Camberley Be Inspired

Whilst the town was busy with the car show yesterday, there was a borough council display in Cambridge Square showing regeneration proposals for the town centre.  Passers by also had the opportunity to discuss the plans with council staff.  We’re all in favour of the council communicating  with residents – indeed, we learned that the council has been consulting various interest groups about potential public art works in the town.  We took the opportunity to ask why this hadn’t been communicated more widely – it should have been!

Anyway, we came away with the firm impression that the London Road Block redevelopment is likely to be a ten-year project.  Firstly, it will be quite a while before work can start to clear the site (the council doesn’t yet own all the property involved), and, secondly, progress will partly depend on the speed with which flats built on the site are sold.  There’s no commercial point in completing buildings if they’re going to remain empty for a sizeable time.

(If you’re wondering why we took a photo of an empty chair, that’s because we only had one chance to take a photo without including lots of passers by!)

A bit more about THAT pay rise

As we expected, the council CEO’s pay rise has now entered the borough’s folklore.  This screenshot is of an item on ‘Camberley Chat’ (one of the local Facebook groups).  The discussion started as a complaint about a load of full bin bags of rubbish apparently dumped at the top of the High Street.  But it quickly turned into a comment about the CEO’s pay.  We warned councillors that the ‘pay saga’ would do long-term damage to the council’s reputation – as yet very little has been done to correct that.

You know, we see just three possibilities.  i) The CEO knew how the pay rise was being implemented at the time, but is giving no public explanation, ii) The CEO didn’t know how the pay rise was being implemented at the time, has since found out but is giving no public explanation, or iii) The CEO hasn’t been able to find out from their own organisation how the pay rise was implemented.

Regarding the first two possibilities, why the silence?  We can only guess that the truth is ’embarrassing’.  The final possibility suggests that the CEO is not in control, although she’s the boss….

An update:  The current Leader has just written that the CEO has no right of public reply.  But is she actively being prevented from saying anything by some ‘statutory’ or similar restriction?  If not, ‘rights’ don’t come into it – openness is best.  It would be welcomed.

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NOTE THAT WE’VE BEEN INFORMED THAT THE MEETING OF THE PERFORMANCE AND FINANCE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE SITUATION WILL NO LONGER TAKE PLACE.  INSTEAD THERE WILL BE A DEBATE AT A MEETING OF THE FULL COUNCIL.  THE DATE IS NOT YET KNOW.

The local paper turns the spotlight on

The local paper this week has highlighted the saga of the Chief Executive’s ‘pay bonus’.  But the article provides little further insight into the matter.

We’ve submitted a Freedom of Information Enquiry, simply asking for information about the procedures that apply to any award or allowance granted to the CEO.  The details will be required by the independent investigation – if it does a good job – so we’re not adding to the council’s burden.

Chief Executive’s pay

We’ve received the message below from Peter.  Note that he makes THREE suggestions:

1. The following email has been sent to SHBC Councillors. WOULD YOU ALSO SEND IT TO THEM? Their email addresses are found at
https://surreyheath.moderngov.co.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

Subject: SHBC Chief Executive’s pay rises £53,000, 37%, to £197,000

Dear Councillors,

Shame on you for not denouncing the 37% pay increase awarded to the Chief Executive. You do not care about the people working for the council or council taxpayers. To pretend this excessive pay rise was anything other than a pay rise is ludicrous. If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog and barks like a dog, then it’s a 37%, £53,000 pay rise.

The residents of the Borough will do something to put right this injustice. To paraphrase Edmund Burke’s famous quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.”

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2. IF YOU HAVEN’T SIGNED THE PETITION, PLEASE GO TO:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/surrey-heath-borough-council-s-ceo-s-pay-increase-of-37-to-ps197-000

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3; PLEASE SHARE ALL OF THE ABOVE with as many local people as possible.

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Two footnotes from the Eye:

1.The text of the proposed e-mail is unfair on some councillors.  But we are reproducing it in full here because it’s important that ALL councillors see evidence that they are ALL being criticised.  The harm could last for years.  Surely the “good men and women” councillors will not do nothing?

2. A separate petition has been submitted to the council’s petition website. As yet, it doesn’t seem to appear there.  We’ll publicise it as and when we know differently.