When you spend a great deal of time trying to let residents know the difference between what Waverley Borough Council does and what Surrey County Council does…and then you get this sign-in in Farnham is it any surprise that we want to bring about change in the May elections?
Or perhaps Surrey’s head honchos who a while back wanted to create a unitary authority for the county decided that perhaps if Waverly and other borough councils actually had the responsibility for caring for our pot-holed roads it knew of someone who could do it better?
No doubt the Waverly County Council in Wisconsin, West Virginia? Or perhaps Waverly Council in South Dakota – or better still how about Waverly in Nebraska!
Or step forward to the country where they know all about road building – Waverly Gauteng in South Africa?
Perhaps this Cranleigh & Ewhurst County Councillor is responsible for the Spelling Bees at County Towers? Because this is his official title on his web page!
For all the confused souls in our town – the road network is the responsibility of Surrey and not Waverley! But to say Surrey manages our road is a bit of an exaggeration!
A temporary car park that floods; was built without planning permission, by ‘Your Waverley’ on land owned by ‘Your Waverley’ and dubbed by ‘Your Waverley’ as a park and stride into the Town of Farnham – and is more like a park and bike – has been given the go-ahead by ‘Your Waverley’s’ planners.
Riverside 3 Car Park in Mike Hawthorne Drive (WA/2019/2097 for the retention and permanent use of the car park was agreed by the Western Planning Committee.
Surrey County Council said it had a full understanding of the environmental effects of the scheme and had no objection to the area becoming a permanent car park.
Latest figures show that 2,564,600 units have been granted planning permission by councils since 2009/10 while only 1,530,680 have been completed.
The number of planning permissions granted for new homes has almost doubled since 2012/13 with councils approving 9 in 10 applications. But according to ‘Bob’ that’s not enough and great swathes of the countryside must now go under concrete, to provide jobs for the building industry?
While in some cases there is a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time.
Alongside the Government, councils have recognised the shortage of housing and the need to build more homes.
In Waverley’s case thousands of new homes have been consented and one major new garden village on a brownfield site at Dunsfold aerodrome. where 2,600 new homes are planned.
However, the backlog of unbuilt homes shows the planning system is not a barrier to house building. The Local Government Association has called on the Government to use its planning white paper to give councils powers to take action on unbuilt land which has planning permission.
This includes making it easier to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and to be able to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.
With the right powers and funding, the LGA said councils can play a leading role in helping the Government tackle the national housing shortage.
As part of its submission to the Treasury ahead of next month’s Budget, the LGA is also calling for the Government to reform Right to Buy, by allowing councils to keep all of the receipts of homes sold under RTB to replace them and to have the flexibility to set discounts locally.
Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said:
“The planning system is not a barrier to house building. The number of homes granted planning permission has far outpaced the number of homes being built.
”No-one can live in a planning permission, or a half-built house where work on a site has begun but not been completed.
“Councils need powers to tackle our housing backlog and step in where a site with planning permission lies dormant and house building has stalled.
“If we are to solve our housing shortage, councils need to be able to get building again and resume their role as major builders of affordable homes.
“It is also vital that the planning process is protected, so that councils and communities can ensure we realise the Government’s ambition of building beautiful homes, which includes the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing.”
Boris ‘the bulldozer’ Johnson says newts are a drag on the UK’s economy.
Here’s why he’s wrong
Last week the PM claimed conservation causes construction delays – but newts are not the pantomime villains developers’ some would have us believe. Many developers are just as concerned about the environment as we are, if not more so!
We have examples here in Waverley where developers have gone beyond the brief, to ensure wildlife is unharmed. However, there are others who have desecrated both wildlife and habitat and have gone unchallenged! Felling ancient woodland and drowning badgers are just two!
But measures to protect the great crested newt have become a problem, according to Housing Minister ‘Bob The Builder’ Jenrick and Boris Johnson. They want the shove and shunt brigade to have have a free reign!
“Newt-counting delays are a massive drag on the prosperity of this country,” the prime PM declared recently, urging the UK to “build, build, build” its way out of the economic catastrophe the pandemic has caused.”
We and many others say: Another torrent of typical Tory tosh!
Lingering in the shallows of a south Norfolk pond, voracious amphibians rest ahead of a night gorging on slugs, worms and insects. The pool network, long grasses and shrubs in Silfield newt reserve are a perfect habitat for the great crested newt. Boris’s latest pantomime villain.
The UK’s largest newt takes its name from the striking, jagged crest that males display in the spring breeding season. It is a protected species under British law, thanks to the EU Habitats Directive, which the prime minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, had a key role in creating. Despite that, its numbers have declined rapidly over the past 60 years.
An unlimited fine and up to six months in prison await anyone found guilty of disturbing the newt’s resting places and breeding sites or taking their eggs, yet the Local Government Association says it is not aware of any evidence to suggest “newt-counting” is causing delays to housing developments in England and Wales. We can recount a couple of instances in Waverley, but nothing that caused delays.
“Great crested newts have become the comedy pantomime villain of nature conservation,”says Jeremy Biggs, director of the Freshwater HabitatsTrust.
