The inconvenient truth: Correcting errors in a Conservative leaflet

The leafletResidents have alerted us to a leaflet delivered in Redhill today which contains a number of distortions and inaccuracies. Here are our corrections. Thank you to everyone who contacted us about this.

We did not “object to the Council’s budget freeze”.

We voted for the Council budget, including the freeze on council tax. We also proposed the Council spend some of its money on community facilities (see our April newsletter).

We have not “opposed plans for a new primary school in Redhill”.

We continue to call for urgent work to find a site for a new school, which is sorely needed. We have questioned the suitability of the Battlebridge site which the Conservatives are pushing (though Surrey County Council has expressed reservations about it), calling on the County Council to assess all potential sites (see our election leaflet). We have highlighted that there are also two former education sites in Redhill planned to be turned into housing.

We have not “raised fears of new incinerator” at the Copyhold site in Redhill but we have spoken of our concerns about a possible incinerator in Earlswood.

We opposed the incinerator now approved by Conservatives at Spelthorne in North Surrey. At that planning meeting it was confirmed that there are plans for further waste burning plants in Earlswood and/or Guildford. It is the Conservatives, not us, who raised the spectre of an incinerator on the Copyhold site. They have so far failed to assure us that they would oppose plans for an incinerator in Earlswood.

We have never “supported continued trucking of waste to incinerator in Kent, in preference to using the Surrey Eco Park”.

We opposed the Spelthorne incinerator (the so-called ‘Eco Park’), and continue to support residents who oppose it. This is an unproven, inefficient type of incinerator (read more here) and the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Surrey County Council’s waste firm had misled the public about the plans.

We have challenged for less waste to be trucked across Surrey and continue to call for more local reuse and recycling.

We “voted against a specific proposal to invest in the Harlequin theatre” – as we argued for more investment for the Harlequin, not less.

We voted against a blatantly electioneering proposal to give the Harlequin an insufficient one-off lump sum, which was suddenly put forward just before last year’s election. We called for a properly funded budget for the Harlequin as part of the Council’s Corporate Plan.

We challenged the “proposal to expand Sainsbury’s” and disagree that this would “increase town centre parking by hundreds of spaces”.

Supermarket: We opposed the expansion of Sainsbury’s as no assessment had been done of the potential impact on other traders. Our concerns may have been partly vindicated by Asda’s apparent loss of interest in building a supermarket in Redhill.

Parking: Whilst the Sainsbury’s application may have resulted in an increase in parking on that site, we have raised concerns about the plans to build on Marketfield, Gloucester Road and the two station car parks in Redhill.

We “set up a petition to make the Borough a ‘nuclear free zone’, attracting one signature”.

It’s true! One member set this up and forgot to tell us so it has never been promoted. It was a great idea but unfortunately the petition has now closed.

We did not “support the Tories’ new local planning policy”.

We assume this refers to the Council’s Core Strategy. We strongly opposed this on many grounds, including plans to start building on the Green Belt in 10 years. We did however, vote in favour of this being open to public consultation. See minutes of the Council meeting here to understand what we assented to.

We also joined over 14,000 other groups and individuals in challenging the government’s new National Planning Policy Framework – which was described by The Telegraph and others as a ‘Developers’ Charter’.

The Greens’ record in Brighton

“Recycling rate is only 27%” – thanks to the Conservatives.

Brighton Council inherited this low recycling rate from a Conservative-run Council who managed the surprising feat of reducing the recycling rate during their four-year term in office. Almost a year in, the Greens are working hard to turn this around by trialling community composting, communal recycling bins and piloting food waste collection. Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s recycling rate is nothing to boast about. The latest official audited figures show recycling rates of 28% for Brighton and 33% for Reigate and Banstead.

Greens did “propose a 3.5% increase in council tax instead of the freeze secured by the Tories”.

True, Brighton Greens proposed a rise but the Conservatives and Labour amended their plans and imposed a freeze. Meanwhile, Surrey County Conservatives voted through a 3.5% council tax increase, because they argued that to fail to do so would not be good for residents. Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: “We must do what is right for the residents of Surrey over the long-term and not accept short-term assistance that will imperil our financial stability in years to come.” A similar argument to that made by the Brighton Greens. Listen to David Hodge here.

Greens did not “tell residents to ‘stop whining like snivelling children’ about doubling of parking charges”.

This quote comes from a letter to The Argus written in a personal capacity by a former Green party candidate, who has no role on the Council. In contrast, the Brighton Green Party and elected Councillors are committed to listening to businesses and residents and looking again at the seafront parking charges.

The Greens do not propose to turn Brighton into the “top destination for pot smoking tourists”.

The source of this story is The Sun newspaper: hardly a bastion of objective journalism. The Sun article was based on a blog post by Brighton Councillor Ben Duncan proposing some decriminalisation of soft drugs. His blog post ends: I expect to be misunderstood so I predict the following headline soon: Green Councilllor calls for Brighton to be the Pot Capital of Europe’. Read the blog post

Caroline Lucas did not say that “the Green’s (sic) main aim this year is a complete takeover of Redhill East, with a full slate of all three Councillors”.

Redhill East is one of many seats across the country that Greens hope to win. While all the Councillors in Horley, Merstham, Reigate, Earlswood and the rest of Redhill are Conservatives, one more Green Councillor in Redhill East would give us three out of 51 Councillors in the Borough. While hardly a “complete takeover”, we hope this would mean a stronger opposition on our Council.

The Greens’ national record

The Greens have a positive manifesto which you can read here and a respected and hardworking MP in Caroline Lucas. However, we do not see that the voting record of our Brighton MP is relevant to a local election in Redhill.

 

If  you have any questions on any of the issues here, please post a comment here or contact us.

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5 Comments

  1. Michael
    Posted Thursday, 3 May 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Outside the polling station, I met someone who lives in Redhill East ward, who had received one of these flyers, delivered to her very late in the evening just before the legal cut-off for political advertising.

    She pointed out that not only was the content of the leaflet full of untruths, but because there was no clear publisher’s or author’s name it looked as if it was sponsored by the Green Party themselves.

    It was highly and intentionally misleading. All the spot colour was green, and there was a large green rosette prominently placed above the text.

    In tiny type (4 point or less) on the back of the pamphlet one could read that it had originated from the Conservative Party.

    Would you be able to show that flyer here, please?

  2. Posted Thursday, 3 May 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment. Lots of people have been complaining about this leaflet at the polling stations today. We will add a scan soon.

  3. Rich
    Posted Thursday, 3 May 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I do hope there will be another inconvenient truth for these tired old Tories in Redhill East tomorrow… And, no, I’m not a Green Party Member – and never will be. I’m an ordinary voter who feels this is undemocratic and undignified – and frankly rather desperate and pathetic.

  4. Mark
    Posted Saturday, 5 May 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I met two traditional Tory voters at the polling station on Thursday who informed me (and the Conservative Party teller) that they were voting Green and would never vote Tory again in disgust at this pamphlet they received the night before the vote.

  5. N
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the points in Michael’s comments above – only difference being that I received the leaflet today (8 May)…….

    Can this not be acted upon? Despite being without doubt outside the spirit of political campaigning, it doesn’t come across as being entirely within the letter of the law.

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