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!
The cross-party Rainbow Alliance of Labour, Greens, Lib Dems and Farnham Residents’ met to raise a glass and then get down to hard work writing the new policies for running Your Waverley. And yes, anybody could be involved. You don’t need to be a paid-up party member to be involved and shape your new council.
Crazy bonkers stuff? Different – yes – crazy no! Will this herald the changes we have all been waiting for?
Just look at this fun-packed agenda from last Saturday below:
A Working Agreement for Waverley: With Waverley Borough Councillors
Andy Macleod, Farnham Residents
Paul Follows, Liberal Democrats
Steve Williams, Green Party
Nick Palmer, Labour Party
Plus contributions from other Waverley Councillors: Farnham Residents, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Labour Party, Independents on their personal election story and key priorities.
11.15am Replenish your coffee and…
Group Discussions: Key Issues
• The Way Forward for Waverley What are the key borough-wide issues that should be priorities for SWS Compass?
How do we support and inform our borough councillors?
• An Agenda for Godalming What are the key issues for Godalming?
How do we support and inform our Town Councillors?
• An Agenda for Haslemere What are the key issues for Haslemere?
How do we support and inform our Town Councillors?
• An Agenda for Farnham What are the key issues for Farnham? How should progressives work with and through the Farnham Residents?
• The Godalming Compass Looking ahead to the next edition of our magazine – said by some to have laid the groundwork for the progressive victories in Godalming.
12.00pm Feedback from Groups (5 mins each)
12.30pm Notices: Future Events – Planning
We look forward to seeing these discussions in the Council chamber next week! Indeed it must be the first time WW has had to tag The Labour Party as relevant in South West Surrey!
Just one criticism. Well, they did say everyone could help run Waverley!
We are well-aware Cranleigh – dubbed by the Tories as – “Poor Old Cranleigh,” is not considered to be a town. However, surely the wannabe new town, which is predicted to have another five thousand new homes within and nearby its conurbation should have its place on the new administration’s Agenda? The eastern villages have been the dumping ground for new homes for long enough.
Now a major developer is unloading further phases of its development sites to housing associations because they cannot sell homes already built. Why? Because the eastern villagers are being swamped with new homes. Homes built on flood plains.
As if we haven’t had enough fighting nationally – now we’re about to get it locally!
So Potty – put the kettle on?
The countdown to the May elections has begun.
For the first time for four years, voters have an opportunity to make a dent in one of the most arrogant and dominant Tory administrations this borough has ever had the misfortune to witness, (if the webcast is working.)
It has seen off two plumply salaried and well- compensated failing Chief Executives – numerous heads of services – including two chief planning officers – and more planning, senior officers and staff, than you could shake a stick at!
One of whom is standing for election as a Farnham Residents’ candidate. We wonder how many secrets she will be revealing to the electorate of the inner-workings of Waverley Towers? Maybe, she believes she can achieve more from the outside than within?
Suffice to say – morale among staff, some senior officers and councillors, has never been worse. Outside consultants, Cratus Communications, was brought in to delve into the Waverley swamp to investigate relationships between councillors and officers. It found ‘YW’ to be seriously wanting.
In its strategic review, Cratus found there needed to be a – ‘change of culture at YW.’ The WW is well-known for its cynicism, but change a culture endemic and buried deeper than the Great Train robbers’ stolen dosh? Difficult!
In an ideal world, the ballot paper should not include any party affiliations. Every elected councillor is there to work on behalf of, and do their best for, everyone in the borough of Waverley. This applies to the Farnham and Hindhead councillors who have treated the more rural areas in the east of the borough with contempt. Those who they denigrate not only deserve but are entitled to respect!
Politics and control, should not be the prime influence at parish or borough level. The council has been in the grip of the Tory party for far too long, 49 Tories, one Lib Dem, six Farnham Residents’, one vacancy. No checks or balance is no basis for good government. Neither is the level of contempt to which this small group of ‘opposition’ members is held by their Tory masters.
