Having decimated the finances of our local authorities what better time for the Government to issue a White Paper on their devolution.
As we type this post Cllr Tim Oliver the head honcho at Surrey County Council, whose once plump coffers are now heavily depleted through such unwise retail investments as shopping malls – e.g. Blightwells in Farnham, is on the case!
He claims councils shouldn’t be waiting for the Government’s Autumn White Paper but should be pressing ahead – to…
“secure greater powers and responsibility and the right structure for Surrey’s future, to tackle the challenges faced and the opportunities coming our way.’
By that does he mean secure greater powers and responsibility for – yes you guessed – Surrey County Council – having swallowed up the 11 borough and district councils – including ‘Your Waverley.’ What better way to cover up the county’s financial mess and sticky situation it has got itself into?
We all have huge confidence in the decision-making record of Surrey County Council – don’t we?
So has Cllr Oliver been working behind closed doors, whilst the rest of us have been living behind closed doors? Nothing like a coronavirus pandemic for the opportunists to make a power-grab out of a crisis?
No doubt Cllr Oliver and his Government buddies already have a cunning plan, which comes at exactly the right time to cover up all the terrible mistakes the county council has made. Had it not been for the County Hall wallah’s, Blightwells in Farnham’s East Street would never have got off the ground. When private investors couldn’t be drummed up for love nor money to host the regeneration project – up comes former Tory Waverley & SCC councillor Denise Le Gal to persuaded her county colleagues to stump up £58 million from its pension fund to finance all those shops and restaurants!
So is ‘Your Waverley’ now talking – behind closed doors – to all the other council chief executives – in this secret and rather underhand process?
Do we see the hand of Boris’s BIG DOM here?
The little local Chamber of Commerce in Cranleigh has been calling for Waverley’s demise since 2018. Ever since SCC predicted making £200m worth of cuts by 2021. It’s President Rosemary French proposed a radical overhaul of the ‘cumbersome and oftentimes duplicating three tier system of county, town, district and parish council structure of our local authorities.’
And at some time – will we, the voting fodder of Surrey get a say in the process, for what is already looking like a done deal? Ah! well another nail in the coffin of local democracy? Remind us – who was that Prime Minister that talked about ‘Localism’ – a long, long time ago?
Will opposition councillors be rolling over and giving Cllr Oliver a free hand?
Do we really need this distraction on top of everything else we are all experiencing right now? Like the loss of loved-ones, the terrible situation we have experienced with family members in Care Homes – home schooling our children, and the loss of part or all of our incomes?
Next May we go to the polls in Surrey to determine who will run the county business for the next four years. Or do we?
However, if it would mean that all those public sector workers who are now ‘pension aristocrats’ with their gold-plated retirement pots from final-salary pension schemes were to go along with those 11 councils. Then who dares wins.
Because according to the Office of National Statistics only 11 per cent of private sector workers are now in the generous final salary pension scheme that public sector workers enjoy.