17th April 2021

2021 Surrey County Council Election - Frimley Green and Mytchett Division Hustings

The Surrey County Council local elections will be held on Thursday 6th May 2021. The Society will be holding an online Hustings (a Q&A with all the candidates) for the Frimley Green and Mytchett Division on Zoom on Sunday 25th April at 7:30pm.

We will send you a link so you can join this Zoom meeting nearer the time, probably on the day or the day before. All residents are welcome to join this meeting so please feel free to forward this to other local contacts who you think may be interested. If you are not a member on the Society's email list please email info@mfgdsociety.org.uk to register your interest and we will send you the link.
There is more information on the Elections 2021 page of the Surrey Heath Borough Council website. You can also get details like manifestos, vision statements for the 3 candidates plus how to vote on the Who Can I Vote For? website.

2021 SCC Election Hustings The 3 candidates for the Frimley Green and Mytchett Division are:
Paul Deach
Paul Deach – PD
Conservative and Unionist Party - current incumbent
Jacques Olmo
Jacques Olmo – JO
Liberal Democrat Party
Christine Richards
Christine Eleanor Richards – CER
Labour Party
We would like to thank the 3 candidates for taking the trouble to answer all the questions that we raised pre-hustings, see below.

Updated 24th April 2021

Questions for Candidates

  1. For local elections people often vote as much for the person as for the party they represent. So on that basis, tell us a little about yourself, any specific interests or expertise you may have and why you are standing.
    PDI grew up in the north of England, and as an Army Cadet and Gold DofE, community service and voluntary work were instilled in me from an early age. I get a lot of satisfaction from it, and when my wife and I bought our house in Deepcut, I quickly became involved in the community. It would be impossible to list all the things I have been involved with, but most notably, I was a founder of the Surrey Heath Community First Responder Scheme, which has saved countless lives in Surrey Heath. As a volunteer, Responder, I attended over 500 medical incidents, including cardiac arrests, strokes and other serious 999 calls. I even delivered a baby. I first got involved in local politics when it was announced that Princess Royal Barracks would be made available for development. I spotted a lot of inadequacies in our local representation and thought I could do better. I was first elected in 2011 to Surrey Heath Borough Council. It was a baptism of fire and to be honest I was not sure I had done the right thing, however it is a role I have grown into.

    JO My name is Jacques Olmo. I am a Deepcut resident and your Liberal Democrat candidate for Surrey County Council.
    I work in hospitality management and lead a large team of staff.
    Previously, in my native France, I was a Councillor, so I have years of experience at getting things done for residents. I have been a committee member of the Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut society for many years now and in addition to that, in my spare time, I undertake voluntary work in the community. Most recently I became the area co-ordinator for Surrey Heath Prepared in Frimley Green, helping hundreds of residents with shopping and medication requests. I am all about the community. I absolutely love our villages and that is why I have made it my home. I will always do all I can to help people.

    CER I am standing as a candidate for Labour because I believe that people deserve more. Council services are being depleted and the impact is being felt across the community. I am a teacher and see daily the transformational power of education; it is a great privilege to be able to nurture the aspirations of children and to see them grow academically and as individuals. But I also want the world that our young people go into to be a place where they can pursue these aspirations and lead rewarding and satisfying lives. I have spent my formative years in this area and have many fond memories. My own children have grown up here and created their own memories and friendships. It is a good place to live and grow up, and I believe I can help to make it better.

  2. If you are a member of a political party, please say which one and what are they promising for us in this area?
    PD I am a member of the Conservative & Unionist Party. All residents in Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut should have had my election leaflet by now but if for any reason you have not received one, please let me know and i'll get one to you.

