Will Godalming Tories’ wish be granted?

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The Tory election machine has gone into overdrive in a bid to oust the single opposition voice that Godalming people have taken to their hearts and minds.

But as you will see from the picture below the Tories have more than Cllr Paul Follows to worry about. He has been joined by other local hopefuls wearing the Liberal Democrat yellow rosette, seeking seats in the town and borough councils.

One of the local issues they have highlighted is the proposed loss of the Godalming Surestart Children’s Centre axed recently by Surrey County Council.

As Nelson Mandela said:

“History will judge us by the difference we make to the everyday lives of children.”

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The group above recently met with Dawn Bellman and her ‘Surestart’ team and was very impressed by their commitment and support to the community.

Sure Start Children’s Centres give help and advice on child and family health, parenting, money, training and employment.

They are a “one-stop shop” offering their own services as well as signposting to other professional or services, eg. Family Information Service, Food Banks, Job Centre Plus and The Citizens Advice Bureau.

Each Centre is required to offer core services to all families from pregnancy right through those important early years until the child is at school, directly reflecting the needs of the local community.

In January, Surrey County Council announced plans to close 31 children’s centres across the county, but at the 11th hour postponed closing recycling centres until after the elections! A cynical attempt to dupe residents into believing they were safe.

The 100 % Tory controlled Cabinet voted to close the centres along with reductions to some bus travel concessions citing the need to save money due to government cuts.

However, it managed to find over £50m to fund 28 new shops in the Brightwells Yard development in Farnham. A scheme shunned by private investors. 

In a public consultation, 86% of respondents disagreed that children’s centres were an appropriate way to make savings.

It is still unclear to staff, families and the public what will happen. The group pictured above are demanding answers. 

Here at the WW – we await any communication from the Godalming’s Tory hopefuls.

Godalming’s starter for 6.

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Councillor Paul Follows, Godalming’s’ new boy on the block, wants to reinstate planning committees at Godalming Town Council!

Reinstate? Did we hear that correctly? You cannot be serious!

Clucking Bell! Why doesn’t a town like Godalming operate a planning committee? An important part of the grass-roots democratic process?

Even the smallest parish councils hold regular meetings to consider their planning applications. Meetings that are held in public, where neighbours and applicants or their agents are given an opportunity to comment, provide information and answer any queries the committee and the public may have.

So why we wonder doesn’t a town council, whose membership includes a leading light in the of the Association of Parish & Town Councils, a former senior honcho at Waverley borough council, who has donned the Mayoral robes for a second time, think a planning function is unnecessary? A Councillor who rocks up at other parish councils advising them how to operate and conduct their business.

Tell us, someone, please? 

Here are Councillor Follows Quick 6 To Fix in Godalming. Most of which would apply to every other town and village in Waverley.

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But,  Cllr Follows –  could you possibly add another to your list and make it 7? Just for your younger and older residents, who are falling all over the place in the badly re-instated roads and pavements in Godawfulming. A selection of pictures which are included below. We know it is a county council responsibility, but perhaps you could whisper, if you dare, into the ear of County Cllr Peter Martin, because we know he never listens to our complaints, but will listen to you!

The pictures below were all taken AFTER, the Surrey County Council roadworks were completed!! 

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Why doesn’t Godalming Town Council have a planning committee?

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GTC__CBA.jpgAll the major towns in ‘Your Waverley’ have a dedicated planning committee – including here in Farnham – Haslemere and Cranleigh. Even the small rural villages have either dedicated planning committees or public meetings where planning applications are considered – in public?

So why not in Godalming?

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Our interest in the planning function of Godalming Town Council was sparked off by the letter featured on the link above.

Funny, we thought, funny …   a major town, which hosts Waverley Towers and where there is a huge amount of development presently underway and even more proposed in the future? But no planning committee?

Even more puzzling? This paragraph from GTC’s new boy Councillor Paul Follows’ letter where he tells his fellow councillors of his, and residents concerns over the proposal to build on land at Milford Golf Course. A development that will have implications for Godalming’s overloaded road network and its infrastructure.

