SHBC fails to please.  (So does Collectively Camberley)

We’ve just received a criticism of the borough council.  It’ll be clear from what’s written that we can’t check the details ourselves, so if there is another side to the story, do let us know and we’ll publish that too.

We’re sure that the council is under pressure, but it’s disturbing to see that it apparently compares unfavourably with other councils.  Maybe it has different priorities? – council, do let us know.

It’s sad – but not unexpected – to see reference to the festering sore of the chief executive’s ‘pay rise’.  If a Nightingale hospital can be built in nine days, can it REALLY take so many months to do what has to be done?

Anyway, this is what we received:

“My firm are the accountants to a number of businesses with retail premises in Surrey Heath and we have been involved in applying for grants provided by the Government in response to COVID-19, all applications were made on 31 March 2020.

“My firm were involved with grant applications for businesses located throughout England but the applications made to Surrey Heath were among the first ones, however, no business due a grant from Surrey Heath have received any contact or monies so far, despite the majority of other Councils having started paying out.

“Due to this delay I contacted Surrey Heath Council and was told that payments would be made once a week going forward and that there are only 2 members of staff working within the Business Rates department and they have a high workload. I assume that the low staff levels are due to COVID-19 but considering the ongoing issues regarding the Chief Executive’s salary and the Council’s efficiency I thought this was something to also make a note of.”

 Our correspondent added a further comment, this time about Collectively Camberley.  Our earlier caveat and invitation also apply to this – if there’s a different view on ‘the other side of the fence’, PLEASE send it to us and we’ll publish that too.

“I have another business which is a levy payer and so is a part of Collectively Camberley. The construction work on the High Street had had a seriously detrimental effect on business since it started. Throughout this entire period and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic I have not had any contact or assistance in running my business and am extremely disappointed with them. Prior to the pandemic I contacted them in regards to how I could reduce business rates payments due to the construction work but my calls were never returned and since the lockdown and Government announcements on support for businesses I have not had any correspondence from them either. I have always felt that they prefer to look after the bigger businesses in town and are more focused on media opportunities and their own personal wellbeing rather than the small businesses and cannot see any positive that they have added to Camberley town, only negatives.”

8 thoughts on “SHBC fails to please.  (So does Collectively Camberley)

  1. Apparently there is a page on the Council website for businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, and the council leader talks of help being offered in early April. Might be worth a look at it as a lot of places are not answering many telephone calls these days. Hoping all our Camberley businesses manage to hang on in these most difficult circumstances.

  2. I am honestly shocked by the comment about SHBC. I run a locally based business; I deal regularly with Surrey Heath and I have insight on what is happening in other boroughs, other counties. SHBC is actually outperforming other local authorities in terms of their speed of deployment, speed of response and organisation – there are some shockers out there and Surrey Heath are in the upper quartile in their response to this crisis. Perhaps the author of the original complaint has an axe to grind or has a poor relationship with the council? It doesn’t sound as if they are adding value to their customers if they are “unable” to get things done on their behalf.

    • Many thanks for your response, Bill. Much as I may criticise (or praise) the council if/when it’s a matter that I know something about, in this particular case I’ve no experience, so I can only report what others say.

  3. Dear Eye, We want to reassure you and your readers that the council is working hard to support Surrey Heath through the COVID-19 pandemic. 80% of our staff are focused on the welfare of our vulnerable residents which is a growing number by the day. If we can keep people out of hospital and supported at home then we can save lives. Yes the business grants are very important and we are doing our absolute best with reduced officer hours (due to our officers also providing welfare support). We are also caring for our children and families who often are coping with the emotional challenge of Coronavirus without their parents at home all the time because we are part of front line support for the borough. None of our staff have PPE yet either. We want to reassure everyone that we are working 7 days a week to protect Surrey Heath as best we can in this awful situation. Best wishes SHBC

  4. The council aren’t the right organisation to deal with a crisis like this. They work in months rather than days, which is no fault of their own, it’s just the pace at which things need to move in their world traditionally.

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