The Surrey Hills are alive with the sound of… resignations!

Waverley & Guildford’s head honcho has resigned.

I flit, I float, I fleetly fly… I leave and heave a very heavy sigh. Goodbye…


There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hallAnd the bells in the steeple, tooAnd up in the nursery, an absurd little birdIs popping out to say “cuckoo”(Cuckoo)(Cuckoo)
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good nightI hate to go and leave this pretty sight
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbyeI leave and, heave a sigh, and say goodbye.Goodbye
I’m glad to go; I cannot tell a lieI flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly
The sun has gone to bed, and so must ISo long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbyeGoodbyeGoodbye

But I will continue until January to allow a smooth handover.

So within months, Waverley has lost its Borough Solicitor Daniel Bainbridge, Its Chief Planning Officer Zac Ellwood, its Chief Finance Officer Peter Vickers, five planning officers on just one day last week, and has a 47% staff turnover.


Tom Horwood announced his resignation to councillors, his staff and confidantes yesterday.

He said in his message his decision had been delayed while the council “identified the financial and governance issues at GBC … and put in place plans to resolve them.” It was not prompted “by any single thing” but following a health scare.

In a joint statement from the leaders of Waverley & Guildford Borough Councils, Paul Follows and Julia McShane  said:

“The health and well-being of our staff are of paramount concern to us, and while we are both saddened by his departure, we fully support his decision.”

Here is Tom Horwood’s message to council staff and the joint message from the council leaders. Both are reproduced in full.

Dear Colleague

I would like to update you on my position and share with you a statement from the Leaders of Guildford and Waverley Councils at the end.

After six years at Waverley and 20 months at Guildford, I have decided to leave my role as joint Chief Executive in early 2024. I have agreed with the Leaders to work with colleagues and councillors on an orderly transition of responsibilities while the councils recruit my successor.

This job is a privilege and, at times, a great pressure. My decision has not been prompted by any single thing. Rather, I have been considering a change for several months while I reflected on my career and future plans and the impact on my well-being, having had a recent health scare. I delayed the decision while we identified the financial and governance issues at GBC, reported to the council in July and August and put in place plans to resolve them.

Over the next five months, I will continue to work hard for both boroughs and support the councils to take the right decisions on priorities, services and funding. I am grateful for the support of an excellent senior team and the political leaderships. I am continually inspired by the commitment and dedication of colleagues and councillors who work so hard for local residents at a time of exceptional challenge. I will always do what I can to champion local public services.

Tom Horwood, Joint Chief Executive

From the Leaders of Guildford BC and Waverley BC:

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks and support to Tom Horwood for all of his hard work for both Waverley Borough Council and Guildford Borough Council during the first phase of our collaboration and previously at Waverley.

Tom has brought professionalism, drive and hard work to a demanding role in difficult times for local government. He has helped build a capable and resilient organisation and both councils that will continue to thrive.

The health and well-being of our staff are of paramount concern to us, and while we are both saddened by his departure, we fully support his decision.

We are grateful that Tom has offered to stay in the post until the end of February, ensuring a smooth recruitment process for a successor and an orderly transition in 2024. We wish him all the best in his future career.

Cllr Paul Follows

Leader, Waverley Borough Council

Cllr Julia McShane

Joss Bigmore, former leader of GBC and leader of the Residents for Guildford & Villages group, said: “Tom Horwood is an exceptional Chief Executive and a very good man.

“I worked closely with him for two years. We spoke almost daily, and his work ethic and professionalism inspired everyone around him.

“The fact so many issues have been found at Guildford Borough Council is a testament to his tenacity and refusal to accept poor standards; the Borough should be grateful that we are rebuilding from such solid foundations.

“His resignation will be a shock to many, but one’s health is of paramount importance, and I hope people respect his privacy.”

But it gets worse! Follow the link below to get a full report on The Amazing Guildford Dragon, which has a finger firmly on the local pulse.

Allegations of Potential Fraud Involving’ £Millions’ at GBC – Officers Suspended, Employment Contracts Terminated

Published on: 20 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 20 Sep, 2023

By Martin Giles

Two Guildford Borough Council officers have been suspended, and five interim managers have had their contracts suddenly terminated following allegations of potential fraud and budget and contract overspends.

7 thoughts on “The Surrey Hills are alive with the sound of… resignations!”

  1. I think any person has the right to move on when they feel the time is right. From what I’ve seen at various WBC meetings, the outgoing CX Tom Horwood has always struck me as a decent and diligent man.
    WBC seems to be respected throughout Surrey as well run council, and residents should be grateful for Mr Horwood’s tenure at the helm.
    The new joint senior officer team led by Mr Horwood have uncovered some serious governance and accounting issues at Guildford Borough Council, and hopefully GBC will be put on an even keel before he leaves.

  2. A thoroughly decent guy who always tried his best. Pity the author of Waverley Web continues to mock our public servants, what a pathetic person he or she is.

    1. It seems by the writing styles (and the sources of leaked info) there are several authors (and providers of info) I have noticed a more tabloid style in recent months. Such a shame as tabloid journalism and cheap headlines is no substitute for intelligent satire.

      1. Perhaps in recent months the authors of the Waverley Web may have become a little jaded. Is it any wonder, when more and more council debate is held behind closed doors, with little or no information being provided following private debate. Fewer meetings, less opposition, and many new councillors looking like rabbits caught in a set of headlights. There has most definitely been a complete change of mood since the May elections.

    2. If adding a little humour i, in your view mockery, then we apologise. WW has always found Tom Horwood to be a very respectable public servant during his tenure at Waverley. However, it is beginning to feel like a sinking ship.

  3. A very sad situation that will result in unnecessary harm to the vulnerable who least deserve it. With many thanks to WW for bringing transparency to this chaos. Failure thrives where the public are disengaged and misinformed to keep them passive. Successive governments have irrationally given local government too much power without the control imposed by the liability of individual accountability.

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