Farnham’s Amy suffers shell shock.

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Missing Tortoise prompts the WW to break its rule of never advertising missing pets.

Sad souls that we are here at the Waverley Web we gave in to the impassioned pleading of one of our team to advertise that Amy Thopson’s tortoise has gone AWOL.

He says Amy’s appeal to anyone who may have seen her pet in the Lower Bourne area of Farnham pulled at his heartstrings – because 30 years ago his hard-hearted  tortoise did a runner and was never seen again! He tells us deep down in his oversized boots he believes his own pet is still running around in the Godalming area – near Priorsfield School? We didn’t mention we saw a tortoise-shell broach that looked just like the picture he showed us!  However, he should never have called his treasured pet  ‘Nifty!’

But spare a thought for Louise – and ring her on the number below if you see a tortoise haring around in Lower Bourne.  Perhaps someone can tell us why tortoises appear to run faster than we all think?

 

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It could be back to the drawing board for the Berkeley Bunnies on its Woolmead development?

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Waverley planning officers together with Surrey County Council highwaymen may be willing to roll over for one of the nation’s largest house builders – but the people of Farnham will not!

Berkeley’s bid to slash car parking at its proposed  Woolmead development in Farnham Town Centre by 61 spaces from 141 to 80 was UNANIMOUSLY refused. It’s bid was dubbed as trying to drive a coach and horses through both Waverley and Surrey’s planning and transport policies to the town’s detriment. 

The Western Planning Committee of 15 councillors from Farnham and elsewhere were in no mood to roll over and ignore their local authorities accepted parking standards to enable the BB’s burrowing for an underground car park to be halved. A bid by the developer that would leave residents of the one-bedroom homes to racket around the town looking for free parking or using spaces provided by the BB’s in the town’s  public car parks – but only for a year.

In other words- Farnham is being dumped on – yet again! said Farnham Society Spokesman David Wylde who asked the council?

“If this proposal had been a part of the original 2018 application to redevelop Woolmead – would it have been approved? And, why was this developer being given another bit of the cherry?

He warned that other developers would be smacking their lips at the wriggle room now being offered by Waverley officers’ recommendation that the revised scheme  with no parking for 61 homes should be approved. WHY In a county with the highest car ownership would the two authorities hypothesise such a reduction when it had no basis in fact.

He painted a picture of – 61, or more cars prowling around the Town looking for parking, in the nearby hunting grounds of Farnham Hospital car park, in Stoke Hills above Woolmead or in nearby residential roads. “About the bus service – do we have one? – As for public transport generally that is one of last resort. As for the BB’s need to make the reduction to maximise its profits, he described this as a cheek and blackmail that should be resisted. 

Councillors pondered how many more concessions would be wrung out of Waverley before the supposedly ‘shovel-ready’ project’ was built-out? Why should the residents of a town where parking was at a premium suffer from the loss of spaces it could ill-afford?

Why, they asked were officers in conjunction with Surrey- ripping up their own parking standards provisions, just because of Berkley’s misjudged risk and supposedly ‘shaky finances’ as it would now only make a £10m profit and a 20% return on its investment?

Farnham Town Cllr ‘Scottie’ Fraser said officers were deluded if they thought it would end here.

‘Berkeley’s should be told to abide by their undertaking, pick up their shovels and get on with the job – because the people of Farnham will not look kindly on them if they don’t. If they are going to sulk and leave boarded-up site – then so be it- and it will be  a stain and an embarrassment on the Berkeley Homes Directors.’

Berkeley’s  divisional director David Gilchrist claimed the proposed reduction was in line with Waverley’s Climate Change initiative to become carbon neutral by 2030 and the reduction in spaces would have a positive impact on Farnham town centre’s traffic congestion and air quality issues. The shift post-COVID was away from car usage to public transport, walking and cycling. He forgot to mention that the revision to reduce parking was made in December 2018 (BC) before coronavirus!

Cllr Brian Adams claimed the application had nothing to do with Climate Change Initiatives and everything to do with increased developer profit. By halving the  basement and improving the profit by £1.4m! 

 Councillors agreed Farnham Town Centre was no place to ride a bike, and the picture Carole Cockburn painted of riding her bike to Waitrose with her shopping hanging off the handle-bars was of the never to be forgotten variety. She claimed the scheme’s revision was just ‘Plum wrong’ and went against The Farnham Neighbourhood Plan, its Design Statement and the Local Plan.

In this newly regenerated town – opposite the White Elephant which was described as such by Cllr Kika Mirylees, she asked where exactly were visitors to Farnham expected to park? 

