Surrey County Councillor Jeff Harris Update
January 2021 Newsletter

Who could have possibly guessed what the last 9 months have brought and the position we find ourselves in at the moment.

We enter a New Year with some good news, and as I write this many of our most vulnerable elderly are receiving letters inviting them to attend a Vaccination Centre in the next few days. The plan is to widen the number of recipients and broaden the age group. You don’t need to ask – you will be told when its your ‘turn’.

You will be contacted by letter/text with details of arrangements. (Do remember there are a lot of scams going on and you will NEVER be asked for money, etc for the Vaccine!)

However, I’ve become aware that due to sickness and ‘Self-Isolation’ issues currently affecting the workforce our Post Office Sorting Office in Tadworth, which serves a great many of our residents, is struggling to cope with the amount of post, and thus some residents have not received any mail over the last week or so, and this is worrying for those waiting for Vaccination letters .

Councillor Bob Gardner (Lower Kingswood) and I have already asked questions about this and raised it as a very serious concern. I’m aware that our MP Crispin Blunt got involved with the Post Office, Dept of Health and Social Care and the NHS.

As I write this I’m pleased to say that as a result, hopefully by the weekend all the outstanding letters will have gone out.

But just in case some of our elderly residents haven’t received a letter and remembering the ‘Social-Distancing rules’, can I please ask that if you have family, neighbours or acquaintances in the Over 80 category, you make contact and ask if they’ve had a letter.

Some will have, but not quite understand what action needs to be taken, others won’t have, and from experience locally, are worried they’ve been forgotten. You can help them by going on the NHS Website ‘Booking a Coronavirus vaccination’ with their personal details including their NHS number NOT the National Insurance Number. You can do this for other people.

There are also lots of different sections and ‘Frequently Asked questions’ , which hopefully will clear up and concerns.

I won’t go into much more detail here, but for the Councils and other Public Services such as the Police, they are all struggling with absentee rates from 12-20% of staff ill with Covid-19, other illnesses or self-isolating.

This is putting them under tremendous pressure as it’s a busy time of year anyway, so please be patient if you have any dealings with them, and remember they are having to prioritise services, so the operations are completely different to ‘normal’.

That said, there is a lot more information on the Surrey County Council Website:

I’ve been asked specifically about the Community Re-cycling Centres and if they are open, etc.

The answer at the moment, providing you book beforehand, and all the information you may need is below, including ‘Booking a Slot’

On the subject of rubbish, and litter, I’m very pleased to acknowledge the efforts of the Tadworth, Kingswood, Walton and Burgh Heath Litter Pickers who since August last year in our area have picked up a staggering almost EIGHT HUNDRED sacks of litter along our roads and lanes. A truly amazing effort from a group of volunteers whose ages range from 5-85! So well done them. Obviously if you would like to join them and keep our beautiful countryside looking so litter-free, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

Sadly, almost all they pick up can’t be re-cycled, as its contaminated with all sorts of ‘other rubbish’. Included in that is a large number of ‘Poo Bags’ containing dog waste and just thrown in the grass or worse still hung on trees and bushes-quite disgusting really, and presumably done by people who call themselves ‘Responsible dog owners’, including it must be said, some of our own residents!

We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and to ensure it stays that way can we all spread the word – TAKE HOME YOUR LITTER…!

At this time of year all public Authorities are looking very carefully at their Finances, particularly County Councils. Surrey County Council have cut over £500,000,000 from their budget over the last few years and the cuts, unpalatable as they were, are beginning to pay off. I am confident that unlike many Councils, we will be able to ‘balance the books’, albeit it with a small increase in the Precept to cover inflation and the increasing cost of Adult Social Care. This is quite a positive message, given all the current challenges we face. But more will be available to share in the next few weeks, as the final Budget will be announced early next month. You will probably appreciate the income from things like Business Rates is substantially down, so its quite a challenge just to manage that loss of income. More of that later

I’ll also publish a list of what I personally have spent your money on locally and what projects and Highways have been completed this year..