Cllr. Denis Leigh (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Bob Upton (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Gillian McCalden (Witley Parish Council, Chair)
Cllr. Tony Sollars (Witley Parish Council, Planning Committee Chair)

 

“My intent is to have this application reviewed by Godalming Town Council (GTC) to record a formal opinion before it goes to the Waverley Joint Planning Committee – and it is my hope that you might support that endeavour by writing to the Chairman of the Godalming Town Council Policy and Management Committee (Cllr Stefen Reynolds) to that end.

We, unfortunately, have no dedicated planning committee at GTC and as such, I am an opposition councillor asking the majority party chair for this to be added to the town council agenda – as you can imagine there is no guarantee that will happen and as such your support would be greatly appreciated!”

We have just learned that astoundingly the Tories abolished the Planning committee because quite simply they couldn’t be bothered. Their reason was that because so many of them are twin hatted – ie Waverley Councillors as well – then they would take the decisions and make the case at the meeting that mattered, rather than holding a trivial town council meeting, in front of the voting fodder, and duplicating their efforts.
They then said they would add significant planning items to other agendas, at the request of members. And an application in a neighbouring parish may not interest most of the council, hence Paul Follows lobbying for support with other Conservatives.

Surely, any self-respecting council -at the grassroots of local democracy – would want to hear its residents’ views on a planning application which affect their lives? Even a minor extension, can have a huge impact. So why don’t they review each and every planning application – allowing residents to have their say?

So Godalming Tories win the WW award for most “Can’t Be Arsed” Council this year.

The CILly Season will begin soon?

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Here’s what one Waverley Councillor has to say about Community Infrastructure Levy – the means by which developers will in future contribute towards services, including leisure, education, transport and more.

In recent months the race by developers to get their plans approved has been evident, and many more will hope to trouser schemes before next Spring.

‘Your Waverley’ want this in place in the borough by March next year.

 

A Waverley Liberal and a Tory unite.

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paul_carole_farnham.jpgIt took an unlikely duo of a Godalming Liberal Democrat and a Farnham Conservative to overthrow officer approval for a development that reduced the number of affordable homes by 5 at Green Lane Farm, Badshot Lea in Farnham last night.

It might have been a sight to behold as Councillor Paul Follows proposed rejection of the scheme seconded by Carole Cockburn – except of course the webcast went down…again…and again throughout the debate.

However, the vote was still narrow – won by just 9 votes to 7.

The developer was asked to reduce their affordable housing contribution from 40% – agreed at the time of Waverley’s draft Local Plan in June 2016. Since then Waverley Tories took it upon themselves to change their draft plan down to 30% affordable housing with the aim of asking for greater S106 contributions for infrastructure – that is of course when they can remember to ask for them!
The developer had already taken account of the policy when purchasing the land beyond the greenbelt claiming  ‘exceptional circumstances’ to gain consent for 45 homes  – granted at appeal. It now wants to change the housing mix by adding several larger detached homes and tacking on a load of conservatories. It is believed, this would add over £1-1.5million to the developer’s profits by permitting the changes.
Changes that the officers were quite happy to rubber stamp with the support of seven Tories. 

Pity Farnham Councillor Chris Storey was prevented by the borough solicitor from reading out an -email sent a planning officer? 

He said “We are well used as members of this planning committee to being threatened with appeals by developers. But perhaps my fellow councillors would like me to read out an e-mail sent by this developer…

… when he was suddenly stopped in his tracks by the solicitor saying “It would not be sensible to do so.”

Why?

If developers are using threatening behaviour to councillors or officers, why shouldn’t the public be told?

This Inspector’s decision was deeply unpopular with councillors and officers alike, but none more so than for  Councillor Carole Cockburn who had walked every inch of Farnham with colleagues to devise Farnham’s Adopted Neighbourhood Plan. A plan which had been well-supported by the residents of Weybourne and Badshot Lea, and whose views had now been trashed by a Government Inspector – and not by Waverley.

