Are the Berkeley bunnies burrowing into Farnham.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 15.36.49.pngBerkeley Homes are chomping through the tree lined country lanes of Cranleigh in preparation for 425 new homes – and now it would appear it is setting its sights on Farnham?

and… if its higher quality development that councillors  want – then they need look no further than the Berkeley Group. So if Friends Life has opted to off-load the Woolmead shopping precinct Farnham residents could soon be spoilt for choice where to eat, sleep and be merry! … Particularly if the Brightwells/East Street gets the  go-ahead sometime soon.

If it doesn’t – then Berkeleys could beat Crest Nicholson to get its nose into the lettuce patch of Farnham’s clientele first!

However, the Berkeley Bunnies are not confirming the rumour and have their heads well down their burrow where it is dark and warm!

As we speak – the wiggies will all be lining up at the Preliminary Hearing in the High Court.for the Brightwells/ East Street fandango. 

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Good old Farnham Herald rides again! Perhaps Sir Ray should snap up the Surrey Ad again…. before it hits the buffers?

The Final Countdown.

 

The countdown to a David & Goliath type fight between Developers/Local Authority giants and a handful of Farnham residents has begun.

Dubbed by the Farnham Society as …”Probably the biggest episode in the history of Farnham for many years” will commence  in the High Court on Tuesday.

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In the Blue Corner wearing this great big red glove pumped up by – – “Your Council Tax”

 are top dogs:-

Construction Giant Crest Nicholson which has an annual profit of £200m tucked under its belt and “Your Waverley” with all our taxes under its belt.  They pledge to spend  “whatever it takes” to win but privately they admit “to being very worried.”

In the Red corner :

We have the under dogs.  Farnham’s Famous Fearless Five, with their personal money plus  backing from the town’s residents out of their own pockets … and yet again…through their council tax. Two of the claimants mentioned below  are Waverley Borough Councillors and all of those named are pensioners.

The Claimants: Andy McLeod (Independent WBC) John Williamson (Farnham Residents WBC 😉 David Wylde;  Celia  and Richard Sanders;  all claim they are merely exercising their democratic right.

However “Your Waverley”  and its  development partner for the £130m scheme Crest Nicholson dispute this  and are throwing everything at F’s FFF at this week’s  preliminary hearing tomorrow Tuesday January 31 to stop the case going  to a more costly full hearing. If successful this could  take  another year.

Farnham Herald’s brilliant  reporter Daniel Gee gives  a complete round up here:  17-01-26-judgement-day-for-east-street-protestors-copy-2

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 18.35.53.pngSo as the gloves are about to go on  the Waverley Web is sticking its neck out and laying odds of 100 to 1 that Farnham’s Famous Fearless  Five will produce a knockout punch that will leave the top dogs reeling. 

Why? Because “Your Waverley`” has told so many lies, has deceived, procrastinated and made so many volte faces over the past 14 or more years.  Aided and abetted by a series of unscrupulous Council Leaders and their “paid off” former Chief Executive,  they could now find themselves … on the ropes!

 The final knockout could come later in The High Court – however,  we here in our tangled web fully expect “Your Waverley” to use “your money” to appeal against the Court’s decision if tomorrow’s hearing goes against them in a bid to simply win this fight by attrition.

“After all they haven’t put their homes on the line – they have lots of our dosh in their glove with which to beat Farnham’s FFF to pulp!

Tell em Theresa!

Prime Minister Theresa May speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this week told the public it was up to individual councils whether – or not – they  raised extra funds by increasing council tax! She said there were many areas in the country  where there was, non or only limited delayed discharges from hospitals(bed blocking) therefore those authorities did not need to levy an extra charge. Now called the ~”Social Care Precept.”

She also said there are 24 councils that account for 50% of DD’s into social care – now… was she referring to Stockbroker Belt Surrey? Because if she was, let’s all ask ourselves WHY?

Because our stupid county council, due to years of neglect, failed to ensure our residential care homes were kept in good nick, and when inspections ruled them “unfit for purpose” closed them down. Those old people were pushed into local private care  homes, often far away from family and friends so  went down the slippery slope to…. A & E departments.