Finally, its tough going for all of us at the moment, very frustrating at times, but all being well it will be over at some time soon and life becomes whatever ‘normal’ is….So I’d add a fourth line to the Hands, Face and Space………………….and that’s ‘Patience’…

There is a tiny but growing ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, but when I hear that the Vaccine Programme will end it all ‘within months’ and it will al be over, the reality is likely to be different, for one thing the economy and jobs will take some time to recover.

I’m reminded of one of Churchill's speeches in 1942: ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is perhaps, the end of the beginning’.

I wish every one of you and your families a safe, secure, healthy and happy New year.

Best wishes,

9 December 2020 Christmas Newsletter

As we approach what has been quite an awful year for many and very challenging for the rest of us, I’d like to open by saying a huge thank you to everyone who ‘has done their bit’ to help others across my area and beyond. Your efforts have made huge differences to the lives of so many people, often unnoticed, but always appreciated. Just take a look in the mirror and tell the person facing you……’Thank you!’

I’ll start with Covid-19. Sadly, as I write, the figures in Reigate and Banstead are beginning to creep up. But these are not just figures- they are our families, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. So without going into great detail, and keeping it simple. We can all ‘do our bit’ by:

Hands – 20 second rule for washing.
Face – Coverings where applicable, and always on public transport.
Space- the 2 metre rule still applies, where possible.

We enter the New Year with the news that a Vaccine is on the way, starting with the most vulnerable and Health workers, then through the age range and special cases. Be patient, please. There is plenty of information on the Surrey County Council website and most will be receiving letters to inform them of the details. Please disregard rumours. There are so many very sad people out there just trying to scare the vunerable.

Stick to

Some good news - Surrey County Council have put aside £100 Million over the next few years to support Community Projects across the County. This is open to the imagination, but needs to conform with the Surrey Vision for 2030. There is a webpage:, where there is a growing list of ideas and information. If you don’t ask, you will never know if you could have succeeded in getting your long-dreamt of project completed.

My Members Highways Allowance is sadly all spent. I hope to good use in clearing footpaths, cutting hedges and overgrown trees, stump-grinding, digging drainage ditches and major projects in Ballards Green, Burgh Heath, Kingswood Road, Tadworth, Headley Common Road, and a long awaited one in Chipstead Lane, Kingswood.

There’s more to do and that will be down to my successor, as in May next year, I’m stepping down, and a new face will be representing you. More of that later.

Finally, a few warnings. Many will say - these are obvious……and they are………every year!

From Surrey Fire and Rescue – no lighted candles in the home, please, and don’t overload sockets. If you haven’t got a Smoke/Carbon Monoxide alarm, buy yourself one for Christmas.

From Surrey and Buckinghamshire Trading Standards – if it seems too good to be true – it IS! Check all your purchases are safe-has it got a ‘kite-mark’? And watch out for all the scams-if in doubt, put the phone down/don’t open attachments, and close the door.

Surrey Police – Don’t Drink and Drive. The legal limit may be 35 (whatever’s) but nil is the safe limit -nominate a driver, or just keep it soft, just this time! Oh, and wear your seatbelt, don’t speed and leave the phone alone! These four kill more people than anything else on the roads.

It would be quite remise of me not to mention how clean our roads and public areas are…….This is because we are so lucky to have a growing number of volunteers out there, rain, shine, fog or frost, litter-picking. It would be really nice if their efforts weren't necessary, so if you’re out and about- take your litter home………please! But a HUGE thank you to all of you, you are making an enormous and visible difference!

Finally, it really IS the season of goodwill, so please make sure your neighbours are all ok, if they are vulnerable, there may be something you can do for them. Don’t leave it to anyone else, just ask..

On behalf of Pat and I, may we wish each and everyone of you a safe,,happy and hugely enjoyable Christmas and Happy healthy New Year.

Best wishes,

Jeff and Pat Harris.
5 November 2020
I will be publishing a separate Councillors Report in the next day or so, but thought it prudent to send out the latest ‘Can/can’t‘ do list of activities during this lockdown

The lockdown began 5 November and lasts until Wednesday 2 December. The rules are a little less restrictive than they were in the spring when it was not permitted to see anyone outside your household and more businesses are remaining open.

