Issue - meetings

Application for Financial Assistance - Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley)

Meeting: 25/07/2019 - Council (Item 9)

Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) - Application for Financial Assistance. EXE18-124

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(NOTE:  Following reference to Citizens Advice Woking during the debate, and in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor I Johnson declared an interest in the following item arising from his wife’s employment by the charity. The interest was such that Councillor Johnson would have left the Council Chamber if there had been any further discussion of Citizens Advice Woking.)

The Council had before it a recommendation from the Executive to award grant funding of £100,000 to the Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) to assist with the costs of building a Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning.  In introducing the proposal, Councillor Azad, Portfolio Holder for Grants, referred to the joint work that had been undertaken between Woking Borough Council and the RHS.

A number of concerns over the proposal were raised, in particular the level of award proposed, the financial position of the RHS, and the potential funding of an organisation outside of the Borough of Woking.  Whilst the proposal to grant aid the RHS was not welcomed, the Council acknowledged the importance of the Society and the work it undertook.

In view of the concerns raised and in accordance with Standing Order 10.8, the names of Members voting for and against the recommendation were recorded.

In favour:             Councillor Bittleston.

Total in favour:                       1

Against:                                  Councillors M Ali, S Ashall, T Aziz, A-M Barker, J Bond, A Boote, M Bridgeman, G Chrystie, G Cundy, K Davis, G Elson, W Forster, K Howard, D Hughes, S Hussain, I Johnson, R Leach, L Lyons, N Martin, R Mohammed, L Morales, M Raja, J Sanderson and M Whitehand.

Total against:                         24

Present not voting:                 Councillors A Azad, D Harlow, C Kemp and C Rana,

Total present not voting:        4

The recommendation was therefore lost by 1 vote in favour to 24 votes against.


That the application for funding by the Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) be not supported.

Meeting: 11/07/2019 - Executive (Item 8)

8 Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) - Application for Financial Assistance EXE18-124 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Reporting Person – Douglas Spinks

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The Executive received a report which recommended that funding of £100,000 be awarded to the Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) towards the cost of the project to build the Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning.  Councillor A Azad, Portfolio Holder for Grants to Voluntary and Community Organisations, explained that the new Centre would enhance RHS Wisley’s renowned expertise and benefit the local community.  Councillor Azad drew attention to the collaborative working relationship with RHS Wisley on the Council’s green agenda and climate change in recent years.  Community outreach work, for example at Sythwood Children’s Centre and in Sheerwater, was also highlighted.

Councillor Forster stated that the Liberal Democrat Group was not supportive of the application due to the organisation’s healthy financial position and its location outside of the Borough.  Councillor Forster queried how much the work RHS Wisley did on community projects in the Borough cost.  Officers advised that the total cost incurred by RHS Wisley in relation to the Sheerwater project was £24,000, of which £10,000 was direct payment and £14,000 was in kind.  Officers further advised that other projects in the Borough had not been costed in the same way, however RHS Wisley had dedicated a vast amount of time to organisations within the Borough and had also provided advice and access to RHS Wisley for tailored events, such as Youth Takeover Days for Winston Churchill School and Bishop David Brown School.

The Executive noted that the funding request would come out of the Council’s capital grants budget which was a separate fund to the revenue grants budget.  The Executive welcomed the transformational project and the Council’s valuable collaborative working with RHS Wisley whilst recognising concern expressed at the request to fund an organisation outside of the Borough.  It was suggested that reassurance could be obtained from RHS Wisley on its continued investment in the Borough.  The Chairman stated that the matter should be a recommendation to Council in order to allow all Members an opportunity to vote on the funding application. 

The Chairman commented that consideration could be given to recommending to Council any future significant capital grant funding applications which were outside of the Borough.  It was also noted that the Shadow Portfolio Holder would be invited to the initial Officer meeting with the Leader and Portfolio Holder in October to discuss the 2020-21 grant applications.



That funding of £100,000 be awarded from the Community Fund towards the cost of the project to build the Centre of Learning and Science.

Reason:   To enable the RHS to continue to grow and invest in the future of its members and horticultural science.

Meeting: 13/12/2018 - Executive (Item 31)

31 Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) - Application for Financial Assistance EXE18-124 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

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The Leader reported that the request for financial assistance from the Royal Horticultural Society (Wisley) should be deferred pending further consideration by Councillor Hunwicks and Councillor Kemp, as the application covered areas relating to both their Executive Portfolios.




That the application be deferred to a future meeting of the Executive pending further consideration by Portfolio Holders.


Reason:   To enable sufficient consideration to be given to the grant application.