Cllr John Neale said:

“Does the developer really want  to risk damaging its brand by building a blot on the landscape in Farnham? It is a big concern that the site could go undeveloped, however the people Farnham would prefer to take that risk. The longer it is delayed, the more it will cost

Cllr Dear congratulated Mr Gilchrist, of Berkeleys, for being able to keep a straight face during his presentation, ‘as I sincerely could not understand the construction costs, or the Independent Viability Report – and that is with 35 years experience in the business.’ He said the developer was trying to drive a coach and horses through both Waverley and Surrey’s established planning and transport policies to the detriment of our town.

Cllr Peter Clark said:  “The very fact that Waverley’s planning officers could support this gives me great cause for concern.”

 

Surrey residents, including some in Waverley, have experienced a spate of phone and doorstep bank frauds.

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WATCH OUT THERE ARE SCAMMERS ABOUT!

Police are warning Surrey residents, particularly the elderly, to beware of bogus phone calls and phoney doorstop “couriers” in bank frauds.

In most cases, unscrupulous villains target the over 60’s.

The Waverley Web has heard of several possible victims who managed to steer clear due to police warnings.

But Guildford has not fared so well where there have been 20 reported crimes, with crooks impersonating police or a bank official. 

The phone caller usually claims that someone has been arrested and an investigation is underway as their debit or credit card has been used.

The caller says they need the resident’s help by giving their PIN and card details over the phone or handed to a courier they will send. In four of the recent Surrey cases, a courier turned up.

Fortunately in only six of the 20 recent attempts were successful. However, the personal total loss of £58,705 is huge. The highest single loss is believed to be £22,000.

Older people are particularly vulnerable and the ideal target. All victims were over 60, most over 75 and the oldest 94. Sixteen victims were female, most living alone. In one unsuccessful case, the victim’s husband had passed away just two weeks before.

Police are offering support and advising about prevention because victims can be targeted frequently.

PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, the Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police said: “This is a heartbreaking crime that preys on the most vulnerable in our communities and often targets a generation who believe in helping police and want to do the right thing.

“It can leave victims feeling embarrassed, low in confidence and blaming themselves, which they absolutely mustn’t. The only people to blame are the immoral perpetrators of this crime.

“Remember, no police officer, or bank staff on the phone, will ever ask for your bank details, PIN or for cash. Don’t give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances. Hang up the phone straight away.”

Top tips to help stop this type of fraud are:

  • Act with care if you get an unsolicited phone call;
  • Never transfer funds into a new account on the instruction of an unexpected caller, even if they tell you the account is in your name;
  • Always check your phone line has properly disconnected before making another call. Call a good friend first, wait five minutes or use a different phone;
  • Never share your PIN code or enter your PIN into a telephone;
  • Never withdraw money and hand it to a “courier” or “police officer”; and
  • Never give your bank cards to anyone who comes to your door.

For further advice and information on preventing this type of fraud, see the Surrey Police website linked here: https://www.surrey.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/wsi/watch-schemes-initiatives/os/operation-signature/

The brilliant Farnham Herald wins coveted award.

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Three Cheers from the Waverley Web for this huge achievement. However, perhaps it is time to dispel the myth that our tiny team, also based in Farnham, is in any way linked to this giant of progressive local journalism.

However, what a great pity that it has recently lost some of its treasured freelance journalists that have served the newspaper for many years. Including their stalwart Haslemere reporter – the much loved and highly respected Bea Philpott.

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The newspaper of the year titles for 2019 was won by:

Daily Newspaper of the Year Above 400,000 Monthly Reach: The Yorkshire Post.

Daily Newspaper of the Year Below 400,000 Monthly Reach: Western Mail.

Paid for Weekly/Sunday Newspaper of the Year Above 50,000 Monthly Reach: Bucks Free Press.


Paid for Weekly/Sunday Newspaper of the Year Below 50,000 Monthly Reach: Farnham Herald. Sponsored by Camelot.


Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year: Islington Tribune.

Website of the Year award went to HullLive, Hull Daily Mail.

The Birmingham Mail was chosen as the joint winner for daily newspaper Campaign of the Year category for its focus on the Birmingham Pub Bombings. The judges also awarded top marks to the Power up the North campaign carried jointly by titles from publishers Newsquest, Reach and JPIMedia.

A full list of award winners can be found below and by visiting the event page where there is full coverage of all of the nominated entries in all categories.

