Communities Minister Robert Jenrick promises councils will not be out of pocket by Covid-19. But ‘Your Waverley’ is not so sure.

On the BBC Today programme Communities Minister Robert ‘Covid rules are not meant for me’ –  Jenrick, made a pledge.

He said beleaguered local authorities faced with dramatically reduced revenue – from such services as leisure, car parks etc, would not be disadvantaged by the Covid-19 epidemic. He said £16 billion had already been handed to the country’s local authorities to handle the crisis. He gave assurances that local councils would not be left short of funds. the link below is not from yesterday’s TODAY programme. This is one he made earlier.

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The big black hole at the Godalming Town Council Zoom meeting is the Waverley Web. The WWeb Zooms in on Godalming Town Council.

But when Waverley’s Deputy leader spoke at Godalming Town Council Cllr Paul Follows said he had grave doubts about receiving further funding in future.  He also registered his, and his Executive’s concern, at the Government’s directive that planning services should continue – recently through planning officers’ delegated powers. Though two combined planning meetings for either side of the borough would go ahead when technology was available.

He said the government had handed out two significant tranches of cash to both the county and borough authorities. But said:

“It simply will not be enough.”

He explained the Government was funding only the direct costs of the Covid-19 epidemic, but this did not include the loss of revenue – such as venue hire, leisure centre income, car parks and more. He said it would be prudent for the town, parish and the borough councils to prepare for losses until at least October. The Government’s help does not include any town or parish councils. However, Waverley’s Executive was proposing to write to every town and parish council asking for their combined costs associated with the current emergency in an attempt to seek Government compensation.

He said: “They must be compensated for all their good work during these difficult times, but I very much doubt this will be available, and I expect councils will all be in the same place next year?”

Councillors Steve Cosser and Peter Martin both agreed that further funding to compensate local authorities either at Waverley or the county council would be unlikely to be forthcoming.

Councillor Steve Williams said that whilst the Town Council’s focus must be on supporting the community it would be …

‘It is utterly obscene if the Government doesn’t compensate us all for the additional expenditure and loss of revenue that will eminate from this crisis.  By the time the lockdown is lifted we don’t want the local community to be   battered and bruised because of additional costs because that won’t help the economic recovery.’

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