According to wannabe Surrey County Councillor Ged Hall – Haslemere’s potholes need fixing?
Wouldn’t it be great if he managed to get a hold of the facts before he started digging the dirt? It was ‘job already done’ by Cllr Nikki Barton who he wants to oust!
We know it was April Fools Day when the Tory candidate for Haslemere’s county council seat lobbed one at the sitting Independent for not ensuring Surrey’s roads were kept up to scratch. However, he dug a mighty hole for himself. A large one that in the future, he may need to fill?
Whisper who dares?
Hasn’t anyone told the Tory hopeful that the county council has been dominated by Conservatives for the past four years and more? The Conservatives currently hold 61 of the 81 seats, which by anyone’s reckoning seems to us like nobody, including Cllr Barton, gets a look-in?
However, if the Tory bastion starts to swing another way – the Tory Government just might have to give a little more seed corn to the cash-strapped local authority. It has already lost the overall control of both Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils. It won’t want to lose Surrey.
SCC has invested 59m into the Farnham scandal that is Blightwells. An unpopular scheme to provide the town with 28 new shops and eight new restaurants, and more housing. A development partnership between Waverley and Surrey that Cllr Hall backed all the way from Godalming to Farnham – and back again when he was Waverley’s deputy leader.
Perhaps the money could have been put to better use? Among them filling many thousands of dangerous potholes, or perhaps even go a step further and do a proper job and re-surface Surrey’s third-world roads?
THE Tory backlash in 2019 where Ged Hall lost both his seats slashed the number of councillors from 49 to 23.
Does Mr Hall ever listen to the SCC/Waverley Highway Partnership meetings? Meetings where sitting county and borough councillors regularly rabbit on about the state of our roads? There is more rabbiting there than on Watership Down about the king-size holes appearing across every highway and byway in Waverley, and the officers’ answers remain the same. “There’s not enough money.”
You have to move to Sussex if you want decent roads, and even across the Hampshire border, it too has problems.
But who better to blame, when you are a hole and want it filled than to blame SCC Cllr Nikki Barton who currently represents Haslemere. And, a damned fine job the Independent councillor has made of it too.
Come on Nikki, surely you have a spare shovel and a barrowload of tarmac, and a few hours to spare? OK, we know you have long been calling for the repairs, and have had assurances from highways officials that said holes at the Liphook Rd and Critchmere Junction will be filled, and subsequently have been. But that doesn’t satisfy the bloke who lost his seat on Waverley Borough Council so now wants yours!
We know, and he knows his story is full of holes – but he needed a headline story.
So when Cllr Hall joins County Towers in May will he be having that conversation he promises with the head highway honchos to fill the potholes in Surrey’s roads – all of them? Or just the ones in Haslemere?
Earlier this month pothole complaints achieved a record when 586 were received in just one day. So, we wish you well Cllr Hall. No doubt you believe that as you can walk on water when you arrive at County Towers on May 7th they will give you a wheelbarrow and a shovel, so you can really start digging the dirt?
The County Council elections are on May 6, and we urge you to get a postal vote if you haven’t already. See here how to doit:
What more could anyone want right in the middle of a pandemic and difficulties with BREXIT than a Boundary Commission intent on re-organising our local government institutions and our electoral boundaries?
However, it is not the Commission itself that has abandoned common-sense by instigating the vastly complex and time-consuming review. It is a Government that is hell-bent on reviewing anything and everything. Education – planning; health; local government; promoting unitary authorities and more!
You name it – they want to change it – in the middle of the most catastrophic disease that we have faced in modern times. At a time when our cash- strapped local authorities are struggling to make ends meet
Whilst the rest of us are adding blubber, if the Commission has its way, our borough council will be losing weight. By that, we mean losing councillors – down from the existing 57 in 29 wards – to 50 and fewer and larger wards. So presumably in 2023, there will be a slimmer Waverley – or possibly NO Waverley – as it is still Surrey County Council’s intention for the whole county to become a Unitary Authority. It is hanging onto its fervent desire to get rid of the county’s 11 boroughs & district councils. This despite being told by Government to shelve its ambitions for the time being.