In a video message of support, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP paid tribute to all who worked in the regional press. He added: “Particularly local and regional press has a unique role to play both in holding local politicians to account and in building a sense of community.”

Minister Robert Jenrick’s promises to local authorities.

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Will Government promises resemble Mary Berry’s pie crusts – easily broken? Or does ‘Your Waverley’ and Surrey County Council’s having nothing to fear for its future finances? 

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Speaking at the Daily Press Conference in May Communities Minister Robert Jenrick congratulated his Government on the money handed to local councils.

 A journalist said although Birmingham City Council had already received £250m – like other councils across the country its services including car parks, children’s services and leisure centres had been badly impacted by the coronavirus epidemic.  He claimed if the Government didn’t match its words with actions, all these services would be compromised.

In response, Mr Jenrick said:

“let me be very clear to all council leaders across the country. We will stand behind them and ensure they will have the resources that they need to carry out the absolutely critical functions they are playing in the national response to the CV. That was the promise that I made to council leaders, as did the Prime Minister early in the life of the emergency.”

We have already provided 3.2 billion of additional resources to councils in just the last two months. We are providing a further £4billion of cash-flow precisely so that they should not have to face the difficult choice that you describe responding to the virus in their communities and for the very important public services – like refuse collection and services to vulnerable children in their communities.

In the West Midlands, local councils will receive £374m to deal with the pressures of the CV, and that comes on top of a very generous settlement at the beginning of the Financial Year which has already increased its spending power by over £300m.

If further resources are required to meet the CV related costs we have asked councils to bear, then obviously we will take that into consideration in the near future. I have been working closely with local council leaders and the Mayor of the West Midlands, who is doing a fantastic job in leading the community forward during this very difficult time.”

Patrick ~Journalist: The key issue here S of S is to make sure the extra support gets through to ALL the local authorities immediately. Take Shropshire as an example. It says that the money it has received does not cover the costs it has incurred and Shrewsbury TC has been saying that money is not filtering down to them and they are the closest to the communities that actually need the help!

Robert Jenrick: “Firstly, in terms of ensuring their residents get what they need. “We are absolutely committed to doing that. Councils are receiving more money, so far, than they reported to us that they need to meet the COVID related costs. They are also seeing a significant reduction in their income because nobody is using car parks and leisure centres. That is a separate issue that we are focusing on.

Of the  £1.6m that we gave we are making sure that a significant amount did flow down to the lower tier councils so that your average district council in England will now receive in the coming days a futher£1m or more in grants to help them with their expenditure and also to stabilise their finances.

We have also asked that parish councils should speak to their principal councils who have received that £1m if they need more funding so that the money flows down if they are under financial pressure. We have to get through this together.”

So, fear not all you councillors, from the top to the grass roots of local government – you can rely on the word of Robert Jenrick – and your council coffers will runneth over?

How ‘Your Waverley’ fared in the Coronavirus ratings.

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Despite being one of the largest towns in Surrey – Woking has the lowest rate of COVID-19 infections in the county.

The number of cases in Woking 188. Rate of Infection 185.8

All the more significant as Woking has a large ethnic population, a group which has been badly affected by the virus around the rest of the country.

Why? We wonder. According to the local MP Jonathan Lord – Simples. The vast majority of his constituency had responded to the virus epidemic in an “exemplary fashion.”

However, what he didn’t say was how well the local nursing homes had responded in the early days of the infection when they refused to take in any residents from hospitals, ensuring they had the right PPE, closed to any visitors, and prepared isolation areas for any eventuality before the official lock-down began.

Mr Lord, who is a regular visitor to the town’s nursing homes, said he was extremely grateful to Woking’s residents and businesses, who had followed government, scientific and medical advice. He said the number of local infringements had been “vanishingly small,’

He was delighted that Woking has one of the lowest infection rates in the whole of Surrey, and I know we will do our best to keep it that way, even though we have now started the vital task of opening up our shops’ businesses and schools.”

Waverley did not fare quite so well. The number of cases 305. Rate of Infection 242.8

Farnham town centre 

There have been more than 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the borough of Waverley, which includes its largest towns of Farnham and Godalming. 

South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt said  “I think on the whole residents in Waverley have been very sensible and have followed and adapted to government guidelines which explain the relatively low infection rates in the borough.

“We’ve had a fantastic local response from the community and have also seen councils working together along with groups and volunteers to support those shielding or struggling. We are also very fortunate to have some amazing health and care professionals and brilliant neighbouring hospitals where the response has been first class.”

