Is it any wonder that ‘Your Waverley’ wants to maximise its assets?

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Will taking control of ‘Your Waverley’ prove to be a poisoned chalice for the Rainbow Alliance.

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?

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 10.23.41.pngWaverley’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

 

 

6 thoughts on “Is it any wonder that ‘Your Waverley’ wants to maximise its assets?

  1. Yes, our “Hero” Jerry Hyman was the opposition, is the opposition and always will be opposition. It’s such a shame, he doesn’t seem to know any other way. He is a clever chap by all accounts and should harness his undoubted energy in coming up with solutions that we all desperately need at Waverley.

  2. Rather a back-handed compliment, however, he is far too clever for his own good sometimes, we fear.

    The man does something seldom experienced in the Waverley council chamber – he actually reads documents and committee papers, and with a forensic eye analyses them for inaccuracies and omissions – of which there are many!

    His own Leader completely ignores every word he says, at his peril. Just because the council has a shoddy and not-fit-for-purpose Appropriate Assessment and accepts it as such, and continues to sacrifice the environment on the altar of Natural England say so, doesn’t mean he is wrong.

    Were there any Tory members at the Executive Meeting? Or for that matter Farnham Resident’s councillors? Love him or hate him – he puts the hours in and questions recommendations, as he did on numerous occasions last night, and rightly so. It is all about checks and balances – and he serves the people of Farnham well.

    Wasn’t it JH shouting from the rooftops about the Blightwells fiasco, maybe one day WBC will fess-up to the fact that he was right.

    After all, wasn’t it JH as a resident that single-handedly stopped the large-scale voluntary transfer of council housing to a housing association. Now Waverley proudly boasts about its council housing stock.

  3. It has long been accepted that Waverley has to diversify to meet it’s financial obligations otherwise front line services would be seriously compromised. I would like to understand if a sound financial strategy has finally been developed and implemented and what investments have been made to increase income under the new executive as was the case under the last administration. Residents and business in particular will bear the brunt of inadequate financial management/planning with large increases in car parking and service charges in the pipeline. The other fundamental issue is the lack of a 5 year housing supply due to the inability of the current administration to identify enough sites and spending taxpayers hard earned funds on in defendable costly appeals. They must start making difficult decisions or the unelected Planning Inspectorate will be replacing planning committees at the bequest of the government to the detriment of our communities.

  4. Yes, Mr Edwards – you are absolutely right- and difficult decisions must be made and made soon – unless of course, the Government starts funding local authorities properly.

    However, you do not mention whether you support the strategy proposed by the new administration to make better use of land and buildings in Godalming?

    As for the 5-year housing and land supply- we can all thank Protect Our Waverley and the CPRE for the critical delays to the supply of new homes at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
    By now at least 5/600 homes should have and could have been built, and with families moving into a new garden village. As you well know, many of your former colleagues who represented seats in the eastern villages promised – “Dunsfold will be developed over our dead bodies.” One of whom now sits on the former Dunsfold Laison Group – you really couldn’t make it up!

    Thanks to the legal system that allows such objectors to scupper development on brownfield sites such as the airfield, at very little cost, the likes of POW can continue to frustrate Local Plans.

    But, isn’t it up to the residents of all the villages to ask their parish councils why they contributed tens of thousands of pounds of THEIR money in backing these constant challenges to the detriment of Waverley.

    If the Government’s grey men in white coats do take over Waverley’s planning system then we know who to blame – don’t we?

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