Fighting the Phenomenal Cost of Early Childcare

Jemma with Pushchair

As of this week, I am a working mum. After a (mostly) wonderful 50 weeks of maternity leave, returning part time to my career in the NHS will ensure I grow my clinical expertise and upskill our workforce. I also want my son to learn and evolve under the dedicated professionals who look after children in early years settings.

That may sound reasonable enough. But being a working mum is a luxury. Why? Because the phenomenal cost of early years childcare means returning to work for many families simply doesn’t pay. The cost of my son’s provision is a snip under £1000 a month for 3 days per week of nursery. I’m lucky to be in a senior position in the NHS so, in my case, returning to work makes financial sense. But if I was a nurse or therapist earlier in my career, paying a student loan and pension contributions, my take-home wage would be £969 a month for a 3 day week, so less than the cost of nursery. This makes staying at home the more viable option, costing the NHS another skilled clinician.

If a nursery is signed up to the government’s tax-free childcare scheme, then there is the benefit of a 20% top-up from the government to help with costs. But that only applies up to a maximum of £500 every three months. If you’re a junior nurse, for example, that makes you less than £2000 a year better off, which is quickly absorbed by the cost of commuting and professional registration fees. There is some additional help from the age of 3 years for working families, but only for 30 hours a week (6 hours a day) and only during term time. After a three-year break, our junior nurse would have to update their training before they could return to practise.

The Liberal Democrats believe all children should have the right to quality, early years childcare provision, and all parents should be able to return to their careers. That’s why we are committed to funding 35 hours a week of high-quality early years provision for the children of all working parents from 9 months of age, and crediting providers with the true value of what it costs them to care for our infants. As for our public services retaining valuable workers.... well, that’s just a bonus!


Have your say in our new party leader

The party leadership election is well underway. Nominations have closed and the two candidates are Ed Davey and Layla Moran. Find out more about both here:

Or why not participate in one of the many hustings? All are being held entirely online and so are more accessible than ever. 

Three types of hustings are being held:

  • Regional Hustings focusing on local issues, party strategy and leadership;
  • Thematic Hustings focusing on key policy areas and;
  • Question & Answer Sessions hosted by specific interest groups.

You can find the schedule here:

The list includes the South East regional hustings on 8 August 2020 at 11 am to 12:30 pm. To participate in this event RSVP here:

Hustings videos are archived and can be replayed here:

Voting on-line opens on 30 July and closes on 26 August. The winner will be announced on 27 August.

Is the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people being monitored adequately within schools?

As our young people face returning to school after lockdown, are we giving them the support they need?

Jemma de Vincenzo looks into this issue.

Imagine a meeting in school, worried that your child is in turmoil, only to be told that unless they’re at risk of harming themselves or others, they’ll wait a very long time to see a specialist. Sadly, in many parts of the country, this is commonplace. I know, because I’ve been the professional sat in that meeting.

There is no doubt that children and young people need earlier and quicker access to specialist mental health support. Currently, only 10% of all mental health funding is spent on young people, despite the fact that many long-term mental health disorders are established by age 14.

In 2017 the government recognised there was a crisis and set about its plans to tackle mental health through schools, with a target date of 2025. The plan involves training a mental health lead in each school to recognise early indications, and specialist support teams from the health service to respond. Yes, funding is provided to train those members of school staff, but funding will not be given to schools to finance this additional demand day to day.

Currently, the level of emotional support a young person receives in school is dependent on a school’s capacity to provide it. In an already pressurised financial climate, schools are expected not only to educate our young people, but provide wrap-around care, extra-curricular learning and manage medical needs. Whilst many teachers strive to provide all they can for young people, just how many strings can one add to a bow?

Our children and young people absolutely need improved and consistent monitoring of emotional well-being within our education system, but schools and the NHS need appropriate levels of funding to do it. That’s why the Liberal Democrats are committed to investing in mental health services for children and young people.