Guildford – number of cases 386. Rate of infection 261

Guildford High Street 

With just short of 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Guildford and its surrounding areas have the fourth-highest rate of infection across Surrey according to figures from the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Guildford and Cranleigh MP Angela Richardson was contacted for comment but did not respond.  

A total of 96 patients have died within the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust following a positive test for coronavirus, as of June 15.

Can you help Farncombe Wanderers to stay in the crease?

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A message from Andrew Watkins

The impact of the current pandemic on charities has been well documented in the press. However, the lockdown has had a severe knock-on impact on local sports clubs.

The club I play with, Farncombe Wanderers (based at Broadwater Park in Farncombe) is a small club run by volunteers, relying on player subs and bar takings to keep the club going.

Without games this summer, there is no revenue coming into the cricket club. This affects not only the First XI that play every Saturday in the l’Anson League, but also the junior All Stars and our Girls and Ladies sections, the latter of which were set for their first foray into League cricket this year.

Club volunteers are working hard to keep the club going through these difficult times. Players have paid subs even though there is no cricket being played. However, we still face a significant revenue shortfall. As a result, we’ve set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to keep the club afloat: http://gf.me/u/x8y48c.

Farncombe Wanderers is a fantastic family cricket club. Any donations will contribute towards ensuring we are able to continue once this is all over for players of all ages and abilities. If anyone is able to help, please consider making a donation at the link above.

Is ‘Your Waverley’ damned if they do – and damned if they don’t allow Berkeleys to cut car parking at The Woolmead.

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Berkley Bunny chewing lettuce

Chomp, chomp – more lettuces on the menu for the Berkeley Bunnies?

The Berkeley Bunnies (BB’s) burrowing (or not) into the Woolmead site in East Street, Farnham  – have had a change of pocket about providing sufficient car parking spaces to serve the development.

Not satisfied with getting away with providing NO affordable housing in the East Street development, or off-site affordable housing either, the BB’s now want to drop 61 car of the promised 141 parking spaces in the basement car park. But has thrown a crumb of comfort our way by offering 30 12-month season tickets for council-owned car parks – thereby reducing parking for Farnham’s residents!

Why? OH, Why? We hear you cry?

SIMPLES…

Because the developer claimed the scheme was no longer viable – and that was long before the Coronavirus was even a little gleam in the eye of a Wahun bat, let alone toasted and roasted for a Chinamans’ lunch!

When consent was granted the BB’s were given considerable latitude by Waverley Planners in its provision of residential development.  If it had stuck to the rules, there should have been more larger units and some affordable homes. 

However, the BB’s  argued the location was more suitable for smaller homes – so dropped the provision of 20/30 per cent affordable homes, claiming it wasn’t viable. Why? Because it would only make £10.597m in profit – poor bunnies. Not enough profit = less lettuce!

So everyone rolled over – and some fell out – and there were ten in the bed and the officers’ said – roll over, roll over – you know how the song goes…

So you would have thought that having ridden roughshod over the planners once the BB’s insatiable appetite for lettuces might have been satisfiedl But Oh! No! Now they want to slash the parking provision by 50 per cent. Which doesn’t meat either Waverley’s of Surrey |County Council’s parking standards.

By 50 per cent we hear you cry – WHY?

FOR VIABILITY REASONS THAT’S WHY? And – that was before the downturn in the housing and retail market and the economic abyss we are heading for. So we ask the BB’s – what do you intend to ask Waverley Planners for next?

NO PARKING AT ALL and some HUTCHES?

The planning application will be considered at a remote meeting of the Western Planning Committee on ZOOM on Tuesday, June 26 – and you won’t be surprised to hear that the officers are rolling over once again, aided and abetted by their highwaymen friends at Surrey by recommending approval.

Ah well! It’s an ill wind and all that.  At least it will prevent any of the one bed flat owners from owning a car; will help the BERKELEY bunnies get an extra helping of lettuce – and line the Pidgley pockets into the bargain.

As for Waverley’s planning experts. The Farnham Society comment in its objection letter says it all – 

If this condition to provide adequate parking in the original planning application is dumped the residents of Farnham will have no faith in Waverley’s Planning Department.

Post COVID-19 the Waverley Web cannot help wondering how many other developers will jump on the BB’s bandwagon that is now rolling across the borough to reduce their obligations under previous planning consents?

https://modgov.waverley.gov.uk/documents/g3630/Public%20reports%20pack%2023rd-Jun-2020%2018.00%20WESTERN%20Planning%20202021.pdf?T=10

Councillor Nick Palmer gives an update on all things Waverley – but could the sting be in the tail?

