Bye Bye ‘Your Waverley’ Hello ‘Surrey?’

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Now with councils like ‘Your Waverley’ and Guildford Borough Council losing Tory control, who better to bring them all into line than – The Tory Controlled Surrey County Council?

So there you have it folks – as we revealed on the Waverley Web a few days ago the head honchos at Surrey – wallowing in their own mire – after successive bad investment decisions have found a way out of the mess they, yes they, and the Government have created.

 While most of us are still struggling with furlough, homeschooling our kids, or waiting for our redundancy notices, Surrey County Council’ has been planning a takeover. A massive takeover – of all the 11 borough and district councils in Surrey. 
Yep, they put all our councils in a great big paper bag, threw them up in the air, and guess what came out on top, you guessed The Unitary Authority of Surrey County Council.
The WW can hear SCC Leader Tim Oliver from over here in Farnham shouting from County Hall Towers –

“I’ve got a cunning plan, we can cover up all our unwise investments in places like Blightwell in Farnham – and from Camberley to Cumbria by getting together with our colleagues in Spelthorne.’

Oh, dear! Spelthorne could be the giant hole in his bucket – because it’s prudent borrowing of £1.5 billion for the acquisition of mainly commercial property has seen Tory councillors walking out in their droves. Not too many bins likely to get emptied there then?
Another hole in Oliver’s bucket could be Woking borough council which has also taken on £0.6 billion of borrowing from the Public Works Board. 

Recent years have seen a marked rise in ‘prudential’ borrowing, driven increasingly by local authorities taking advantage of low-interest rates offered by the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB). Local authorities’ PWLB debt has risen from £64 billion in March 2015 to £66 billion in March 2017 and now stands at

£77 billion in March 2019. 

Spelthorne’s PWLB borrowing has mainly financed the acquisition of commercial property. The Council argued that it was using fixed low rates of interest to “help offset the impact of disappearing general revenue grant support from the Government”. On its largest investment so far – the £385 million purchase of the BP campus in Sunbury-on-Thames – the independent auditor of its accounts cited a “number of significant weaknesses in the Authority’s arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources”.c Since then Spelthorne has made further high-value property purchases – an office block in the City of London and another office development in Nine Elms, Battersea – more than doubling its PWLB borrowing.

Woking Borough Council has also taken on £0.6 billion of PWLB debt since March 2017, financing the acquisition of retail and property sites, with its largest investment so far the new Victoria Square commercial and property development (at an estimated cost of £500 million).

In May 2019 the Public Accounts Committee highlighted concerns that while governance arrangements for the sector as a whole were “generally robust”, some councils have

audit committees that do not provide sufficient assurance, ineffective internal audit, weak arrangements for the management of risk in local authorities’ commercial investments, and inadequate oversight and scrutiny”.

So while Cllr Oliver is preparing to run up his Unitary Authority flag up the County Towers pole, and preparing his role as the First Mayor of Surrey,  next week this report will go to the Cabinet.

The report and annexe (letter to Secretary of State) can be found under item 14 here:
However, fear not voting fodder there is a process to go through with various milestones, hoops and debate and the SCC elections are planned next May COVID  permitting?
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PS. You will all be delighted to hear that “final salary” pensions are not affected by reorganisation. 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Bye Bye ‘Your Waverley’ Hello ‘Surrey?’

  1. In Mayor-in-waiting Oliver’s letter to Bob Generic, he states he has already discussed his “Ambitions” with the Surrey MPs (yes folks all 11 MPs are Conservatives with 2 of them in the Cabinet alongside Bob) What a stitch up!
    Bob Generic has starved the Boroughs of cash so they’ve had to to use their reserves, and now Tim Oliver can now ride to the rescue like the true Tory super hero he thinks he is. Methinks he’s getting too big for his boots.

  2. Of course he has discussed his cunning plan with Surrey MP’s all true blue Tories and Boris Babes – there to do the Government’s bidding.

    Better be careful Oliver those boots may get so big, someone else will have to fill them- because the people of Surrey WILL have their say, and you will not be riding roughshod over the electorate?
    At least not as long as there is a thing called a ballot box – or has Boris and his cohorts including Big Bob and Bid Dom have a cunning plan for getting rid of that next? Watch this space…

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