We’re on a road to nowhere… if Surrey wins hearts and minds.

As you may be aware in a blatant – rather underhand way the head honchos at Surrey County Council are engaged in a power grab. A grab that could see our county dubbed ‘the biggest single Unitary Authority in Britain’ if not Europe – with a population of 1.2+m.

We have been saying for years here on the Waverley Web that local government reorganisation is long overdue. In 2013 Tory-controlled Waverley pledged it would cut the number of councillors from 57 to 53. Instead, it kept the number at the same level and increased Cllrs allowances by 94%! Has made huge payouts to failing Chief Executives and has invested unwisely here in Farnham.

However, credit it where it’s due in recent years councils, regardless of party, have shared expertise and worked together in a bid to save manpower and money. But, more change is urgently needed particularly post-COVID. But certainly not with the unseemly and ill-thought-out haste currently proposed by our County Leaders.  Pick up 11 borough and district councils, lump them all into a big bag, shake them out… nd up pops a weasel?

Over the coming weeks/months here at the Waverley Web, will highlight some of the awful errors made by Surrey County Council.

Suffice to say – to highlight them all would require a book!

Some glaring examples that stand out among all others are (a) shocking and dangerous road and pavement repairs: Just like these below all taken in ‘Your Waverley.’ A  TV programme on Liverpool revealed that even in a street where houses were being sold for £1 they had better roads and pavements than Surrey.

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If Local Authorities we’re ranked Surrey would come last. What have the punitively taxed Surrey residents done to deserve such abuse?

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Cranleigh High Street – where workmen covered double yellow lines with bituminous macadam.

 

Potholes
Yes, council workmen really did such a bad job here that material was flying everywhere. 

Come to Surrey and visit the UK’s capital of potholes​ – on and off-road!

Would you want the same people who repair our roads to run all our services in ‘Your Waverley?

Prompting graphics like this!

Pothole pic Hold on Jack
In a week, or maybe a month or two – after another shedload of ripped tyres and broken axles?

For years Surrey Highways has been operating a ‘tick-box’ exercise when dealing with planning applications. Time and again local councillors, attempt to do their jobs properly armed with in-depth knowledge of local traffic conditions in the areas they represent. Using any highway grounds as an objection means zilch!. Highway concerns are ignored and hey ho, off the developers go.  What do they leave behind? Simples – accidents, near misses and angry and frustrated locals.

Frustrated for being continually ignored – many councillors just give up to spend more with family. A Cllr dubbed ‘the Cranleigh lorry driver’ once pointed out that it would be physically impossible to drive a vehicle without causing huge traffic danger into an Ewhurst development. He said vehicles were too wide for the one-way road and would destroy the hedges and gardens in on neighbours properties. It was approved. They did. No hedges, and series of traffic dangers every day! With mounting incredulity, they ask: How can highway officers’ come to their conclusions when they don’t even visit sites?   Instead, they conduct ‘a desk-top’ exercise and scupper any meaningful decision. A decision which borough’s and districts in Surrey cannot challenge at appeal.

WW believes it should be mandatory for highway officers to visit a site – before putting forward any view. Recently SCC’s planning committee was poised to permit large-scale oil and gas exploration on a site in Dunsfold. A site which councillors had not visited. But would be offered a virtual drone tour of the area. How shambolic is that? Only public protest prevented the hearing. Subsequently, it was refused – but with no highway objection.

UK Oil & Gas application in Dunsfold – Refused…for now?

We could list thousands of cases – East Street, Farnham; Badshot Lea; Ockford Park, Godalming; Milford Golf Course; Amlets Lane; Cranleigh; Cranleigh Rd Ewhurst; Wildwood Lane, Cranleigh the list is endless…

The most recent in Witley:

This week  Cllr Paul Follows and Cllr Maxine Gale drew a line in the sand and deferred an item on Rokes Lane in Witley. They demanded that Surrey Highways come back and review the issues and the consequences of the development on the area – in person – and give a proper comment.

Let’s see how that goes! Well done Cllr Maxine Gale for seconding Cllr Follows’ motion to defer this application which the planning committee then supported. 

 

So … Cranleigh parish council isn’t happy about the private care home either?

As letters continue to pour in – For and Against CVHT’s latest planning application – villagers have unveiled the man behind the scheme? Watch this space!

Cranleigh Parish Council

So it is not only eastern villages residents who want answers from Cranleigh Village Health Trust  – Cranleigh Parish Council wants answers too!