Borough councils like “Your Waverley” stopped or cut the provision of Warden assisted  sheltered accommodation, so further down that slippery slope our elderly  slid, Meals on Wheels funding removed and so the miserable saga continues…

-Charitable organisations in and around the county are closing their doors to the disabled and the elderly – Age Uk’s are, or have,  closed in Runnymede & Spelthorne, and Waverley.   Will Age UK Surrey  now  pick up the troubles in their old kit bag for the whole of the County’s elderly?…

… Because if you try getting through on their telephone line, you could grow old in the attempt we hear from our readers!

If this is the dire situation in stockbroker belt and leafy Surrey what possible hope is there for Blackburn, or Bolton  or the Welsh Valley  folk? Because a large proportion of Surrey  citizens pay huge private health insurance, and fund their own nursing care. Some even fund/top up  the private care of their parents and take GREAT EXCEPTION to subsidising the care of local authority residents ‘though they don’t dare to voice it!

So Surrey and Waverley Councils you are now stuck between a great big rock and a hard place – so man up and recognise your past failures and bring back some of the accommodation and services that once enabled people to remain independent in their own homes!

And… don’t be surprised if the public – many of whom are already funding their elderly parents.  And family’s care and help their young  with the extra cash that is now  being called for the pupils of by Surrey’s schools for their children/grandchildren- if  they turn around and flatly refuse to pay an extra 15% council tax. 

Why? Because frankly they don’t trust you with their money based on past experience including here in Farnham where you are investing £30m in a toxic redevelopment scheme that has become a legal and political nightmare!

so  … perhaps Theresa you could tell Surrey County Council to follow your example. You get paid £142,500 for running the country and running around the world – Surrey’s CEO David McNulty gets £216, 242 + a £4,000 allowance and most of us around here have never seen him or heard him – except one of our fellow bloggers wrote to him once – but never received a reply!

 

It cannot be… can it? Surely not – are the scrutineers, actually scrutinising “Your Waverley?”

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However, not everyone on the council’s committee’s which were set up  to scrutinise and  question council business, appear entirely happy with Waverley’s new boy on the block!

There are still a few diehard Tories who would happily see him strung up and given 50 lashes.

Farnham Residents’ COmOS (Community Overview & Scrutiny) Chairman, Councillor Jerry Hyman appears to be “digging in” to ensure  that the checks and balances that  ensure open Government at Waverley Towers actually happens. Wow! and… for a bloke that has never chaired a council committee until a month or so ago. It is  quite a daunting experience for even the most experienced councillor. However, he is succeeding in encouraging, even the more timid members, to seek answers and get the information they need to make informed decisions after proper debate. 

Now Waverley’s  bete noir whose  questions from the public gallery were regularly shunned actually chairs the very Overview & Scrutiny Committees  that residents across the borough have  derided for years for being  simply nodding folder for the  Executive donkeys.  The  biggest critic of the scrutiny function in the past came from  Farnham Bourne’s Carole Cochburn. Watch  her rant here: TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING?

Much of the Daft Cultural Strategy which has now been ‘properly’ scrutinised –  has found its way  into the recycling bins where it belonged – and some  has been “underpinned” by  a first stab at an  Action Plan. Now instead of focusing on the impossible – under Councillor Hyman’s guidance the future strategy, designed to underpin The Local Plan – actually looks like being something the public and councillors could understand and endorse. 

However, the Waverley Web, whilst recognising it certainly isn’t a Culture Buff or a Dormitory Dependable and may even be labelled “deprived” as indicated in the previous 276 pages of gobbledygook cannot help wondering how much  the whole exercise including the  “Consultants” actually cost?

Will someone, somewhere tell us on how much time and money was wasted on producing such a daft cultural strategy document?  Here goes another Freedom of Information request that it “will not be in the public interest” to answer!

and … whilst on a  recycling roll … it was obvious to all that JH has established a decent working relationship with Richard Homewood  the senior officer responsible for preparing a new Refuse Contract due in 2019. Same contract that gobbles up  a whopping great chunk -£5. 04m – of the council’s rapidly diminishing finances!

In fact it was revealed if we all composted our garden and food waste properly we probably wouldn’t have to shell out so much in extra council tax.

Maybe, just maybe – Farnham’s new boy’s efforts  –  might make ‘Your Waverley” more open, more transparent and dare we say it – more responsive to the views of its own backbenchers. It may  even break the habit of a long time and  let  councillors do the job they were elected to do rather than letting the Executive tail wag the member’s dog.