    JO I am a member of the Liberal Democrats and they have a long history of community service across our villages. 
    Former County & Borough Councillor David Whitcroft served our villages for many years. Alderman Alan Whittart was a Frimley Green councillor and former Mayor of Surrey Heath. Now all three Frimley Green Borough Councillors and two of the three Mytchett & Deepcut Councillors are Lib Dem. They are part of a team (led by Frimley Green Councillor Sashi Mylvaganam), that uncovered unlawful payments to the former CEO of Surrey Heath Borough Council, something that the Conservatives had either kept hidden or were totally incompetent in not noticing. The Surrey Liberal Democrats manifesto is centered around four C's - 

    • Community - Locally this means fighting against a single unitary authority (removing power further away from residents), enhancing community road safety  (like speed restrictions on Hamesmoor Road in Mytchett), improved street lighting and reversing the cuts to our fire service (which has meant one less fire engine at Camberley, Guildford and Woking and the daytime closure of Chobham fire station).
    • Care - Locally this means protecting Special Educational Needs from cuts (councillors should never try and balance their budgets by cutting support for the most vulnerable children), reforming adult social care, improving children's services (which have been under constant threat of being taken away from the county council, due to very poor OFSTED reports), and fighting to re-open Mytchett SureStart Centre (something our current County Councillor promised he would protect).
    • Climate - We will work with all local councils to go carbon neutral by 2030, ensuring county owned buildings are efficient and generate their own electricity, a county wide network of electric vehicle charging points and a proper plan to< enhance cycling provision and public transport across Surrey.
    • Competence - We must cut the massive back office costs at Surrey County Council and the proliferation of £100K+ salaries, enforcing quality control with road repairs (so potholed roads are properly repaired, not just patched and reigning in the costs of Surrey's out-of-control highway contractors.

    CER I am a member of the Labour Party.

    In the manifesto, the Labour Party has laid out a plan that addresses the things that we all care about.

    A Labour lead council will reverse fire-station closures and cuts to fire-services, these cuts put our lives and property in jeopardy.
    Labour will improve adult social care and reorganize this to ensure that services work in an integrated way so that people get the support they require when they require it. In our ward we have a number of vulnerable people, often they are lucky that they have good neighbours, but it should not be a matter of luck.
    Labour will improve the management and costs of road repairs.
    Sure-Start Centres will return.
    Our Libraries will be protected.
    Transport links and frequency will serve the community more effectively.

    All the cuts we see are false economy in so many ways. We need to think of the long-term not just the immediate short-term.

  3. Residents often express concerns about highways issues (parking, increased traffic, pot holes) and transport, what will you do to address those concerns?
    PD These issues account for a large part of my postbag/inbox and many require a change in the law or regulations in order to adequately address them. Anti-Social Parking/Parking on Pavements is a major concern of residents. Over the last 2 years, I have repeatedly lobbied our MP which has resulted in him supporting and working with the transport minister to bring about a national consultation on pavement parking. This was conducted in October last year and I am confident a solution will come forward in legislation that will give local authorities more robust enforcement powers. I personally consulted residents across the community to bring about a parking review of known parking hotspots. That review has now been completed and a highways officer has provided a recommendation. To read more about this check out this
    post on my page. Traffic increases is a complicated issue that comes about as a result of overdevelopment and unimaginative ways to get people out of their cars. The County Council is moving forward with an agenda of active travel, cleaner, greener and more sustainable public transport which includes an exciting pilot of On-Demand Public Transport. More about this here. Two years ago I used to get a lot of complaints about potholes but this issue is far less of a problem now than it was. However, it is important the highway authority stays on top of the issue. The reporting of potholes is much easier now and Council vehicles are now equipped with specialist AI equipment that automatically detects and reports potholes. More on that here. An extra £200m will be invested in Surrey's Roads in the next 5 years. The Council has resurfaced 400 miles of roads, 125 miles of pavements and repaired over 150,000 potholes across the county over the past 4 years. This work continues and there are several locations in Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut where resurfacing works is happening right now with other locations on the works schedule going forward.

    JO My first priority is to deal with speeding around our villages, especially ensuring that Hamesmoor Road has some sort of increased controls. It is crazy that the only main road in Mytchett without speed warning signs is the one with the school!

    More generally, Surrey County Council use one single contractor for all road maintenance and the road repairs in Surrey seem incredibly expensive compared to neighbouring counties. I often think the standard of work done is poor too. We must ensure better quality control. It might be cheaper in the short-term to patch up potholes, but in the long-term it costs taxpayers more because it requires regular maintenance. We need some competence at the county to deal with these highways issues. 

