Add to that a huge backlog of maintenance and repairs estimated to cost over £2.5m, if carried out over the next ten years. Also needed are major capital works to the 50-year-old building of which only 75% is used, even with its present tenants e.g. police. So is it any wonder that the new administration wants to re-develop a large part of central Godalming – including The Burys?
Waverley’s new Portfolio Holder for Finance Mark Merryweather, an accountant by profession, painted a grim picture of the life of The Burys – saying that the under-utilised facility had run its course.
In seeking the EXECUTIVE committee’s approval to spend £40,000 on consultants to carry out an Options Appraisal on three sites in the council’s ownership – The Burys, and car parks at The Wharf and the Crown Court, Cllr Merryweather said the council could meet its investment objectives and provide quality housing developments, which could set a standard for other developers to follow. This could generate much-needed income to provide Waverleys residents with the services they need.
Earlier in the evening, he painted another grim picture of the council’s finances after years of Central Government cuts, despite Waverley officers identifying efficiency savings of 5%, right across the board and – and for which they must be congratulated.
“We knew this year would be tough and it is coming up to those expectations we were looking at a deficit of £1.4m and it looks closer to £1.8m.”
He said a full report would go to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee next week and which would include recommending increases in council tax, fees and charges and council rents.
“We are suffering because the Government heavily regulates the income we can raise. We have no say on business rates 95% of which goes to either SCC or Government – our grant income from Government is also diminishing – FAST. Our ability to raise additional finance through fees and charges is also regulated.”
Cllr Jerry Hyman, Farnham Residents,’ who sounds more like ‘the official opposition every day that goes by,’ said residents’ believed efficiency savings should be made by the council before raising council rents. Though the Waverley Web understands that for the past four years a Government diktat reduced rents by 1% year-on-year.
Responding Cllr Merryweather said: “Our businesses, residents and visitors excluding council house tenants pay in £170m into this council each year and we get to keep £10m to fund all our services.”
He said “quite understandably” our residents are left with the impression when they receive their council tax or business rates bill with our name on the back of it that everything they pay, ends up in our pocket. However, we are getting less and less of it. If we go into negative tariff our residents will be subsidising the Government through the back door.
The council had to cut its cloth to match demands that are made on it