The Conservatives have, with rat-like cunning and determination, held on with a vice-like grip, to power. Almost every chairmanship and role within the Cabinet is jealously guarded by the Tories. Ever reluctant to allow the minority groups even a minimum of influence. Often side-lining their own backbenchers and keeping them in the dark. Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The Mayor must be a Conservative, regardless of whether a more suitable or longer serving candidate exists outside the confines of THE ruling party. Why? Harold and Elsie Denningberg Labour Councillors representing Godalming for many years were loved and admired by everyone in Waverley. As were Doreen & Bill Bellerby in Guildford. In days long gone when politics was not polarised and when the health and welfare of the boroughs were all the better for it.
The May local elections could herald a sea change in how business is carried out in future in Waverley.
Of the 57 seats available a total of 53 will be contested. Areas, where seats are uncontested, are unhealthy in a democracy. Candidates should be shlepping through the April showers to determine and learn about, and act on public concerns.
As for carpetbagging around the borough for a seat when you have made yourself so unpopular on home-ground that you are de-selected by your local party faithful is reprehensible. We hope Bramley residents will recognise this, and ask their Cranleigh neighbours – WHY?
So too is parachuting from an unsafe Farnham seat into a safe Tory seat elsewhere to keep a stranglehold on leadership?
In Hindhead, Haslemere and Godalming, there needs to be a fundamental change in the expectation of the service voters are entitled to expect from their elected representatives. Cllrs Turning up for 20% of meetings, not turning up at all, or not having the good manners to resign, or explain long absences whilst collecting allowances, should be given the yellow card, put in the SIN BIN, be given the red card – and kicked off the pitch. Not hoicked around the borough in the hope that it will go unnoticed!
Things are getting a bit too hot to handle in Farnham’s Hale ward for ‘Your Waverley’s’ Leader.’ So she’s off to find a softer landing elsewhere in the borough.
And if you think she is alone – think again. Others are carpetbagging around the borough looking for greener grass too!
Here at the Waverley Web, we liked how dainty she looks, landing on tippy toes into the green green grass of her new ward of Tilford. Her newly adopted home where she can be guaranteed a safe seat so she can slip seamlessly back into her leader’s role at ‘Your Waverley’ in the May polls for four more years?
Has the Farnham Residents’ Group’s rising popularity put her in panic mode?
BETTY PUTS THE BOOT IN ON BLIGHTWELLS BATS and the Farnham residents who mourn for the town!
Well, Councillors Follows; Townsend; Hyman and Ward are you going to sit back and accept the duplicity of your planning officers, you know, the ones you employ to do the bidding of the elected representatives of the public?
Didn’t you witness the request by your colleagues on the Joint Planning Committee to add a condition to Crest Nicholsons’s Planning application No
A Conditionthat would protect the bats in the “Maternity Wing” of Blightwells Cottage and anywhere else on the Farnham East Street site?A CONDITION Not an Informative? An informative that just reminds CNS that it is an offence to disturb protected species under the wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 should a protected species be found during the course of the works!
Wanna bet no bats will be found there? But if its alright with Bet the Boot – then its all legal and above board… isn’t it?
We wouldn’t suggest for one moment that you attempt to watch this – most enlightening – meeting of the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the link below:
This cosy little get-together was almost inaudible , nobody was named, (no names – no pack-drill, as they used to say to us in the army), and the sound reception was awful. The only plus – web watchers were able to see the whole meeting which is more than can be said for most webcasts at Waverley Towers these days. Did they buy the new equipment on E-Bay? It has not gone unnoticed here at the Waverley Web that the committees set up to ensure backbenchers get a chance to apply the essential checks and balances that are required for good governance, were poked away in a committee room with no web casting throughout the summer. Thankfully, Incy Wincy hanging in the dark and dusty corners, was able listen in. Heaven help us when they start clening properly!
If ‘Your Waverley’ can’t sort out the basics, how is it going to set up an investment company which aspires to invest up to £250 million of our money! Still WW gives them ten out of ten for trying.
Or, is this another cunning plan to prevent us knowing what they know?
So forgive us, as we attempt here to pick out the bones of the latest Overview & Scrutiny meeting.
