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County Councillor's Report

The County Councillor's reports reflect Cllr Witham's personal opinions and do not represent the views of Worplesdon Parish Council, which is an A Political organisation.  Cllr Witham's personal views are not necessarily endorsed by the Parish Council

Report to Worplesdon Annual Parish Meeting 17th March 2017

From County Councillor Keith Witham

Since being your County Councillor, I have given priority to speaking on local issues of concern to residents, and pressing for funding from Surrey County Council on your behalf for various local projects. and  I will continue to do my best to get improvements for our area.  A list of past issues and projects completed is below.


But first, I would like to draw attention to the recent national publicity concerning Surrey County Council and the Leader of the Council, David Hodge.

Why is this relevant to Worplesdon? Because at almost every meeting I attend, or every contact I receive from residents, people ask what I can do to help get something done, on any number of subjects? And “getting something done” will invariably cost money.  So how much money is available to Surrey County Council and its priorities are highly relevant.

The Leader of the Council has taken some flak recently because of his contacts with the Government.  It has come as a huge revelation to some that David Hodge asked the Government for more money for Surrey but, if he had not been putting Surrey’s case and asking for Fair Funding for SCC, he would have rightly been criticised for not doing so.


  • Safer crossing point installed at Salt Box Road, by the railway bridge, with safety fencing and new pathways to enable walkers  to cross about 50 yards from the bridge, and give motorists a clear “sight-line” of pedestrians.
  • Secondary School Plan dropped. The GBC plan to build a new secondary school at Saltbox Road was successfully opposed and then dropped.
  • SCC Grants to Worplesdon Memorial Hall for new chairs , a Kitchen Extension and Fittings ; the creation of the Disabled Toilet Facility  and the creation of a chair storage area.
  • Wooden posts and fencing installed outside Worplesdon Memorial Hall for pedestrian saf


  • House building plans opposed. I have been vocal in opposing the Guildford Borough Councils plans to allow the building of thousands more homes locally through their “Local Plan” and have consistently supported keeping our Green Belt.  GBC eventually dropped the Fairlands and Lidding locations from the plan.
  • FLGCA ( Fairlands, Gravetts Lane and Liddington Hall Community Association) received three SCC small grants towards the cost of a new mower; the purchase of a printer used for printing the Fairlands Community magazine and support for the “Fairands Festival.”
  • Fairlands  WI were helped with the cost of a local history project.
  • Bus Route 17 saved.  When bus operator Arriva announced it would discontinue its bus service no 17 Surrey County Council obtained agreement from another bus company, Stagecoach, to take the service over. This service runs through both Fairlands and Wood Street Village.
  • Parking controls. GBC proposed parking controls around Worplesdon School, planned to be double yellow lines to stop parents AND RESIDENTS from parking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I successfully pressed for these to be made single lines AM & PM at school times only, Mon to Fri to not restrict Fairlands residents the rest of the time. Residents also asked for parking controls near the shops in Fairlands Avenue  to reduce traffic congestion and encourage a turnover of cars visiting the shops.
  • Wooden posts installed on the grass verge outside Fairlands Shops, to combat anti social parking and  large wooden bollards on Holly Lane, at the request of residents, the Parish Council and police, to stop anti social pavement parking affecting pedestrians.
  • New Bus shelter installed on Guildford Road, at the front of Fairlands Estate.
  • Telephone Box – Liddington Hall area SCC Grant (via the parish Council) for retention and refurbishment of an old style red telephone box as a community facility.