Developers are obliged to take care of great crested newts if the amphibians are believed to be on-site or nearby under rules overseen by Natural England. Until the last few years, protecting the amphibians when their habitats were being destroyed by developments centred on catching and counting them and moving them to compensation ponds.
Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, published in 2017 under Theresa May’s government. The paper criticised the “excessive bureaucracy” involved in their protection.
But a fresh approach to the conservation of great crested newts by Natural England and the use of new technologies when surveying habitats, such as DNA analysis and even, in the case of one water company the use of a springer spaniel trained to detect amphibians has rapidly reduced delays.the use of a springer spaniel trained
‘Your Waverley’ (YW) will stand with the 11 other borough and district councils in the county to stop Surrey County Council’s bid to abolish them lock, stock, and wheelie bin.
Almost to a man and woman, Waverley’s Full Council opposed a county bid for a behemoth Unitary Authority of 1.2m people.
YW, with the exception of two Tory councillors – Peter Martin – a Surrey County Councillor, and Steve Cosser who abstained; have agreed to work with other Surrey authorities to prepare an alternative proposal for re-organisation. This would prevent Surrey becoming England’s biggest single, non-metropolitan, unitary authority.
Tim Oliver (above) Surrey’s leader has asked Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to make the county a unitary authority – a preemptive strike before a Government White Paper on Unitary Authorities is published in the Autumn.
One councillor after another from every Waverley group or party – Independent; Tory; Labour; Greens and Farnham Residents’ Group registered their “disgust” that neither they, or any other Surrey borough’s leaders had been consulted before the plans were announced in the local government press. Cllr Oliver had, however, engaged with Surrey’s MP’s and in Waverley’s case Jeremy Hunt and Angela Richardson. It is believed the leader of Woking Borough Council – may be backing Oliver’s deal – now dubbed – ‘we want more.’
When Waverley’s Leader John Ward addressed the zoom meeting he called the idea of a “monolithic” single authority “absurd, and “a misguided and blatant power grab.” Although “some” reorganisation was appropriate, this proposal would not serve Waverley residents’ well. “That’s what we are all here for – to do what is best for the residents of Waverley. “
Others were not opposed to some reorganisation but were against the county council’s unseemly rush to create such a huge organisation.
The general opinion was that a single unitary authority is too large and would have a detrimental impact on the social cohesion of the communities within each of the boroughs and districts. Cllr Simon Clark, said the usual size for a UA was between 300,000/400,000 and this rushed exercise was aimed at avoiding next year’s county council elections.
Elections that the Waverley Web does not believe will result in a Tory-controlled council.
Cllr Nick Palmer – asked what is it that has driven this ill-thought-out attempt borne out of desperation and panic? Is it a cost-saving exercise by the government? “Let’s keep Local Government local.”
Peter Clark challenged Tim Oliver and his “power-grabbing band” to give the electorate of Surrey a chance to vote on alternative options. “Don’t be timid Tim and try to postpone next year’s county elections because that would not be democratic.”
Cllr Carole Cockburn warned that time was of the essence – and Waverley and others must not be overtaken by events, must mount a robust opposition by producing a strong case. “I am amazed at the way this has been done, but if we don’t propose something it will be imposed upon us.”
However, her Tory colleague Steve Cosser didn’t agree. He believed the residents of Waverley didn’t care who provided the services they needed as long as they were. There was a strong case for economies of scale.
Others said – they had wanted SCC abolished for years, saying it cannot even convince Offsted that it is competent to run its children’s services. Another asked,
“would you want the people who deal with our pot-holed roads to empty your bins?
“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.”
Cllr Liz Townsend called the county bid“discourteous and predatory” and saw an even darker scenario behind the bid.
“This is an attempt to cut out and weaken the local planning process. To open the doors to development on more green fields.We would be better served to tell the Government that there are currently one million homes granted planning consent that have not yet been built and that is the real uncut truth.”
The WW understands that a letter is to go from, all but one or two local authorities to the Secretary of State voicing their concern and that the relevant chief executives would work together to put forward alternative proposals.
Guildford Borough Council has suggested a contribution of £10,000 from each authority to commission the work looking at this further.
Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), who is expected to become GBC leader in September under the power-sharing agreement, said:
“R4GV is very supportive of this co-ordinated approach from the boroughs and districts of Surrey. We will not accept being told what is good for us by a county council that is more interested in Westminster and a ruthless desire to stay in power than what residents actually want and voted for in their thousands last May.
“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.
“There has to be a proper public consultation on the various options proposed but it seems SCC has already made their mind up on their preferred political solution, so how seriously they are looking at the actual business cases remains to be seen.
“We, with our partners across the county, will show our residents there is a better way, consolidation to improve efficiency without becoming detached from the very people who elect us.”
“The full [Guildford Borough] council has not debated this matter. It appears to have been promoted by Tim Oliver of SCC with Surrey MPs, following government pressure for devolvement, but without early engagement with local borough councils or residents and businesses.
“GGG advocate full transparency and involvement of all interested parties with a proper due consultation process.”