I’m sorry for the length of this message, but there are quite a few important issues to highlight. This information is current as of 5th November.
I’m grateful to Chris Grayling MP for much of the information.
Please feel free to share this as much as possible, and obviously in an appropriate way, remembering that not everyone has access to the internet.

Once again, thank you for your support of our vulnerable residents and neighbours. Don’t forget to ‘knock next door’ if you re shopping and see if they need anything.

As before, everyone is being asked to stay at home, except for the following purposes:

Where it is reasonably necessary in order...
◼︎ To buy goods or obtains services from relevant open businesses for your own household, for a vulnerable person, or for someone in the same household as a vulnerable person
◼︎ To obtain or deposit money to/from a relevant financial services provider
◼︎ To exercise or visit a public outdoor place for recreation or exercise (alone, in your household or support/childcare bubble, or with one other person)
◼︎ To attend a place of worship (you are allowed private prayer but church services are not now permitted)
◼︎ To attend a permitted Remembrance Sunday event, or specified Armistice day event in Westminster Abbey
◼︎ Activities related to the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property (or associated activities including visiting estate agents, viewing properties, preparing properties to move in)
◼︎ To meet or visit someone in your support bubble
◼︎ To collect ordered food and drink ordered from a business
◼︎ To visit waste disposal or recycling centres

Work and other obligations:
◼︎ Where necessary for the purposes of work or voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible to work or provide these services from home
◼︎ To access voluntary and charitable services, such as food banks
◼︎ For the purposes of education or training
◼︎ To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
◼︎ To provide emergency assistance to any person
◼︎ To fulfil a legal obligation e.g. attending court, satisfying bail conditions, or participating in legal proceedings
◼︎ To access critical public services, such as social services, services provided by the DWP, services provided to victims (would also include e.g. registering a birth)

Elite athletes
◼︎ To participate in an elite sport event or training if you are an elite sports person, a coach, or a parent if the sports person is under 18

For a medical need
◼︎ To seek medical assistance, including to take a test or to be vaccinated
◼︎ To donate blood or attend medical trials
◼︎ To avoid illness, injury or to escape a risk of harm
◼︎ To attend a person giving birth at their request
◼︎ To visit a person in hospital/hospice/care home, or to accompany someone to a medical appointment as a family or friend of that person

For support and respite
◼︎ To attend a support group
◼︎ For the purposes of respite care for a vulnerable person, a person with a disability, or a short break in respect of a looked after child

Deathbed visits
◼︎ To visit someone reasonably believed to be dying where that person is a member of the household, close family, or friend

◼︎ To attend a funeral (but there are tight limits on the numbers attending)
◼︎ A commemorative event celebrating the life of a person who has died (though again, there are limits on numbers)
◼︎ To visit a burial ground or remembrance garden to pay respect to a member of that person’s household, family or friend

Marriage and civil partnerships
◼︎ To attend a deathbed wedding

◼︎ To continue existing arrangements for access to and contact between parents and children where they live apart
◼︎ To arrange contact between siblings where they don’t live together and one or more sibling is in formal care
◼︎ To meet prospective adopters if relevant
◼︎ To access educational facilities, or to accompany a child to those facilities as a parent/carer
◼︎ To access Ofsted registered childcare or supervised activities for children to enable a parent to work/undertake education or training/seek work
◼︎ For the purposes of informal childcare provided within a childcare bubble

Animal welfare
◼︎ To attend veterinary services to seek advice about the health or welfare of a pet or other animal in care of that person, or to seek treatment
◼︎ To attend to the care or exercise of a pet or other animal cared for by that person

Other reasons
◼︎ Where reasonably necessary to return home if you were on holiday immediately before the regulations came into force
◼︎ To visit someone living in criminal justice accommodation if you are a friend or family member

Meeting others safely
You are allowed to meet one other person from another household, but only outside your home. You are also still allowed to have a support bubble with another single person household.