  • Pedestrian Safety Island installed at junction of Clay Lane/ Jacobs Well Road / Blanchards Hill
  • New Bus Shelter, Woking Road, opposite Strings Avenue, Woking bound.
  • “No Right Turn” installed at Jacobs Well Road, into Woking Road, where there had been accidents.
  • Road improvements: Clay Lane and Woking Road resurfaced
  • Bus routes 34, 35  and 538 SAVED  from closure
  • Clay Lane Link Road (CLLR) opposed. I have strongly opposed the GBC plan for Clay Link Road and  campaigned for any link from Slyfield to run directly to the A3, not via Jacobs Well.
  • Jacobs Well Over 50's Keep Fit Group received SCC help.
  • Ecological survey of the White House Pond at Jacobs Well. Contribution to the Parish Council for this work.
  • New Post Box – Clay Lane.  Successfully pressed he Royal Mail  for the Post Box on Clay Lane to be replaced, when the old one was burnt out.
  • DUE Spring 2017:  New  30mph flashing speed sign for Clay Lane (just before the entrance to the village, from the A3 direction), plus extra “30” road markings on Clay Lane and Jacobs Well Road. These are due to be installed this Spring.
  • The number 17 bus route saved. It was run by “Arriva” who announced last year that route would cease.  But at my  request Surrey County Council asked “Stagecoach” to take it on and keep it going, which they did. This route also runs via Fairlands, but it would have been Wood Street Village most affected if the route had been lost.
  • Support for the Green Belt. Opposition to the proposed “SANG” (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) in Wood Street Village that could change farmland into “allocation” for sale to developers for more housing.
  • Installation of new parking bays at The Oval, at the request of residents.
  • New road signs/markings & flashing speed signs in the village.
  • Frog Grove Lane fully resurfaced – @ 2,600 metres the longest stretch of road to be resurfaced in Guildford.
  • Other road resurfacing and kerb works at Pound Hill , The Oval, Baird Drive; White Hart Lane and The Green.
  • New footpath at Oak Hill near the school.
  • Following requests from residents and the Parish Council regarding road safety, yellow lines put in outside the school to ease traffic congestion at that location.
  • Wood Street Village Cricket Club for equipment for their “Colts” youth section.
  • Wood Street Village Residents Association a grant to purchase Public Address equipment for use at the annual Village Fete and other events.
  • St Albans Church, grant towards the cost of a new large dishwasher.
  • Little Crickets Nursery, help towards the cost of their new lease.
  • Red Telephone Box. Frog Grove Lane. There is also an SCC grant on the way (via the Parish Council) to assist with the Community retention and refurbishment of the telephone box at Frog Grove Lane

6. So what else has Surrey County Council ever done for residents in Worplesdon Parish?  Three examples, each @ £5 million

  • ADULT SOCIAL CARE  On average, at any time, there are over 300 people in Worplesdon Parish being supported by Surrey Adult Social Care, at a cost of some £5 million a year
  • CHILDREN There are approx. on average at any time some 1,000 children in the Worplesdon Parish being educated in Surrey schools, also at a cost of some £5 million a year
  • NEW FIRE STATION A brand new “state of the art” Surrey County Council Fire Station built and opened to serve the Guildford area including  Worplesdon  which cost £5 million


Cllr K Witham


From County Councillor Keith Witham Representing  Worplesdon - Uploaded 20 March 2017


1. The recent Budget and Adult Social Care

2. Surrey Secondary School Places

3. More road improvements, and cost savings

Dear Resident

1. The recent Budget

Just a short email to update you on the possible  benefits to Surrey from the Chancellor's  recent Budget, although I learned a long time ago that you can't just accept what the headlines say,  because "the devil is in the detail".

At first glance it seems that an extra £1 billion of government funding for Adult Social Care for this year is good. But to put it in perspective, if each of the 152 Local Authorities who are responsible for Adult Social Care  (of which Surrey is one) receive an equal amount,  that's about £6.5 million extra (on a budget in Surrey for Adult Social Care of £430 million a year), so it will not actually keep up with the increasing demands as many people are living longer, and with more complicated medical conditions.

But the big question is how that extra money will be divided up across the country, as in the past the criteria used has disadvantaged Surrey and not reflected the actual need. We will see.

As funding for Adult Social Care Services has recently been such a big topic with national coverage - you may like to know that I was asked to contribute an article to the "Guildford Dragon" the local on-line newspaper on the subject, and the link to that , which may be of interest, is:  


2. Education - Secondary School places

Also, to let you know that parents have recently been advised of the outcome of their applications for secondary school places.

There has been a record applications for Surrey secondary school places - and Surrey has offered five out of six applicants their first preference secondary school after the demand for places reached a record high.

84% were given the school they put first on their list and 94% were offered one of their top three preferred schools. The number applying for secondary school places this September rose by 206 to 11,338 – enough to fill almost seven extra classes. That does of course leave 6% of parents who will be offered a school they did not  put down as one of their choices, who are able to appeal to see if there is a place available where they would prefer.

