Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Well, I sincerely hope that all my readers are having a good Christmas Day. I'm posting this the night before, as (like you I suspect), I don't wish to be online tomorrow when I could be enjoying family, food and friendship.

I'll be having a few days off now, and probably start posting again on Monday.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Planning Applications 24th December 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

TM/2008/0106: 16/12/2008
Proposed Development: Application to fell 3 trees the subject of Tree Preservation Order 47/99. Rear of 8, Mayfield, Farnham.
E: 482778 N: 143362
Case Officer: Brodie Cherry

Applicant: Mayfield Residents Management Limited, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4EE
Agent: Mr L Wilkes, 21 Meadow Way, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4DY

WA/2008/2154: 16/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a two storey extension; construction of dormer windows and alterations following demolition of existing garage. 2 High Street, Rowledge.
E: 482320 N: 143411
Case Officer: Mr Stefan Enslin

Applicant: Mr & Mrs B Elkington, 2 High Street, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4BS
Agent: Kerry Field, 4 Hillary Road, Farnham GU9 8QY

WA/2008/2162: 11/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of detached garage and store. Forest House, The Long Road, Rowledge.
E: 483098 N: 143103
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: Mr Newman, Forest House, The Long Road, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4DP
Agent: J Auburn, Rookery Barns, Hartley Wood Farm, Oakhanger, Hampshire GU35 9JW

WA/2008/2193: 22/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a single storey extension following demolition of existing porch. Gorsedene Lodge, The Long Road, Farnham.
E: 483415 N: 142978
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: Mr & Mrs C Dukes, Gorsedene Lodge, The Long Road, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4EB
Agent: P J Bishop, 11 Badbury Close, Farindgon, Oxon SN7 7FB

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Angola

Not related to local politics at all, but probably the thing that's taken up most of my time these past couple of days, has been obtaining the necessary travel permission, visa, and innoculations to go to Angola in early February next year.

I've been to Africa before - Uganda and Kenya - in 1995, and have been recently yearning to revisit, particularly Uganda, as it was my first flight in my life, and my first trip further abroad than Paris.

Angola's GDP depends heavily on hydrocarbons (gas, oil etc), making up aroung 60% of its economy. My work may well be stuck inside an office, but at the very least I hope to see some of the city of Luanda, and experience a small part of a very different, and young, democracy.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Fixed / Variable?

Not your mortgage deal, but a little debate raging on email with regard to this first Christmas since fixed day collections were organised for waste and recycling.

From what I glean of activities at the Waverley offices, we're experiencing a lots of calls from residents who hadn't noticed that their collection would be brough forward prior to Christmas. It's natural that this would catch a few people by surprise, but I don't think we (the council) anticipated the volume.

It would be easy to say "Okay, hold it lads. Let's back it up, and do what we always did." But change is never smooth, and a few hiccups this year might translate into smooth running next. What's I'm confident of is that the activity of the team at the Waverley offices, and Veolia on the road, is focussed on fixing the problem, and playing catch-up prior to Christmas Day. As much as possible is being done.

If you need a reminder of the details of our fixed day collection schedule, click here.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Carol Ian Singing

I'm what you might call ambivalent about Christmas.

Now I know that that may cause a little bit of shock - a stir perhaps. But I've been one for all the tinsel and baubles, or the shopping madness etc. However, I do entirely believe in having reason to collectively celebrate the birth of Christ, and doing so by way of a Carol Service is simply delightful. Good fun, and, if the carols are chosen wisely (and let's face it, some of them are downright awful), very awe-inspring and humbling.

So, I was at our service at Millmead (Guildford Baptist Church), when our pastor Ian Stackhouse stepped up, and as part of the small choir singing some of the carols to us, took up a solo - and how good it was. What a delight to hear his voice, and to recognise him not just as our preacher, but as a whole person, with other gifts and talents with which to praise God.

Hallelujah.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Planning Applications 17th December 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/2137: 10/12/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of two storey and single storey extensions. 9 Hollis Wood Drive, Farnham.
E: 482282 N: 144423
Case Officer: Rosie Smith

Applicant: Mr Brisbourne & Miss Goodwin, 9 Hollis Wood Drive, Wrecclesham GU10 4JT
Agent: Ace Designs, 143 Station Road, Liss GU33 7AJ

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Aspirational Thinking

Last night we had our pre-council meeting for the group of Conservative councillors. We always (as I'm certain do the Lib Dems) review the agenda of the council meeting, as well as discuss matters relating to our policies and procedures. And normaly that's literally it.



... Which - because most council meetings are really the revisiting for full council approval of decisions recommended by the other committees of the past 6 weeks - can sometimes be a tad labourious.

However, I was delighted that last night's meeting was much more aspirational. The topic of the credit crunch and the effect it is having on residents of the borough and their families, was very much at the front of everyone's minds, and much was said on how we can help more effectively. I whole heartedly agree.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Sewers

Not the nicest topic of conversation, but something that piqued my interest in the Telegraph today, as there's been a flurry of emails over the past week with regard to a 10 year old problem on the edge of the ward.

The story of Hillary Benn's announcement of the takeover by the government of all privately owned sewers in 2011, is good news for this problem. But, it does mean an estimated £12 increase per household on water bills.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Prohibition of Traffic

No, not the latest (temporary) amendment to the US Constitution, but a notice I received today about the work at the crossroads at the top of School Hill and Sandrock Hill Road. It's a Temporary Prohibition of Traffic Order for roughly the first six months of 2009, although it's likely to actual occur from 5th January for 8 weeks. You can see information on the proposed scheme by clicking here. And you can see it on my ward map here.

