Could we all soon be saying – Bye, bye to ‘Your Waverley?

Forced Merger cartoon

 

Having decimated the finances of our local authorities what better time for the Government to issue a White Paper on their devolution.

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 09.59.48.pngAs 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.

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Could we all soon be saying – Bye, bye to ‘Your Waverley?

  1. As more and more Unitary councils are being set-up around the UK in an attempt to streamline services and create more localism, so there has been discussion at national government level to promote this idea and a white paper is due before the end of 2020. Looks like Cllr Oliver has been given the wink from his mates in Whitehall that he’d better get his skates on and steal a march on Surrey’s 11 borough councils before they attempt to carve up Surrey into Unitaries themselves.
    So its a brazen attempt to hijack power and create an unwieldy behemoth to save their own skins.

    • Typical of the Tory dominated administration to attempt a power grab. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  2. Just posted on this elsewhere –

    Suffice to say I personally think this is a huge distraction from other more important issues and SCC should be ashamed of themselves.

    Surrey are also one of the most inefficient entities in existence and to give them more power and responsibility seems slightly perverse.

    At present the largest unitary authority is Birmingham with a population of 1.1m (it is the largest unitary in Northern Europe) – Surrey as one entity would be 1.2m.

    I am personally more in favour of proper localism with as many decisions as possible being taken as close to the people as possible.

    Lots of Surrey is sporadically parished (which is a further complication) to this process.

    I would agree a unitary structure would be FAR less confusing for residents as the fractured local government structure is hard to engage with.

    I would support the creation of perhaps 4 unitaries out of Surrey in the 3-400k population range. Perhaps our one could be Waverley-Guildford-Mole Valley. At which point we also strengthen the roles and powers of the towns and parishes.

    And we can’t forget here – the conservative control SCC. They used to control all the boroughs but as gradually losing them one by one. Tory fortress boroughs like Waverley even have fallen to non-Tory control. This is a way to bypass that loss of political control for them.

    But as I started with – this is a huge, complicated and expensive distraction at the wrong time.

    • Other than being bigger than any in existence, there would be other barriers.

      Usually consensus of those impacted applies – and this is very poorly defined at present.

      The WBC executive has officially considered this, and is opposed.

      I can see many (if not all) of the borough councils being opposed. Considering SCC has not even written to boroughs about this – we all heard when it hit the press. Even many Tory borough councillors I know are opposed.

      So at this point I can see SCC and probably all the Surrey Tory MPs being in Support. But none or very few of the boroughs. And frankly consensus of the people would be a nice thing too.

      Antipathy towards surrey as an entity is one of the few things that unites people in Surrey.

      • When was this considered by Waverley borough councillors? Was it on a Zoom meeting? Has it made any public statements.

        Let us here what councillors think – on the left, right and centre – because the residents of the borough want to know where their elected representatives stand?

      • So far only discussed in exec brief sessions – although all the constituent groups of the ‘rainbow coalition’ of the borough council have said something. I know John Ward is writing something that will reflect the combined view for the Farnham Herald this week too.

  3. Interesting – perhaps someone could send us John Ward’s combined view – as not everyone takes the Farnham Herald and not everyone in Waverley lives in Farnham though we sometimes wonder if anyone appreciates that!

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