Here’s a PDF of its actual letter:

document-7951873

 Planning application WA/2020/0965 Erection of a building to provide a 64 bed care home with 16 community beds together with a building to provide 14 health worker accommodation units with access from Knowle Lane, associated parking and ancillary work (revision of WA/2018/1966)

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• Response as a local authority having regard to the public interest of its parishioners.

 The Parish Council discussed this planning application with the regard to the public interest of its parishioners. Concerns were raised about the benefit of the community beds to the Cranleigh community.

Questions were asked about the exact usage of the beds with regards to care, nursing, Alzheimer’s, post op and/or mother and baby care and how the provision of community beds in the CVHT care home differ in funding and allocation to the provision of NHS/Surrey funded beds in any other care home.

Q The Council would like to know the exact usage of these proposed community beds as this is currently unclear?

Q The Council would also like to know what the exact financial community benefit of the beds is and how this differs to other NHS/Council funded beds and how they would be allocated.

Q The Council also asked for confirmation of how the viability of the community beds had been assessed. The Council would like CVHT to clarify the qualifying criteria and to confirm it to Waverley Borough Council.

Q The Parish Council would like CVHT to clarify to us and to Waverley Borough Council the qualifying criteria for the proposed accommodation block as this is currently unclear. Is the accommodation for key workers or local healthcare workers? Should this application progress the Parish Council would like to see any appropriate qualifying criteria and allocation process secured through a legal agreement rather than a condition. We would also like to highlight that there is still no clarity on the legal agreement and connection between the care home and the separate accommodation block. This must also be established.

• Response as adjacent landowner and beneficiary of the restrictive covenant.

The Parish Council discussed this planning application as adjacent landowner and beneficiary of the restrictive covenant. The Council’s concerns are:

• Impact on the ASVI and views to and from the playing field and from Village Way.

• Flood risk – Concerns were raised that whilst the applicant may have mitigated flooding on their site, the discharge into the watercourse would have a cumulative impact, along with other significant local development on residents further downstream.

• Noise and disturbance from the development – odours, noise from machinery and equipment installed in the buildings for heating, cooling or circulating/extraction of air, light pollution. The overall impact on neighbouring amenity particularly on John Wiskar Drive and the Berkeley Homes development on Knowle Lane from what is a 24-hour business operating on site and its associated traffic, in addition to noise pollution impacting Snoxhall Fields and the loss of rural amenity to the recreation ground.

2 • Highway safety – Cumulative impact of additional traffic movements from this development, the Berkeley Homes development, and the operation of the commercial premises on Knowle Lane, particularly the long standing independent garage operating towards the junction of Knowle Lane which requires the parking of vehicles outside, reducing that area of the road to one lane.

The Council also wants to highlight the impact of this development on the dangerous pedestrian crossing between Knowle Lane and High Street as well as the impact on the crossing point from Snoxhall Fields to the Bruce MacKenzie Playing/Football Field. 

Would you want the same people who repair our roads to run all our services in ‘Your Waverley?

Unitary Authority Map of Surrey

 Here’s a pretty picture of the county of Surrey – which could become a behemoth – Council with 1.2m residents called The Surrey Unitary Authority!

Why? Simples: As Cllr Liz Townsend said at ‘Your Waverley’s’ Full Council meeting recently, The fight to stop Surrey County Council’s power grab has begun.

Cllr Liz Townsend called the county bid “discourteous and predatory” and saw an even darker scenario behind the bid.

“This is an attempt to cut out and weaken the local planning process. To open the doors to development on more green fields. We would be better served to tell the Government that there are currently one million homes granted planning consent that have not yet been built and that is the real uncut truth.”

And here’s the man leading the power grab – Leader Tim Oliver.

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In Tim Oliver’s letter  to the Secretary of State asking for Surrey to become a Unitary Authority includes this sentence:-

“We can build more homes more quickly and develop the high streets and town centres of the future, but to do this we need to streamline decision making on planning and infrastructure with a single clear strategic approach.

We can tackle inequality and level up within Surrey to ensure inclusive growth. We can reach net-zero carbon emissions and deliver a greener future. Our One Surrey Growth Board is well-placed to provide the place-oriented leadership and strategic co-ordination to deliver this.”

Want to know which areas have been earmarked on Oliver’s Surrey Growth Board? 

You can read about those areas here: Now, look at Surrey County Council’s cunning plan for ‘Your Waverley’s’ eastern villages.

The Government will publish a Recovery and Devolution White Paper in the autumn, setting out its plans for the devolution of powers, freedoms and flexibilities alongside intentions to increase the number of unitary and combined authorities and elected Mayors.  Doing so will support the achievement of the 2030 Community Vision for Surrey.

