Despite some opposition to parts of the new Administration’s first Budget, Waverley Towers experienced a phenomenon seldom witnessed there.
UNITY IN BLAMING THE TORY GOVERNMENT FOR THE COUNCIL’S PARLOUS STATE!
Following in the wake of Storm Dennis – the annual Budget setting meeting was predicted to be of similar turbulant proportions. Instead it resulted in a show of togetherness of the never to be forgotten variety! United – the whole council rounded on the Tory Government – and its local MP’s.
The Government received an all round bashing for the unfair treatment meted out to councils in the South of England.
The Tory Group offered to join forces with the new Rainbow Coalition to demand fairness from Westminster. Watch out Jeremy – you could be facing the wrath of your Tory colleagues, and as for the Honourable Angela – she may need a tin hat to weather the storm heading her way. Some are even considering marching on Westminster! So shocked was the WW, we almost fell off our web!
As the clock ticks on ‘Your Waverley’s’ worsening financial crisis – the drama was played out at Tuesday’s Budget setting round in the Council Chamber that may soon find itself sporting a ‘For Sale’ sign.
As well as collecting council tax to support its own budget, by law Waverley has to collect council tax for Surrey County Council (SCC), Surrey Police and the borough’s town and parish councils and this money is paid over to other organisations.
Surrey County Council is increasing Council Tax by 3.99%. Surrey Police by 3.85% and some parish town and councils in Waverley by a considerable amount
For 2020/21, this is equivalent to around 7p a week on a Band D property;
How did it achieve this? By slashing its operating costs by £700,000.
However, cash- strapped Surrey County Council is considering issuing an invite to the wealthiest in the county to dig even deeper and send over even more as voluntary contributions. Really, honestly, we kid you not! The county’s begging bowl is out, all donations gratefully received!
Waverley keeps a measly 10p in every pound of council tax collected to fund its services, and also the Government has a strangle-hold over councils by restricting the amount that council tax can be increased each year. ‘Your Waverley’ collects business rates from all non-domestic premises in the Borough. Most of this money is paid to the Government with a relatively small amount being retained by Waverley…
…Just 5p from every pound collected! Stingy Government blighters!
The Government also sets the rateable value and rates chargeable for all business premises.
Waverley’s Revenue Support Grant from the government is now ZERO. There has been a dramatic reduction over the last 6 years from £6m in 2010/11.
There was however a noticeable absence of unity between the newbies and the Tories over…
The newbies are not impressed that the Tories promised the burgeoning New Town a spanking new Leisure Centre shortly before receiving the order of the boot at the 2019 May polls. A promise announced in the full knowledge that the cupboard was bare!
Said the new Leader John Ward.
Now the newbies are left holding the babies and the poolwater! Acutely aware that the centre is falling apart at the seams and must either be refurbished or replaced – with money the authority doesn’t have. If you didn’t already know Cranleigh – you were duped by the scurrilous Tory bunch to buy your vote! The Tories threw the blame back on the newbies, and claim its “dithering and delay” has cost Farnham a “climbing wall.”
But never fear – the newbies on the block are promising to do all they can to get Cranleigh up and swimming. But keep holding your breath, because it won’t be soon. Just keep watching those HGV’s rolling along your country roads, building ever-higher platforms for all those flood-prone new properties coming your way – without the fringe benefits – hey ho!
Waverley was persuaded to keep some, under-used car parking charges lower in Cranleigh. However as charges around the borough haven’t increased for 3/4 years, small increases here and there generates £145k of badly-needed additional income.
An independent review of charges was commissioned to take effect in 2020/21. Of the additional income generated, some £100k, is earmarked to pay for the ongoing costs of delivering Waverley’s climate change emergency action plan. Altogether £300,000 has been earmarked to tackle the climate emergency and the growing chasm of inequality in our borough. A figure that Tory Cllr Trevor Sadler described as – “paltry.”
Although council tenants face a 2.7% increase, there has been no change to their rents for the past 4 years – because yes, you guessed, due to Government intervention yet again!!
Fees and charges have been reviewed too, Some are statutory but for those determined by Waverley some inflationary increases are proposed for 2020/21 where appropriate. Many charges have been increased in line with estimated inflation. The administration considered increasing Green Waste subscription charges by £5 to a total charge of £70 to generate an additional £70k per year as past increases had not led to a reduction in the number of subscribers. However it decided that such an increase would not be in the spirit of the council’s declared Climate Change Emergency Strategy.
There were a few skimishes before the Budget was passed. Elstead’s Aunty Elsey waxed lyrical about retaining grants to the Voluntary Sector in the full knowledge that the Tories have been effectively cutting their grants in real terms for a decade. And aware that a Residents Consultation survey, conducted by Waverley, has placed them as a low priority. The Deputy Leader Paul Follows said – despite the Tory Government’s wilful neglect, he pledged the new Administration would do “the very best it could for the residents of Waverley, of all ages.”
See here from a post we made earlier, based on council paperwork which was made public and then removed from the public domain before the meetting? Could a nasty shock be on the horizon for Waverley’s grant-funded organisations?
‘Worried of Wonersh’ aka Michael Goodridge warned officers he intends to take them to task alleging they are not adhering to the Council’s Constitution!
Another Tory accused the Executive of making too many decisions behind closed doors. Because of course, they had never dreamed of doing such a thing?!? Perish the thought!
Despite the sniping the Budget was passed – with the Tories voting for almost everything. Funny though, with all that experience gained over a decade in power by all those Tory councillors … and yet NOTHING in response either verbally or in terms of ideas for getting ‘Your Waverley’ out of the financial hole that they, and the Tory Government, has dug for our borough?