Is there something rotten in the state of Surrey Heath?

Below, we reproduce the council’s ‘Town Centre Update’ from May 2017.  You can just about see in the last line that it forecast that a planning application for the London Road Block would be submitted by the end of that year.

Yet, here we are, it’s now 2019, the council’s preferred developer for the site hasn’t been announced, and we can find no sign of a registered planning application, outline or otherwise.  What’s more, the council bought much of the London Road Block in 2016 (or earlier) and there have been no obvious major external events to knock the council’s plan off-course since then.  So, who’s responsible for the apparent delay – one that seems to have arisen over such a short period of time?   Well, rather to our puzzlement, it seems that the Council Leader must accept that they have failed.  Back in April, on Facebook, the Leader said that it was her “responsibility to steer that whole project forward… and deliver it in the timetable that we have…”.  Note, ‘deliver it in the timetable’.

To be honest, we were taken aback by that whole statement.  Our understanding was that the elected councillors – of which the Leader is one – were chosen by the electorate to represent them, and not because they had any particular professional qualifications.  Yet one of them says they’re steering a multi-million pound project.  Surely we pay the council staff to do that and to provide the necessary skills?

To confirm our belief that something could be terribly wrong, we’ve looked at what the Local Government Association says about the role of borough councillors.  We quote: “A councillor’s primary role is to represent their ward or division and the people who live in it. Councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council. As well as being an advocate for your local residents and signposting them to the right people at the council, you will need to keep them informed about the issues that affect them.”  There’s not so much as a hint in that quotation about steering multi-million pound projects.  (If you want to read the full LGA article about the role of councillors, you’ll find it here: https://bit.ly/2zFpv1w)

But there are two sides to this.  One, a councillor who seems to be taking on far more responsibility than they should, and, the other, a paid council that seems to be willing to allow this to happen.  Doesn’t this suggest that the whole organisation – councillors and paid council staff – has completely lost its way?

20 thoughts on “Is there something rotten in the state of Surrey Heath?

  1. Yes, a total shambles – our Councillors should feel deeply embarrassed and the SHBC senior management are clearly unfit for purpose. I feel deeply concerned that their ability to announce intentions is highly proficient and their willingness not to communicate failure or lack of action staggeringly effective. If only there was a wider way of highlighting these failures. In the “good old days” a good local newspaper would take up the fight and the residents would “read all about it”. Sadly now we have world reaching technology and media capacity, but concern for the community is worryingly low. We get what we deserve I guess – we vote them in – and then fail to hold them to account. Time for me, for one, to write to my local Councillor, now……. whats his/her name……I’ve never seen or heard from them……

  2. Well said. Most of them are utterly useless. One of my local Cllrs puts himself around as a great communicator, but in reality just takes selfies of him revelling in the role of being one..but like most of them does very little for the rest of us.

    SHBC is a cabal of self interest.

    • Your entitled to that view Emil but as you are referring to me I guess I am entitled to respond.

      You say all I do is take selfies of myself. I do take selfies yes, but that is to communicate what I do on behalf of residents in my role as an elected councillor. So to say all I do is take selfies is a gross misrepresentation of the facts and anyone reading this comment can visit my Facebook page and make thier own mind up. I know I banned you from my page Emil for relentlessly trolling me, but that’s no excuse for dishonesty eh?

      As for reveling in the role. Yes at the moment I do enjoy it. For those residents I have helped over the years it is satisfying to have the ability to assist in some way. It’s not always possible to help or tell people what they want to hear but you should not confuse that with doing little.

      You make it sound like it is bad for anyone to enjoy their role. This general attitude might contribute to why so few high calibre people (of any political persuasion or non) put themselves forward to stand for election. Right now I enjoy it, but the moment I stop enjoying it will be the moment I chuck my selfie camera in the bin.

      Finally, we have elections in May. So if residents are unhappy with their representation they will be able to do something about that including putting their head above the parapet and showing people like me how it should be done.

      • Paul, I normally ‘trash’ comments which make personal comments – unless they’re polite and aimed at top people. But I allowed the comment about taking selfies because it didn’t name names, and it didn’t name wards, so it would be difficult to identify who it might be talking about. What’s more, there are enough other on-line ‘forums’ for people to criticise each other, so I don’t have to allow it in the Eye. But your final para is what matters – we get the councillors we vote for. There’s no point in moaning about the outcome.

  3. There are many examples which demonstrate that one-party control, without effective opposition of any sort, ends up harming those who, for a while at least, supported the party in power. Surrey Heath is a microcosm of that, with the powers-that-be sitting in their ivory tower believing that they are the answer, all the while storing up problems which somebody else will have to solve at some unknown point in the future, when it all comes crumbling down.

    How depressing…

    • Part of Surrey Heath’s problem is that, as the borough crumbles, wealthy residents can just go elsewhere. It’s the less wealthy that will get stuck. But how many councillors represent the less wealthy? Not enough.

  4. Roll on the next Elections hopefully the Camberley Old School Conservative voters are waking up to the fact they are being fleeced by a group of incompetent individuals who are more focussed on claiming expenses etc & not acting for the interests of Camberley residents

  5. As you say..
    Their role is to represent Surrey Heath residents. They Do Not. Camberley Town centre citizens have evidence of SHBC failures and conflict of interest. Serious Regulatory Compliance oversight failures, and refusal to enforce planning conditions & health/safety breaches. Shameless.

  6. Agree with all of the above..but OMG ..loathe the word…EXCITING…wish she would stop using that word……and then there is KINGS COURT! Are any councillors reading this?

  7. I remember looking at the plans in SHBC for proposed development of Camberly, back in 2011 I think. It looked impressive and was one of the reasons we moved our shop there.

    Since then, nothing has happened on the proposals, other than the councillors playing monopoly with the residents’ money.

    But as I have always kept on saying, you get the councils you deserve. If you can’t be bothered to vote for anybody else other than the same shower, year after year, you have only yourselves to blame.

    • In some ways it’s not so much the failure to deliver plans – predicting the future is difficult! It’s the failure to acknowledge that the targets weren’t achieved, let-alone WHY they weren’t achieved. It’s treating residents with contempt.

      • What annoys me the most is the way the council waste so much money on contact ing other agencies to ask their advice on what should be done, about development and other issues, and then ignores all ideas, puts everything on hold for a time and then goes through the whole routine again, never getting anywhere. Who was it who said something along the lines of ‘It is only a fool who repeats their mistakes expecting a different outcome’? Sorry, I am having to paraphrase as I can’t remember the exact quote, but it seemed appropriate for this situation.

      • I think the quote was something that Einstein said. And one of the things that the authorities say that I find irritating is ‘Working with our partners’. On the one hand it’s fine, but on the other it’s throwing up a smokescreen to deny responsibility.

  8. Ollie – “Hey Stanley, let’s buy up the town”. Stanley – “Good idea Ollie”. Months later – Ollie – “What do we do now Stanley?” Stanley -“Errrrr” Sorry to sound a bit frivolous, but its all become a bit Laurel and Hardy. I really hope there is a realistic long term plan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.