Waverley Borough Council has 57 seats, representing local people in 29 wards that make up the Borough.
Councillors are elected by the community to decide how the council should carry out its various activities. They represent the wider public interest as well as individuals living within the ward in which he or she has been elected to serve.
Each councillor is elected for a four-year term. The most recent elections took place on 2 May 2019. The next Waverley Borough Council elections will take place in 2023.
Councillors have regular contact with the general public through council meetings, telephone calls or surgeries.
According to the council’s website, Fifty-six borough councillors are members of a political party registered with the Electoral Commission; one is Independent. They are currently divided as follows:
Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. By law, all members of the Council are required to complete a declaration of interest form, the details of which are published annually.
In 2018/2019 the council paid out £395,000 in Basic Allowances, Special Responsibility Allowances, Travelling and Subsistence Allowances. it also included just £3,000 on internet charges.
in 2019/20 the figure was £397,000 – which WW believes is amazing value for money. This is low, compared with many other councils across the country that pay considerably more.
A few things you need to know about the government’s White Paper called Planning for the Future white paper
This comes with a health warning – you may need a stiff drink to swallow all this information. We had hoped a summary would have been forthcoming from the Planning experts at ‘Your Waverley’ but so far – no such luck.
In a nutshell – Bob The Builder Jenrick & Co have come up with a cunning plan to make planning easier – for whom we hear you cry? Well, as far as we can see having worked through this 84-page consultation document it is giving more than a shake-up to the present planning system. More like a shake-down for us folks.
As far as we can see all those Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans the towns and villages have been working on for years and years will have to be updated, or rather updated straight to Waverley’s recycling bin. So there’s a few squillions going down the drain again!
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has now published its much-anticipated Planning for the Future white paper outlining far-reaching proposed changes to the planning system.
Here at the Waverley Web, we have trawled through the key proposals and points in the84-page consultation document, which promises more than a major shake-up of the current system of local plans, development management and developer contributions, more like a local government shit show!
The White Paper says:
1. Local plans would be simplified and focus on identifying three categories of land – “growth areas” that are “suitable for substantial development”; “renewal areas” that are “suitable for development”; and “protected areas”. In “growth areas.” Outline approval would be automatically granted for forms and types of development specified in the plan.
Development in renewal areas would “cover existing built areas where smaller-scale development is appropriate” and could include the “gentle densification” of residential areas, development in town centres, and small sites in and around villages. There would be a “statutory presumption in favour of development” specified in the plan. Protected areas, including green belt, conservation areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), would still be subject to “more stringent” development controls and full planning applications would be required for new schemes.
By gentle densification – we think they mean – higher, closer, less green space, with smaller gardens. Which they all claim will be “more beautiful.’
2. Local plans should be subject to a single and “simplified” statutory “sustainable development” test, replacing the existing “tests of soundness”. This new test “would consider whether the plan contributes to achieving sustainable development in accordance with the policy issued by the secretary of state”, the consultation states. The test could also “become less prescriptive about the need to demonstrate deliverability”.
Great less need to show deliverability! – There are already £1m homes consented but not yet built. Probably lots more when homes go unsold?
3. Instead of general policies for development, the document says, local plans would be required to set out the site- and area-specific requirements for development, alongside locally-produced design codes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “would become the primary source of policies for development management”.
4. The legal duty to cooperate, which requires local planning authorities to continuously and effectively engage with neighbours on strategic issues such as housing need, “would be removed”. However, it adds that “further consideration will be given to the way in which strategic cross-boundary issues, such as major infrastructure or strategic sites, can be adequately planned for, including the scale at which plans are best prepared in areas with significant strategic challenges”.
Great! So need to work with neighbouring authorities – Waverley now becomes – an island?
