How long does it take to migrate an IT system?

We’re not an IT expert.  Nor, it seems, is the borough council…

We don’t know for how long the council has been migrating its planning applications website – we didn’t make a note of when it started.  But we’re pretty sure that it’s been for more than the last six months.  This is the sort of message that has greeted visitors to the site during that time.But at least we can expect the new system to work properly, can’t we?.  Er, no.  The website apparently has the ability to search for planning applications registered in any particular month..  But in practice it seems impossible to select a single month.   We guess that the system searches the whole database instead.  We’ve found that it gives up, with the message “Too many results found. Please enter some more parameters.

It does rather surprise us, too, that it’s possible to search for applications in eg Town Ward, Chobham Parish, when no such place exists.  Even elementary systems should be able to screen  out such nonsenses.

Did anyone test the system before it went live??

Southwell Park Road transformation

Jeremy sent us this message together with some photos the other day.

“Hi, having ripped out beautiful mature hedging, rhododendrums along Southwell Park Road, next to the tennis court, to put in these b***dy ugly power units (for future events and the failed ice rink), the cheap/poor screening for these power units is now falling apart. I asked SHBC to replace the rhodos with some decent screening (plants), but this is what we got. About time SHBC did something, and how about removing the power units as well as they seem to have given up on using the tennis courts for ‘future events”?

That transformer has been an irritant to local residents from the day its installation began.  It’s hardly a thing of beauty…

YMCA – Arson?

We’ve received the following message from Paul.  Do note his request towards the end:

“Dear David,

“Not sure if you are aware, but there has been a fire at the rear of the YMCA shop in town (where I volunteer), I have attached photos. The fire is being treated as arson. The fire also destroyed a Boots medical supply vehicle which exploded. The fire has caused smoke damage to all the donated stock and as a result the shop will be closed to mid next week.

“Can I ask you to submit an article on the Eye, with this story and ask people that we will be seeking donations next week to replace stock and carry on this valuable charity work.?

“Kind regards

“Paul”

In different circumstances it would be a pleasure to carry out Paul’s request.

Possibly more about the Chief Executive’s ‘pay’?

The local Conservatives published the following on Facebook an hour ago:

“It is with regret that we announce the Conservative Group held a unanimous Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of Cllr Richard Brooks, for failing to uphold the highest levels of integrity consistent with being a Conservative Councillor. Cllr Alan McClafferty has now been elected our Conservative Group Leader.

Unfortunately, subsequent to Cllr Brooks leaving, Charlotte Morley took the decision to resign as Deputy Leader. We thank her for her service as Deputy Leader and Finance portfolio holder.

Cllr Alan McClafferty said “Although this is a challenging time for the Council, the Conservatives are committed to ensuring a culture of transparency and cooperation within SHBC””

You know, sometimes local Conservatives accuse the Eye of being mischievous.  They have selective vision.  On the 3rd of August last year, responding to the saga of the Chief Executive’s ‘pay award’, we wrote to ALL councillors, saying:

“I have watched the council’s affairs for perhaps sixteen years, first as the chair of the Camberley Society, and more recently as the Camberley Eye.  I cannot remember any event during those years that has brought the council into such widespread disrepute….”

We made several suggestions, including:

 “..the current Leader was the deputy of the previous Leader for years.  This suggests that they held the same views on many matters.  The new Leader MUST make it clear that they disown the action of their predecessor as far as the pay award is concerned, otherwise it would be reasonable to conclude that they support it.  (It would be a surprising breakdown in communication if the previous deputy did not know what their principal was doing.)  But I believe that the Leader has been mute, so far, about what has happened.  This is unwise.

“I suggest that the above be done openly, honestly, quickly and very visibly.”

Our advice has been ignored for nearly six months.  As a result, the Conservatives have done more harm to their reputation – and to the council’s reputation – than the Eye could possibly do.  As we wrote to councillors back in August “The damage that has been done is long term”

Councillor resignations and the CEO’s ‘pay’

We have been told that a Press Release has just been issued (we’re trying to get confirmation that the release is genuine.):

“Press Release

“We have decided to step down as Leader and Deputy Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council when it became apparent that, after many years of service, we were both no longer aligned with our Conservative Group.

“To be clear, in the recent report into the CEO’s pay at Surrey Heath Borough Council we have not been implicated in any way whatsoever. We have worked with all Group Leaders and officers in a transparent and consensual way.

“We wish to thank all officers and staff for their dedication and determination to ensure that Surrey Heath continues to be a great place.

“Cllr Richard Brooks Cllr Charlotte Morley”

****

If the release is genuine, we find it staggering and utterly incompetent that the recent council announcement allowed residents to speculate that the resignations WERE linked to the CEO’s pay.  The text also suggests that the Conservative Group has been completely unable to manage its own affairs;  is it able to run the council any better?

 

Knoll Walk – the end of the road…

As plenty of people know Knoll Walk has been open for the last couple of weeks, in spite of the scheduled closure on 6th Jan.  But not any longer, it seems.  The security fencing was being pulled across it at both ends when we took this photo a couple of days ago.

UPDATE,  When we looked on Tuesday evening, a narrow walkway had been created alongside the fenced-off area.

Borough Council Executive Meeting, 21st January

We wandered along to last night’s meeting of the council’s Executive last night.  There were several agenda items of interest to the Eye personally.

Of course, this was the first meeting of the Executive after the Leader and Deputy Leader resigned from their roles.  Indeed, those two councillors were not apparently present, and they were not included in the ‘Apologies for Absence’.  The remaining Executive members agreed that the meeting should be chaired by Cllr J Hawkins.  (Apologies that our photo is a disappointment – flash photography wouldn’t have been popular.)

The agenda was quite long – the non-confidential section is some one hundred and fifty pages long.  (You can download it HERE)

Not on the agenda was an initial question relevant to Camberley – progress towards making the town ‘dementia-friendly’.  The rather unconvincing answer was that the council was looking at that, and the High Street would have dementia-friendly seats.  In our view, becoming a town that is particularly suited to the needs of older and frail people is one of the few ways in which Camberley can be  made ‘special’.

Also relevant to Camberley was the agenda item ‘LOCAL PLAN 2011-2028 Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) 2018-2019’.  We were surprised that there was no discussion of the failure to meet targets relating to ‘Employment floorspace completions’ and ‘Town, District and Local Centre Retail Development’  There may be good reasons for the failure, but we felt that these should have been explored.

Finally, the recent introduction of one-hour free parking in Knoll Road car park was discussed.  It was made plain that this was in response to retailers’ concerns about the upheaval in the High Street.  It was a three-month initiative, and not part of any broader review of parking in the town.

Overall, though, the meeting was well run, and good questions were raised by councillors.  A satisfactory event.