Statement from Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council

Statement from Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: “We have been advised by the Director of Public Health at Surrey County Council that Elmbridge, Guildford, Tandridge and Waverly are in the top ten infection rate areas in England. Mole Valley currently stands at number 11. There does not appear to be a specific or unique reason for this, but it provides a stark reminder that we must remain vigilant. As you may have seen or read on the news this past week, a new coronavirus variant of interest has been identified, Omicron. One case of this new strain has very recently been identified in Spelthorne. While the risks associated with the Omicron variant are yet to be fully understood, it stands to good reason it is treated with extreme caution.

“The government has taken action to introduce a series of temporary measures to slow down the spread of this mutation, including making face coverings compulsory in shops and public transport, in addition to a number of countries being put on the UK’s travel red list. You must now remember to take your face covering out with you, unless you are exempt, and adhere to the rules now in force once again.

“Vaccines remain our best defence against coronavirus. Guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has been updated very recently. Only days ago, anyone aged over 40 and over was to be offered the booster jab through the National Booking Service. The advice is that this should now be expanded to anyone aged 18 and over, when the NHS calls them forward. In addition, no earlier than 12 weeks after their first jab, a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is being advised for young people aged 12 to 15 years. This is certainly very welcome news, particularly in light of the extremely high COVID-19 rates in Surrey at this moment in time.

“Ahead of the first weekend in December, don’t forget that over this, and the following two weekends, parking in our car parks is free. We are delighted to once again offer free parking to those people visiting our towns and villages who are not walking or cycling in. Local businesses have experienced such a challenging two years during national lockdowns and times of a series of other restrictions that have affected their ability to trade and, of course, for customers to visit. Please consider Shopping Local this Christmas. It is vital we all do our bit to help boost the local economy.

“It was announced last week that the Surrey Police Headquarters will be remaining in its existing home in Guildford, rather than a new operating base being developed in Leatherhead. The decision has been taken to redevelop Mount Browne, where the Police has been based for the last 70 years. Plans had previously been put forward to move their HQ to the former Electrical Research Association (ERA) and Cobham Industries site. This is disappointing news. The additional footfall that would have come with a newly-established Police HQ would of course have been very welcome in Leatherhead. We will now work with Surrey Police on what the future holds for the ERA site, which they purchased in 2019.

“In other Leatherhead news, approval was granted at the Cabinet meeting held earlier this week to agree the Heads of Terms with the preferred development partner to help deliver our vision for Claire House and James House. It is too soon to say any more at this stage, but we will be in a position to provide further updates in the near future. We are also moving forward with the procurement process of a joint-venture development partner for the Swan Centre and Bull Hill. We hope to have reached a stage where we can approve the preferred partner early next year.

“I was pleased to be involved in the decision at a recent Cabinet meeting to approve Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Equality Policy Statement and Objective 2022-26. This policy sets out how MVDC intends to eliminate prohibited conduct, advance equality of opportunity and helps ensure information and services are accessible to our residents and service users.

“Anyone who has a parking permit will be interested to hear that changes will soon be introduced in the way we administer them, which will result in a less complicated administrative system and reduce the overall cost of a permit for the majority of residents who need them. We’ve been working on updating the existing way of working for some time, with the aim to make the permit system fairer and more flexible. All permits will be available to purchase monthly, quarterly and pro rata at no additional cost.”