Just a week or so ago, Surrey’s head honcho Tim Oliver was telling us all that his bid to become one of the largest Unitary Authorities in the country had cost us, the voting fodder, just a measly £100/£150,000.
Now here’s what it really cost us Surrey rate paying dummies. Yes, you guessed!
£246,000 – and counting…
And the Waverley Web will bet that’s only the tip of the iceberg – as no officer or legal time will have been accounted for – because all local authority staff have been paid their full salaries throughout the COVID period when the rest of us have either lost our jobs, about to lose our jobs or are on furlough!
- SCC spent £71,000 on a review of alternative scenarios and options,
- £107,000 on developing a business case for a single unitary,
- £30,000 on evaluating the financial resilience of local government in Surrey, and…
- £38,000 on commissioning a research company to survey residents’ views.
- They fail to mention all the county Comms team’s time spent on producing a propaganda sheet proclaiming how they Saved Surrey in the pandemic. And, there we were thinking that most of the work had been carried out by our borough and district councils.
Cllr Oliver rejected the suggestion the money had been wasted, saying…
“The work done had been highly valuable, whether or not any reorganisation takes place in the future.
“The money spent on research looking at more effective community engagement and the structure of local government in Surrey will be essential to our future work – particularly on local community networks – regardless of any reorganisation.”
So Tim Oliver actually believes that wasting money on a personal ego-boosting power-grab was all worthwhile when the county council is losing money hand over fist on its eye-watering investments in commercial and retail property all over the country.
No wonder the Government stepped in and changed the rules. It has announced that councils can only invest in their own patch – a bit late – the horse had bolted to Bolton Boris!
Now thanks to Cllr Oliver’s hasty action – the 11 boroughs and districts went into panic mode stumping up another eye-watering £300,000 to find a way through the mire they had been dumped in. Kerching! More valuable time and money wasted, during the worst pandemic this country has ever faced?
Let us all pray that consultants KPMG hasn’t spent it all now ‘Bob The Builder’ Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has put the brakes on the Government’s Devolution white paper due in the Autumn – to the background sound of screeching brakes – do we hear – postponed/dumped until…?
Perhaps in his race to the finish in his Game of Thrones – Cllr Oliver will spend more time polishing his ego and less time-wasting public money? Bye, Bye ‘ Your Waverley’ Hello ‘ Surrey?’
So now Surrey’s economic powerhouse is not looking quite so powerful, particularly when it has just announced that fees for disabled care are to rise by £1m! Watch the short video and hear what Cllr Fiona White – the Lib Dem leader of Adult Social Care has to say about that!
So exactly what is this all about? The recently leaked County Councils Network (CCN) letter makes it abundantly clear the main motivation behind the unitary bids was to gain political advantage for the Conservative Party, and sadly the same seems to be true in our County Hall. Yet again, they’ve put their party ahead of doing what’s right for us – the residents of Surrey. Surrey’s Lib Dems have stated they are not opposed to local government reorganisation, believing three unitaries would be the best bet. However, they believe that Surrey’s hasty bid without discussion or consultation with residents or districts has been a dangerous distraction during COVID and the economic pressures now faced
Who will pay for this gargantuan ego trip? Just wait until you hear the thud of council tax demands landing on our doormats?