Sing-a-long to – “Hanging on the telephone.’
We are all well-used to listening to automated messages. You know the ones that ‘thank you for your patience,’ while you wait… tearing your hair out from the roots. The message that tells you, you are in a queue of Numero Uno – and 25 minutes later, whilst still thanking your for your patience – someone finally answers! Then, as you try desperately to remind yourself why you were ringing in the first place, you ask the receptionist to put you through to a named planning officer – at ‘Your Waverley.’
You then take a deep breath when the receptionist tells you she/he only works a couple of days a week – and guess what – yep – you guessed. She is not there on the day you rang! But then after ringing on the day, named planning officer is in – she’s out! However, a helpful receptionist takes your number sends him/her an e-mail message with your contact details – so you wait for another few days for him/her to return your call. By which time they have left the building/home/ and won’t be back until next week!
To say that the strain of COVID is taking its toll on Waverley’s Planning Department is an understatement. We are told that applicants are waiting many months for decisions. Many from last year!
When you do finally speak to someone – they cannot access your planning application with ease – and they tell you they are ‘collapsing under a pile-of paperwork.’ And the last person dealing with your application has left, and one before him/her was only “temporary.” After a little commiseration, giving you time to remember why you were ringing, – they explain despite applications festering in the bowels of Waverley Towers for many, long, months…
“There’s no point in you going to appeal for non-determination because you will be waiting even longer.”
So, as the wheels of Waverley Planners grind ever more slowly – and the planning portal is on a go-slow that makes a tortoise a dead certain bet over the sticks at Cheltenham Races – is it any wonder that some frustrated customers – are building first and asking after?
Some of the frustrated applicants who are writing to the Waverley Web at firstname.lastname@example.org are urging us to highlight the problem and beg council staff to get back to the office and start dealing with the backlog of planning applications. Or soon there will a protest march to the doors of the council offices at The Burys in Godalming. Oops! perhaps not as the police are the only occupants of the building.
Recently Elstead’s Cllr Jenny Else asked at an Overview & Scrutiny Committee if she could have a more detailed explanation than that contained in the meeting’s paperwork for the reasons why so many complaints were being levelled at the planning department.
From what we hear from our followers Cllr Else, you have no idea of the number of complaints because most people are so frustrated, they don’t even bother to complain – believing that everyday life on Planet Zonk is so short and so difficult that it is just too stressful to put pen to paper.
We understand that the Planning Department under its new head planning honcho Zac Ellwood is undergoing a complete overhaul. No prizes for guessing why.