She said “The people who live there will soon see for themselves how much the place “STINKS – IT JUST STINKS!” The band sits between the sewage works and the rugby field. Funny that! She was quite happy to consent to a similar site on a floodplain adjacent to a sewage treatment works in Cranleigh!

However, a man who can always be relied upon to stick up his mitt, that is of course if he’s awake! Councillor Michael Goodridge – who said his colleagues should set aside the “emotional baggage of fewer affordable homes and grant the application.”

Now let’s see this developer get this through at appeal too!

Has Mr Angry of Haslemere finally picked up his phone to his Waverley councillor?

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Why else would Waverley scramble to pull the Local Plan Part 2 meeting with only two days notice, in order to…

“consult further?”

Councillor Julia Potts, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “This item is being deferred as councillors want the council to have more time to engage with the local community about some of the content of the draft LPP2 before it is published, including further work on site allocations and gaining further feedback from key stakeholders such as Thames Water and local clinical commissioning groups.”

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A comment from the Waverley Web? No – a comment from Godalming Councillor Paul Follows.

“Well frankly I should think so too – so unbelievably rushed through and I can’t think of a single parish, town or area in Waverley that diPdn’t have some issue with this document or feel that more consultation was needed.
I had a huge feeling I was going to be one of very few councillors that were going to vote against this for exactly this reason.
Very sensibly postponed otherwise we would once again be paying lip service to localism.”

 

Follow me, ​Follows.

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There’s no doubt about it Waverley Town and Borough Councillor Paul Follows is certainly keeping his finger on Godalming’s pulse.  The town’s new boy is digging deep into development plans which could have a huge impact on the town’s future. We are sure others are doing the same -but are not quite so vocal? So the WW will go with the man who has his fingers on the keyboard.

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Here’s what is being proposed now that ‘Your Waverley” is rolling back the Green Belt around Godalming.

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UPDATE RE: OCKFORD PARK.COMMENTSS FROM SURREY HIGHWAYS AND NATURAL ENGLAND

Two of the main concerns that have been raised by residents so far have been regarding traffic and the environment.

Paul’s view:

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The application (on the Waverley planning portal) has now had two important comments logged against it – one from Natural England and one from Surrey Highways.

NATURAL ENGLAND

NE has in this case requested some more information about some of the protected animal and plant species that may be present: read its full comments here:

http://planning360.waverley.gov.uk/pla…/search-applications…

SURREY HIGHWAYS

SH has commented upon the methodology the applicant has employed, the mitigations proposed and other related matters and a number of other areas. It’s a bit of read but I really would welcome any comments on this.

http://planning360.waverley.gov.uk/pla…/search-applications…

Last week along with other Waverley councillors he attended a session with Ashill,  (the developer) Surrey Highways and other Waverley Councillors to informally discuss the application – so Paul welcomes any general queries. 

He was also a guest of Witley Parish Council (also discussing the application and the potential impact upon their area).

Oh Boy – Waverley’s new boy, certainly gets around!

Happy to discuss on here or at Paul.follows@waverley.gov.uk

Do you remember when the WW did a little fact checking on The Tory’s efforts to keep ‘IN TOUCH’ With Godalming’s electorate?

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Well, we have just completed a little FACT CHECKING exercise on  Waverley Liberals’ efforts in its latest Newsletter –  FOCUS.

 

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We have FACT-CHECKED this document – which gets 10/10 for accuracy and more important gets 10/10 for refraining from hogging all the praise for saving Green Oaks School instead makes reference to the ‘partnership’ fight between Lib Dems, residents and Green Oaks PTA.

You can read the Newsletter in Full by clicking on the link below.

Waverley Focus Summer 2018

In the interest of fairness and balance here is our post that FACT-CHECKED – VISION FROM THE GODALMING CONSERVATIVES.

Caption competition – Help the Local Tories with their leaflets?

Is a Godalming Tory jumping on the local residents’ bandwagon​?

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Have the residents of Godalming bounced the Tory-dominated town council into objecting to a planning application it would have preferred to see approved? 

Is one of the Tories now smoothing the way for the Tory-dominated borough planners to give it the go-ahead? 