 

If the billy goats gruff trotted over Cranleigh’s rickety rackety bridge they may find more than an ugly troll.

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Whose dares cross over Elm  bridge? 

We here at the Waverley Web say…Thank God for the Cranleigh Civic Society… and just like the Billy Goats Gruff – watch out as you cross the rickety rackety Elm Bridge!!

The group that is:…screen-shot-2016-05-03-at-14-22-39

…has been keeping a regular eye on the movements of the former … may be even future railway bridge at in Elmbridge Road, Cranleigh?

As a bit of background  last year CCS stalwart Adrian Clarke (Chartered Builder and Committee Member ) visited the site after being  alerted  about work being carried out on the bridge over the Downs Link. A sub-contractor was filling in  cracks on behalf of the county council with a weak mixture of sand and cement. Adrian noticed  that a crack, not yet filled,  had bulged further since his previous visit. He claimed, filling in cracks with a weak mortar mix was a complete waste of money – and  was purely a cosmetic job to hide a “very real problem.”

CCS believed the bridge abutments should be renewed whist the arch was still sound and if  delayed, until one of the abutments completely failed, the structural arch would tilt resulting in the need for the whole bridge to be demolished and completely rebuilt; which would prove  extremely expensive and would disrupt users. 

In July, a CCS  member was studying a (SCC) highway document on Dunsfold Park’s proposed scheme (now approved for 1,800 new homes) and was startled to discover  reference to the “Downs Link bridge  stating  (” it is in need of structural work.”) CCS drew the County Council’s attention to this but it played down its significance.

On 2nd August  a bridge not dissimilar to Elm bridge collapsed in Leicestershire this prompted the CCS to  research other bridge collapses and its findings were sent to Surrey County Council in the forlorn hope that these failures would spur them into taking its concerns more seriously.

MP, Anne Milton,  has been kept regularly informed. of the situation.

On 8th August CCS  received an email from Surrey County Council which it hoped “would allay its fears” – however, it did not. Here’s an excerpt from the SCC e-mail with comments from the CCS below: 

The Council’s “scheduled and ad hoc visual inspections do not indicate there has been movement in the cracks that are visible from ground level” – we say get a ladder! Also, there is no mention of the walls bulging!
The “bridge was strengthened in 2006 ensuring the structure was capable of carrying a 40T full highway loading for single lane traffic” – we want to know why no weight limit has been imposed – also the traffic is controlled by lights and it is quite feasible for a breakdown on the far side of the bridge, or a slow cyclist, to bring a following mini convoy of 40T grab trucks to a halt! Also, nearby Hewitts has just been approved for development – even more HGVs!
“We do not currently have any concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge” – we say that this totally contradicts what Surrey County Council stated in the Dunsfold Park document!

So once again WW asks – who is telling the truth?
Also  August saw publication of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which included reference to the Downs Link bridge being rebuilt! So CCS  asked the  County Council to confirm this was correct but received no response to its email of 16th November.

That e -mail does however refer to “seasonal movement of the wing wall foundations” which the society found interesting. Structurally a bridge abutment is designed as a single composite component and if an abutment experiences cracking, then it is no longer acting as a single component – it is now two or more components and the engineering performance is obviously compromised. This view was  not accepted by SCC who insisted  the bridge was  safe – even though the Infrastructure Delivery Plan allowed for it to be rebuilt!

Dare the Waverley Web suggest this is yet another cynical move by SCC to ensure that Dunsfold Park picks up the tab for all the areas infrastructure problems?

Looking at all the photos again, CCS  noticed that the triangle of bricks within the crack looks different to the other bricks, perhaps suggesting that this section has failed before, was repaired and has failed again? It has kept its eye on the ball ever since. 

What the hell are we actually paying  “highways experts” for … WW wonders?

Elmbridge Bridge 23 Jan 2017

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So this is the situation now. But Cranleigh Civic Society says it will continue  monitoring the bridge and do everything possible to ensure it is made “fit for purpose” for the traffic demands of the 21st century.

No doubt someone somewhere will have a cunning plan before many thousands more cars and HGV’s  and construction traffic start trip, trap, trip, trapping over Cranleigh’s  rickety rackety bridge after  around 1,000  new homes are  built in Elmbridge alone?  Discounting thousands more elsewhere!