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Hello <<First Name>>

It has been a very interesting week looking at a new local issue that I think has the potential to impact a significant amount of people. In fact when I first posted about my concerns that access for local residents to MOD land could be withdrawn, that post had reached over 10,000 people within 2 hours of it being published. As a result a lot of people have subscribed to this list outside of the area I represent so I have highlighted the relevant post to them in orange below as they may not be interested in everything else.

  • Finance seminar from comfort of my own home
  • Meeting with Accent Housing
  • We should all be worried about this
  • Storm Dennis
  • RIP Caroline Flack
  • My mums chicken soup
  • Planning applications

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Finance seminar from comfort of my own home

On Wednesday evening I attended a Finance Seminar organised by the Chief Finance Officer at Surrey Heath Borough Council.

These seminars are traditionally put on for councillors ahead of a Full Meeting of the Council where Council Tax is set for the forthcoming financial year.

The agenda and associated reports pack for next weeks Full Council Meeting can be found here: Agenda and Pack

Cllr Shaun Garrett and I joined the seminar online which I prefer to do wherever possible as it allows me to spend more time with my family, saves me travel time backwards and forwards to the Council in Camberley and I think is far more environmentally friendly. I am sure Shaun will confirm that the experience is as good as actually being in the room.

Meeting with Accent Housing

Residents may recall from last year that I had received quite a lot of communication from Accent Housing tenants who were experiencing serious customer service issues. These were mostly around ongoing maintenance service levels.

It turned out that there was a lot of similar issues across the Borough.

Along with the then chairman of the Surrey Heath Borough Council External Partnerships Select Committee, I requested a meeting with Accents Director of Customer Service to get to the bottom of the issues. These mainly stemmed from issues with their contractors.

As this was a Borough-wide problem we invited Accent to present to the Councils External Partnerships Select Committee. At that meeting, they advised Councillors that they would be changing contractors and that they hoped to have made significant improvements to service levels and inroads to clearing a backlog of outstanding issues. The committee invited Accent back last week so they could provide an update as to the progress they were making. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I was unable to attend that meeting. However, Accent agreed to meet me online today to provide the presentation update they gave last week at the External Partnerships Select Committee.

I am pleased to report that major improvements have been made. Anecdotally, I am receiving far fewer complaints than I was in November last year, In fact, I can only remember about three which I passed on to Accent and were dealt with quickly.

Clearly consistency in service levels is important and I am satisfied that Accent is working hard with their new contractors to attain this going forward.

I would encourage any residents who are continuing to experience problems to let me know so I can escalate this for you.

In the meantime, Accent will report back to External Partnerships Select Committee in September for a further update.

Screen grab of the presentation from my online meeting with Accent 

We should all be worried about this

The image included with this post below was taken by me very recently at Frith Hill Woods. If you are not familiar with that location, then this is the wooded area between Tomlinscote School and Dettingen Park in Deepcut.

Recently, I have been made aware that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is seeking to change the Bylaws for the MOD training areas in what is referred by them as the Aldershot and District areas. These stretch from Borden to Camberley and access to which is enjoyed by many residents.

This document gives some information about the MOD wanting to change the bylaws: Document for Download

I have a fair bit of experience dealing with the DIO (Formally Defence Estates) having been involved with the community since 2003 and of course, being an elected representative for Deepcut. They are not an easy organisation to work with, and I would go as far to say as they are a law upon themselves. So I am afraid if my worst fears are realised, then we have a massive fight on our hands.

In Deepcut, the DIO restricted access to the training areas early last year, and if that is anything to go by, then this document could spell the beginning for the rest of the Aldershot District Area. That is a real concern to me, and if you enjoy the free access to the local countryside as I do, then you should be concerned too.

It does look like the DIO intend to consult on this so it will be vital that you respond to that. But I would also suggest you write to your MP and local councillors about this too.

The irony is that the MOD sell of land such as Princess Royal Barracks for development and one of the key selling points for the developers of the houses will be the surrounding countryside.

On Wednesday morning I met with my colleagues Stewart Black and Attieh Fard. As a result an urgent meeting with our MP Michael Gove is in the process of being organised.

On Thursday morning we held an online meeting with  Simon Brown from the Trail Action Group on to get a briefing from them exactly where they are with this. They have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years, so it makes sense to be engaging with them so that we can provide Michael Gove with the most complete brief.

I have also been in touch with councillors from across the border in Hampshire as this affects them just as much and we need to coordinate efforts. On Thursday I spoke to Cllr Steve Forster from Hampshire County Council who is keen to offer his support to this campaign.

Once we have met with Michael Gove I will update residents accordingly.

Storm Dennis

I have had a briefing from the Cabinet Member for Highways this week and these are the main points:

The highways team dealt with 80 emergency call-outs (ECO's) on Saturday, 178 Sunday with a further 63 by lunchtime Monday.

Issues involving trees, closely followed by flooding accounted for the largest number of ECO's.

The average daily number of call-outs is 13 which means coordinating and prioritising resources is no small matter.

Below are some images sent by crews on the scene across the county just to give you a flavour of what they had to deal with. Notice the flooded bridge image which was taken in Woking.

I have also included images sent to me by my colleague Cllr Peter Martin from Godalming. They had some horrendous flooding there about 6 years ago. A flood elevation scheme was adopted and this was put in place and prevented similar issues during storm Dennis. I am sure residents and businesses there are mightily relieved.

In my county council division of Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut, we have been quite lucky compared to other parts of the county, however, I am aware that there have been some flooding issues in Chobham.

RIP Caroline Flack

I was utterly shocked to hear about the death of Caroline Flack. The news has had a profound effect on me even though I did not follow her work in any way.