    CER We need a proper scheduling of road repair.
    At present road repair is the monopoly of a single company and if we are to have safe roads, we need to introduce proper competition, not be at the mercy of a single company which wields all the power.
    Road repairs take far too long. They are not scheduled so there is far more disruption than there need be. The work is often contracted out which makes it even more expensive for us.
    I would oppose cuts to bus services, and press for more frequent buses – what we need is, a bus service that makes it economically viable and convenient to use the bus.
    More frequent and affordable buses means less traffic

    I would encourage people to report road safety and repair concerns and update the community on what has already been reported.

  4. In view of the climate emergency, what are your priorities and commitments for our area?
    PD This is a huge topic that I can’t answer in a couple of hundred words but to summarise what the Conservatives at SCC are doing and will do in respect of the climate emergency: £264m for highways to boost active travel and improve journeys around the county. £105m for “Greener future” projects like renewable energy and low emission transport. Keeping recycling rates high. Surrey was the third-best two-tier authority in the country regarding recycling for 2019/2020. Over 83,000 homes and businesses and rising every day benefiting from superfast broadband infrastructure making remote working reality and not just an aspiration especially in harder to reach/rural locations. Gigabit Broadband has arrived and is being activated in our communities right now. In fact we now have it in Deepcut. Roll out of LED street lighting across Surrey which significantly lowers energy usage and cost. Planted 20,000 trees in the last year with a plan to plant 1.2 million by 2030. Investment of £237m in a river scheme that will create new habitats and improve biodiversity in Surrey. The council provides cycle training to over 16,000 young people every year helping to instil safe active travel at an early age. The Council has also launched Greener Futures projects such as renewable energy, active travel and low emission transport. More can and will be done.

    JO Climate is one of the Lib Dems four central priorities in this election. We want to see all public buildings generating their own electricity. We need a plan to increase active travel across Surrey, with enhanced cycle lanes, bus routes and train services and that includes making areas like Hamesmoor Road safer, so children can walk safely to school. We also have a commitment to roll out electric charging points across the county. 

    CER One of the greatest causes of pollution is traffic pollution, so there is an urgent need to improve public transport and decrease the number of cars on the road.
    In addition, we urgently need a full review of our local road network and to examine where improvements in traffic flow can be made.
    I would commit to ensuring our green spaces are kept green and I would encourage community projects such as tree planting.
    Alongside these actions, it is crucial that we raise awareness in the community of climate change and its impact. Working with local societies, organisations, businesses and schools, much can be achieved.
    Furthermore, all recycling should be covered by our council tax and there should not be extra charges made to residents on top of what is already paid in council tax for this facility. This would also go some way to solving the fly-tipping incidents which are sadly on the rise.

  5. We are keen on preserving the character of our area whilst continuously improving the facilities, attractiveness and green spaces. What will you do in this respect?
    PD This is something I am also keen on. I have supported the society and other local organisations through my Members community allocation by providing funds to improve local facilities. These are relatively small amounts of money but make a big difference to the character of our area and its facilities. The “Our Fund Surrey” project has been launched. This is a £100m fund to support community-led initiatives. I am aware of several ideas that have been registered that if successful will be a major boost to our facilities in Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut. I have played a major role in working with members of the community and stakeholders to make sure that developers provide local infrastructure as part of their planning approvals. It is sometimes impossible to stop development but it is possible to make sure that the community gain in respect of developer contributions to improving our local amenities. Some examples of this are the new play area at Loman Road, an improved footpath linking the Blackwater Valley Path to Farnborough North Station, an exciting play area and nature walks in Deepcut, with more to come, a safe cycle/walk route between Deepcut, Tomlinscote,St Augustines, and Ravenscote Schools, and a specialist wheelchair access swing for Frimley Lodge Park, the first in the Borough, to name but a few.

    JO One of the reasons I settled here and made it my home, is because of the incredible beauty we have. From canals, to woods, heathland to parks. We are very lucky. I want to continue working with the society to get further improvements on Frimley Green. I have also been actively involved in campaigning for more wildflower beds around our grass verges and roundabouts, something that residents should soon see happening across our villages. 

