Agenda item

Announcements by the Leader of the Council, Committee Chairmen and the Chief Executive.

In accordance with Standing Orders, the Council to receive any announcements from the Leader of the Council (or their nominated spokesperson), Committee Chairmen and/or the Chief Executive.


The Leader of the Council provided an update on a number of issues affected by the Council’s financial situation.  This included land at Brookwood Lye, on which the Leader had recently chaired a public meeting for the residents of Brookwood and Knaphill.  The long-standing intention had been to provide Traveller pitches and new homes with a high proportion of affordable homes.  Enforcement action had now been taken against those illegally living on the traveller site, ensuring that only those legally entitled to live on the site were there.  In addition, Thameswey Housing had presented plans for 65 homes on the site, half of which would be affordable with the potential to add more homes in future if land became available.

A further development was proposed at West Hall in West Byfleet.  It had been agreed that the site would be removed from the Green Belt and developed to meet local housing need.  Developers were now proposing the construction of 461 homes at West Byfleet, with half being affordable, and fifteen Traveller pitches.  In recognition of residents’ concerns over traffic levels and the infrastructure necessary for developments of such a size, an infrastructure study had been carried out with a focus on the east of Woking.  In addition, Surrey County Council had a project for active travel improvements which would seek to make improvements to safety and congestion.  Though the project had not progressed for a number of years, the Leader advised that she would encourage them to move the scheme up their priority list.

In regard to Sheerwater, the Government had enabled the Council to borrow money to complete the phases of the development that were currently underway.  In addition, around 100 homes which had been due to be demolished were now to be brought back into use following refurbishment.

Other areas covered included the review being undertaken by Grant Thornton which was currently being finalised in advance of being published.  The cladding repairs to the Victoria Square Hotel development were due to be completed in the summer, and 98% of the apartments in The Marches had now been rented.  Finally, it was reiterated that the Pool in the Park would remain open.

Following the statement by the Leader, the Chief Executive made a statement in respect of the business appearing later on the agenda to ensure the debate led to decisions that had due consideration of the legal and financial implications.  In preparation of the debate, Members had been invited to submit any proposed amendments in advance of the meeting to enable the statutory officers to fully consider the implications and risks.

The Chief Executive emphasised that the budget proposed later in the evening had only been balanced with the Government’s package of support which came with an expectation of a 10% increase in Council Tax.  The Council was under a legal obligation to set a lawful, balanced budget and failure to do so would have significant financial, legal, reputational and operational impacts on the Council and its residents, threatening the Council’s ability to perform its statutory responsibilities.