Does London Mayor Boris Johnson have his eyes on Elmbridge?

Kingston Guardian: Does Boris have his eyes on Elmbridge? Does Boris have his eyes on Elmbridge?

Elmbridge is under threat from city slickers who want to turn the borough’s green fields into a developers’ paradise by making it part of Greater London.

This is the fear some people have, after rumours started circulating among Surrey County Council (SCC) councillors that Mayor of London Boris Johnson has his eyes set on capturing a number of the county’s boroughs - including Elmbridge.

A spokesman at the Mayor’s office quickly rebuffed the claims made to the Elmbridge Guardian this week, and said Mr Johnson did not have the power to amalgamate Surrey’s borough’s into the capital.

But one source within the council told this paper SCC had already started to make preparations to fight the Greater London Authority (GLA) if it tried to take Elmbridge.

One of the councillors who heard the rumour said the people of Elmbridge would be “horrified” if the borough became part of Greater London.

Councillor Mike Bennison, representing Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott, said: “It could be a total disaster. We are a nice, friendly, tight-knit group and we don’t want to be part of a monolith. We are more than happy as we are.

“The only advantage would be that London gets three times more money than we do for infrastructure, but we wouldn’t want to sell out souls for a handful of gold. We don’t need them.

“They would also have their eyes on our greenbelt, which would be a disaster. And it would be also be a disaster for the schooling here, with a huge number of children coming in from London.”

Claygate resident Geoff Bills, who has been warning for years against the potential loss of Surrey to greater London, said the GLA would attempt to take parts of Surrey eventually, even if it did not happen in the near future.

He said: “I’ve been saying for ages it would happen. I feel that the whole issue is inextricably linked to the local development policy here in Elmbridge and other parts of north Surrey. We are already effectively being subjected to GLA development policies in what are, and should remain, rural areas of Surrey.

Elmbridge Council has been a Trojan horse - its development policy is a joke and no different to Kingston Council’s. We already have inner city development in Surrey. There’s nothing stopping them putting up a block of flats in the middle of Claygate.

“They just want to keep growing London. There is an orchestrated policy of development and expansion. I would expect SCC to put up a fight, but if London says it wants something, it usually gets it.”

Mr Bills, who moved from Chessington to Claygate 15 years ago because he was fed up of the urbanisation of that area, said he did not know where the expansion of London would end.

“How long before the north part of Calais becomes a London borough?” he joked.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the Mayor had no plans to extend London’s borders and any such plans would have to be initiated by the Government and not the Mayor.

He said: “Any rumours would have originated from central Government, not the Mayor’s office.”

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