    CER We have many green spaces in our ward, and I have enjoyed these from my childhood. Close to my heart is the Green in Frimley Green where I used to meet up with my school friends. Although it is a lovely space, I feel we are not making the most of our asset. I would have conversations with local people to hear their ideas; perhaps put on open-air shows. I would work with the Frimley Green, Mytchett and Deepcut Society and other groups to make the Green a colourful centre of the community.
    Our green spaces are important and people should be encouraged to use them and enjoy the revitalizing agency that they give. I would support community projects that aim to enhance our natural environment and do my utmost to ensure green areas are clean, beautiful and safe.

  6. What can you offer to older and more vulnerable residents?
    PD All vulnerable residents including the elderly have and always will be my number one priority. I will always forcefully fight the corner of our vulnerable residents who often cannot speak up for themselves. I believe the social-economic impact of COVID will only increase the number of vulnerable residents in our community which is one of the main motivations for me deciding to stand again for a further term at Surrey County Council. Just two of many examples of what I have done for the vulnerable members of our community recently is to fundraise to purchase CCTV equipment for a number of elderly residents who are being targeted by criminals. They told me they felt unsafe in their own homes which I found completely unacceptable. This galvanised me into action and with the support of the local community, I raised several thousand pounds to purchase the CCTV equipment for these residents. I worked with a local volunteer crime prevention group to manage these funds and organise the installation of the equipment. I have also topped up the fund through my member’s community allocation which means there are plenty of funds for any other vulnerable residents in our community to have this equipment installed. I also have been told by a lot of vulnerable residents that they or their parents are being targeted with phone scams. I have referred many of these residents to Trading Standards who have provided and installed True Call devices free of charge. These devices eradicate these types of scam calls. Through my community newsletters and social media, I will continue to raise awareness of scams and keep residents informed when issues arise so they can heighten their vigilance and look out for one another.

    JO I was very proud of my work with Surrey Heath Prepared and most of the support we offered went to older residents, so many now know me. I recognise that not everybody is on Facebook, which is why we still deliver old fashioned leaflets and letters to keep all of our neighbours informed. Adult social care is one of the main functions of Surrey County Council and it really is in crisis. The existing  administration seems to be out of ideas.

    CER I have spoken to a number of older people in the ward, what they want is to be able to get about as independently as possible, to have company and to feel secure.

    One thing I would work hard to achieve would be a regular and frequent shuttle bus service that links to shops and other important facilities such as the hospital and doctors’ surgery; there are many people who cannot afford a taxi and are too frail or anxious to use public transport. How fantastic would it be if such a service also offered to take people to our green spaces so that older people could enjoy fresh air and a little exercise.
    Social care is becoming increasingly sparse, and we are leaving our most vulnerable members without the support they need; no one should feel that they have lost their dignity, and no one should feel neglected but we see this happening over and over in our neighbourhoods so I would work hard to oppose cuts and to work with the local community to protect those in need.

  7. And what can you offer to young families and teenagers?
    PD I think a priority for young families has to be to ensure that our schools are the best they possibly can be. We are exceptionally fortunate in Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut to have some of the best schools for our children to attend. I am available to headteachers of our local schools at all times and am in regular contact with them to provide support where needed and have provided additional funding through my member’s community allocation for improvements to the school in terms of facilities, safety and extracurricular activity. Most recently, in the context of COVID support, I have facilitated online meetings throughout the crisis between headteachers and Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove who has provided support to headteachers by being a direct link between them and the Department for Education. In Deepcut we had a fantastic youth club which was provided by a charity and supported by some inspiring adult volunteers. However, the building the youth club was based in is owned by the MOD and they decided to close it. I suspect they want to redevelop it into housing. My intention, regardless if I am re-elected or not is to devote some time to find ways of creating a new youth club for Mytchett, Frimley Green & Deepcut. Previous clubs have failed due to low demand but I think with some imagination and some inspirational fun adult leaders it would not be impossible to recreate the Deepcut Youth Club that could serve a wider area.

    JO I am very concerned about the years of cuts to youth services. I think this is starting to cause issues with anti-social behaviour. I want to see local sports clubs supported and extended, so there are more things for our young people to get involved with.

    CER Speaking with young families in the ward, the Sure Start Centre was a vital asset that needs to be urgently reinstated in its original form.
    I would also encourage teenagers to be active members in their community and to participate in community projects. Teenagers have a lot to offer and are full of energy and ideas.

    Teenagers need to be able to meet up with their friends in a safe, warm environment, and it is something that is missing.

