Is ‘Your Waverley’ becoming increasingly nervous?

If it isn’t – perhaps it should be. As its partner, Guildford Borough Council is in heavy-duty dog doo!

Guildford’s officers and bean counters have been burning the midnight oil to find ways to avoid bankruptcy.  They said:

“If we do nothing, Section 114 comes into play which would pretty much make this council useless.”

This means that Waverley’s head honcho Tom Horwood who now also manages Guildford,  has a big job on his hands. Indeed a bigger job than he may have once thought.

No wonder Guildford’s previous chief didn’t apply for the role and took redundancy. No one else applied either!

The Chief Finance Officer is also former Waverley Finance Chief  Peter Vickers, who is now up to his neck in the sticky brown stuff to sort out someone else’s mess. Oops! Jut heard Mr Vickers has resigned!

Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Services will be cut to the bone as G B C looks to carve out more than £18 million from its annual budget to avoid effective bankruptcy. The cuts were agreed at the full council meeting to address the authority’s £300m debt on Thursday, July 25.

Councillor Richard Lucas, the lead member for finance and property, said the borough would have to make “structural changes” and dispose of its assets if it wanted to get its house in order ahead of a revised November budget. He told the meeting:

“Our officers are trying to deal with the reality of the situation.We won’t deal with this by pretending there is no problem. This is going to result in difficult decisions for operational spending and capital disposal. This is not Section 114. We are taking action to avoid this. However, if we do nothing, Section 114 comes into play, which would pretty much make this council useless.”

Cllr Bob Hughes (Con, Shere) said it “was doubtless services would go” and that people “would get hurt”.

Is that the same Bob Hughes that has been living in a holiday park at Edgley in Albury 24/7 for years, breaking all the occupancy rules?

You can read the report here:

Public reports pack 18072023 1900 Corporate Governance and Standards Committee

In a nutshell:  The council can no longer afford to deliver its current range of services or maintain some services at existing levels, and significant rationalisation of the current service offer will be required to live within a reduced financial envelope.

” Services that protect the most vulnerable residents would be prioritised for protection, with the remaining services transformed “to ensure they are as efficient and cost-effective as possible”.

It will impose strict cuts to its budgets to cover an £18m deficit by the end of the financial year to avoid declaring itself bankrupt this autumn.

The deficit equates to 145 per cent of its net budget and

“will fundamentally change the services the council delivers and will require political will and a step change in activity to reconfigure services accordingly”.

What happens when you cut your services? The public suffers.
And how long before ‘Your Waverley; is thrown into the maelstrom?


Guildford residents have been told to “expect painful cuts to services”. 

So what has brought one of England’s most affluent boroughs, in terms of personal wealth, to such a pass?


The Tory Government told local councils nationwide to compete with the big boys and speculate to accumulate. They were all encouraged to be “entrepreneurial”. The Government came up with the wizard wheeze that it could stop handing out grants by encouraging local authorities to create other income streams.

With cheap government loans available, some councils predictably decided to make property investments to create new revenue.

Of course, the problem is any investment has risk attached. Property prices, rental income and, most importantly, interest rates can go up and down. 

As Guildford grasps for the drifting wreckage to stay afloat, will it kick Waverley away to save itself?
Here’s what Guildford’s MP has to say: Blame the new administration in control of the council since May! Really – My lady doth protest too much!!!   
Perhaps when meeting with her Conservative colleagues, they will tell her all those rash and unwise investment decisions they made under their leadership to shore up their finances.
The Government has the power to formally intervene and effectively take over the running of local authority functions. The powers to intervene are usually reserved for crises that fundamentally threaten the ability of a given local authority to function.
As indicated, that might be a request for exceptional financial support or where a council has issued an S114 Notice. This formal notice prevents any further expenditure unless approved according to strict criteria. It signals that an authority is in acute financial distress and unable to meet its spending from its existing resources. Such notices have been recently issued by CroydonSloughWoking, and Thurrock Councils.


As former Waverley Cllr Brian Edmonds told the Waverley Web:

A very sad tale of operating outside the zone of competence, the Government must better monitor the transparency and auditing prudence within local authorities. Perhaps there are insufficient councillors with the project and financial management experience required to scrutinise and audit local government management systems and processes with the necessary precision?




One thought on “Is ‘Your Waverley’ becoming increasingly nervous?”

  1. Having spent several days carefully reading the unaudited accounts of WBC I have come to the conclusion that I cannot see how the Council can continue to operate. Because the external forces landing heavily around it is going to impact on its ability to operate.
    WBC have managed quite well to stave off the inevitable. But without adequate revenue and scale of opportunity to fill the lack of Govt funding the borough is finished. It cannot, even if it sold its assets and drastically reduced it’s staff survive, or have enough to carry on.
    What particularly concern’s me is the carrying on as if all was well. Consider more legal as action giving money to heritage. When the reality is staff redundancies and loss of services.
    Correct me if I’m wrong. But did not Follows say without the sale of a Godalming asset the council was all but sunk. The sale was stopped. The finances have not got better, they are dwindling.

    To those that believe WBC can muddle through I say I wish you were right. But. the interconnectivity between Guildford Surrey County and WBC is such that it only takes one party to trip over and all fall.

    Guildford are attempting to survive but carrying out precisely what a 114 administration would lead to. Those cuts are savage and cross boundaries with WBC.

    Then there are the organisations that receive funding or practical support that will find themselves cut loose.

    The impact is sudden drastic and will I am afraid make the people least able to manage suffer most.

    And just around the corner. Waiting to bite everyone, is BrightWells.

    “I cannot see any way out. I’ve never known a state of affairs like this, it’s frightening. There’s no way out of this. I’m leaving the country”

    Prominent local professional of forty years standing.

    Says it all.


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