 

 

The fight to stop Surrey County Council’s power grab has begun.

‘Your Waverley’ (YW) will stand with the 11 other borough and district councils in the county to stop Surrey County Council’s bid to abolish them lock, stock, and wheelie bin.

Almost to a man and woman, Waverley’s Full Council opposed a county bid for a behemoth Unitary Authority of 1.2m people.

YW,  with the exception of two Tory councillors – Peter Martin – a Surrey County Councillor, and Steve Cosser who abstained; have agreed to work with other Surrey authorities to prepare an alternative proposal for re-organisation. This would prevent Surrey becoming England’s biggest single, non-metropolitan, unitary authority.

Tim Oliver (above) Surrey’s leader has asked Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to make the county a unitary authority – a preemptive strike before a Government White Paper on Unitary Authorities is published in the Autumn.

One councillor after another from every Waverley group or party – Independent; Tory; Labour; Greens and Farnham Residents’ Group registered their “disgust” that neither they, or any other Surrey borough’s leaders had been consulted before the plans were announced in the local government press. Cllr Oliver had, however, engaged with Surrey’s MP’s and in Waverley’s case Jeremy Hunt and Angela Richardson.  It is believed the leader of Woking Borough Council – may be backing Oliver’s deal – now dubbed – ‘we want more.’

When Waverley’s Leader John Ward addressed the zoom meeting he called the idea of a “monolithic” single authority “absurd, and “a misguided and blatant power grab.” Although “some” reorganisation was appropriate, this proposal would not serve Waverley residents’ well. “That’s what we are all here for – to do what is best for the residents of Waverley. “

Others were not opposed to some reorganisation but were against the county council’s unseemly rush to create such a huge organisation.

The general opinion was that a single unitary authority is too large and would have a detrimental impact on the social cohesion of the communities within each of the boroughs and districts. Cllr Simon Clark, said the usual size for a UA was between 300,000/400,000 and this rushed exercise was aimed at avoiding next year’s county council elections.

Elections that the Waverley Web does not believe will result in a Tory-controlled council. 

Cllr Nick Palmer – asked what is it that has driven this ill-thought-out attempt borne out of desperation and panic? Is it a cost-saving exercise by the government? “Let’s keep Local Government local.”

Peter Clark challenged Tim Oliver and his “power-grabbing band” to give the electorate of Surrey a chance to vote on alternative options. “Don’t be timid Tim and try to postpone next year’s county elections because that would not be democratic.”

Cllr Carole Cockburn warned that time was of the essence – and Waverley and others must not be overtaken by events, must mount a robust opposition by producing a strong case. “I am amazed at the way this has been done, but if we don’t propose something it will be imposed upon us.”

However, her Tory colleague Steve Cosser didn’t agree. He believed the residents of Waverley didn’t care who provided the services they needed as long as they were. There was a strong case for economies of scale.

Others said – they had wanted SCC abolished for years, saying it cannot even convince Offsted that it is competent to run its children’s services. Another asked,

“would you want the people who deal with our pot-holed roads to empty your bins?

Cllr George Wilson  claimed: Surrey was an authority which had shown it couldn’t even hold a virtual planning meeting – e.g. The recent UK Oil & Gas planning application – which he described as “A fiasco.” UK Oil & Gas application in Dunsfold – Refused…for now?

“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.”

 

Liz Townsend
 Liz Townsend

 Cllr Liz Townsend called the county bid “discourteous and predatory” and saw an even darker scenario behind the bid.

“This is an attempt to cut out and weaken the local planning process. To open the doors to development on more green fields.We would be better served to tell the Government that there are currently one million homes granted planning consent that have not yet been built and that is the real uncut truth.”

The WW understands that a letter is to go from, all but one or two local authorities to the Secretary of State voicing their concern and that the relevant chief executives would work together to put forward alternative proposals.

Guildford Borough Council has suggested a  contribution of £10,000 from each authority to commission the work looking at this further. 

Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), who is expected to become GBC leader in September under the power-sharing agreement, said:

“R4GV is very supportive of this co-ordinated approach from the boroughs and districts of Surrey. We will not accept being told what is good for us by a county council that is more interested in Westminster and a ruthless desire to stay in power than what residents actually want and voted for in their thousands last May.

“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.

“There has to be a proper public consultation on the various options proposed but it seems SCC has already made their mind up on their preferred political solution, so how seriously they are looking at the actual business cases remains to be seen.