This answers a couple of questions I've received recently about the various works on the stretch from Ridgeway Road, along Shortheath Road, and onto Echo Barn Lane, which has ended up with the road surface looking like a patchwork quilt. The junction upgrade has been waiting until the gas works were completed, and with this now done, it can begin.

It's easy to agree that the entire length of the ridge should be resurfaced, but money is tight and so it's unlikely to get done any time soon. Sorry about that. David Munro, our County Councillor, managed to get three roads in the area prioritised - Weydone Lane (done), the A287 through the Bourne (just started), and Gardener's Hill Road (next year's programme), and that's some achievement in itself.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Local?

Local politics in Chicago means a very different thing than local politics in Waverley. Here, it refers to an expensice juggernaut of corrupt authority that measures its budget in the billions. So, it's a little odd listening to the news channels talking of the Governor of Illinois' arrest, in the same breadth as talking about the local machine politics of Chicago.

Please rest assured that I have no intention of trying to sell on my ward seat at any time in the future!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Planning Applications 10th December 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/2125: 28/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of roof extension (revision of WA/2008/1414). 3 Bryn Road, Farnham.
E: 482691 N: 145045
Case Officer: Kathryn Laughton

Applicant: J Parnell, 3 Bryn Road, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4PZ
Agent: Douglas M Blyth, 17th High Street, Rowledge, Surrey GU10 4BT

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A life lived for others

This may sound crazy, but I've just experienced a very joyful, funny and profound 90 minutes - and it's down to David Brent. Well, Ricky Gervais really, and his role in a most wonderful film Ghost Town.

I wasn't expecting to be reminded of the most important things in life, but I was captivated by the transformation of a selfish socially inept, disagreeable character, into one that found the true and undeniable fulfilment from helping others.

Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.
Albert Einstein

Monday, 8 December 2008

Trading Standards? Not of common sense

My breath is taken away by the ludicrous nature of some over-zealous officials in Northumberland. James Cookson sells vegetables from the end of his driveway, with an honesty box next to them for purchasers to leave their money.

I'm sure that most of you are thinking that it would wonderful to live in a community where leaving food and / or money at the end of one's driveway is safe, and neighbours can be trusted.

But it would appear, the trading standards in Northumberland are much more concerned with the 'gold plating' of EU regulations.

Now, I don't normally use my blog to vent my frustration. However, in this instance - WHAT ON EARTH DID THEY THINK THEY WERE DOING?

I mean really, haven't we all just about had enough? When such lovely examples of community trust and support and relationship are penalised by our local authorities, isn't it time we all agreed things have gone too far? Legislation and regulation are the not the panacea of a perfect world.

Seriously, laws are not the answer to ensuring certain behaviours in society. They show to us all the bounds of acceptable behaviour, certainly. But they make no claims, and cannot, to conformity by the citizens of our country.

Sadly, we have moved to a state (of being, not a nation state) where laws are (a) created for the most insignificant issues, (b) implemented unquestioningly when handed down from Brussels to our sovereign nation, and (c) relied upon as the only means to regulate behaviour.

Please, please, please, can we all wake-up from this sleep-walking into a police state (nation this time), and acknowledge that unless we multilaterally encourage right relationships in all spheres of life - family, community, work, politics - we will soon be too far down the slippery slope to fight our way back.

William Wilberforce wrote eloquently and persuasively two centuries ago about the Reformation of Manners needed in our nation. The same must be said of now.

P.S. I'm sympathetic to the argument that this was simply a standard letter sent out because the stall had been seen by an officer passing. BUT, my point is why oh why did it cross their minds to send the letter at all? How have we arrived at this point when it's an important thing to do?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Celebrity. Culture.

I'm sat in the lounge at Terminal 5 waiting for my flight to Chicago, and Jamie Oliver is sat a few yards from me. I'm not writing this to claim bragging rights on nearness to fame or anything: t's more that I'm intrigued at my own reactions and emotions.

Firstly though, some background: we don't have a television at home - so no regular updates on so-called celebrity behaviour and antics; I'm not an avid Jamie fan in any case, as, although I enjoy cooking, and co-own a coffee shop, it's not my thing; from the snippets of news I get from the internet and general chatter amongst friends and collegues, I understand that recently he's received some flack for this persistent use of extremely bad language on his latest TV show (which I mention because I have a low tolerance for bad language, as for me it's simply a sign of lack of self-control and laziness with the English vocabulary, which has more than enough words to express any feeling one might have).

Therefore (eventually getting to my point), I find it immensely intriguing that I should be feeling some need to glance at Jamie every now and again, so that I can see this 'celebrity' in real life. For some reason I'm curious about his demeanour, what he's doing, and what he looks like. Why? I can only surmise it's a subconscious subscription to western popular culture, which in turn is the pursuit or worship of fame and glamour. Is it a fundamental building block of human nature (or at least of mine), that fame is alluring, and the money and power that it brings tempting?

Well, those are my musings on the matter, and, you'll be glad to know, I managed to restrain myself from dashing over and getting his autograph. Or, more importantly, inviting him to appear as a guest chef at the coffee shop one Saturday morning ;-)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

FVF and S&C CM 2008

I'm back from a Farnham Visitors Forum meeting. It was the first one I'd attended, and it was very stimulating. Many businesses and local organisations working together to improve the opportunities for visitors to Farnham, and thus benefit the local economy, and ultimately local jobs and families.

I guess I was there more on behalf of Smith & Causey, rather than as a borough councillor, but it did fit both roles in many ways. I'm not that experienced as a councillor, but we do get opportunities to learn about many organisations, and therefore can often suggest business or other networking connections that can help those to whom we speak.

I'm now back at my Farnham Pottery desk - we have our Christmas Market here tomorrow and there's lots to do - bit of a plug I know, but can't help it :-)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Planning Applications 3rd December 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

Well, this has happened for a few weeks, but there are no new applications to post today.

