Managing the change – for a better Waverley.

As there is so much controversy over the membership of ‘Your Waverley’s’ Executive.

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 Once new councillors have signed their Declarations of Office, they must nominate a new Leader, a New Deputy and Mayor. All of whom are now in post and cracking on with the jobs in hand – but apparently not fast enough for the ousted Tories.

A huge and important task faced one of the largest numbers of new councillors ‘YW’  has ever seen. To chose the Executive – where major issues are first debated and then scrutinised by the Overview & Scrutiny Committees and the roles of Portfolio Holders.

A  new council made up of every political party (except Tories) and an Independent recognised very early on they needed to learn from the mistakes made by the previous regime. Engage more with the public, listen more and communicate more effectively.  By the way, the Tories were offered a place on the Executive but refused! Got it? REFUSED!

Although all the parties have formed a Coalition, the Conservative group of 23 councillors still remain the largest party and will be judged by their actions on how they treat the new incumbents, who have been duly elected.

The skills and abilities of individuals, from whichever party need to be recognised as chairmen, portfolio holders etc. A  team of all the talents from across the political spectrum.

It also needs to be recognised that the number one task is to represent the interests of Waverley residents in the towns and villages. We (WW) believe the views of the towns and parishes should carry greater weight, on planning matters in particular. So should the views of the councillors who represent the areas in which development is planned.

Is it fair for example that if all councillors in one area vote against an application they can be outvoted by councillors in other areas with different agendas and priorities?

Thankfully the Listening Exercise has already taken root – See here: Well done’Your Waverley’s’ first listening exercise was a rollicking success – and there are calls for more.

There is also a pressing need to get rid of poor quality staff especially those who think quantity is far more important than quality. Shun the sometimes vomit-inducing tendency of thanking officers at every opportunity just for doing their job, often, not even particularly well. Throw out developers/turned planning officers who are there to help their colleagues?

There are many areas that need attention, the planning portal for one, which is almost impossible for professionals to navigate let alone the layperson.  Our bete noir, the webcasting system, that works for some of the people all of the time, and some people none of the time, but never all of the people all the time. Send it back to Rumbelows?

Treat one another with respect. Turn up, and stay awake, and at least look as though you have read your papers. It was so obvious at the shambolic second meeting of Full Council that many hadn’t! There were numerous mistakes in the paperwork!

Stop pretending that homes costing upwards of £400,000 are “affordable homes” find another name for them, and build council houses that are affordable based on average shop/farm/worker salaries.

The London borough of Westminster has decided that no more officers can automatically be converted into residential properties. The town of Haslmlemere has had its shops and offices given the same protection, so other towns should follow – SOON!

Fuming voters ditched the Tories because they failed to bring out a credible Local Plan early enough. Full marks to Julia Potts & Co, they did manage something. However, even that is awaiting a decision on a challenge in the High Court… again.

The largest brownfield site in the borough should have been released for housing years ago. Those delays have cost the eastern villages dearly – and the Tories have been punished for it. Now – everyone should LISTEN to the public’s concerns as the purse-strings tighten.

 

8 thoughts on “Managing the change – for a better Waverley.

  1. From the Labour position I agree with much of this, in particular the unaffordability of “affordable” housing for many people and the need for social housing. Realistically getting private developers to build social housing is like pushing water uphill, so the most promising option is direct construction by the council through a 100% owned corporation (which avoids the right-to-buy drain). I would frankly find it hard to support continuing with the current Local Plan unless there is clear progress on that front.

    I don’t favour a sudden purge of officers, which sounds like the worst of private sector management (new CEO=mass sackings), not to mention the unappealing slaughter in Downing Street. We can reasonably expect officers to respond to new direction, and shouldn’t blame them for following the previous management. I’ve yet to hear of officers refusing to carry out proposals from councillors, and see no harm in courtesy in acknowledging their work. The writer should seek medical advice if he vomits as easily as that.

    I’m also not in favour of routinely confrontational language towards the Conservatives: some are more cooperative than others, and frankly not every decision is party political. If you’re normally civil, a sharp rejoinder is more credible when you need one. One reason I voted for Corbyn is that he avoids routine abuse – his mild remark that Boris “possibly overestimates his talents” is in my view more effective in response to bluster than any number of furious tweets, because even the keenest Conservatives may concede that this might actually be… correct.

  2. Take your points and veiled criticism, however, some of the past congratulatory language heaped on officers for simply doing their job, has been cringe-making, perhaps you have not heard past meetings. Acknowledgement of work well done is one thing, congratulating them over and over again is quite another.

    We recognise there are some very responsible, hardworking and valuable Tory councillors, some of whom remain and whose efforts have been recognised by this blog over the years.

    • Thanks for taking my rather aggressive comment in good part. You’re right – I’ve not heard past meetings, and I agree one shouldn’t go overboard. But sacking people is a big jump.

  3. 1. You say “Stop pretending that homes costing upwards of £400,000 are “affordable homes” find another name for them, and build council houses that are affordable based on average shop/farm/worker salaries.”
    The Council can’t find another name for them whether it wants to or not. It’s a defined term in the NPPF Glossary 2. Check it out for yourselves.

    2. This Council doesn’t have a lot of land on which to build “council housing” which is the only way to get 100% social rented (as far as I know).

    3. The simple reason that housing is so expensive is the price of land. Have a ponder on that one and think about what is driving land prices so high around here.

    4. The utterly iniquitous Conservative Right to Buy policy which has been in place for decades chips away at the number of council housing for rent. There have been 100 Waverley Council Houses sold off since 2013. Nick Palmer is right. We need a council owned Housing Company asap. Apparently the preparatory work was done for this under the previous administration. Let’s activate it.

    • Good post by Kathy (not just because we agree on right to buy!). An interesting question is design. If we consider that we can’t build outwards (Green Belt, urban sprawl), perhaps we should be building upwards.

      Woking has gone all-in on that with the tower blocks by the station. We don’t need to go that far.(though I grew up in on the 8th floor of a well-kept Danish tower block and really enjoyed the view and the breeze!), but four-storey blocks of flats on the limited land available would go a long way to addressing the social housing shortage. Sure, it doesn’t quite fit with the image of most areas of Waverley, but if it doesn’t actually block anyone’s light, then maybe people should accept a little concession in visual impression in return for actually helping people on modest incomes find somewhere local to live.

      I’m told that a previous councillor, asked what could be done to promote local employment, said, “Waverley isn’t a place for people who work, it’s a place for people who own businesses elsewhere where people work”. He’d have probably conceded that he was exagerrating, but there is a little too much truth in it, and if we design homes only with that image in mind, of course we will have a shortage of homes that young people in particular can afford.

    • The W W had done a little investigating on its past dealings and find, would you Adam and Eve it, that WBC did own its own social housing provider – The First Step Houding Company – which ws responsibl for building a good number of “really affordable” homes. Then some bright spark flogged it off.

      As for disgraceful Right to Buy policy. That is storing up huge problems for its future residents, and lining the pockets of developers and will be yet another husing scandal in the years to come.

      • Do I recall that Surrey County Council invested in commercial property in Farnham? Could they have used that money to build social housing for Surrey and recoup sustainable returns through rent, or doesn’t it work that way?

  4. Bunty,

    I think you will find that SCC doesn’t have any responsibility to fund or build social housing. It’s a district matter ie Waverley.

    Kathy

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