Firstly, for background: ‘Your Waverley’ decided in July to create a property company to invest ‘our money’ in residential and commercial property. OK so far? The rationale is to bridge the gap in the council’s deteriorating finances. If it doesn’t do something it will be £2.8m in the red in three years and then … bankrupt.
Chairman John Williamson said “the [committee] is picking over the bones whilst the animal is dying.. if we continue with what we are doing we are going to end up bankrupt” 1:57.20 in the clip above.
Many councils are well ahead of Waverley in playing the Casino game. Surrey County Council has invested £300/400 million on various ventures for a 1% return.Yippee – let’s all go down to Bet Fred with our winnings.
Now it isn’t our style to be meanies about the huge efforts made by our council to keep us in the black, because it is – quite simply – between a rock and a hard place.
Surrey and Waverley Councillor Peter Martin said Waverley is suffering similar problems to the county council:‘At Surrey first we cut out the fat, then the muscle and now we are now down to the bone.’ “I have no magical ideas. – the situation we are in is shocking it appears Surrey’s the victim and it is quite preposterous – we have to put up council tax by 6% just to stand still or find more savings – it’s OUTRAGEOUS and we have told the Government – UP WITH THIS, WE WILL NOT PUT.’
Negative Rate Support Grant– Surrey MP and chancellor Phillip Hammond is not only scrapping the central government grant to councils – he is asking for cash back of £800,000 from Waverley. Whilst Peter Martin says Surrey has lobbied the Surrey Tory MPs who all say that’s terrible, they won’t do anything about it.
Well, how mean is that! Because, if they won’t listen to a true blue Tory – why would they listen to us!
However, we are slightly anxious after listening to the debate it appears our great white hope new investment company has :-
Has no business plan.
Wants to buy property nationwide in an uncertain market.
Can only pay peanuts for non executive directors and hopes to rustle up a few local volunteers.
Will have to shell out £25,000 to set up the company. Could that be gold-plated business cards for councillors?
And… will be run by an Advisory Board on which the chosen few will sit and will decide where ‘our money’ is to be spent.
And will rely on a third party property manager.
Nothing to worry about there then!
Jaws dropped when Councillor Nick Holder mentioned that Surrey County Council had invested THREE BILLION POUNDS IN PROPERTY AROUND THE COUNTRY, a figure that was quickly scotched by Waverley and SCC Councillor Peter Martin who said it was only between £3 – £400 million which was, currently producing an income of 1%. Phew!Before appointing external specialists and external advisors, the Overview & Scrutiny Committee was asked to agree the way forward.
Councillor Peter Martin saw no reason for a Business Plan – as the most important thing was to just ‘borrow cheap to invest.’ Councillor Ged Hall suggested ‘if the right thing comes up, we’ll snap it up.’Perhaps they should remember this banner headline.
Councillors John Gray, Stephen Mulliner and Mike Band, John Williamson were far more circumspect believing A business plan was essential and saying they had some ‘very real concerns’about the current economic climate, suggesting investments should be mostly local, where local knowledge could prove invaluable.
Councillor Holder suggested others should follow the lead of Godalming Town Council and raise more income themselves. It had borrowed from the Public Works Board (what they themselves were suggesting earlier in Item 1 on the Agenda ) to fund the rebuilding and extension of the Wilfred Noyce Hall as they were making a profit out of it. When he started reeling off figures he was reminded by Chairman John Wilkinson ‘not to read out the legal bits as the meeting was being webcast.’Worry not Councillor W – it was practically impossible to hear the illegal legal bits!!
‘When we switch over later I’ll come back to it said Solicitor Daniel Bainbridge’.
Perhaps the WW should mention that making a profit on the approximate £900,000 investment is not entirely true. Bearing in mind the low interest rates and increase in council tax, tax payers over time are expected to pay off the loan over 20 years. Stephen Mulliner cautioned – everyone, that if the properties purchased remained empty, they would still have to pay council tax to someone and issued another warning about Waverley’s parlous state.