So, perhaps I'll wax lyrical on a couple of planning issues that have been bumbling about my brain this week.

(1) Wrecclesham Road - no sign yet of any development for the 60ish houses given permission for site on the west of the road near Coxbridge roundabout. I'm guessing it's a simple and direct effect of the recession.

(2) I find myself telling people about the new permitted development rules quite a lot. It does seem quite excellent timing - so few people are moving, that extending one's home is a more attractive option, and being able to do a lot more without an onerous planning application is welcome.

(3) A concerned resident emailed councillors with a tale of confused infrastructure planning contributions advice, concerning planning permission given before the latest guidance came into effect, but not implemented as yet, and therefore questions about whether the new guidance would apply should some changes to the permission be sought. Not sure my planning knowledge stretches far enough to be able to fully comprehend it all! But I was delighted to see the resident receive a swift, grateful email confirming that he's raised a significant point, and we'll be looking into it straightaway.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Freeloading freeloaders

If I offered an annual prize (and perhaps I should) for the quote of the year, the 2008 prize might well go to John Benton, leader, with his wife, of the parenting classes that Rach and I have been attending for the past 3 weeks.

The final class of three was last night, and John said that our country was

freeloading on our Christian heritage.

Now, he was talking, naturally, in the context of child-rearing. But, I would argue that this same idea could be applied to much of our culture. As a nation we’ve swallowed – hook, line and sinker – the notion that we should do things if they feel right, enjoy them when we do them, and if we happen not to enjoy them, seek therapy to find out how we misinterpreted our own desires, and get it right next time.

Of course, I’m exaggerating and generalising wildly, but the point is that some decades ago before postmodern thinking, our crime rates were much lower; our children more obedient and schools safer; our concept of duty towards our neighbour more strong.

And so now, when these things can no longer be taken for granted, and the standards of common decency and manners we once cherished are no longer shared, it seems to me that when we complain about the behaviour of civil society, we’re freeloading on our Christian heritage by assuming we can abandon previously pervasive biblical standards and norms, without experiencing the consequences.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Very odd numbers

The good news is that the change in VAT rate from today is being passed on in its entirety by Waverley Borough Council.

The bad news - although it's barely bad news let's face it - is that some of the charges (in the words of Graeme Clark at Waverley), are now

odd amounts replacing neat, rounded amounts.

So, not really bad news at all, and, with car parking not subject to VAT, that's certainly a bit more good news!

It's good to talk - even when it's difficult


Launched in October, Waverley's project "Don't lose your home or business", now has a freephone number. It's been a while since I added a new contact number to the Good to Talk sidebar, but this one is essential in such difficult economic climes.

Please do make contact if you or your business is struggling with extra burdens because of the looming recession. Waverley have access to all sorts of resources and people that can help, and will do so in the swiftest way.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Brand Battle

I'm blogging today in support of a charity called "Grassroots" that's based in Rowledge, helping vulnerable communities in the UK and overseas, and yet finds itself subject to a potentially onerous, and certainly inappropriate, challenge to its identity, by our government.

It was only launched two weeks ago, but already Hugo and Sharon Anson are being called about information on the new central government initiative called "Grassroots Grants". Not for a moment do I believe that this initiative is bad - it's a great programme to match grant giving by local funders. But, I do believe that this is an example of a government behomoth that has neglected diligence by not ensuring that its good intentions do not overshadow or hinder the work already underway by other organisations.

Hugo and Sharon have written to Jeremy Hunt on this, and I do hope he can persuade someone to make it loud and clear that this new programme is definitely not the same as their own charity.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Rowledge School Fair

Just back from the Rowledge School Fair. I was there manning the Smith & Causey stall rather than as a councillor, but it was lovely to walk round and see all these wonderful children engaged in simple and enjoyable activity.

And especially great to see so many parents there. I've often heard that the involvement the parents was second to none, and so it seemed, with the vast majority of stalls being run by parents and children.

A wonderful sense of community and joy.

Friday, 28 November 2008

A pair of old clogs

That's my mother-in-law and great-great-great-grandfather - terms of endearment of course :-)

Just a quick post about them as my in-laws are staying the weekend, and my mother-in-law (about whom I seem to blog regularly), has brought with her an interesting print-out of the history of clogs. And that is because the last time that she was here, I found out that my great-great-great-grandfather was a clogger.

That's about it really. A bit of education in which I learned that

(a) clogs are not uniquely Dutch;
(b) in Lancashiare (and my family are from St. Helens and Wigan) cottom mill workers habitually wore clogs because of the wet floors; and
(c) the French name for a wooden shoe or clog is sabot... from which the word sabotage is derived, reportedly describing how disgruntled workers damaged workplace machines by tossing their shoes into the mechanisms.

Just wanted to share.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Conservative Councillor Compassion

A colleague of mine on the Borough Council sent a wonderfully compassionate and passionate email this week, about the immense challenges facing all of us in the coming recession, and stressing our responsibility to provide as much assistance as possible by way of free advice and training services.

[Writing such an email - appealing to the core nature of fellow councillors as individuals community representatives, and not as political animals - is not as easy as it may sound, and can feel as if it is a little risky and vulnerable.]

As the Waverley representative on the board of trustees of Citizens Advice Waverley, I completely agree, and will be campaigning vigourously for the CA Bureaux to be given as much financial help as possible these coming months, with the main emphasis on the grants given through the Waverley Community Partnership. The process has started, with the deadline for applications already passed, with decisions being made in February. It's by far the main funding source for CA, and I believe that this year is not one where WBC can simply freeze the amount, or add a small nominal percentage.