Retail Businesses
This is a list of the retail businesses that are remaining open to customers over the coming month.
◼︎ Food retailers (food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, and corner shops)
◼︎ Off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
◼︎ Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
◼︎ Newsagents
◼︎ Building merchants and building services
◼︎ Garden centres
◼︎ Hardware stores
◼︎ Petrol stations
◼︎ Car repair and MOT services
◼︎ Bicycle shops
◼︎ Taxi or vehicle hire businesses
◼︎ Banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers and cash points
◼︎ Money transfer businesses and currency exchange offices and savings clubs
◼︎ Post offices
◼︎ Funeral directors
◼︎ Laundrettes and dry cleaners
◼︎ Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths, and other medical services including services relating to mental health
◼︎ Veterinary surgeons and pet shops
◼︎ Animal rescue centres and boarding facilities
◼︎ Agricultural supplies shops
◼︎ Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop-off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises
◼︎ Car parks
◼︎ Public toilets
◼︎ Outdoor market stalls that sell essential retail (in addition to outdoor stalls that sell food and livestock)
For others, there are some exemptions – so for example cafés, pubs and restaurants are allowed to do takeaway services again. If you run a business affected and have any questions please contact one of the Council numbers below. I must admit that the list of exemptions is too long even for this bulletin.

And please do, as so many of you did in the spring, buy takeaways from our local cafés and restaurants so we can help them through the current difficult period.

Business Support
For those of you with a business that is affected by the new restrictions, please contact Reigate and Banstead Borough Council or Surrey County Council on the numbers below to see what support is available for you.

Surrey County Council Services

Surrey County Council Services that will remain open during the next month.

Library services – we will be running a Click and Collect service from the doorstep of our libraries across the county in addition to a Home Library service. We will also be offering computer access on an appointment only basis for those residents who need it for essential services such as Universal Credit applications. We have an extensive on-line offer that will be publicised to our residents including digital events, e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines all for free and residents can join on-line and start borrowing straight away.

Our arts service will continue to be delivered both online and through our adult learning centres and in schools.

Civil registration services – will continue to operate as they do now, but no weddings will be allowed unless exceptional circumstances.

Customer Services/ Contact Centre – remaining open -see below

Frontline services in Children’s and Adult Social Care - we recognise that much of the essential work that the council has to do, particularly to support vulnerable residents, cannot be done from home. For those working on the front line, for example social workers in adult social care, or in children’s services, arrangements will remain the same for the time being. Support staff in frontline services may also be asked to go in, as required, to maintain capacity to enable staff to carry out their roles.

Adult Social Care –the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) will be fully operational during the lockdown period, as will the MASH (multi-agency safeguarding hub). Day Centres are expected to be closed (although they are not run by the council).

Care homes - are for now asked to follow the existing guidance for visiting i.e. no visiting if the home is located within a Tier 2/ high alert area, e.g. in Elmbridge but we are expecting a further update tomorrow.

Children’s Services – will continue seeing children face to face out of preference, but based on risk factors can also carry out these visits virtually if needed. Waiting for further clarity on Youth Services and Family Centres.

Schools, education settings and nurseries - will remain open, including our three Surrey outdoor learning sites for schools

After school clubs – must close if they operate purely for extra-curricular activities; can remain open if they are needed for after school childcare. Waiting for further detail.

Waste – we think that these will remain open but are waiting on further guidance. Re-use recycling & upcycling shops – will close during lockdown period.
Reigate and Banstead Waste Services are also unaffected at present, so pleae continue to put your bins out as normal

Countryside sites and car parks- will remain open

Construction and highways works- will continue

All the following remain fully operational: Surrey Fire & Rescue Service; Coroner’s Court, Trading Standards, Health & Safety, IT & Digital, Planning and all other corporate, democratic and support services.

Useful Telephone Numbers
For any of you in need of help during the coming month:
Surrey County Council’s helpline, which is the best point of contact to get volunteer help if you need, for example, help with shopping, is 0300 200 1008
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council – 01737 276000

If you are over retirement age, you can also get help from the local branches of Age Concern
Age Concern Banstead – 01737 352156

Please feel free to contact me or your local County/Borough Councillors, if you have any particular problems and we will try to help.