What Next for Reigate High Street?

The farce that played out in Reigate Town shows that you must take the community with you when making major changes. During the COVID-19 lock-down it was sad to see the ghost town like atmosphere. However, the pure delight at the fresh clean air and the quiet, calm of the place was wonderful. No noxious fumes or thunderous vibrations from heavy lorries. 

As a crossroads, Reigate’s traffic problems have been with us for generations. Now, the level of traffic far exceeds what the town can stand.  Unrelenting road traffic creates a toxic environment in the town centre.  Reigate has grown at the intersection of the main east-west road (A25) and the north-south road (A217). The town centre is best recognised by its Old Town Hall. This building is right at the heart of the congestion in the town. It’s interesting to note that until the 1970s, the A217 went through the Reigate Tunnel. 

However, since the time that Reigate became a large-scale roundabout, nothing has been done to address an escalating problem. Only the naive would think this is easy to fix. I’ll venture into that territory having lived in the town for nearly 30-years.

I believe, a phased approach is more likely to deliver results.   

Firstly, HGVs must be banned from the High Street, except when making local deliveries. 

Secondly, Castlefield Road and Bancroft Road needs to be two-way.  

Thirdly, open the Town Hall carpark in Castlefield Road to the public full-time.

Fourthly, build a dedicated cycleway from the Railway Station to Church Street via the Town Hall.   

To advise and monitor such proposals a representative Town Center Steering Group, that includes the town’s businesses and local cycling and walking groups needs to be in place. 

These are modest proposals that would take some traffic pressure away from the High Street. Once that is achieved the proposal for a cycle way through the town centre should be viable.

Yes, the second part demands resources but this is for a long-term investment. A new junction by the entrance to Reigate College (South side) would be needed. A roundabout where the A217 meets the A25 would need careful planning.  


Part of this proposal is not new, but it has been sitting on the books for a long time:


Reigate Relief Road Reigate Surrey County Council Proposal to introduce a dual carriageway along the A25 in Reigate between London Road/Castlefield Road and Castlefield Road/Church Street junctions. Includes alterations to Bancroft Road, Bell Street and Church Street to create a clockwise gyratory system. The line of the Relief Road is safeguarded in the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Local Plan 2005.

Changes to Cycling in Reigate and Banstead borough

A summary of some proposed bicycle-related travel measures that are being considered by Surrey County Highways and may be coming to Reigate & Banstead shortly.

 One of the effects of the current crisis has been an increase in Cycling. With this in mind Surrey County Highways are considering a number of changes. Our Liberal Democrat Councillor - Steve Kulka is working with the rest of the council and community groups to develop these changes. 

As part of this first phase pilot:

Reigate - 20mph speed limit for Church Street, Bancroft Rd, Bell Street and High Street, temp cycle lane High Street.  Waymarking of off-road routes through Priory Park plus cycle parking and waymarking routes to station from the town centre.

Redhill - let cycles use pedestrian area, additional cycle parking outside McDonald's.

Horley - provide cycle parking outside Post Office, improve pedestrian crossing facilities outside Lidl.

Banstead - wayfinding signs.

A25 Reigate Road, Reigate - install parking restrictions on the existing westbound cycle lane.


Draft visualisation of the proposed cycle facility in Reigate High Street, based on Google Streetview is shown here.

These are just some of the ideas that have been submitted and the Highways team hope to do more in the later phase.

If you have further ideas please do email [email protected] and put “Active Travel” in the heading. These ideas will be considered as part of the next phase of works.

Welcome to our new Website

Welcome to the new Reigate and Banstead Liberal Democrats Website!

We went live on June 1st  2020, but the site  is still a work in progress, so please bear with us if there are some glitches.