Rather, I believe we're going to have to make some tough decisions (precisly what - in part - we were elected to do) and choose not only to fund CA and other critical organisations more generously, but also to choose not to fund other groups that in many years past, and in years to come, will be natural and deserving recipients of grants from the council.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Planning Applications 26th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/2034: 12/11/2008
Proposed Development: Application for a Certificate of Lawfulness under Section 192 for construction of a first floor extension as approved by permission reference FAR/418/61. Hawthorn Cottage, Hawthorn Lane, Rowledge.
E: 482672 N: 142847
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: D Mitchell, c/o Agent
Agent: J Long, Planit Consulting, PO Box 721, Godalming, Surrey GU7 9BR

WA/2008/2035: 14/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a single storey side extension.
E: 482697 N: 144833
Case Officer: Terry Prideaux

Applicant: Mr & Mrs A Fox, 17 St. Peters Gardens, Wrecclesham GU10 4QX
Agent: Mrs A Stevens, Churchill Design, The Studio, 93 Brighton Road, Aldershot GU12 4HN

WA/2008/2058: 19/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of single storey, two storey and first floor extensions. 4 Shrubbs Lane, Rowledge.
E: 482838 N: 143658
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: Mr & Mrs N Slim, 4 Cherry Tree Lodge, Shrubbs Lane, Rowledge, Surrey GU10 4AZ
Agent: A Stevens, Churchill Design, The Studio, 93 Brighton Road, Aldershot GU12 4HN

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Motion

Travelling to London on the train this morning, I’ve just read on page 12 of the Telegraph, that the government is considering banning the sale of electoral role information to the public by local authorities. Hurrah!


As regular readers will know, I posted my opinion on this some months ago – that the practice should definitely be banned; that officers at the council would be very happy to see this ended; and that it raises very little income and causes much work.


So, I’m writing today to the leader of the council, Richard Gates, to ask him to allow the inclusion of the following motion at the next full council meeting:


“This council believes that the practice of selling electoral register information should be ended.”


If allowed on the agenda, I will speak to this on the grounds not only of privacy, but also as it will very likely lead to the reduction of junk mail, and therefore, in this very difficult economic climate, prevention of mis-selling or over-selling to vulnerable households.


I recognise the potential complaints that some companies will be curtailed in their attempts to maintain turnover if sales opportunities through junk mail are prevented. But, as a business owner myself, I believe that much more targeted marketing, and considerate advertising, would be the more responsible approach.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Putting Parenting to Bed

Rach and I went to a parenting class tonight. It was the second of three that are being held at Farnham Baptist Church. It's not that we already know we're awful parents (although I'm sure I should ask that question of people who know us well rather than proclaim it myself!) - more that we wish to gain from the knowledge and wisdom of others, before we make the obvious mistakes.

The course is written by a couple based in Guildford, and mixes practical advice with biblical wisdom. And the first thing for us to do was - describe our child(ren)! An interesting task, and one that we'd never specifically done before.

And tonight we were focussing on discipline, and the difference between authoritarian, and lovingly authoritative. There were so many great pieces of advice, and strategies for dealing with misbehaviour and disobedience, that my head is now reeling with the content, and I hope I can take some time out to get some of it embedded in order to make good use of it.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

I'm sad

And not in the 'I'm upset' sense, but in the 'I'm a geek' kind of sense.

The reason I say this, is because this weekend we travelled to see four different set of friends, and, as I happened to do most of the driving, I was paying particular attention to road signs. And, what did I find myself doing? Comparing the state of 'Welcome to ... Borough' signs - how clean they were, their design, and their general wellbeing! Having gone at literally done this to the 'Welcome' sign on the road into Wrecclesham, I'm now rather envious of those who have clean, untarnished (from passing wagons swiping them perhaps) and generally easy to see signs.

And it's not just signs that I found myself comparing, but also waste and recycling strategies. In fact, when in search of a bin in which to place some used kitchen roll, not only did I ask if I had found the right recepticle, I also enquired as to my friends' satisfation (or otherwise) with their council's collection of food waste (which I had deduced took place due to their food waste bin beside the waste bin beside the plastics and metal bin...

And finally, and most sadly, I started comparing wards. We'd pass a lovely woodland and I'd think "wouldn't it be nice if...", and then pass some arable open farm land and think pretty much the same.

Please don't get me wrong - we had the most wonderful weekend, and spent some quality time with good friends in four different locations. But, I do wonder: am I taking this local poltics thing a little too far?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

GBC

20.15: I’m at the church meeting this evening, and, a bit like the committee meeting at Waverley the other week, I’ve decided to blog live. Well, pseudo-live, as I’m currently offline (I don’t have the WEP key [for those techies out there] of the church wireless network), and so I’m recording it to post later this evening.

Actually, I confess (a good church activity) to arriving 15 minutes late, as the parking in Guildford tonight was atrocious, and I ended up some distance away.

I ended up missing the first few songs, but did arrive in time for the reading of the last meeting minutes - one of my favourite parts of the church meeting (said only with my tongue slightly in my cheek).

20.27: The first item on the agenda this evening is an open discussion on ‘small groups’, the tendency of churches to have groups of people who live near to each other, meeting mid-week to continue bible study and prayer. (At the last church meeting, our pastor started on this topic at 9.30 pm, and it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to get finished that night: hence being first on the agenda tonight).

20.45: A bit of a break there, as I’ve stood up to contribute. I said that our mid-week group, called “Firmer Foundations”, is messy - the conversation goes all over the place, from Rob’s communist tendencies (I said it with love and humour) to Grannie Annie’s ramblings about her grandchildren. From Paul’s update on the latest machinations at Croydon County Council, to Alison worrying about her daughter’s latest long distance travel. My point? That whilst we do feel some identify as a group, we only do so because we care for each other both individually and corporately, and hence, are committed to the small group. And somewhere in the middle we get to discuss the New Testament meaning of the greek word “koinonia” (the anglicised version), from which we get our word (and others ), ‘community’.