    It is also of crucial importance that the roads are safe for our children. Coleford Bridge Road needs something more robust than the speed monitors and many other roads should have speed bumps. Children don’t ride bikes like they used to because it’s just not safe enough and cycle lanes are non-existent in our ward even though we have nearly 3000 children.

  8. What other issues, if any, will you prioritise in your first year and how?
    PD As per my previous answer, an inspiring youth club for your teenagers is something that I want to put time and effort into but that is not conditional upon me being elected, I will want to do that anyway. However, as has always been the case, since becoming a councillor, my priority is always to be available to residents to directly address their issues and concerns whatever they may be.

    JO  I think the most pressing issue that will need to be dealt with is stopping this idea of a single unitary authority. Scrapping our local council and taking decisions further away from residents is wrong. We need devolution, not centralisation. The Conservative administration seems hell-bent on pursuing this idea, no matter how much opposition there is. I am not against reform of councils and sharing of services, to achieve savings. But 1.2 million residents is too much for one authority to look after. 

    CER My priorities would be:

    • Road safety -
    • Road repairs -
    • Frimley Green Green -
    • Running the shuttle bus -
    • Reversing the recycling charges -
    • Raising awareness of climate change -

    For all the changes and improvements, there are ways of achieving them, we are a wealthy nation of educated and innovative people.
    In most cases, better distribution of funds and sound organization are sufficient.

    Working with other councillors as a team towards the best solutions for community is a key to success, and when we put the community as our first and highest priority, then the best outcomes can be achieved.

  9. Connecting and communicating with residents on a regular basis is an important part of being a Councillor. What will you do?
    PD I believe that communication is a very important part of the role as an elected representative and is something I take very seriously and already put a lot of effort into. For several years I have sent out a weekly email newsletter to many local residents and I am very active on social media. Where issues arise I also hand deliver newsletters through residents letterboxes. However, there are still quite a significant number of residents who are not connected to the internet so I have decided that if I am re-elected on 6th May, I will be creating a regular printed version of my eNewsletter and hand-deliver these to residents who are digitally excluded. This is not going to be easy and I have not finalised the logistics of this initiative but I am determined to do this, especially for those residents who might be socially isolated.

    JO I believe in a multi-channel approach. I intend to deliver multiple leaflets a year, to ensure that ALL residents know what I am doing for them. But I also want to start an online newsletter, which many residents find easier. I regularly use Facebook and Twitter, so residents are welcome to follow me there. And of course, they can write or phone me anytime. Plus I will also be happy to use the brand new Frimley Green notice board and other across the villages 

    CER I would write regular reports to the local societies such as Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut.
    I also would like updates to be communicated as widely as possible; an informed community has more power to make the changes it wants to see, such as road safety, than an uninformed community.

    A range of media is best - a newsletter, Facebook and other social media, youtube links etc.

    I would also be interested in producing a youth voice radio station run by teenagers of the ward. The funding for this can be done through a variety of ways.

    However, listening to what the residents have to say and what is important to them has to be the first step. I am standing as candidate because I want to make things better, but it is about everyone’s ‘better’.

  10. Is there anything else you would like to say that might be of interest to residents that is not covered above?
    PD My straight-talking no-nonsense approach to local politics may ruffle a few feathers from time to time but it has given me a track record of delivery for residents. A good example of this was when I supported lead campaigners of the Frimley Green Traffic Lights proposals which has resulted in the highways, planning authorities and developers of Mindenhurst supporting the residents preferred roundabout solution.

    JO I believe that change is needed. I think that it is not healthy to have such a huge Tory majority, which can govern without scrutiny. We need fresh ideas, and a rebalancing, so consensus is needed. 
    I hope residents can see, that by electing Liberal Democrats to Surrey Heath Borough Council, we have effectively scrutinised the Tories, shining a light on mistakes and presenting new ideas. 
    This is what we now want to do at Surrey County Council. And I need your vote to do that. 
    Remember - If you want change, you have to vote for it.

    Thanks - Jacques Olmo 

    CER Just to say that I think what you are doing is so important and so appreciated because it represents the values of democracy and community and gives people the opportunity to make informed decisions.
Questions compiled by Graham O'Connell