3. More road improvements, and cost savings

A drive to make Surrey’s roads more "pothole-proof" is also on course to save Council Tax payers taxpayers nearly £14 million – enough to overhaul nearly 30 extra miles "free".

The first three years of the project  (called "Project Horizon" ) to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads across Surrey, which started in 2013, saved  £11.4m through striking better deals and improved recycling of materials.

By the end of this financial year another £2.5m of savings will be made, taking the total to almost £14million.

The lion’s share of the first year’s efficiencies went towards fixing roads damaged in the 2014 floods while the rest of the savings will be enough to cover 28 miles of Operation Horizon’s first phase for free. Around 250 miles of roads – the distance from Guildford to Hull by car – have been improved through the scheme, which sees surfaces covered by a 10-year repairs warranty. In other words if repairs need to be made, that cost does NOT fall to the Council Tax payer, but to the contractor who ahs to fix it free of charge to the Council.

Phase two of Horizon is set to launch in April 2018 after the final list of roads to be improved by 2021, including those selected by local committees, is drawn up.

Surrey has some of the busiest roads in the country and Operation Horizon is another example of just how hard SCC is working to improve them for residents and businesses despite rising demand for services making money available really tight.


To residents in Worplesdon - 10th February 2017

From your Surrey County Councillor, Keith Witham.

(Parish Council website version)


I think it's right that I give you an update on what has happened at Surrey County Council regarding the proposed Council Tax increase of 15%.

At the SCC Council budget meeting last Tuesday (7th February 2017) , many Councillors, of all parties, were very concerned about such a large increase in Council Tax and therefore rejected the 15% proposal and with it the subsequent need for a Surrey-wide Referendum that would have cost £1million. 

The reason for all these concerns,  the ever increasing costs of Adult Social Care, including looking after elderly people, the disabled and people with Learning Disabilities, should be a national government responsibility that should be funded from national taxation, not all through the local Council Tax payers. 

It is believed that the Government are now at least listening to these concerns, which have now had extensive national publicity, thanks to Surrey County Council.

I do not think that the County Council is "out of the financial woods" yet by any means. That will be seen through actual money from the Government, not "tea and sympathy". The key is to have medium and long term "sustainability"  so that the Council can plan better for the years ahead. And that will need the Government to recognise the increases in demand that exist on all these services, that the Council is legally obliged to meet. Not special treatment for Surrey, just FAIRER funding, recognise the demand pressures that affect our County.

But it means that the Council Tax will still rise, albeit by 4.99% of which 3% must by law be reserved for use in Adult Social Care.

For my part, during the discussion I made the following points.

1. That whilst residents acknowledge the savings already made by SCC over the past 6 years+ - being £70million a year every year for over 6 years - so accumulatively £450 million a year in savings - yet more must be done to save money wherever possible to try and "cut the cloth" accordingly.

2. I made the point that Governments and Councils do not have any money. They only spend what they take from us the taxpayers, either through national taxes, or the local Council Tax for local services 

3. I also made a point about which I have had feedback from over 40 residents - that the Government should now review the scale of it's Foreign Aid Budget, currently £12billion a year, and reallocate half that amount - £3 billion year to the NHS and £3billion a year to Councils for Adult Social Care. It is wrong that the UK Government, through its Overseas Aid programme is using our taxes to help  support elderly people in China, while our elderly are waiting for care. Charity should begin at home.

So with some reassurances from Government re adult social care, particularly regarding Learning Disabilities (which particularly affects Surrey), the Council was more confident now that the funding gap can be closed. Councillors believe that Government does recognise the issues that face both Surrey and other councils as regards social care and that there is now greater assurance of solutions for social care in the near to mid term.  Time will tell.

So the question was did we want to continue with an expensive referendum, costing in the region of £1 million, so decided to approve a lower increase @ 4.99% being the maximum allowed by the Government.

For many people even 5% is still well above current inflation and will not be welcome. But as I speak to residents I'm more than happy to explain those pressures on demand that SCC has to meet through legal obligations, over which it has no control.