Oh, and on a personal note, that I found a different format and style to the Sunday services a really great thing, and really don’t want to attend another service once evening a week.

21.02: A few minutes on, and I’m listening to Lisa, who’s being proposed as the church’s new Children’s and Family Worker. Lisa’s been in the church since 1975 (think she was born then), and is a qualified primary teacher, as well as being wonderfully passionate about the role.

[By the way, I should point out, for the purposes of transparency, that yes, I did choose this meeting over the Wrecclesham Village Society - an example of the decision-making where one things is prioritised over the other, with sometimes the more obvious ward meeting / issue, missing out.]

21.19: Lisa’s answering a question about mixing other work with commitment to the church role. A great explanation, which very much mirrors the Apostle Paul’s tent making (to put food on his table), and debating with the intellectuals and preaching at other times.

21.50: Well, that’s was slightly unusual. We had a vote on two people being elected back into positions (volunteer) in the church, and I offered to count the votes. Felt kind of different being on the other side of the election count.

21.59: No vote as it were on the final business of the evening (retirement and possible future part-time role of one of the pastors). And so we finish just before 10 pm.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Planning Applications 19th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

TM/2008/0096: 03/11/2008
Proposed Development: Application for consent for works to a tree the subject of Tree Preservation Order 09/01. 3 Greystead Park, Farnham.
E: 482449 N: 144465
Case Officer: Mr A Clout

Applicant & Agent: B Barnes, 3 Greystead Park, Quennels Hill, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4NB

Friday, 14 November 2008

Batteries Not Included (in kerbside recylcing anyway)

I've blogged about Verity O'Connell before, the Waste & Recycling Co-ordinator at Waverley. It was after she had blinded me with science at a Wrecclesham Village Society meeting some months back, and educated me to look at the plastic classification on packaging before putting it in the bin or the recycling container.

Anyway, she's been co-ordinating a trial of kerbside collection of batteries and textiles, and, whist the quality of materials collected has been excellent, unfortunately the quantity has not been enough to make permanent collection a viability.

Instead, the battery collection points around the borough will remain, plus some new ones. See the Waverley website for details.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What is a driftway?

I'm grateful to David Munro, our county councillor, for this post. In recent months he's been the key person behind the resurfacing of The Avenue, Rowledge, and he's sent me some background information on it which makes me realise how much works he does, and what a great result this is. As you can see from the photo (for those of you who use The Avenue), this is an amazing improvement, and looks a treat.

David says, "The Avenue is a driftway, which means that it only has to be maintained in a condition for pedestrians, horses and farm animals to use it. Although the residents also have a right of vehicular access to their properties, it isn’t the responsibility of Highways to upgrade it. [However] The Avenue now has a brand-new surface – in sympathy with the rural area but easily good enough to be used by everyone. And it should stay that way for many years to come"

David worked hard to gain the trust and contributions from residents, Surrey County Council's Right of Way service, and his own local allocation, and the results speak for themselves.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Planning Applications 12th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

TM/2008/0091: 24/10/2008
Proposed Development: Application for consent for works to a tree the subject of Tree Preservation Order 09/01.
E: 482480 N: 144500
Case Officer: Mr A Clout

Applicant & Agent: P Jukes, 1 Greystead Park, Quennels Hill, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4NB

WA/2008/1991: 07/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of rear extension. 26 Riverdale, Wrecclesham.
E: 482511 N: 145244
Case Officer: Terry Prideaux

Applicant: A Warner, 26 Riverdale, Wrecclesham, Farnham GU10 4PH
Agent: S Annells, 65 Thorpe Gardens, Alton GU34 2BQ

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Legacy

An email from the head of committee services, Robin Pellow, made me sit back and ponder today. The email informed councillors that Alan Lazarus, former mayor of Waverley, "died following a fall last week".

I didn't know Alan, and so it made me realise that there are many people down the years who have given of themselves to their local community, serving their neighbours, and not seeking or receiving fame for their roles and actions. Alan probably did so much more than I'll ever do, and yet my knowledge of him is non-existent.

It's simply making me realise that I need to think less about myself and my reputation (and certainly forget about 'legacy', a horrible concept that prime ministers seem to obsess about), and more about service and selflessness. Not sure I'll ever be great at these things, but aspiring to them seems the right approach.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Live! From the council chamber

Is this the first blog post from the Waverley council chamber?

18.59: Just been asked by another councillor to chat about blogs after the meeting. Excellent.

19.20: Well, I'm at the Community Overview & Scrutiny Committee, and in a short but very appropriate item on communications with tenants, and the key being frequent updates, rather than being kept in the dark.

19.26: STATUS Survey - 85% overall satisfaction, on a response rate of 56%.

19.34: But, once broken down a bit, it reveals some real differences between, say, younger families and those in sheltered accommodation. Satisfaction of younger people is significantly lower, and this maybe due to type of home being unsuitable.

19.42: John Swanton makes a good point - that even where issue is sorted out, the solution may not be to the tenant's preference, and therefore not deliver "satisfaction".

19.55: Just shared some puzzlement at some of the survey questions - puzzlement shared by the officers! I wish we were allowed to add supplementary questions.

20.20: A great review of the Careline service - a wonderful provision for those who need it.

20.34: Hurray for technological innovation - the extensions to this service include smoke alarms, fall detectors, external door detectors. All sorts of comfort for those in need.