We have tried to keep some of the  original feel, but incorporate new features such as a simple donate button, the ability to pay for events through the site, easier emailing and a number of other features that will significantly enhance our online presence

We are very keen to hear your ideas on how we can develop our website and what you would like to see on it

You can let us know by commenting on this post or by email: [email protected]

Update on Covid 19 action

Reigate and Redhill Covid-19 Mutual Aid

Local Liberal Democrat members have been volunteering to support our local community. The following is an update from Peter Jones. He is usually to be found leading our Climate Change group but, in this crisis has been active in helping others in our community. 
As the coronavirus epidemic struck the UK in full force in March, Reigate and Redhill spontaneously mobilised, initially through posts on facebook, to form a Mutual Aid group.
Requests for mutual aid help can be registered online here: after which a local volunteer will get in touch and discuss what’s needed.
The group organised itself in the space of a few days by putting posters up inviting volunteers and providing an online volunteering form. Over the next couple of weeks, about 1200 willing volunteers  from Reigate and Redhill registered and were allocated to 7 areas: Reigate; Redhill, Earlswood & Whitebushes, St John’s & Meadvale, Woodhatch, South Park and Merstham. 
The volunteers then delivered 1000s of leaflets to most addresses in the seven areas during March and April, each one bearing phone contact information for local volunteers to help with shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking and friendly phone calls, plus a link to an online form where requests for assistance could be logged. The ward coordinators were then able to identify people able to be area and street volunteers, and localised WhatsApp groups were set up to put out the call for requests to be answered.
Local and borough-wide facebook groups also sprung up to support the effort and to provide information, including publicising shops, take-away and delivery services and links to information about domestic abuse and mental health support and crucially also food bank information, with a coordinated programme of school food bank drops rolling out throughout the borough.
The groups have since also encouraged and supported local food bank donation points and a map of these has been published for anyone who wants to donate goods. The food banks are also keen to accept cash donations to allow them to bulk purchase, as demand sadly steadily increases. The developing map of drop points can be found here:
The food banks publish lists of items they need and also provide an opportunity for online donations:

The Food banks: - Mon, Wed, Friday 12noon-2pm at St Matthews Church - Loveworks - collect by arrangement see website

Renewed Hope Trust - - Mon-Fri 9-5pm Shrewsbury Chapel, Shrewsbury Road

The Mutual Aid food bank donation post can be found here:
All this has run alongside informal local residents groups, local voluntary groups, council and state provision and is intended to fill in gaps and provide a friendly local face to anyone needing a hand. 
Support for neighbours is expected to be needed for months if not years to come, as we seem to be facing continuing pandemic risk. Unemployment is also expected to spike in Autumn and remain high, leading to many more people in the borough needing to use the services of the food banks, not to mention the unfortunate probability of more people with health issues needing to wait for treatment and to shield or isolate.
Thankfully there have been many more volunteers than requests for help, but the realisation is dawning that we’re in this for the long haul and this informal and friendly local support that the Mutual Aid group is likely to be around for quite some time yet. The group isn’t actively seeking volunteers at present, but if anyone knows someone who needs assistance at this difficult time, please feel free to encourage them to register online, or if they can’t do this themselves, there is an option to get in touch on behalf of others here:
The local facebook groups and lots more information can be found here:
Reigate & Redhill main
Earlswood & Whitebushes
If you have a story of your own please share it with us (and let us know if we can put it on the website). You can do this by commenting on this post or send an email to [email protected]

What do we stand for ?

What do we Stand for locally?

We stand for -

  • Delivering a Carbon Neutral area with environmental sustainability;
  • Investing in social housing.
  • Protecting our Borough from cuts to services, police and healthcare.
  • Making sure that new development is integrated with public transport and services.
  • Creating new recreational spaces and maintaining the existing ones.
  • Supporting pro-active community housing groups and new builds.

What do we stand for Nationally?

  • Saving our NHS and care services. Asking people to pay a bit more tax (1p)
    for every pound they earn. The money will go to the NHS and care services. Making sure people don't wait longer for mental health care than for other healthcare.
  • Put children first. Every child should have the best start in life. Spending £7 B extra on education.
  • Britain needs an economy that gives people jobs and the chance to do well. We will build an economy that is strong, fair and works well now and in the future.