The Chairman said this was the biggest decision WBC would make for a decade, and it was essential both governance and all the necessary checks and balances were in place. The Committee agreed to tell its Executive it had not provided it with enough detail.
Sadly, unlike Farnham, there was no Residents’ Group standing in the recent county council elections in the East of Waverley.
Despite one of the most acrimonious internal fights being played within the Guildford Conservative Association to oust the sitting councillor – Alan Young, there was no Independent voice to capitalise on the opportunity this presented.
The mutter in the Ewhurst gutter confirms that it was Matron Milton , and friends, who worked to kick out the ‘popular’ Mr Young, (one of his supporter’s words, not ours!) He wanted to continue representing the Eastern villages along with his wife Victoria, known locally as Queen Vic. Who incidentally was voted back in the Eastern villages, by opposing development at Dunsfold and supporting development in Cranleigh and Ewhurst!
However, after blood was spent and venom disgorged in bucket loads the chosen one – Andrew Povey – a former Leader of Surrey County Council, romped home after trousering 2,098 votes, a thousand more than his nearest rival Lib Dem Richard Cole. He now sits among many of the colleagues who took a vote of no confidence in his leadership six years ago and threw him out!
Ah well! All’s fair in the world of backstabbing POLITICS, and who better to get to grips with SCC’s Leader Hodge the bodge than his old adversary? Do we see blood spilled at County Towers?
However in Farnham it was a very different story. The Residents’ Group had plenty to smile about. Having pushed the voting fodder around for years, the townsfolk bit back at “Your Waverley” and “Your County Council’ and threw out two Tory councillors, and only narrowly avoided bagging a third seat.
`Now, we hear on the Waverley grapevine that the rumblings in the East at the way townsfolk there have, and continue to be, treated by ‘YW’ has reached a roar!
When folk turn out for the a public meeting called by the Civic Society on Thursday 25th May there may be another residents army preparing to march into the 2018 Waverley Borough Council elections.
WHY? Because voters feel they can no longer influence decisions, and are fed up with being patronised and ignored.
But in Farnham – they have already voted with their feet and they won!
We here at the Waverley Web – and quite a few others, judging by the e-mails we received at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org – didn’t actually find ‘Your Waverley’s’ triumphalism over its David & Goliath win over Farnham’s Famous Five very edifying. As you will no doubt gather, neither did one of our contributors pictured here!
We have in the past few hours received this Press Release from the Farnham Five and will post on this separately at a future date. Press Release on Ruling 
However, its Pyrrhic victory over Farnham’s Fearless Ones may not boost their reputation in the eyes of all Waverley’s residents and it could, like Pyrrhus, suffer heavy losses !
Just to recap – “Your Waverley” and its NBF – Crest Nicholson – joined forces and engaged top barristers – after being told by council members … ‘win and it doesn’t matter how much it costs’ to prevent a bunch of pensioners even getting to a Judicial Review of the Blightwells Saga.
Of course it didn’t matter how much it cost did it? Because ‘Your Waverley” was using our money to defend a challenge brought by residents with their own,, and other Farnham residents’ money. So we make that paying twice! Or is that conclusion due to our heightened sense of humour?
Remember … what ‘YW’ and its New Best Friend ‘CN” actually won, was merely the right to stop FFFF’s – even getting to a Judicial Review because the Judge ruled out their right to challenge. (Well he would wouldn’t he – don’t want the voting fodder all over the country getting above themselves and actually believing they can challenge authority – do we? Whatever next! Anyone would think this was Cameron’s BIG SOCIETY!
Oh! and before Gone to Potts (YW’s leader) goes on record humming and hahhing about how the challenge has delayed the East Street/Blightwells re-development – maybe she should look closer to home.
So the regeneration goes ahead . However – before “YW” and its ‘NBF’ get too complacent about their bully boy tactics perhaps they should read the letter and article below which was sent to us by a Farnham architect with 30 years experience in retail development.
And, perhaps ‘Your Waverley” should consider this. – The problem with being a bully is that on the flip side of that particular coin, you’ll find the imprint of a coward!
Only time will tell if ‘Your Waverley – and its NBF – are heading for the slow motion car crash that many are predicting!