20.46: Bit of a discussion about reliability of technology - the risk that it doesn't work, especially once the 24 hour fault reporting service is demised. Very unlikely, but what about monitoring / polling of units from the centre?

20.50: So, tech possible, but we don't use that version of the equipment yet.

21.03: Councillor Webster has just introduced the performance stats in his own inimitable style.

21.09: And concluded by agreeing for Councillor Wilson to replace me on that sub-committee.

21.14: Just learned that WBC have to pay council tax on its own void properties! E.g. £60,000 pa on Rowland House alone.

21.19: Good news item - 100% gas servicing.

21.20: Meeting closed. Home I go.

PPPC

Great news. One of our Waverley Councillors has been selected by the constituency party of Preston, in Lancashire, to be the Conservative Party candidate at the next general election.

Currently held by Labour, with a majority of around 8,500 (due to boundary changes), this is eminently winnable.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Where am I?

I openly admit that this post is simply an excuse to show-off the gadgetry excellence of my iPhone 3G!

I'm on the way to Krakow Airport: I'm really glad to be heading home.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Planning Applications 5th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1921: 21/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extensions and alterations. 12 Fullers Road, Rowledge.
E: 482225 N: 143453
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: R Tomlins, 12 Fullers Road, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4BP
Agent: Mr Andrew Tomkins, Abode Architects LLP, The Forge Studio, 5 Upper Church Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7PW

WA/2008/1941: 22/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extension. 28 Shortheath Crest, Farnham.
E: 482989 N: 144839
Case Officer: Portia Birch

Applicant: Mr & Mrs Snelson, 28 Shortheath Crest, Farnham GU9 8SB
Agent: R Ball, Charter Design Associates, The Stable, Chamber Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 5ET

WA/2008/1945: 28/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a 2 storey extension. 23 Lickfolds Road, Farnham.
E: 482394 N: 143100
Case Officer: Portia Birch

Applicant: J Gosden, 23 Lickfolds Road, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4AF
Agent: B MacDonald, Ben MacDonald Associates, Hoggats House, Kingsley, Bordon, Hants GU35 9NY

Monday, 3 November 2008

White Gold

I'm in my favourite business location - the old town of Krakow (see yesterday's post). Whilst I do my work, she's going to see the sights, and generally enjoy the delights of one of the orginal entries on the 1978 UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

Actually, not one entry, but two, as this morning we visited the Salt Mines about 10 km south of Krakow, in the small town of Wieliczka. Over 700 years of mining (virtually all by hand) has produced some 300 km of tunnels, just one percent of which tourist see on the tour.

But oh, what a beautiful place. At least 3 chapels, one of which is cathedral like in its enormity and beauty, and the air - what wonderfully clean air - so pure and healthy that there's a treatment centre 135m below ground for asthmatics, especially children.

Well, suffice to say, that a visit to Krakow is a must. It's my third time though, and I still have been to Auschwitz, which is just 60 km away. Next time.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Meeting my Mum in Poland

My business trips are usually pretty standard:

Taxi, Airport, Flight, Taxi, Hotel, Taxi, Office, Taxi, Hotel [Repeat last four steps multiple times] Taxi, Airport, Flight, Taxi, Home

And so this week is a delight. My Mum, flying for the first time on her own, is meeting me in Krakow later today, and in between business meetings, we're going to enjoy the sites. Admittedly, Krakow offers a serious amount of interest for the business traveller anyway - a greater depth of breadth of history than most destinations, and the ease of pretty much walking everywhere between hotel and office and the rest of the town.

Here's to air miles.

Friday, 31 October 2008

My Great, Great, Great, Mother-in-law

When I tell you that I spent two hours with my mother-in-law last night, and had simply the most wonderful time, you'll probably think that I've either (a) totally lost my mind, or (b) had taken a good bottle of red wine with me and can't actually remember a word she said.

Well, you'd be wrong with either choice (this time) as June was showing me how to begin to investigate my ancestors. And wow, I didn't know I could learn so much about my family in a couple of hours, and at the same time be coached how to use a website by my mum-in-law. It was almost too much ;-)

But seriously - I'm hooked, and I'm a little bit overwhelmed. On my father's side, we've never really known much about my Grandfather's past, and so, to suddenly find out the names of my ancestors back to my Great Great Great Grandfather William and his wife Ann, as well as finding out I had a Great Aunt Margaret, who died after just one year, was not a little emotional.

I'm pretty sure I'm now addicted (to accompany my diet coke habit), and over the next months I hope that I'll find out much much about my Grandfather's wife's past, and maybe a bit about his World War II record.

I feel much richer for what I've already learned, and excited about what's to come.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

12 months in the clink

Had lunch today with a friend who's studying at the College of Law in Guildford this year, and I want to pass on a little nugget.

He mentioned that he's looked at the Forestry Act of 1967 - which came up as I was talking Tree Preservation Orders (ah, the scintillating nature of our conversation I hear you all cry) and the Wrecclesham Conservation Area.

Anyway, I learned something new: apparently, this Act defines the most serious penalty for cutting down a tree, as 12 months in jail!! 12 months! As my friend pointed out, he hopes that that is for the most important of trees, and not the leylandii hedge down the garden.

Ad Hominem, or, Sleight of Mind?

Leafing through a book last night, I found, just inside the front cover, an article from 1996 (!) that I thought I had lost, and, as it's so clever, and so funny, I thought I'd share it.

Originally entitled "Conversational Terrorism" and now retitled "Conversational Cheapshots" (post 9/11 etc. etc.), it's a brilliant list of all the things we might find ourselves attempting to assert power and position over someone else whilst in conversation with them. I genuinely hope that I don't use these.