We cover the towns of Reigate, Banstead, Redhill and Horley, as well as the villages of Burgh Heath, Chipstead, Earlswood, Kingswood, Lower Kingswood, Merstham, Salfords, Southpark, Meadvale, St. Johns, Tadworth, Walton on the Hill, Woodhatch and Woodmansterne.

To get in touch you can email us at [email protected]

A greener Redhill and Reigate

A great first meeting. Much more action after the lockdown. 

Just before the lockdown 14 of us met at a private house to discuss ideas and options for improving the environment in the Reigate Area and promoting the fight against Climate Change. The current crisis has put an end to meetings like this but we still want to move forward with creating a greener borough.  This is a list of the topics that came up during the discussion with some notes.

  1. Turning off car engines while waiting for the gates at Reigate Station. A number of people have been seen in white suits campaigning for this. The proposal would be for a number of signs suggesting this by the road.
  2. Plastic (and glass?) bottle return stations with a small reward for doing so. These exist in Germany.
  3. More electric charging points for cars. It was pointed out that these need to be close to where people live, especially blocks of flats where people may be parking on nearby roads.
  4. Better Cycle paths. We thought that only the Redhill/Gatwick route is actually usable, all the rest are token paths, often blocked by parked cars.
  5. Buses. We need shorter, more frequent routes that reflect the reality of where people go. Also, buses are too expensive to make them attractive to car users.
  6. House building. The government has backtracked on the aim for net carbon zero homes. There are national regulations for new builds but the main issue is old houses. These are often very inefficient. Even improvements to these houses leave them inefficient. There was a discussion on why new houses were still being fitted with gas boilers.
  7. Rewilding. There was a discussion on the idea of ‘rewilding’ the area around Earlswood lakes, Redhill Golf Course and the land around the old Earlswood Asylum. If this was done well it would be the largest urban parks in Surrey and could provide a real amenity for local residents. This could be funded by local companies surrounding Gatwick as a way of offsetting their carbon emissions.
  8. Three part litter bins. Especially around schools and colleges. These would allow easy recycling of plastic and paper.
  9. Education. There is a lot of effort going into education on environmental issues. St Mary’s School has made a special effort in this area.

If you like these ideas, or have some of your own let us know. 

Covid 19 Action

The sunshine outside makes for a false sense of security in these troubling times. 
For many of us, that is forcing us to stay in at home and perhaps change our shopping habits, but for some in our community, the prospect is much more challenging.
Fortunately for many, the Covid-19 Mutual Aid network has sprung up in the last few days to try to alleviate the inevitable difficulties to come, with collections, deliveries, telephone contact and signposting for the vulnerable and isolated. The first priority of these organisations is to keep its volunteers and beneficiaries safe, so guidance is issued and signposted, to help all involved minimise the risks.
We believe that this type of support, for those who have the inclination and whose situation allows, is very much in line with Lib Dem values of community and as you may have seen in the recent email from Ed Davey, he is fully endorsing this type of community volunteering initiative.
To get involved in Reigate, Redhill and surrounds, please visit and register via the Facebook page
‘Reigate & Redhill Covid19 Mutual Aid’
or register online directly through the following form link:
More information about the Mutual Aid UK operation is here: 
Individual wards and areas in and around Reigate and Redhill also have their own open Facebook pages using the names ‘[area e.g. Earlswood] Covid19 Mutual Aid’. This can be found if you search in Facebook groups. 
Other volunteering opportunities may be available if you register with Voluntary Action Reigate & Banstead at: 
I should note that if you are affected and are looking for support for yourself or someone who relies on you otherwise, while the network is in rapid preparation stages, the organisers can be reached at [email protected] . 
They have a bank of volunteers already registered who should be able to help or signpost assistance.

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Email.