Oh to be a consultant!

One of our readers very recently asked what the total council expenditure on the London Road Block had been so far. Of course, that’s an impossible question. But it made us think…

On Wednesday, the council’s Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee will ‘note’ the latest “Surrey Heath Local Plan Authority Monitoring Report”. This is a legally-required document. One small part of its text caught our eye: “The Camberley Town Centre Action Plan allows for up to 41,000sqm of … floorspace to be delivered in Camberley Town Centre over the Plan period. … However, further retail floorspace provision is set in the national context of the challenging high street retail trading environment and changing retail dynamics as a result of these changing circumstances it is very unlikely that significant amounts of new retail floorspace will be delivered.”

That’s fair enough. Only, where did that figure of 41,000 sqm come from? It comes primarily from a ‘retail study’ carried out by a rather expensive consultant – now based in Covent Garden – in 2007. In 2010, the same consultant was commissioned to provide an updated study. And in 2012, the same consultant was commissioned to produce yet another update. That’s three studies – the results of which the council has just written off as irrelevant.

There are so many messages that can be drawn from this history. Not least, don’t commission – ie pay for – studies unless you have the means and the intent to implement their findings. Don’t confuse studies with progress. And – though, of course, we’re not commenting on the particular consultant involved in this story – we know from our own background that you can usually find a consultant to tell you what you want to hear, at a price.

(We’re tempted to ask what is the value of a scrutiny committee ‘noting’ a published report. It seems a bit too late in the process to achieve anything useful?)

2 thoughts on “Oh to be a consultant!

  1. I for one, am so glad they are dot demolishing it now, our little club (The Camberley and District Club) has been here since 1903 it would of been so sad to see another well established club going,

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