Is Surrey’s Leaders bid for a Unitary Authority crashing and burning.

If Surrey’s bid to become a behemoth unitary authority wasn’t so serious – it would have had audiences laughing in the aisles of the home of farce at the Whitehall Theatre.

So far only £150,000 of taxpayers money has been tipped down Surrey’s sewers.  Flushed away by Cllr Oliver’s attempt to convince us that his vanity project still has some mileage left in it.

They say a week is a long time in politics. Just a few days in the case of ‘Bob the Builder’ Robert Jenrick’s White Paper.

Last week Surrey County Council Leader Oliver was throwing his toys out of his pram bemoaning the fact that – ‘Jenrick’ as he referred to the Secretary of State – had pulled the plug on Cllr Oliver’s cunning plan to turn Surrey into the largest authority in the country.

 Bob appeared to have pushed the destruct button on the Recovery and Devolution White Paper. Setting it back on to his ‘to-do list.’

BTB relayed the message that No 10 was not prepared to move further on local government restructuring as part of the devolution White Paper, due in the Autumn.

Over the weekend you could hear the tyres screeching on the Whitehall tarmac as yet another government U-turn took place. County council leader Tim Oliver’s power bid for a single Surrey unitary authority appeared to be over. Scuppered by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

No surprise there then. The Government to-do list is growing by the day and so are the U-turns.

Up pops a fuming  Cllr Oliver (Con, Weybridge) who broke the news to his fellow Tory’s by email saying:

“I have asked Jenrick to confirm what the position is regarding Surrey and we are asking some of our MPs to find out but as far as I am concerned this kills our bid.“I will confirm the position for definite if or when Jenrick answers my letter but quite why this government keeps starting fires and then walking away I really don’t know. Disappointing.”

– Surrey’s Tim Oliver can’t quite make up his mind whether or not he is actually in control of another fine mess ‘Bob the Builder’ has dumped the country in.

So with the ink barely dry on the Surrey’s borough and district councils £50,000 cheques winging their way to enable consultants (KPMG) to find a more appropriate way of joining forces with neighbouring authorities than… Wham Bang – his game of thrones is back on again!

So just days later  according to Cllr Oliver its all back on again. Really – you couldn’t make it up!

“It is expected that a government White Paper on Recovery and Devolution will still be published in the coming months. In line with that, we have been working hard to determine the best system of local government for Surrey, to make sure that any devolution of power can be truly grasped by our local communities.“What is most important to me, beyond any structural change or governance, is our residents and giving them more influence over their own communities.

“We have so far received no instruction from the Secretary of State, either to proceed or to stop work on this.”

So if that’s the case why did he tell all his Tory mates it was all off?

Have the lunatics at Whitehall and No 10 taken over the asylum – or is Tempestuous Tim in such a hurry to become Surrey’s new Mayor, that he is blinded by ambition?

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

So where actually are we now? Well, certainly our hard-earned council taxpayers’ money is over £750,000 worse off and Cllr Oliver isn’t giving up saying:

“We need to progress … the whole local engagement and empowerment piece and I am discussing how we work that with the local Conservative group leaders.”

Someone tell him please, that the Conservative Group leaders aren’t on-board with his cunning plans?

Cllr Oliver had launched his unitary authority bid in anticipation of the White Paper, a shock move that stirred deep anger among the county’s 11 borough and district councils, including ‘Your Waverley’ that would have been wiped out. The Conservative Group at Waverley led by Cllr Julia Potts is opposing his bid.

Amid a furore that followed the shock announcement including accusations of a “power-grab”, all council leaders formed a group to challenge the plan.





9 thoughts on “Is Surrey’s Leaders bid for a Unitary Authority crashing and burning.”

  1. Just how much has this mans ambition cost us the residents of Surrey so far in this time of crisis , he needs to go and soon.

    1. If you go by what he says – and not by what he does. £150,000. All the 11other borough and district councils have contributed £50,000 each towards a KPMG exercise to find a better way of councils joining together. Rather than one huge outfit to serve the whole of Surrey.

      If this man’s naked ambition costs us more than he states, then perhaps there should be a referendum – a vote of no confidence- and then he can spend more time with his family.

  2. Tim Oliver said in an interview yesterday that he wasn’t sure how much had been spent by Surrey on preparing their bid, but he thought it was in the region of £150k. Who is he trying to kid? As Leader he would have approved all expenditure. I understand there are several FOIs with Surrey on this subject, so lets see if we get to the truth.
    The good news is that there is now NO reason to defer or cancel next May’s County Elections, so we will all have the opportunity to make some long awaited changes.

    1. Of course it isn’t just £150,000 he will have had half the workforce at county towers working on this one – they have probably been working behind the scenes for months. He will have heard from the Hon Angie and Jeremy Shunt that it was on the cards. Why would he tell us how much his cunning plan is costing us – we are only voting fodder.

      Perhaps someone should be making FOI requests on all the-to-date financial information that is not yet available post – Covid? There will e quite a story to tell there no doubt.

      His whole exercise centres around (a) stopping the May elections in May where the Tory’s will get a good drubbing. (b) Hiding all the county council finances – investments etc.

      He was up a stream without a paddle – and intended to use all the district borough council’s to help him keep paddling.

      1. If you check Waverley’s balance sheet, their assets look to be worth around £200m. Multiply that by 10 other districts and boroughs and that amounts to a whopping £2 billion. That would pay for their consultants and leave room for a couple of years propping up Surrey under the Conservatives. But hopefully May 2021 will change things.

  3. He still has not learnt from this experience. He will communicate with ‘Conservative’ channels. Yes, many borough Tories opposed this move (but of course the majority of the Surrey Districts and Boroughs are NOT Tory).

    Much more serious is that once again he seems to have no intention to engage with the people that actually matter – the residents of Surrey.

    Let’s bring on May 2021. Even before this Surrey CC was in desperate need of a new broom. Certainly hoping to be standing in Godalming South, Milford and Witley now myself if this is back on again. Perhaps we can do in Surrey what we have done in Godalming, Farnham, Haslemere and Waverley?

  4. Of course he won’t learn. He is an arrogant Tory To**er, who isn’t the slightest bit interested in what the public want, think or say.

    However, as you say, bring the SCC elections on – when we can all bring our brooms out and sweep Cllr Oliver and his cohorts away.

    It happened here in Waverley at the last election, it has happened in other borough’s and districts in Surrey – so what is to stop it happening at county level? Nothing.

    Boris won’t mind losing Surrey anyway. Didn’t he tell MP Anne Milton when she claimed he would lose Guildford – he responded : ‘So, if its lost – its lost.!” Another dose of arrogance, that could come to haunt him.

  5. ““What is most important to me, beyond any structural change or governance, is our residents and giving them more influence over their own communities.” says Cllr Oliver – but his idea of giving local communities more influence over their own affairs, remains to take decisions away from them in their boroughs, and giving it instead to the more remote county?

  6. Former MP Anne Milton opposed the ruse and so did The Lib Dem Zoe Franklin. So where did Jeremy and Angie stand?

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