A new cross-party group has been established within the Council "The Sustainability Review Board" which will meet to review more potential savings. 

All Councillors and political groups have been encouraged to submit proposals to this Board for consideration. That Board is being chaired, NOT by a Conservative Councillor, but by an Independent Councillor.

I hope this is helpful



Keith Witham
Surrey County Councillor, Worplesdon


Enewsletter from Cllr Keith Witham - 19 January 2017

To residents in Worplesdon


1. Financial Update
2. Contacts for Reporting - please keep handy
3. The weather
4. But still serving the needs of people in Surrey
5. Superfast Broadband update
6. Caring for the Carers
7. Surrey is top performer in Primary Schools
8. Help for people with Mental Health issues

Dear Resident

In the e-newsletter I circulated in early December I promised to update you with news about the financial situation in Surrey when I knew more. The news is not good.

I am contacted almost every day by residents asking "what I can help get done about xxxx". But getting something done, about any issue, involves the Council spending money.


Those of you who have received this newsletter for a while will recall that over the past six years SCC has done what the Government has asked, and has reduced its costs by £70 million a year, for each of the past six years, so accumulated  savings in costs of over £450 million per year. In essence the amount of money that the Council spends today is the same, in cash terms, that it spent six years ago.

Each year the Government publishes a draft of what money it is prepared to give each Local Council, and has been in the process of reducing the Governments grant to SCC from £151 million a year to £zero. We are still awaiting the final settlement for the year to come, and if there is no change of heart on the part of the government, SCC will have a shortfall in the coming year of some £93 million.

There are only four sources of income to the Council: Government Grants and  Business Rates (both of which SCC has no control over. A small amount of money is raised through fees and charges, but the main source of income is the Council Tax. And the amount that can be increased is also limited by the Government. That limit has been set at 5% of this year, but an increase of 5% would only raise about a third of the shortfall. The only way that a Council can consider a Council Tax increase beyond the minimum is to hold a Referendum.

So SCC will now consider holding a County Wide Referendum on the future of Public Services in Surrey, asking voters if they will give approval to a Council Tax increase of 15%.  The alternative will be an increase of 5% (the maximum allowed without a referendum)

If the 15% increase is approved by voters by a "Yes" vote, that will raise sufficient income  £93 million a year) to maintain existing public services, including the extra costs being driven by demand for Adult Social Care services and Children's services.

If the vote is "No" then a 5% increase will be the result. However, that will still leave SCC with a £60 million shortfall in this year.

By law, a Council is not allowed to set a deficit budget. It MUST legally set a budget for its expenditure and how much income it will get. It is not allowed by law (unlike the Government!) to borrow the difference.

So if there is "only" a 5% increase, that will have to be accompanied by severe reductions across all council services. And although the details have not yet been announced, what you should expect will include:

- Closure of some fire stations
- Closure of MOST of the libraries, probably  leaving just one in each main town
- Closure of probably half the recycling centres
- Elimination of the remaining subsidies of uneconomic rural bus routes
- Severe reductions in road and pavement improvement plans, and less road safety schemes

The Council will have to concentrate the available funds on the statutory services of Adult and Children's social services.

So the expression "between a rock and a hard place" comes to mind. If there is a referendum (assuming the Government does not give extra funds, and  enough to avert the above) we will all have a hard choice to make- in essence whether we personally are prepared to pay an extra 10% increase in Council Tax  (the difference between 15% and the 5%) to keep services more or less as they are- or that we are not prepared to pay the extra and accept the consequences to public services, in the knowledge that SCC will simply not have the money available to continue. That option will be a 5% increase in Tax AND cuts to services.

There will be more information over the coming weeks. I hope that the Government will finally see that it cannot pile on more and more legal responsibilities onto Councils (about 60 extra legal duties in the last few years) but without the ongoing finance to support those responsibilities.

While writing - its the time of year for snow and bad weather, so please note the following CONTACTS FOR REPORTING

The Council relies on public reporting. On highways matters SCC receives about 6,000 reports per month re pavements, roads and lighting. When you report an issue it is logged, and you will receive a reference number and reply. This enables all repairs needed to be dealt with systematically and in the necessary order of priority.  With the reference number you can also chase up what's happening.