This is what the hate culture of unrelenting social media trolls can result in.

Facebook group admins should look long and hard at this news because there is a worrying amount of trolling occurring even right here in Camberley and such behaviour is positively encouraged by the admins of certain local groups.

My good friend Claire Guest, a local child minder posted the images below on her social media. She had encouraged the children under her care to create these. Anyone who uses social media, and I include myself in this, should look at the below image long and hard.

My Mums Chicken Soup

The reach of social media never ceases to amaze me and this week is no exception following my post about having Man Flu.

Of course, like every male who suffers from this most serious of conditions, I have to make sure that I milk it for all sympathy I can get. Like all women who experience childbirth, I have not got a massive amount of that from my wife. However, I did get a surprising amount from members of the community. I received many get well soon messages and even more requests for the recipe of my mums Chicken Soup. People I have never met before have stopped me in the town centre and said "get well soon and where can I get the recipe for your chicken soup". Thats hilarious.

Only a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my colleague, Cllr Rebecca Jennings-Evans (Lightwater) and promised her the recipe and now the cat is out of the bag I have decided to make it available to all. Fame at last mum.

The thing is, every Jewish child will claim that his/her mums chicken soup is the best. But to be honest, so long as it's made with love, they are much the same.

Like most Jewish households there is a certain amount of theatre around the humble bowl of chicken soup or "Jewish Penicillin.

On Shabbos, which falls on a Friday afternoon or evening (depending on the time of year) a traditional Shabbos dinner would always be made by my Grandma. It would start with Chicken Soup, then chopped liver (pâte), followed by a Roast Chicken Dinner.

My Grandma would serve chicken soup to my eldest brother first (I am not sure if this was a tradition or just the fact he was her favourite) and would stand over him. She would not serve anyone else or move from looking over him until he had tasted it and declared to her "Lovely Grandma". Everyone else would eagerly await his declaration, much in the same way as "The man from Delmonte, he say yes". Sometimes he would taste several spoon fulls, to wind us up.

It takes several hours to make traditional Chicken soup like my Grandma used to make. The time it took to cook could be reduced if made with a pressure cooker, but it still took hours.

A whole chicken would be used, and the best chicken for this purpose was an old boiling hen. This is a chicken that is old and quite tough and usually defined as such because it will have stopped laying eggs. The cooking process will have been quite laborious because grey scum would develop on the surface of the giant stockpot, which would have to be spooned away regularly. A considerable amount of soup would be made from one chicken and feed the whole family, and still, some left for mid-week sustenance visits by my twin brother and me after school.

Vast quantities of chicken soup would be consumed in our house. My mum has four boys, all with ravenous appetites. So she couldn't keep up with demand by cooking the soup the traditional way. It would just take to long. So the recipe I am going to share with you is my mum's cheats version which is just as good.

I must explain some of the other joys of Chicken Soup because the broth is only one part of the experience and if you incorporate the other elements, then a humble bowl of soup becomes a meal in itself.

So first are the Kneidlach. These are dumplings, and traditionally instead of suet (which is most definitely not kosher) the fat used would be shmaltz which is chicken fat. When cooking the soup the traditional way with an old boiler, there will be plenty of Shmaltz to spoon off the top while cooking for this purpose, but the cheats version does not allow for this. Vegetable oil is a decent second-best, but for authentic kneidlach you could use goose fat which is readily available at the supermarkets or for the best tasting kneidlach, the next time you make a roast chicken, don't throw away the fat at the bottom of your roasting tray. Get that good stuff in a jar and put in the freezer ready for the next time you make chicken soup. I never met my grandfather on my dad's side as he died before I was born, but apparently, he would spread chicken shmaltz on his bread as a snack. Matzo Crackers are available in most of the big supermarkets. I have included two images. The first is the box of crackers so you know what to look out for. The second is the consistency of the crumbs you will want to achieve. In Manchester, due to the large Jewish community, supermarkets stock Matzo Meal in bags, so already smashed up to the perfect consistency. I have not been able to find this in Surrey, so whenever I visit Manchester, I buy a few bags to keep in the cupboard. However, you can buy bags of Matzo meal on Amazon. Trust me when I say, Kneidlach in your chicken soup is well worth the effort, I promise and if you can use chicken fat then all the better.

The next important element is the lokshen or noodles. My mum would use vermicelli pasta, but occasionally she would use tagliatelle which I prefer.

And finally the omelette strips. Now my mum never used to make these for our soup. I discovered this when having dinner at a friends house, and his mum used to put them in her chicken soup. It works well with this soup, so I have put it in mine ever since especially if there is no time to make kneidlach which, to be honest, there should always be time to make kneidlach.

Osem, mini crouton is a yummy optional extra. Again, these are readily available in the supermarkets wherever there is a Jewish community, but for Surrey residents, you can buy these on Amazon too.

So there you have it. If you ever have a cold make up a big batch of this stuff. Way better than Lemsip and much more effective as well as being the ultimate comfort food. But no need to wait until you have a cold after all prevention is better than cure.

Here is a download of the recipe cards: My Mums Chicken Soup

If you make this I would love to know how you get on.

I like to try and keep residents informed of the planning applications in my Borough Ward that go live on the SHBC Planning Portal.

Note that each application has a reg number which you can use when using the search feature on the portal in order to get the full details of the respective application.

As always if you have any comments in support or against any of these applications please do let me know.

The planning portal can be found here. It is worth registering and setting up alerts on applications you are interested in so you can be kept up to date on amendments and decisions.
As always I want to hear from you if you have any burning issues of a local nature so please do get in touch.

Best wishes

Cllr Paul Deach
Borough Councillor for Mytchett and Deepcut
County Councillor for Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut
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