Council Tax

A hot topic recently has been Council Tax. I’m sure most are now aware that SCC are not going for a referendum.

Last Thursday at full Council the final figures for 2017/2018 were determined. The following shows the WBC element and the total amount of CT due for each band:

Band	WBC Portion	Total CT

A	£151.14		£1,188.55
B	£176.33		£1,386.65
C	£201.52		£1,584.74
D	£226.71		£1,782.83
E	£277.09		£2,179.01
F	£327.47		£2,575.20
G	£377.85		£2,971.38
H	£453.42		£3,565.66

CT is due from April and WBC will request 10 payments from April to January 2018. If you wish, you are able to pay it over 12 months. You will need to call WBC to arrange this.

Finally, you may have read in the news concerns around WBC borrowing. I share some of those concerns, however I am satisfied that most of the borrowing is ‘good’ borrowing and as current Chair of the Finance Task Group, apply pressure to WBC to ensure that borrowings can be classed as good. The key point about good borrowing is that it frequently is used to purchase an asset which pays WBC an income. This income effectively subsidises CT and for 2017 is expected to be £55.13 for a band D property.

If WBC didn’t borrow in this way, we’d have had a clear choice, increase CT by £55.13 for each band D property in 2017 or cut services. If you wish to read the WBC papers going through this, look on the WBC website for documents from the November 2016 Executive meeting.

Other Councils in Surrey are beginning to adopt this model as the most palatable way of protecting services as there is fierce opposition to increasing taxes. If you are a resident of Heathlands, I’m happy to spend time allaying your fears over WBC borrowing if you wish.




Red House Planning Application

Another planning application for a change of use from offices to dwellings has been submitted for the Red House down Cemetery Pales. The application is PLAN/2017/0109.

I’m not yet aware of what the differences are between this application and the one that came forward a few months ago which I objected to. I will make contact with the officer concerned and find out what the differences are before I probably object to this.

I claimed no expenses other than my regular allowances for January.



Planning Applications

The following planning application has been received and verified:

PLAN/2016/1430 – Removal of the 12.5m Vodafone only mast and replacement with a 15m Vodafone and Telefonica shared mast adjacent to the Railway Bridge on Bagshot Road.

I have to be honest, I’m not sure where we are anymore with communities opposing masts. It used to be they always drew a lot of opposition a couple of decades ago, but I think people accept them now.

I have a vested interest in this application as my mobile phone is on the Telefonica network and the signal in my house is a joke, so I won’t be opposing it in my capacity as a resident.



Path Across Country Park & Station

I have an update regarding the path across the proposed Brookwood side of the Brookwood Country Park.

Cala Homes were conditioned to lay the path by a certain time frame of the development. Cala decided to build the path early enabling their customers access to Brookwood Station. This is of obvious benefit to everyone, however the actual topping that was put down was and is pretty horrible, being awkward for anyone except walkers, and even then it’s not exactly great. However the fact that it has been laid early isn’t a breach of the planning conditions imposed and won’t be so until nth number of houses have been built.

Cala and WBC officers have now agreed the materials to be laid on the path, and as soon as the conditions allow, it will be laid. The temperature needs to be above 7 degrees and dry for at least 48 hours beforehand. On this basis, the earliest we can expect the path to be sorted is late March, early April. If the path is done around this time, and before the end of Summer, it will still be done on time as per the conditions. I’ll stop beating Cala up over this now.

Overall, the Brookwood Farm development is on course to be completed around June 2018.

I’ve reported the issue over motorcycle parking at Brookwood Station as briefed in my last blog entry to Tony.



Planning Applications Received & Station Motorcycle Parking

Hardly any interesting planning applications have come in in recent weeks, however this particular one caught my eye.

PLAN/2016/1139 – 146A Connaught Road – Change of use from taxi rank to hair dressing salon and alterations to shop front.

I fully support this application and will write in favour of it, not that I’ll use it, being follicly challenged, however it is good for the village.

