Waverley’s Jim Edwards was so pleased with his new Economic Strategy …

… that he took the Waverley executive on a coach tour of business parks, including this one at Dunsfold.

You know the airfield that the locals have repeatedly objected to its expansion for business or anything else!

The executives are pictured here on the starting blocks to push the council’s new economic strategy forward.  Or could it be the same as the old one, just with no officers left to carry it out!

 

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On your marks – get set – GO!

 

When members of Waverley’s Value for Money Overview and Scrutiny Committee sat down to scrutinise the draft strategy last night there were some glum faces. Waverley had brought in ‘experts’ (Atkins Consultants) to write a document which councillors said they hadn’t had time to peruse – some hadn’t even received it!

Ah well nothing, like scrutinising something you have hardly read, or haven’t seen at all, is there? A document that will go to the Executive for approval on 9 October!

Suffice to say those who had “skimmed through” the document said much was missing. No surprise there then!

Councillors identified that although there were 8,200 businesses in Waverley the document had not taken into account there were many rural businesses in a mainly rural borough but there was no reference to them. Dunsfold’s Councillor John Gray said the figures just didn’t add up – “It says here there are only 85 people employed in 165 rural businesses – what about agriculture, forestry etc?”

Councillor Mike Band wanted to know where was The Surrey Hills Management Plan was identified? A group partly funded by Waverley?

Richard Seaborne suggested the document, particularly the Executive Summary should be  “tidied up” and should include some important figures – like the size of Waverley’s economy which was £4.7billion. He said “A goodly number of highly educated highly paid people who live in the borough and use its services work outside the borough. I want to see more detail on the in-out economy? Does Waverly have the staff or the skills to monitor the document?’

The document didn’t portray an overall picture said, David Round. Including infrastructure, the overcrowded trains from Haslemere included. He claimed 80% of the money that flowed into Waverley came from the City – that is the driver of Waverley’s economy. He highlighted the amount of office and retail space being lost to residential partly due to increased business rates – “are we telling the Government – if we all bleat it may listen.”

Stephen Mulliner shared many of his colleagues’ reservations – “truth is –  a local authority is not best placed to carry out the actions in this document termed as – SMART – which he asked to be removed – we don’t have the money or the staff to do that. We are not a business” 

The man behind the document, Jolly Jim Edwards looking not quite so jolly at the end, said that the need for the important Economic Strategy was prompted by CRATUS – ( brought in by CEO Tom Horwood to review Waverley.)  “We all have to realise we are making a real sea change here  – there is a long way to go but at least we’ve made a start.”

Not a very good one, judging by the way it was received! A bit like Elsies – Culture Strategy?Do we have a Cultural Strategy or do we have 230 pages weighing over – 600 grams – of expensive tripe?

Councillors agreed to form a small group to do further work on the document urgently before recommending it to the Executive. 

 

 

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