? These are their statements, in alphabetical order.

Sharon Galliford, Green Party

Sharon Galliford, Green Party.

“The villages of Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham are in a unique position being located within Guildford Borough Council jurisdiction yet in Surrey Heath Parliamentary constituency. For this reason they are often overlooked.

“However, like the rest of the constituency, residents’ concerns focus on over-development, congestion and the destruction of natural habitats.

“The building of homes around Ash Manor will destroy local heritage and Ash Residents’ Association is right to challenge this as not in line with ‘sustainable development’. Flooding in the area is likely to become a serious issue in the future if this goes ahead.

“Air quality concerns along the Blackwater Valley bypass have already lead to a reduction in the speed limit but further assaults from the air are experienced due to lower flight paths into Farnborough due to changes at Heathrow. Both will get worse if not addressed now.

“All of these are issues that Green Party policy tackles head on. Taking power closer to the people and using holistic thinking is essential if we are to create an environment that supports people to live healthy lives in a natural environment. Tackling climate change is essential through the development of sustainable transport and realistic local plans.”

Michael Gove, Conservative Party

Michael Gove, Conservative.

“As Conservative candidate for this area I am determined to continue fighting for a better deal for residents in Ash, Ash Vale and Tongham.

“I oppose inappropriate development – especially on flood-prone land – and will work to stop more new housing being built on precious green spaces. I opposed Bewley Homes’ plans for development and will be vigilant about any future encroachment on the green belt.

“I am fighting for better flood protection and have worked with Guildford Borough and the Environment Agency as well as the Avondale Flood Forum to secure improved flood defences.

“I am a strong supporter of Ash Manor School and its great headteacher Agnes Bailey. I support her plans to improve the excellent education it offers local children.

“I am pressing for improved bus services. Tongham residents in particular need an improved service.

“Road safety matters – we need to ensure that pedestrians are safe, especially with the volume of traffic on The Street in Tongham.

“Congestion at Ash station level crossing has been a problem for years. I believe the proposed new bridge will help.

“And we need step-free access at Ash Vale station to help all rail travellers with access.”

Brahma Mohanty, Labour Party

Brahma Mohanty, Labour.

“There are many areas that I would like to resolve but am highlighting two key issues that are important to the residents of Ash, Tongham and Ash Vale and would wish to address if elected.

“Housing and community. For some years, many residents within the Ash community have been concerned that they are neither a high priority of Guildford Borough Council nor the Surrey Heath MP.

“I want to change this through holding regular community surgeries and follow this up with at least quarterly meetings with both the parish councils and senior officers at Guildford including from the housing department.

“Public transport. Both Ash and Ash Vale stations have less than 30 parking spaces and there is a further issue at Ash Vale with disabled access.

“Ash Vale station in particular needs to be refreshed and is especially unpleasant to wait at night. Whilst there are no easy parking improvements at either site, I would want to look at possible options regarding improved bus links with these stations and review all other forms of sustainable travel.

“I would also arrange meetings with South Western Railway to ensure maintenance at both stations is kept up to date.”

Alasdair Pinkerton, Liberal Democrat Party

Alasdair Pinkerton, Liberal Democrat.

“Surrey Heath desperately needs a fresh start. It’s where I live. It’s where my children go to school.

“Over the last few years I’ve seen things become gradually worse. Sure Start centres closed. Recycling centres and library services cut. Our fire stations’ capacity reduced, putting lives at risk. We face massive, inappropriate development, threatening our environment and clogging our roads.

“We need a local representative who will fight for things that really matter. We need a government dedicated to investing in communities and building a fairer economy.

“We need to ensure that every child gets the best start. We will boost funding for our schools for new teachers and special educational needs. We will deliver free childcare from nine months for working parents, and for all children aged two to four.

“Our NHS is in desperate need of sustainable funding. I support a 1p rise in income tax to ensure Frimley Park Hospital is properly funded.

“We need new, more affordable housing in Surrey Heath. But we must minimise environmental damage and invest in infrastructure and public transport. Improved flood defences are desperately needed for Ash and Tongham.

“Finally, we commit to a five-year rail fare freeze and I will fight for better, cheaper services into London.”

David Roe, UKIP

David Roe, UKIP.

“I live in Woking and have been an active member of UKIP since 2008, having stood before for UKIP in several local elections in Woking.

“After university, I pursued a career in medical research – firstly on the biomolecular virology of  foot and mouth disease virus, then later investigating  influenza virus.

Serendipitously, an opportunity arose to move into computing and within six months I had set up my first software business. These days I operate as a business angel, which gives me time to pursue innovative business ideas and my political ambitions.

“My priorities for Surrey Heath are:

“Leaving the EU – its institutions, judiciary and regulations.

“Abolishing unfair taxes such as Stamp Duty and Inheritance Tax.

“To protect the green belt and fight housing over-development. 

“Prioritising the NHS over foreign aid.

“To keep council chief executives’ remuneration realistic.

“Removing VAT on utilities (fuel, water, phone, internet).

“And removing VAT on feminine hygiene products.

“I am also committed to supporting the funding for railway bridges over the level crossings in Ash and Ash Vale to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.”

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