Zöe's Blog

Read what Zöe Franklin has to say on topical local and national issues:

  • Climate Changes
    Article: Sep 18, 2019
    By Zoe Franklin

    The climate crisis is real and we must act now to ensure planet earth and our long term survival. I am therefore delighted that Liberal Democrat Conference this weekend passed an ambitious strategy to reach net zero 2045.

    We know that hitting this target needs everyone - communities, businesses, and all levels of government - to come together to achieve it. The Liberal Democrat's will:

  • School Children
    Article: Jul 17, 2019
    By Zoe Franklin

    This week saw the release of the Real Schools Guide 2019 and meant the publication of the annual 'best' and 'worst' performing schools in Surrey by local media. It's all too easy to read the reports of the 'worst' schools and label them and/or their pupils as failures, to blame their teachers and judge their leadership teams. Doing so is targeting the wrong people - we should be turning our eyes and judgement on the Conservative government.

    The Conservatives have repeatedly told us that schools have never had more money. The real terms figures tell a very different story. One in which school income is simply not keeping up with pupil needs.

    Here in Guildford constituency (which includes Cranleigh and the surrounding villages) two thirds of schools are facing a funding shortfall and the cumulative size of the total shortfall across all Guildford schools since 2015/16 is almost £6 million. The hardest hit are frequently our secondary schools and also primary schools in the poorest communities.

    Schools are being asked to provide the education our children and young people need on an ever-decreasing budget. They are also being asked to take on greater responsibilities alongside their teaching roles, such as watching for signs of child sexual abuse and being trained to help support children and young people with mental health problems. As a parent and former school governor I have seen the inspiring work of school leaders and teachers as they seek to educate the next generation. I have witnessed the deeply challenging conversations that school leaders across our country are having to have as they are forced to decide what to cut next. No decision is taken lightly, and pupils are always front and centre of that decision-making process.

    We should not be putting head teachers in the position of having to choose between building repairs and school textbooks, or heating bills and another teacher or teaching assistant's salary. We've even started to see stories of schools closing early on a Friday - sounds great if you're a pupil but this is damaging to children's educational prospects and unworkable for any working parent.

    Only this week I received a message from a parent sharing with me how at a meeting for parents of children moving up to secondary school in September they were asked apologetically by the head teacher for funding for essential school resources. My son is also moving up to secondary in September and families at my son's future school have been asked same.

    This cannot be allowed to continue.

    The Liberal Democrats and I want to reverse the real-terms schools cuts that have been in place since 2015. That would mean an extra £2.2 billion to our schools - new money from the Treasury. Add to that £7 billion of capital investment to maintain our schools and increase the number of school places, plus extra funding for children with special educational and behavioural needs.

    On top of that we need to stop talented teachers leaving a profession they are passionate about. That means proper pay. Teachers should be paid directly from the Treasury, not from existing local budgets.

    Children and young people are our future. Their education today sets them up for a positive future tomorrow and for our society's continued success.

    We need real, urgent change now to ensure schools have the funding they need.

  • Article: Jan 24, 2019
    By Zöe Franklin
    On Tuesday it became clear that Conservative-run Surrey Council Council are planning to increase Council Tax while continuing to pursue deeply unpopular plans to cut essential public services including closing 31 Children's Centres and 4 community recycling centres; scrapping certain concessionary bus passes; making savage cuts to library and cultural services; and cutting spending on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). In spite of these cuts and tax increases, it is made clear in the report continuing the proposals that the financial future of the council is bleak.

    In contrast neighbouring Kingston Borough Council announced on Monday this week that they had made the hard decision to put up their Council Tax but were very clear that doing so was the only way to ensure that they could safeguard essential services that impact upon the most vulnerable in their community and ensure a financially secure and sustainable future.

    It's worth me saying before I continue that I am not suggesting that increasing Council Tax is the right solution for every authority but when faced with continuing government funding cuts that threaten core services, especially those that serve the most vulnerable in our communities, and council budgets where there is nowhere left to make the savings needed it is sometimes necessary to make tough decisions.
  • National Volunteers Week Logo (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations - https://volunteersweek.org/)
    Article: Jun 4, 2018
    By Zöe Franklin
    Did you know that it's National Volunteers Week 1st - 7th June?
    Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our society. The voluntary sector has always been really important - they help maintain the country's historic buildings, coach amateur sport, teach people new skills, run school fairs, staff charity shops plus everything in between and so much more!
  • Article: May 24, 2018

    I've been a school governor since 2010 - first at a Sure Start Children's Centre and currently at my sons' primary school. It is a challenging and rewarding role that I would encourage more people to take up. Throughout my time there have been difficult decisions to make regarding allocation of resources but since 2015 these decisions have become much harder.

  • Article: Jan 12, 2018

    Earlier this week as the nation waited for the results of Theresa May's much-discussed cabinet reshuffled excitement grew that our very own Anne Milton MP would be promoted Secretary of State for Health. At first sight one would have thought that appointing a former nurse to the role would have been a welcome appointment. But scratch the surface and sadly we find a track record that doesn't stack up for nurses and begs some serious questions. Perhaps this explains why May backed Jeremy Hunt in spite of his own multitude of failings.

  • Coins
    Article: Nov 25, 2017
    By Zöe Franklin

    As always happens following the budget, some of the top independent minds in the country set to work looking at its real impact. The budget behind the headlines, if you will. This budget is no different and yesterday two reports were published that lay bare the fact that in real terms the financial future for families and individuals is not as rosy as the picture painted by the Chancellor.

  • Article: Jun 29, 2017

    "The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."

    Mahatma Ghandi

    The last 3 weeks should, I believe, be a wake-up call for our society and in particular politicians. Locally and nationally we have been confronted by some hard hitting truths about how we are failing the poorest in our communities.

  • Article: Jun 14, 2017
    By Zoe Franklin

    I was very pleased yesterday to receive a response from Anne Milton MP to my open letter regarding the Conservative alliance with the DUP. Many have asked me to let them know what reply I received - I am therefore including it below.

    I am glad that Anne Milton has given assurances "that there will be no compromises on any of the key issues of LGBTQ and equality, women's rights or climate change and environmental policy". However I remain very concerned at the cost (financial and otherwise) to our nation of the Conservatives 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the DUP, in particular the potential damage it could cause to the Northern Ireland peace process. Like many others I will be watching as the coming months unfold and remain committed to speaking out on behalf of Guildford and Cranleigh's residents on this, and other, issues.

  • Article: May 19, 2017
    By Zöe Franklin

    After dropping our children off at school yesterday (Thursday 18th May) I listened to the Today programme and found myself shouting at the radio as the subject of the Conservative manifesto was discussed. However, my anger turned to fury as the presenter outlined Tory plans for social care.

    If I look back five years, I didn't have a clue about social care, it was something that happened to other people and would eventually happen to me but was a long way off. However, that all changed in summer 2012 when my grandfather fell and ended up in hospital. He was discharged after a while with a limited care at home package organised by social services. After this six-week period we had to fight to to get the information needed in order to organise continued care. It began to emerge that all was not well with my grandmother's health and within a year we found ourselves in the sad position of both grandparents being admitted to hospital within 24 hours of each other; it becoming clearly apparent that they would not be able to return home.