5. The government is considering scrapping the five-year housing land supply requirement. The document says its “proposed approach should ensure that enough land is planned for, and with sufficient certainty about its availability for development, to avoid a continuing requirement to be able to demonstrate a five-year supply of land”. However, it proposes to “maintain the housing delivery test and the presumption in favour of sustainable development as part of the new system”.
So, therefore nothing to prohibit development – let Boris’s bulldozers roll?
6. Councils and the Planning Inspectorate would be required through legislation to meet a statutory timetable of no more than 30 months for plan preparation with “sanctions for those who fail to do so”. The average time taken from plan publication to adoption rose from an average of 450 days in 2009 to 815 days in 2019, the paper states, while there is “currently no statutory requirement around timescales for key stages of the plan-making process”.
As quickly as possible – with as little consultation as possible, no doubt?
7. The need for sustainability appraisals alongside plans would be abolished and instead a “simplified process for assessing the environmental impact of plans, which would continue to satisfy the requirements of UK and international law and treaties”.
Laws and treaties on environmental law that have been ignored by local councils – including ‘Your Waverley’ for years!
8. Local plans would need to be “visual and map-based, standardised, based on the latest digital technology and supported by a new standard template”, the document says.
Let’s go digital and rule all those pesky objections out?
9. The planning process would be increasingly digitised, moving from “a process based on documents to a process driven by data”. Local authorities would be helped to use digital tools to support “a new civic engagement process for local plans and decision-making”.
10. Under a proposed new “fast-track for beauty”, proposals for high-quality developments that reflect local character and preferences would benefit from “automatic permission”. New development would be expected to create a “net gain” to areas’ appearance.
Just like the net gain we are currently getting from little boxes, made out of ticky tacky that all look just the same? And, road called Bluebell Lane and Primrose Walk – where neither will ever be seen again?
11. Design codes, which would be expected to be prepared locally, would be made “more binding” on planning decisions. A new body would be established to support the delivery of design codes across the country.
Another Quango you have to be kidding?
12. The standard housing need method would be changed so that the requirement would be “binding” on local planning authorities who would “have to deliver [it] through their local plans”. The new method “would be a means of distributing the national housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes annually”. It says the requirement would be focused on areas where affordability pressure is highest and on brownfield land. It would also have regard to the “size of existing urban settlements” in an area and the “extent of land constraints”.
Areas like Waverley and the growth zones already earmarked – Farnham with a station on the A31, and Cranleigh with few buses, no station and the main A Road from Horsham – which is earmarked for 11,000 new homes.
13. A new ‘single infrastructure levy’ will replace the existing developer contributions system of section 106 agreements and the community infrastructure levy. The government says the new levy will be a nationally-set, flat rate charge and would be based on the final value (or likely sales value) of a development. It says it intends the new levy to raise more revenue than under the current system of developer contributions, and deliver “at least as much” affordable housing, and on-site affordable housing, as at present
14. The new levy could be used to “capture a greater proportion of the land value uplift that occurs through the grant of planning permission, and use this to enhance infrastructure delivery. But such a move “would need to be balanced against risks to development viability”.
15. The scope of the levy “could be extended to capture changes of use through permitted development rights”. Such a move “would allow these developments to better contribute to infrastructure delivery and making development acceptable to the community.
16. Big building sites would be split between developers to accelerate delivery. The government proposes to revise the NPPF to make it clear that masterplans and design codes for sites prepared for substantial development should seek to include a variety of development types from different builders, which would allow more phases to come forward together.
17. Community consultation at the planning application stage is to be “streamlined”. Instead, there would be “a new emphasis on engagement at the plan-making stage”, the document says.
18. The determination of planning applications “should be faster and more certain, with firm deadlines”. The “well-established time limits of eight or 13 weeks for determining an application from validation to decision should be a firm deadline – not an aspiration which can be got around through extensions of time as routinely happens now”.
In other words -no yellow notices on gates or trees warning of development coming to a field near you. No public notices in local papers – papers that rely on the income! Bye-bye – newsprint papers?
19. Applications should be “shorter and more standardised”. There should be just “one key standardised planning statement of no more than 50 pages to justify the development proposals”, the paper proposes.