And, whilst I first read the article just after leaving Uni, and many years before considering serving in a political position, I can't help but think how much more helpful it would be if all levels of political debate signed up to eschewing these tactics, and instead re-developed proper debating techniques.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I do. Here's some highlights to whet your appetite!

Over Your Head
"I'd like to respond to that, but taking into account your background, education, and intelligence, I am quite sure that you would not be able to understand."
--

Question As Opportunity
A standard response for politicians is to view any question as an opportunity to say whatever they want. The "answer" does not have to have anything to do with the "question" asked. This practice has all but killed the utility of debate and dialog in politics and, unhappily, it is spreading to other areas of life as well. Following are some inconspicuous techniques that allow a deft shift from the question subject to the desired subject.

This or That
Deny that the issue is limited to the question at hand. Redefine the issue to your favorite topic.

"It is not a question of (this) or (that), but rather it is an issue of (whatever it is you want to say.)"

["Are you for or against capital punishment?"] "I don't think the issue is being for or against capital punishment. The real issue facing our country is the federal budget deficit. I propose that we.... "

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Planning Applications 29th October 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1914: 15/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a replacement dwelling. Gorsedene Cottage, The Long Road, Farnham.
E: 483384 N: 142968
Case Officer: Mr H Hobbs

Applicant: M Tivey, Gorsedene Cottage, The Long Road, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4EB
Agent: V Conway, Abode Architects LLP, The Forge Studio, 5 Upper Church Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7PW

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

ITIL


Anything that begins with IT is probably a turn-off for most people, but this afternoon I did have a very enjoyable conversation with Linda Frame, the new IT manager at Waverley.

Last year's audit report including recommendations that the council implement ITIL. It's a an approach to delivering IT services, developed by the Office of Government Commerce, and now adopted by pretty much every leading organisation in the world. I work with it permanently in my day job, so Linda and I had a good time discussing how it's going to be implemented over the next few months.

As much as anything it's a big culture change, as it applies good but firm rules to how things are changed and managed in the world of IT. Ultimately, it will prevent costly mistakes, identify systemic problems, track the utilisation of what are expensive assets, and (from the Audit Commission's point of view), introduce an level of control over access to these computing resources on which are held the council's finances.

Well, I've probably bored a few of you, educated another few, and maybe even intrigued a couple. Like most things at the council though, it's the things that live most of their time behind the scenes, that deliver the foundation of the good services we aim to deliver.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Children catch everything - and so do their Dads

I was supposed to be at a finance seminar this evening, but instead I'm realising first hand how easily Dads can catch viruses / colds / .... just about anything in fact, from their children. The doctor calls it a 'post viral' something, and so, with a medical name (even including some latin) my hope of a miracle cure in the vein of Calpol surfaced. But alas. Only a brief comment about it going away in a day or two, and taking some paracetemol if I felt I needed to.

So, I'm at home, about to sleep, and feeling decidedly under the weather. The only good thing to come out of this is that my empathy for parents everywhere has increased.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Shadowcatch


Earlier this afternoon, Rach, Caleb and I visited the launch of Shadowcatch, a six day event at the West Street Potters' premises at the Farnham Pottery. Julia Quigley, the driving force behind the event, has procurred funding from the lottery, and collaboration with the University of the Creative Arts (our country's newest university!), in order to boost the potential of educational activity at the pottery.

It was lovely to be part of an event such as this at the pottery: it continues to be exciting to see more and more community developed there. Obviously, we have an interest in it as our business is there, but, a key reason for us starting our coffee shop was because we wanted to provide Wrecclesham with a place to meet, and talk, and make friends, and feel at home. Anything that continues to help that aspiration is welcome.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Quiz Night

Just back from one of the highlights of the South West Farnham Branch of the South West Surrey Conservative Association's annual events calendar - the Curry Supper, at the Rowledge Village Hall.

We snuck in a bottle of our own wine (along with apple juice for Rach), bought two strips of raffle tickets and won nothing (although I did have a beady eye on a silver gilded photo frame, honest), but, did manage to come a respectable third in the quiz.

Embarrassingly though, our table didn't so well on the 5 'Local' questions. So, for your excitement and testing of your local knowledge, here are the questions, with answers posted next Saturday:

(1) What relation was the Bishop of Winchester (Henri de Blois) to King Stephen?
(2) Who wore the sleeping cap that can be seen in the Museum of Farnham?
(3) What is the date of St. Peter's Day?
(4) What sport is represented on the Wrecclesham sign at the top of Riverdale?
(5) What was made on the site which is now occupied by the trading estate on Wrecclesham Road?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Best Western?

Last night I attended the Western Area Committee for planning, in order to speak as a ward councillor on application WA/2008/0645 - Land behind 86 Boundstone Road.

It's a bit complex due to the history of the site, so I won't delve into that here. But, I wanted to post that I was pleased with the debate. Whilst the decision went the opposite way to my aspirations, I believe that the questions asked by members of the committee were pertinent, and demonstrated the tension between a planning process that can appear to be unsympathetic to common sense, and councillors who are striving to make somethng right in their community, on behalf of residents.

I'm certain that this will be a constant battle for all time!

[As a side note, just like to say that Gina Pink's presentation on enforcement at the beginning of the meeting was excellent!]

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Planning Applications 22nd October 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

CA/2008/0102
Notification of tree work in Conservation Area - Oakfield, 7 Pottery Lane, Wrecclesham, Farnham. Works to trees.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

How many councillors does it take to make a borough?

The answer is 57. No, wait, 45. Oops, no, 35.

And so, I was educated last night, when it came to light that not all councils have the same number of councillors, and indeed, Waverley has a significant number more than others.

This was raised almost as a passing remark last night, at our Conservative group meeting, which we always hold prior to the council meeting itself, (which is tonight). We review the agenda, and debate any issues as required, and ensure an appropriate level of understanding about each recommendation in each set of minutes.