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nick palmer

Former Member of Parliament and member for Godalming Binscombe
Labour
Portfolio Holder for Operational and Enforcement Services

With restrictions easing this week, I thought it might be helpful to send an update.
As you’ll have seen, all shops are permitted to reopen from today Monday 15th, though it’s of course up to them whether they wish to. Because we have narrow pavements in Godalming and Farnham, queuing at a 2-metre distance would have been problematic, so the Farnham pavements have been extended and Godalming High Street has been pedestrianised. This is provisional and might not last indefinitely if the virus is effectively banished, but Godalming council is keen to see how it works.
WW. We understand that  Cranleigh High Street is now one-way. Up one way down the other.
Hairdressers and hotels are not yet allowed to reopen, and the 2-metre rule makes it almost impossible for most pubs: this may be relaxed to 1 metre, though expert opinion is divided about how safe that is. I anticipate that most restrictions will have gone by the autumn, but everyone is wary of a resurgence of the virus in the winter when the combination with normal flu outbreaks would be particularly difficult (and queuing for shops would be much more unpleasant in the dark or rain).

Like every other council in Britain, Waverley is facing a horrendous deficit, because income from car parks and leisure centres have disappeared.

Originally, it was thought that the Government would cover this (we were all told by Ministers “Spend what you need to, the Government will sort it out later”), but it now looks as though they will only reimburse councils for extra expenditure and not for lost income – even where the income has been lost by government order (e.g. closing leisure centres). The deficit for 2020-21 is expected to be at least £6 million, with a “balancing” payment from Government of £1.3 million.

This leaves a gap of over £4.5 million, and councils are not legally permitted to run up debts as the Government can. Nor can we raise council tax as that’s fixed for the year.

We will restart parking charges from July 1 as a first step to stopping the rot (in response to requests from shops we’re doing this two weeks later than the reopening tomorrow, so people can park free while they get used to going back to the centres). Like all councils we’re pressing the Government to reconsider – it’s not really in the interest of sensible government that every council in Britain should be insolvent.  If they refuse, I anticipate the need to raise car park charges further as it’s the only significant income lever that we have – but for now, let’s see how the return towards shopping normality goes.
A good solution for this area would be for the Government to allow councils to retain a significant part of local business rates – at present, we are required to collect them but to pass nearly all the revenue to the Government. That’s not a solution that would work everywhere since some councils have very few businesses in their area, but we have to focus on what will help here.
Meanwhile, we’ve watched the scenes of violence highlighted by the media around the country with dismay, and it’s important to stress that local solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement has been, like most of the protests, entirely peaceful (which, sadly, is why the media aren’t bothering to report it). I published on Facebook the statement from the Council executive, agreed with and read out by the new Mayor (Penny Marriott). We wanted to be constructive, local but not parochial, and not just passively express sympathy.
 
As community leaders, we oppose all racism, discrimination and hate and promote equality.
 
Waverley Borough Council stands alongside those who are appalled and saddened by the loss of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. His shocking death highlights the injustices endured by black people on a daily basis in America and has also made us face up to the inequalities experienced by black communities here in the UK.
 
Now is the time to stand with the black community and all those who are racially oppressed – as we always strive to ensure our borough supports and treats everyone fairly, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.
 
We are reconfirming our commitment to address inequality and injustice in our own borough. We will consider and reflect on how we can do more to make a difference and will outline what steps we will take towards this shortly. But, in the meantime, let’s start this work today: let’s start by us all committing to actively seeing, listening and educating ourselves on the injustices faced by our black residents, officers and communities across the UK. Let’s be role models in empathy, kindness and standing up for what is right. Let’s use our position and privilege to make this borough a fairer, safer and more equal borough for everyone.
There was a bit of criticism of this from some posts, asking why we were thinking about this rather than local potholes, but most people felt it struck the right note – as I said, it’s possible for councillors to be concerned about both potholes and lives. We’re keen to make this more than just words, and suggestions for how we can contribute to making our country more inclusive for everyone are very welcome.

WW. Here’s the sting?

Finally, there are reports that Government, seemingly finding themselves short of things to do, plans to embark on local government reorganisation in the autumn, converting the current Surrey County Council and borough councils like Waverley into a new structure with one or more unitary authorities. I would have thought that waiting for Covid-19 and Brexit to pass would make sense, and we’ll have to see if they really devote Ministerial time to it!
Best wishes
Nick