20. Penalties for councils that fail to determine an application within the statutory time limits could involve “the automatic refund of the planning fee for the application”. Ministers also “want to explore whether some types of applications should be deemed to have been granted planning permission if there has not been a timely determination”.
So the climate of fear begins – read below. Grant permission or else! Local grassroots democracy consigned to the wheelie bins!
21. Where applications are refused and the decision is overturned at appeal, the paper proposes that “applicants will be entitled to an automatic rebate of their planning application fee”.
22. Each local planning authority would be required to have a chief officer for design and place-making.
23. Fees should continue to be set nationally but “cover at least the full cost” of processing applications, “based on clear national benchmarking”. It added that this “should involve the greater regulation of discretionary pre-application charging to ensure it is fair and proportionate”.
24. The costs of operating the planning system should be “principally funded” by developer contributions “rather than the national or local taxpayer”. Currently, the document says, “the cost of development management activities by local planning authorities is to a large extent covered by planning fees”. However, the “cost of preparing local plans and enforcement activities is now largely funded from the local planning authority’s own resources”.
25. The government has promised to “develop a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector to support the implementation of our reforms”. Proposals for “improving the resourcing of planning departments” will be published “later this year”, it adds.
26. The paper promises a “deep dive regulatory review to identify and eliminate outdated regulations which increase costs for local planning authorities, especially to the decision-making process”.
27. Councils “should be subject to a new performance framework which ensures continuous improvement across all planning functions from local plans to decision-making and enforcement – and enables early intervention if problems emerge with individual authorities”.
So be warned ‘Your Waverley’ don’t you get above yourself and start thinking you are the planners for your area. Big Brother Boris and ‘Bob The Builder’ Jenrick are in charge from now on!
28. Consultation on the white paper proposals run for 12 weeks until October 29. The suggested changes to local plans, developer contributions and development management “would require primary legislation followed by secondary legislation”. Ministers “would expect new local plans to be in place by the end of the Parliament”.
The WW apologises for the length and breadth of this post.
Always nice to have the Deputy Leader in the centre! Can you spot who is really in charge?
The new Rainbow Coalition Executive of Farnham residents, Liberal Democrats, a Green and amazingly a Labour Councillor. In Waverley! Here’s the momentouspress release. We say momentous, as for the first time it includes quotes from all Group Leaders! Apparently, the Leader and Deputy Leader roles will ROTATE every year. Now that’s got our heads spinning!
Farnham Residents – John Ward – Leader (Farnham) Liberal Democrats – Paul Follows – Deputy Leader (Godalming) Farnham Residents – Andy Macleod – Planning & Policy Services (Farnham) Farnham Residents – David Beaman – Health Wellbeing & Culture (Farnham) Farnham Residents – John Neale – Place Shaping, IT & Customer Services (Farnham) Liberal Democrats –Anne-Marie Rosoman – Housing and Community Safety (Godalming) Liberal Democrats –Mark Merryweather – Economic & Community Development (Farnham) Green Party –Steve Williams – Environment & Sustainability (Godalming) Labour Party– Nick Palmer – Operational and Enforcement Services (Godalming)
Liberal Democrats – Chair of Joint Planning – A Cranleigh Lib Dem to be nominated.
We understand the Rainbow Alliance offered an Exec seat to the Tories, but they declined. They liked the idea of 4 more years playing childish opposition politics rather than grown up co-operation.
Here at the Waverley Web, we are seriously impressed with some of the new intake, Labour’sNick Palmerwas MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire (1997 – 2010) before losing to Anna Soubry, with plenty PPS experience in the Dept for Environment, Dept of Trade and Industry and Business. We believe he currently works for Compassion for World Farming in Godalming.
The Green’s Steve Williams was a former Labour activist, expelled from the party (one of the Godalming 3) for supporting Dr Louise Irvine in the General Elections. He seems to be chair ofThe South West Surrey Compass, the brains behind the cross-party campaigning which has eventually been so effective in sweeping away the Tories. Their catchphrase is: “Southwest Surrey Compass is part of a national organisation which aims to be ‘the home for everyone who wants to be part of a much more equal, democratic and sustainable future’.
