Cllr Gordon Keymer, the Conservative leader of Tandridge District Council, stresses good service delivery with emptying the dustbins. Plus keeping costs down through partnership deals with neighbouing councils.
We councillors have to defend our service levels in whatever way we can. Lose sight of that and we are in electoral trouble.
Tandridge District Council covers an area of 100 square miles in Surrey stretching from Gatwick Airport in the south to the borders of Croydon in the north. Tandridge has a population of 79,000 residents. It is just over half an hour to central London by train yet the district is 93% Green Belt. The perfect place to live!
Our relatively small population allows us to have the committee system and I believe that this is the only route if you want to keep all your members involved and feeling part of the running of the council. 33 of our councillors are Conservative out of a total of 48.
Like all small districts we are extremely strapped for cash. However, I consider it vital that we continue to show we can offer something different when compared to other areas.
For example, we provide a weekly refuse and recycling service. Not only that, but we still collect refuse from bins beside the back door. As you can imagine, our refuse and recycling service is extremely popular with local residents.
Another example is that we have always tried to help local businesses by providing free parking for shoppers in our council car parks. The free parking tickets offer a discount at a local restaurant so effectively shoppers are paid to park here! The free parking has the additional benefit that, since we do not rely on parking income to support services, we are not vulnerable to a fall in that income during the current recession.
No item on councils would be complete without mentioning joint working with other authorities to reduce costs.
Tandridge is well known for its joint working.
Our main partnership is with three neighbouring district councils. We are carrying out a series of practical projects as well as the implementation of a new ICT network. At the same time we are working with other authorities outside this partnership to provide joint services that are efficient, economic and resilient. Joint working requires maximum flexibility in both the actual partners and size of the partnership. Councils must be able to seek the best partner for a particular service, not persuaded into large and possibly unwieldy
combinations. We hear a lot about working in “clusters”. In Tandridge we are actually doing it and successfully.
The coming year will mean another intensive search for savings and further partnership working with the aim of improving services while providing improved value for money. We hope that our campaigning, our service record and the residents’ enjoyment of living in such a beautiful area so close to London, will be rewarded with another good election result next May.