You will see from the letter below that Godalming Town Council has registered its objection to a development of 262 dwellings on land between New Way & Aarons Hill, Godalming.

No surprise there then after more than 70 people turned up and another 170 registered their objection to development in the GREEN BELT that would join Godalming to Guildford Godalming Town Council backs residents’ fight – plans just not good enough for green belt site.

Or bearing in mind the Waverley Web’s post yesterday – perhaps that would be just what the new Unitary Authority would want? Has Hambledon’s Holder become a bit bolder or is he just demob happy as he prepares to leave ‘Your Waverley?

Councillor Andrew Bolton reminds residents on Facebook that – it is Waverley Council that will determine the application, NOT the Town Council. No doubt, just in case residents dare to think their very vocal opposition is going to make one jot of difference at Waverley Towers. 

Please, Councillor Bolton, don’t treat the voting fodder like idiots! They know full well that it is the borough council’s function to refuse or permit planning applications. Residents aim of turning out in force was to register their opposition, to their town councillors, the people they elected to represent their views. Because like the residents in the East of the borough they know that if it doesn’t move, Waverley officers will recommend developing it, and unless councillors break the habit of a lifetime Tory councillors will follow their lead! Neither were residents asking you to predetermine an application. But just giving you a gentle reminder that it is your function as a Godalming Town Councillor to not only listen but HEAR and act on the concerns. You ignore the mood of Godalming people at your peril. 

To remind them of the lack of funds for Green Oaks and then mention that the developers’ twenty pieces of silver – or as you describe it as 106 monies for infrastructure, could provide “substantial support for Green Oaks School” and that it may not survive without it was not only disingenuous but a disgraceful veiled threat.  Dare we suggest you were more than a little put out that a motion to object came from the opposition? An opposition that is proving itself to be very effective?

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Don’t forget the changes to the Guildford Local Plan for the other half of the field. Guildford’s consultation started on 11 September and will run until 23 October 2018. You can all comment on the proposed removal from the Green Belt here: https://www.guildford.gov.uk/newlocalplan/examination

 

Godalming Town Council backs residents’ fight – plans just not good enough for green belt site.

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Residents, backed by Waverley Councillor Paul Follows ensured that everyone was made aware of the threat of expansion into their treasured green belt countryside at Aarons Hill. 

Last night after a packed meeting Godalming Town Council heard some well-researched concerns and objections from residents and councillors alike. And the townsfolk were rewarded for their efforts getting the backing they had hoped for!

WW can’t help wondering why so many town councillors, who are also borough councillors backed a Local Plan that rolled back Godalming’s green belt in the first place? Could it be because they are Tories – one of whom later gave his Lib Dem colleague an ear-bashing!

A  resident told us that Tory “Town and borough Councillor, Comrade  Stefan  ” I voted for the Labour Party’ Reynolds’  interrupted his Lib Dem colleague after Councillor Follows claimed he was the only Waverley councillor in the room who didn’t vote for Waverley’s  Local Plan which included removing this site from the greenbelt! Following, Follows –    Comrade Reynold retorted – ‘well I didn’t!’ after which   – Councillor Follows was forced to remind him –  that was only because he DIDNT SHOW UP AT THE MEETING TO VOTE AT ALL!’

It seemed the Town Councillors had little choice but to represent their community, with only one abstention coming from the grumpy Steve Cosser (Con Charterhouse). Three Councillors were absent, including County Councillor for Aaron’s Hill Peter Martin. No surprise there then?

The upshot:

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Thanks to the efforts of the people of Godalming round one of the battle to preserve the town from becoming part of greater Guildford has been won. But the war with Waverley planners is to follow.

Godalming town council supported Paul Follows’s proposal to object formally to the development on Aarons Hill. A  formal letter will  be released by the council today (Friday)

Here’s how the Waverley Web has covered the tumultuous events of the past few days.

Godalming residents show Waverley residents how objecting to development in the green belt should be done.

Godalming residents show Waverley residents how objecting to development in the green belt should be done.