I noticed this a few weeks ago, after the joint work between Jonathan Lord and I regarding the station, and I’ve sat on it ever since. SWT have moved the motorcycle parking from down by the station buildings up to under the ramp at the far end of the car park. All well and good, makes sense, something I requested, the bikes are covered and there are secure railings to lock the bikes to.

Every time I’ve gone past, I still see bikes in the new taxi rank parking, and no bikes in the dedicated parking. It dawned on me that it is simply because SWT, in their efforts to cram as many parking spaces there, have made it so that once you’ve parked up your bike, there are three car parking spaces in front of the bikes that then block all the bikes in. You can’t get the bikes out backwards because of the railings and yet more car spaces. Maybe they’ll fix it in the next franchise period seeing as that is their current answer to almost any question posed.



The Post & Parking Review

We’ve finally got there regarding the post.


I spent 45 minutes today with one of the Highways parking officers looking at several areas residents and businesses had asked me to raise while the parking review is going on. The parking review happens every 18-24 months and having missed the opportunity last time, I wanted to get in early. We spoke about and walked several areas.

The small stretch of road opposite Heath Drive which when cars are parked there make for a difficult exit from Heath Drive and make the stretch passing the club more difficult as there is no space to drop into when travelling west. The suggestion was to make a small length double yellow preventing any parking. This wouldn’t remove official bays but would displace three or four cars that are currently able to park on a single yellow.

The next was the stretch opposite the baker and Chinese. This would also be made double and the sign removed. This would ensure parking only occurred on the shop side.

By St Johns Court, creating an additional formal bay and making double yellow either side of the exit of St Johns Court. This would be a significant safety improvement.

Finally, putting in five 20 minute bays to help the shops in the village, with two outside the baker, and three by the launderette.

As it stands, these are suggestions made to me by residents that I have passed up the chain. The process from here is that the officer will go off and see what is viable. Do the drawings, and then present a report to the Joint SCC / WBC committee for the March meeting with his recommendations. It is at that meeting that councillors will decide what to go to consultation with. Following that meeting, nearby residents will be invited to comment on the proposals before anything is implemented.

WBC have paid to fast track proposals that are accepted although I can only guess when that means anything might be implemented, so I won’t say anything here as I’m bound to be way out.



Station Car Park Letter and Victoria Square

As South West Trains had permitted development rights for the station car park , involvement from WBC was minimal and strictly speaking there was nothing I could do.

The project did fall within the realms of our MP Jonathan Lord and he and I worked very closely regarding the station car park. My local knowledge together with his reach enabled us to convey resident’s concerns about the station car park to South West Trains.

Today I delivered a letter to the residents whose back gardens border the station car park. This letter was made up of a response from SWT in answer to a letter Jonathan and I had drafted and he had sent to SWT. Jonathan wrote directly to those residents that had written to him.

Overall the response from SWT  was a disappointment, which really wasn’t a surprise. I don’t intend on publishing the letters here as they are quite long, however if you wish to see a copy, please let me know and I’ll forward one on to you.

Tonight at full Council, we will be either approving or rejecting the regeneration of Victoria Square. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t cover this on this blog, however there are a number of people from around the borough that are concerned about it, and I know the Brookwood & Bridley Neighbourhood Forum have been contacted by residents outside of the Neighbourhood Area.

I’m not going to go in to detail here, as I’d fail miserably to crunch down all aspects of the project into a single blog post. What I do want to convey in this post is that over the previous three years, I have been sufficiently involved in the project. I sat on the Planning Committee that granted permission and attended the briefings then. In the past couple of months, there have been a couple of briefings covering the development, logistical arrangements and viability, and a full session on the financials, which included input from independent consultants. These two briefings were two hours each.

As chair of the Finance Task Group, I’ve had unrivalled access to the Chief Finance Officer to ask as many questions I want around the finances of the project.

It’s also been helpful where residents have sent emails that have challenged my thinking.

You can watch the meeting live on the web cast tonight via the Council web site.

Finally, I claimed no expenses in November but did receive my usual allowances.