You may just about remember that, quite a few months ago, the Eye submitted a formal Freedom of Information Act request to the borough council. The request asked for a copy of the procedures and posts involved in making ANY financial award to ANY council chief executive. The council decided not to provide the information; the Eye asked the council to carry out a review of its decision, and the review changed nothing. After which, the Eye submitted a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Last week, the ICO wrote to the Eye:
“I can confirm that I allowed the Council an additional 10 working days for preparing its response to my enquiries because of the Christmas break. I am expecting its response to be with me by the end of this week.
“Presuming it does not revise its position and disclose what you have requested, I will then proceed to a decision notice based on that response. If I have any further queries at that stage I will contact you again.
“If the Council fails to respond within the extended time period then I may need to issue an Information Notice under section 51 of the FOIA formally requiring a response. If this is necessary then I will let you know”
Of course, we can understand why a nervous council that hates openness would want to stay stum while its chief executive is on extended (AKA ‘agreed’ or ‘special’) leave. But official procedures – or lack thereof – are discoverable facts. For the council to be suppressing the facts destroys what little credibility it has left. Or perhaps it has none already, so that it has nothing to lose?
We think it’s more than five years since the owner of Compass House formally notified the council of the intention to heighten the building and turn it into flats.
But the wheels of developers turn slowly (sometimes so slowly that we think they’ve come off entirely). The lastest modest news is that the developer has informed the council of a change in the intended design of the windows… This is what the A30 frontage is now expected to look like:
There are white patches of plaster in the Atrium where the surface has been damaged by wear and tear. It’s good to see the building being kept up to scratch (or is that the wrong expression??). But we’re not so sure about a staircase being blocked off, as our first photo shows. It’s the only obvious way down from the first floor.
The (former) BHS windows now boast new posters showing the regeneration plans for Camberley. It’s good to see change actually happening.
What’s the point of a gate if it’s always closed? Or are we being far too picky (actually, we’re just smiling) about a simple notice on the High Street security fencing.
We’ve known since last year that a new restaurant was going to open in the premises of the former Hoxon bar and kitchen in Obelisk Way. And a couple of days ago we saw that the lights were on inside, and that work was underway (what looked like a reel of cable was on one of the tables).
However, Jennifer has now updated us by pointing out that the new restaurant will be Sorelle’s:
The Sorelle’s website doesn’t seem to contain much information, but Sorelle’s have a Facebook page. Just search Facebook for ‘@sorellesbar’
Several days ago a blue notice appeared in the window of the Good Taste cafe. It was the legally-required notification of an application to sell alcohol. The cafe doesn’t appear to be becoming yet another night-time alcohol outlet – the proposed time for selling alcohol is roughly the working day.
The application is in the name of ‘Soho Caffe Camberley Limited’ – a local company that apparently was established last August. It’ll please a lot of people to know that it isn’t ‘just another national chain’.
Over the years, the Eye has stressed the importance of making Camberley a more friendly town for older and infirm people. Not least, should we have a Shopmobility?
Basingstoke has a Shopmobility (it’s based in the rather dull, but accessible, building which we photographed in the pouring rain a little while ago). Guildford has one too. This is what the Basingstoke organisation says:
“Shopmobility is a national scheme for supporting people with restricted mobility, whether temporary or otherwise. We hire out powered scooters, electrical and manual wheelchairs and stroller/walking frames, to improve access around the town centre and local facilities. Shopmobility Basingstoke is part of the national Shopmobility scheme and is a registered charity in its own right.”
Of course, Camberley is smaller than Basingstoke and Guildford. Maybe it’s too small to support a Shopmobility. But, as far as we know, no-one has looked into this yet.
So, it’s time to do more than just talk. What IS the local demand for a Shopmobility? If you think one would be useful, let the Eye know. Even better, if you know someone who is really likely to use one, LET THE EYE KNOW. SPREAD THE WORD. ASK AROUND. As always, you can just add a comment to this post (but no negative views about Camberley, please – we’ve heard them all before!). Or you can e-mail the Eye at email@example.com. If there’s sufficient interest, we’ll approach Surrey Heath Age Concern and see what can be done.
In long-standing tradition, the council has never – as far as we know – explained why Cambridge Square – on the left of our photo – wasn’t included in the revamp of the mall. Inevitably, the silence encourages us to think the worst. Which is that the shopping centre is broke.
We hope that we’re wrong, of course. Perhaps those who know better could put us right.
When will the council learn that silence is rarely the best policy?
Maybe at long last a tower crane is about to be installed on the Ashwood House site. (We’ve speculated – wrongly – several times that this was about to happen. Are we right this time?)