I hope the above information is not too confusing and again apologise for the length of this message.
16 October 2020

Covid-19 Update 16th October
With matters changing rapidly, I thought I would give you the latest ‘picture’ as far as Surrey is concerned, and more locally Reigate and Banstead . Whilst there is absolutely no room for complacency the current figures show us locally well below the level of Elmbridge, and certainly most of the rest of the country. By keeping to the guidance we can all ‘do our bit’ to keep it that way.

Number of cases and rates per 100,000 population in the most recent 14-day period (September 29 2020 to October 12 2020) and most recent 7 day period (October 06 2020 to October 12 2020):
Stacks Image 9860
Key messages:
The rate is going up fast in Surrey, as it is across the country. We’re at a crucial point now and everyone has to pull together to get the rate back down.
* It has been a really tough year for all of us, and I know people are starting to feel ‘Covid fatigue’. But things are changing quickly and we need to get our infection rates back down.
* I can’t say it enough – keep washing your hands, wear face coverings when required, limit the number of households you are in contact with and don’t get together in groups of more than 6. Social distancing is one of the best ways to limit the spread of the virus.
If we all follow the guidelines we still have the chance to get the situation in these areas under control and avoid tighter restrictions.

Rates in Elmbridge have been escalating and it was decided through our Public Health Team and our Local Outbreak Engagement Board, in conjunction with PHE and Government, that it should move into the High Tier of alert from Saturday 17th October at 00.01*.

*For clarity, when people wake up on Saturday morning, Elmbridge will be a HIGH / Tier 2 area

The decision is driven by the data – we are constantly monitoring it in public health team
It isn't comfortable - nobody wants more restrictions, but we have to do what is right for the public's health, we have to make a responsible decision
We have to do everything we can to avoid going into very high now as much further reaching restrictions and huge impact on people's lives

Why Elmbridge / why are cases so high?
Elmbridge is obviously one of our boroughs that is very much intertwined with London, which is moving to Tier 2 at the same time
higher population density than some other parts of Surrey
borders Kingston and Richmond which both have high rates too and very similar epidemiological curve
evidence of widespread community transmission - not to do with clusters - it's everywhere basically

Isn’t it to do with students testing positive elsewhere?
We did look very carefully at the data around students leaving home in Elmbridge, testing positive elsewhere and that being reported as Elmbridge data, but it only accounted for around 14% of cases which does not change the escalating trend we’ve seen or the higher numbers compared with elsewhere.

Will other areas follow?
As we have been doing throughout, we will analyse the data on a daily basis. I don’t think we can rule anything out or predict the future with any degree of certainty. We should all act with extra vigilance throughout Surrey and halt the spread of this virus. If the numbers show any worrying escalation, we will not hesitate to act.

I hope all the above makes sense, but I cannot repeat enough times, the progress and severity of the disease rests with us all.

Please remember the simple rules and stay safe, stay healthy.

Thank you for all your support.

My very best wishes,


October 2020

Covid-19 - It would be quite wrong of me not to again highlight the dreadful disease which has affected so many, and even more will suffer lasting effects after recovery. I can only send them my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
There is a lot of information available and sadly, some are spreading quite malicious and mendacious rumours. You may have your own views on the numbers of people wo have contracted the virus, but the simple fact remains, we can all contribute to keeping it at bay by:
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, where possible keep 2 metres apart, where necessary wear a face mask/covering.
I don’t think it's too much to ask, and it may even save a life of a loved one.

Winter 2020 - As I write this the leaves are falling, and the days have got so much shorter, winter is coming. (Christmas is only 11 weeks away!). Time to check the central heating-not just yours, but how about a vulnerable neighbour who cant manage? Checking simple things, such as radiators that aren’t getting hot, could make a huge difference to their comfort and quality of life.
By the way - Surrey County Council, in partnership with every District and Borough bid for, (that’s the way of the world!) and are to receive over £6MILLION to be used to insulate homes, especially those who are vulnerable or in our deprived areas-excellent news!
But there’s also a Government Scheme for those who own their own homes and Landlords who can apply for upto £5000 towards making their homes more green and energy efficient – its worth a look:

Flooding - Everyone will remember the couple of enormous rainstorms in the last couple of months and sadly, homes have been flooded across my Division. I’ve been working hard to try and see what Surrey County Council can do to prevent this happening again.
I’m really pleased to announce that three schemes have either just been completed, or will be undertaken in the next couple of months:
Ballards Green, Burgh Heath
Chipstead Lane, Lower Kingswood, and
Kingswood Road/Ashurst Road, Tadworth.
Hopefully, when these are completed, many residents lives will be improved and safeguarded from flooding.
However, we can all play a part in preventing these traumatic and costly events..
We can report any blocked drains and gullies – 0300 200 1008 or via the interactive map on SCC Website.
We can make sure that if we have a concrete/tarmac drive installed, there is ample drainage provided-especially if we live on a hill. The water has to go somewhere!

Trick or Treat plus Fireworks and Bonfires: This year may be slightly different with no public displays and bonfires, but some people will still want to celebrate. Can I please make a strong plea about perennial issues:
Trick or Treat-can really frighten vulnerable people. If its possible within the current guidance, then stick to people you know, friends and relatives..’cold calling’ can be upsetting for some. And it’s a children’s thing...a group of youths doing the same is intimidating and bordering on criminal behaviour.
Fireworks - Please remember that not only dogs and cats get scared by loud bangs and flashes of light-people do. So think about where and when and how you are using fireworks-and prevent injuries, or worse - stick to the code!
Bonfires- Apart from the pollution and dangers caused by irresponsible burning of ‘stuff’, many small animals, and certainly hedgehogs will start to hibernate in these piles. If you are having a bonfire-especially if its been in situ for sometime-please check for ‘furry’ and ‘spikey’ friends. Have a check and maybe help preserve a species.

Hyenas-Regular readers will know I use this term to describe those who prey on the vulnerable. This time of year sees them doing their worst. A few tips;
Don’t leave keys or fobs for your cars in view of the front door/letterbox.
Don’t leave the car running on cold misty mornings just to warm up-if its unattended and gets stolen, you my not be insured, and WAIT until the scree is completely clear of frost/mist, etc. The sun is low and you could be blinded just as a child runs out.....
Online Scams-So many to report.....Basically Don’t open any attachments, or links, if you cannot be absolutely certain of the organisation sending the message, and even if it comes from a friend or contact-if in doubt -DON’T....check with them first.
Telephone calls-Unless you have asked to be called back, or are absolutely sure of the caller, don’t even confirm your name. Don’t be afraid to hang up...

Homelessness - Given the mention of Christmas is coming and the generosity of our residents, this will come as a surprise for some. The local authorities and charities have put enormous effort into successfully finding shelter and homes for people who for whatever reason find themselves without a roof over their heads as winter approaches. We have one such person in the Lower Kingswood area, who has been offered shelter and assistance by the Council, but has refused. Councillors are fully aware of his circumstances, but would ask residents not to give him food or money. I can assure you from a lo of experience elsewhere, it does not help the situation.

And finally......Out and about-On a more positive note - Hopefully everyone noticed the wildflowers sown on sections of the central reservation of the A217 this year. It does cost a lot of money, but if people like the idea, please let us know and we can see about repeating the exercise annually.
I’m sure everyone has noticed how clean and tidy our roads, pavements and public areas have become over the last month.........That’s because we’ve had dozens of volunteers, supported by Councillors and equipped by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, collecting hundreds of sacks of rubbish across the area-and I can’t thank them enough.....Well done everyone!
(You’re probably not surprised to hear that most of the rubbish along the roadside came from occupants of vehicles....or abandoned roadworks cones, notices, and things best not asked about!!)
Hopefully in the next week or so you will see dozens of poppies on lampposts around the area, and ‘Silent Soldiers’ on the roundabouts on the A217. These are all put there by volunteers from our Residents Associations (who are always looking for new members and organisers-so have a look at their websites!!). Remembrance Sunday will be different this year, with no formal parades and ceremonies, but please – Lest We Forget – we owe a huge debt to our service personnel over the years.

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and once again, thank you all for your support.

Kind regards,