“We, with our partners across the county, will show our residents there is a better way, consolidation to improve efficiency without becoming detached from the very people who elect us.”

“The full [Guildford Borough] council has not debated this matter. It appears to have been promoted by Tim Oliver of SCC with Surrey MPs, following government pressure for devolvement, but without early engagement with local borough councils or residents and businesses.

“GGG advocate full transparency and involvement of all interested parties with a proper due consultation process.”

 

It’s official. The Cranleigh Village Health Trust has NO partner for its bid to build a new Private Care Home.

The man who heads the Charity kicked off yet another row when he went head to head with leading protestors at a vigil in Cranleigh on Saturday. But it came straight from the Charity’s mouth that it has no Care Home partner and there is no plan B! 

Dr Robin Fawkner-Corbett (DR FC) tackled members of the group protesting against a new 64 bed Private Care Home and 16 community beds, during a showdown on Cranleigh High Street on Saturday.

One couple of shocked passers-by contacted the Waverley Web. saying that the group was simply handing out leaflets urging people to object to the use of former parish-owned-land behind M & S in Knowle Lane for a private care home. The land was once earmarked for a replacement hospital/day hospital with funds donated by villagers. 

The couple said: We live in Cranleigh so please don’t mention our names – as this whole business is tearing Cranleigh apart including the closure of the once-popular community board.

It appears that anyone objected on the board to the forthcoming CVHT planning application: Here’s the link: http://planning360.waverley.gov.uk/planning you were blocked by the administrators and the group of protestors said this was confirmed by the Dr.FC.

Days later a new board was set up by Bamford & Co, the charity’s front-man together with other members of his family, and a Cranleigh Parish Councillor. Thousands of its former members are furious that the popular board has been dumped and has been hijacked!

The couple said“This whole saga which has plagued the village for 20 years  is having a very damaging effect on Cranleigh and is a stain on its reputation. There is so much bad feeling here, and with COVID and BREXIT haven’t we enough to worry about?” 

They claimed villagers in Cranleigh and the nearby villages wished the plans could be halted until there was a proper public meeting when all their concerns could be addressed.

They said they were shocked to overhear a well-respected former Cranleigh Health practice GP  quarrelling aggressively in the street. Particular as he or his fellow Trustees have repeatedly refused to appear in a public venue to answer residents’ very valid questions. 

We understand from the group, that they had been under the watchful eye of ‘Bamleigh’s Stasi’ from outside David Manns department store, the group was expecting trouble but was shocked that it came from the charity’s chairman and not the Charity’s lapdog.

The main inquisitors – we will mention no names for fear of further reprisals in Stasi-controlled Cranleigh – did manage to obtain some hard facts.

  • DR FC He confirmed there was no signed partnership agreement with HC-One the private provider that is named in its planning application and on its website as its key stakeholder.
  • DR FC  did not have an answer to what would happen if no future provider came forward for the Care Home, and what would happen if the proposed development fell flat.
  • The Trust – which collected several million pounds of villagers money – for a new hospital and day hospital, on former parish land, now confirms it has no financial partner for the circa £30m development. Which confirms telephone conversations villagers have had with HC-One’s head office.
  • Campaigners against the scheme told him how abysmally the Public Relations had been handled, as any dissenters had either been shut down, blocked completely on the Cranleigh Community Board and/or vilified on Bamleigh’s personal Radio Station. Which, we understand has now been dubbed  “The Stasi’s Bamleigh Radio.”
  • He also confirmed that the benefactor for the residential block of 12 1/2 bedroom flats is former Trustee and property developer Nick Vrijland, who resigned in December and who, it is believed, has now moved away from the village. 
  • WW understands another Trustee name has gone AWOL from the Charity’s Website? Mr David Barry. (Our next post? – where have all the Trustee’s gone? 
  • UPDATE PS. We understand from a local informer Mr Barry is still a Trustee and appears on the new CVHealthT website. Our apologies to Mr Barry. 

Oh! another one bites the dust!

A former Chairman of the Trust – Mr Peter Nutting – himself a Ewhurst property developer – said in a letter to the planners this week.

“I now live in Hampshire and so would not benefit personally from this wonderful initiative by the people of Cranleigh. I was however chairman of the Trust from 2003 to 2006. I have some sympathy for the residents of John Wiskar Drive objecting ( not in their backyard) …”

So presumably living in Hampshire he now believes the residents of an adjacent   Waverley housing development in Wiskar Drive are Nimbies? 

Letters for and against the development are now piling onto Waverley’s planning portal.