Residents who wish to report Highways, pavements and street lighting enquiries or defects are encouraged to do so.  For all highways matters call: 0300 200 1003 (8am-6pm weekdays, excluding bank holidays. Emergencies only at all other times.

Or via Email: contact.centre@surreycc.gov.uk

Or via the website: www.surreycc.gov.uk

For the full range of options to contact SCC for these types of enquiries, please see the following link:


For any other County Council service call 03456 009 009

When the snow snows, a fleet of SCC gritters  is out spreading salt on the county’s roads. And when heavy snow they are joined by an army of farmers equipped with spreaders and ploughs. Ahead of winter, the council stockpiled 16,000 tonnes of salt to treat roads across the county and filled more than 1,700 grit bins.

You can always get traffic updates on the BBC’s website while the county council is running a twitter feed to provide information on gritting activity.

Individual schools make their own decisions to open or close and parents should contact their child’s school directly or visit its website for information. School closures will be confirmed on the county council’s website, along with any county council building closures or disruption to library services. Details about school transport and bus services can also be found on the county council’s website.

In bad weather, Social workers are also standing by to visit vulnerable people to make sure they are safe



Despite difficult financial times, we still need to do what's right to serve the needs of people in Surrey.

That's why SCC is planning for up to 600 homes specially designed for older and disabled people will be created in Surrey within the next 10 years.

The Council has said it aims to free up sites on its land for extra care housing – homes with support staff on hand – in conjunction with at least one developer. In return for a long lease the developer would design, build and run the apartments with the council renting a share of the purpose-built properties.

It will mean that more people will be able to live in their own home for longer while also saving the council around £4,600 annually per person on care or nursing home support at a time when rising demand for adult social care is costing an extra £24million just this year.

If all the homes when completed were to be occupied by people under the council’s care, such as those with physical or learning disabilities, it would save Surrey's Council Tax payers nearly £2.8 million a year.

Not only are these plans good for older and disabled people who want to stay in their own homes and familiar surroundings, they’re good for the council because we can stretch our budget further at a time when our finances are under severe strain from rising demand for all services.

Surrey County Council has already invested over several years in the provision of fibre broadband infrastructure to communities  across Surrey that were excluded from commercial broadband. As part of the main phase of the Superfast Surrey programme, 30 exchanges and more than 600 structures were upgraded resulting in more than 86,000 premises now being covered by the Openreach fibre broadband network.

However,  across Surrey, there are still more than 15,300 premises that are not included in any commercial  plans and are unable to access fibre broadband speeds of 15mbps or above. This is as a consequence of cabinets or structures that have not yet been upgraded to the fibre network or have been upgraded but are too far from homes and businesses to be able to offer a fast broadband service.

Because Surrey county council’s contract with BT includes a financial  "clawback"  which is generating extra  funding, the county council is planning to use that extra funding from BT to extend fibre infrastructure even further into Surrey to get superfast broadband to as many of the remaining 15,300 homes as possible

Surrey’s carers are to get more help to support loved ones - Elderly, disabled and seriously ill loved ones will get more help and support under planned county council contracts to help Surrey’s “unsung heroes”. The county council and Surrey’s six clinical commissioning groups (NHS) are preparing to sign contracts to give carers breaks to recharge the batteries and provide help with their physical and emotional needs. Doing a deal with Crossroads Care, which will see their staff go into homes to care for loved ones, will enable an extra 500 days of breaks to be provided. Action for Carers Surrey has agreed to increase the number of people given support to 20,000 a year as part of its contract as well as operate extended hours stretching into the evening and on Saturdays.


Surrey is among the top-performing councils in national tests for 11-year-olds. Sixty per cent of pupils at Surrey primary schools reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths compared with a national average of 54 per cent and a South East average of 55 per cent. It follows changes in 2016 to national curriculum tests and the system for assessing the performance of primary schools. SO WHAT A TIME TO HAVE TO CONSIDER CLOSING MOST OF THE COUNTY'S LIBRARIES!