In happier times – local parish councils and borough councils consisted of a bunch of incredibly dedicated local people who wanted to donate their time to making a difference to the communities in which they were proud to live and serve.
We are asking ourselves here at the Waverley Web… “What actual purpose do national parties serve on our local parish/borough and town councils?”
Let’s take a look at what they do – because their powers and functions are really quite limited – and said powers are reducing with every day passing day.
At National Level – then yes, we agree, political parties are part of our democracy – twas ever so – but locally? Politics with a big P should be dumped and soon. It is, quite simply, unhealthy – particularly for the poor old voting fodder. What possible purpose do national parties serve on local councils?
‘Your Waverley’ has, for many years, been controlled by the Conservative party. The borough is made up of 29 wards with 57 seats.
The Tories hold 51; Farnham Residents 5; and there is just ONE Independent. Until last year it was, pretty much 100% Tory controlled – but thankfully Farnham Residents have created a small chink by scaling the walls into Waverley Towers!
That cannot be right it is unhealthy. No checks, no balances, just – We’ll Do It Our Way!
Councillors are elected for four years to decide how the council should carry out its various functions and duties They should represent the wider public interest as well as individuals living within the ward in which they serve.
When it comes to voting at ‘Your Waverley,” the other parties are largely an irrelevance and they are treated as such. Watch a few webcasts and see for yourselves how disgracefully Farnham Resident councillors are treated. Lesser mortals could wither and die from Fat Prost’s finger of ice! We disrespectfully suggest – it’s time this woman stepped aside?
The Conservatives can carry any vote they wish subject only to the proviso that they vote together.Which they almost always, do!
The council’s largest function is planning policy. (It has no power over transport and education which are decided by Surrey County Council or over matters such as defence, foreign policy or taxation which are dealt with at Westminster.)
Its planning role is to apply a set of Government rules and guidelines called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in a non-political way. The vital ingredients that qualify councillors to make these decisions are diligence; getting to grips with the facts (which requires quite some reading,) fair-mindedness, and a sense of responsibility to ALL Waverley’s residents.
Sadly ‘Your Waverley’s’ Conservatives cannot claim these qualities. Having a large majority, in fact, allows members of the majority to be lazy or, in the case of the Joint Planning Committee – don’t bother to turn up! Most of the more important decisions are taken behind closed doors in the committee rooms, away from prying eyes.
Lets’ face it – the debates – just a handful of us watch on the webcast , if it is working, are just a little bit of theatre to placate the voting fodder and where individual councillors can tow the ‘party line’ rather than form their own opinion.
The most important job of an elected assembly is to scrutinise the work of Executive and the full-time council officials. Scrutiny is an essential part of the checks and balances in government. Even they recognise they haven’t performed that duty properly. That’s illustrated by the failure to scrutinise numerous issues – that is until Farnham residents turned up!
Another core function of the council is to maintain standards in public life. The “Don’t Mention The Fraud” cover up perpetrated by Waverley’s head honchos, and which could have affected the 2015 local elections – is quite simply a disgrace.
Neither have Waverley Conservative councillors done a half-decent job of implementing a new local plan. Work began in 2009. Two Daft Local Plans have failed and after spending millions – a new 2017 Local Plan in 2017 – still remains to be examined, and following a decision by the Secretary of State to call it in – now contains a huge hole!
Some argue that Waverley/ Guildford Borough and Surrey County Councils all Tory controlled, have greater access to, and influence at, county and national government and at agencies such as Highways England or Natural England because it is controlled by the Conservatives. Now the blue on blue rows are escalating over that ‘memorandum of understanding’ between ‘Your Surrey” and the Government – that’s another fine mess they have got us into?
There are some very troubling questions about of independence and impartiality among Conservatives in Waverley. Some and we stress, some are using their party as an instrument of political power rather than as a means to represent the interests of the people they are there to serve.
Isn’t it high time that residents took back control of their councils by voting for individuals who will represent THEM rather than those who are SERVING THEIR POLITICAL AMBITIONS AND THEIR POLITICAL MASTERS ?