Steve Williams is a co-editor of the book ‘A New Way of Doing Politics’ alongside Louise Irvine, Susan Ryland and Penny Rivers. Available in all good Waterstones here!
As the dust settles on our ballot papers. The Farnham Residents, Liberal Democrats, The Greens, Independent, and Labour in Waverley, are all filling the borough’s bottle banks.
So what of the Conservatives? Is Julia Potts tearing her hair out at the thought of facing four years in opposition?
No way, not the PottyOne we know. She will be setting out her stall before the ballot papers are cold and packed away. Just in case, that odd vote is found that could send Hindhead’s Peter Isherwood heading for the exit. He who has won his Hindhead seat on something resembling the flick of a coin! What a way to secure a seat? The WW team hope he never graces a seat at the top table again!
Let us all hope that the Tories, after such a punishing smack, resist the excuse of blaming their Tory masters. But, instead take a good hard look at why the roll call of ousted colleagues is so long, in true blue Waverley:-
Pat Frost, Mike Hodge, Denise LeGal, Chris Storey, Wyatt Ramsdale, Nick Williams, Ross Welland, Ged Hall, Stewart Stennett, Jim Edwards, Carole King Tom Martin, Andrew Bolton, Rashida Nasir, Liz Wheatley, and more all GONE
Godalming’s Peter Martin only just hung in, Isherwood was pulled from the hat and Julia Potts herself only scraped in coming 2nd to her Tory partner. And, she had dumped her previous Farnham ward, which she would have surely lost to Farnham Residents. Farnham unceremoniously dumped her deputy leader Ged Hall, who had fallen on his sword, giving up his Tilford seat to his leader. No greater for his love hath no man for his leader than sacrificing his seat? Definitely no cause to let the red wine flow?
But some fine Tory councillors live to see another day – Kevin Deanus – uncontested and the indomitable Liz Townsend among them. She, and he will be carrying Cranleigh and Alfold’s banners regardless of the council make-up
There was much spluttering about 2 Labour successes, Labour in Waverley!!!
So here is a timely reminder. They follow in the distinguished footsteps of two of the finest councillors ‘YW’ has known. The late Harold and Elsie Denningberg. Harold was awarded the Freedom of the Borough – an honour achieved by few.
What an achievement to see The Green Party in evidence at last. They take their places just as a landmark 1,800-page report hits the streets revealing one million species are at risk. More than at any time in Human History.
The United Nations report paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, declines in wildlife and habitat loss. And we must not forget the Independent. Well, done Jack Lee even your opponent Rosaleen Egan (UKIP) voted for you.
Watch out Ms Potts – there’s a new species, on the prowl. How are you going to shut up the man who has fought against the environmental damage which ‘YW” has ignored for so long?
Jerry Hyman, the member for Farnham’s Figrove will now be accompanied by a phalanx of Fifteen Farnham Residents’ from the length and breadth of Farnham. With the added bonus of Farnham Residents holding power in the Town Council.
Last but certainly not least – Paul Follows, the man who has worked tirelessly to change the political face of Godalming. It was almost unimaginable when a young fresh-faced Paul Follows stepped across the hallowed threshold of Waverley Towers, just 18 months ago. It took only weeks for him to suss out there was much to be done out, both there and at the Town Council. Now, with the Bots booted, along with many other Tories- there could be a very stiff broom sweeping through both the town council and ‘YW.’
Cllr Follows a very media-savvy professional, didn’t play dirty, he played a highly intelligent and fair campaign. Even ensuring the Lib Dems and Greens stepped down for an Independent in Haslemere; the Greens and Lib Dems delivering each other’s leaflets. For his Herculean efforts, and his spirit of co-operation he has earned the respect of all. Now he will be rewarded when he takes his place alongside thirteen of his Lib Dem colleagues on Tuesday 21st May.