On the day recently that Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to transform the way mental health issues are dealt with, she  visited Aldershot’s Wellbeing Centre and Safe Haven – one of six cafe-style drop-in services providing support that are funded by organisations including Surrey County Council, clinical commissioning groups and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

It's good that the Prime Minister came to see for herself the great work we’re doing together to support local people by integrating health and social care services. This has never been more vital given the huge pressures we face such as rising demand for care for older people and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities that have left the council looking at how to bridge it's £93 million  funding gap..
that's it for now.

All the best


Keith Witham
Surrey County Councillor



E-Newsletter From KEITH WITHAM - 29 November 2016

Surrey County Councillor Worplesdon

Dear Resident,

As your local Surrey County Councillor I normally aim to circulate an e-mail newsletter to residents every 3-4 months. My apologies this is a bit later than usual as I have experienced email problems recently.


1. SCC Financial update

2. Street Lighting in residential areas

3. Fly-tipping and waste update

4. Information about the Guildford Time Bank


I have covered the SCC financial position in previous email updates, but to recap. The Government is in the process of reducing its general grant (called the Revenue Support Grant) which it gives to Surrey County Council from £151 million a year  to £nil per year

The biggest single financial pressure on the Council is the ever increasing demand for Adult Social Care (ASC). Surrey has an ageing population and Social Care Services are a legal duty on the Council to provide to anyone who is entitled to them. There is a big financial overspend at SCC this year, some £20 million at the moment, and that is entirely due to the every increasing costs of ASC. Surrey, along with many other Councils, have told the Government this needs to be addressed, otherwise other local services will suffer.

The Chancellor's recent Autumn Statement did not mention this subject. But we are told it will be addressed. At the moment we await the Government's Annual Draft Local Government Finance Settlement and, as always, the devil is in the detail. This is expected in December and by January we should know if there is more leeway than expected before - or not.

Following on from the above, SCC has been struggling to balance it income and expenditure for this year. Unlike a Government, Councils are required by law to have a balanced budget, ie to set a budget for its known expenditure, and how that money will be raised.  It is illegal for any Council to set a "deficit budget".


Many rural roads do not have any street lights. But in those residential areas that do, in Guildford, starting during December, most will be turned off between 12 midnight and 5am. Across Surrey this will save over £200,000 in electricity costs, as well as a CO2 saving. Major traffic routes have been exempted, along with any roads where the police objected. If your road is affected see the link first below, and for other more general information, the 2nd link below. For information  did send this list about a month ago to the local Parish Council.

Link to Street Lighting information:


Link to FAQs re nighttime street lights 



In July I sent a report on the new Surrey wide anti-fly tipping campaign.

There were concerns expressed when in early September SCC introduced extra charges for some non-domestic waste being taken to the Slyfield Community Recycling Centre (CRC). Again, this was driven by the need to reduce costs and raise extra income, and was done to save/raise some £2 million a year. The concern was that it would lead to more fly-tipping, particularly in the areas nearest to the CRCs.

However the early signs are that has not been the case. In terms of tonnage of waste taken from Guildford Slyfield CRC (including what GBC itself collects from fly-tipping) there were 32 tonnes in September, compared with 55 tonnes last September. And in October there were 28 tonnes, compared to 68 tonnes in October last year. So large reductions so far.

But that is tonnage, what we don't know yet are the figures showing the number of individual incidents, although the GBC officer who represents GBC in the Surrey Enforcement officers group told SCC he thought "incidents of fly tipping had remained relatively static". I have asked for those figures as soon as they are available, and we will see.


"Time banking" is about volunteering. If you have an interest or a skill you can offer, use your talents and "bank" your time, which you can then request help from others you could do with!

So if you are interested in becoming a member of the Guildford Time Bank, or would just like to know more  please contact the Time Bank Team for more information:

Tel:       01483 504626

E-mail: guildfordtimebank@gmail.com

Web:     www.guildfordtimebank.interests.me

That's it for now!

All the best. 


Keith Witham

County Councillor

EMAILS: I send these occasional emails to residents to keep local people informed on Surrey, local and other matters because email is a fast (and cheap!) way of doing so. 

I do so from my personal email, but if any any time you do not wish to receive them just let me know.  Or if you know other local people who would like to be kept informed, usually quarterly, just ask them to let me know by ending me an email with their name and postal address.  keithwitham1@hotmail.co.uk Thanks.            


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