So, when discussing ‘Value for Money’ (a term employed to describe a broad set of initiatives to save council resources, and to improve council services), it was pointed out that councillors (by dint of their numbers) could save money by simply losing some of them!

Well, it’s not that simple of course. But it is doable. And I for one would be entirely happy investigating it. It would require the Boundary Commission to conduct a review, and then the measures to be voted upon.

One councillor suggested that we should “put our hands up if we were prepared to stand down”, in the belief that if turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, then neither would we vote ourselves out of a role. But, in my case, this councillor was mistaken. I would be very happy to have an independent review conducted, and, if I happened to lose my seat, well, I’d be deeply disappointed, as I enjoy and feel privileged to serve. But, if it’s right, then it’s right. My end goal is right goods and services from the council to residents, and if fewer councillors helps the cog wheels of local government go round, then I’d be for it.

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Frozen Chosen

Last night’s sermon at church was something of a cross between every day theology and stand up comedy. Jeff Lucas – a popular speaker who is well known by many for his over two decades of conference speaking and Premier Radio shows – was teaching on how we can retain (regain?) the humanity of holiness: to demonstrate commitment to God (being set apart for him in the literal sense of holiness), without losing our sense of humour.

The title of this post was his own phrase to reference what can some times feel like the prevailing attitude of the congregation – that whilst we feel joy deep (very, very deep) down, we should remain serious and sombre when talking theology, or preaching or listening to a sermon.

Well, I certainly guffawed loudly and often last night (not least to the story of the rubbish bins in the ladies toilet – yes, you had to be there), and still heard serious challenges to my attitude towards others who may not conform to the mental and emotional picture I have of everyday holiness.

Sat on the train now, between other commuters, I’m asking myself – what will I do or think today that will be a small step away from pride in my own ‘holiness’, and, a step towards helping someone else's.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

[Is] Charles Moore [is] always right

How is it possible? Every article by Charles Moore that I read, inevitably means fnd at least one paragraph where I end up nodding vigorously, and sometimes even saying ‘Yes! Yes!” out loud.


(You'll probably point out that he's a Tory, I'm a Tory, so what's the surprise? Well, maybe, but actually I don't subscribe to Tory policy simply because it's Tory)

Today his leader in the Telegraph speak of respectability, and our need to recover this in our society, so that we begin to remodel what it is to have respect for others, and, to rebuild the norms of respectability that may even have a serious and long lasting good effect on our nation. I'm not convinced he's entirely captured the nuances required in order to avoid conformity for conformity's safe, but I am so glad that he's voicing conern.

You’ll have to read the article (click here) to get a proper sense of what Charles wrote, but hopefully the above synopsis will encourage you to do so.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Leeks and leaks

Today I realised our leeks needed picking. Rach used one in our meal last night - took me a while to realise it had come from our own garden - the giveaway being when she asked me what I thought of the leek!

And then the East Street leak today - that from Crest Nicholson: or I presume from them, as I'm not sure who else I can think would give such information on the contract with Waverley to Property Week, and thus cause the Farnham Herald to quote a periodical that wouldn't look totally out of place as the guest publication on Have I Got News For You.

Anyway, I'm sure most of the details will soon be out, and, with another joint planning committee and council meeting not so far away, decisions on compulsory purchase orders and long-stop (who on earth invented that term by the way?) dates to be made.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Thinking

Well, I'm sat at my desk in Stockley Park near Heathrow, with 8 minutes until my next meeting. I don't have anything particular to post, so thought I'd simply dump a list of things that are going through my head:

(1) I sometimes feel impotent as a borough councillor. Whilst I want to hear things that need fixing locally, it seems like once I get into it, there are simply too many layers of bureacracy to go through, and then no one person who feels empowered to make a decision, and, often, to spend money. Good control over finances and other resources of local government is absolutely right, but just sometimes, I wish for a small fund to help things move along locally. Maybe I should be a County Councillor!

(2) East Street - contract considerations will come along soon. Now that planning permission has been given (with many conditions to be met), the contract now has to be considered and the viability test reviewed. Watch this space...

(3) A couple of tree preservation orders need some attention. One is longstanding, and I simply can't see a way forward. Another is fairly new, and I need to get my head around it for the first time. The key thing is understanding the phrase 'amenity' and wondering how best to define it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Planning Applications 15th October 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1853: 08/10/2008
Proposed Development: Retention of 2 temporary storage containers. Recreation Ground, Westfield Lane, Farnham.
E: 482467 N: 144792
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: Farnham Rubgy Club, Recreation Ground, Westfield Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4QP
Agent: J O'Sullivan, Laburnum Lodge, 27 Hillside Road, Aldershot, Hants GU11 3LX

WA/2008/1839: 07/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a new dwelling with detached garage. Land at 11 Pottery Lane, Wrecclesham.
E: 482599 N: 144585
Case Officer: Mr P Falconer

Applicant: A King, 28 Wrecclesham Hill, Wrecclesham Hill, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4QP
Agent: Michael Buchan Associates, Ash Copse Cottage, Cold Harbour, Herriard RG25 2PW

WA/2008/1860: 09/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a two-storey side extension. 16 Cobbetts Way, Farnham.
E: 482972 N: 145045
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: Mr and Mrs Rennoldson, 16 Cobbetts Way, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8TL
Agent: Mr Ralph Ball, Charter Design Associates, The Stable, Chamber Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 5ET

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Timely Common Sense

I meant to post about this a while back, but, well, other things came along. However, when Matthew Evans, head of planning at Waverley, emailed all councillors with notes on the governments new rules on ‘permitted development’, I knew I had to get round to making sure I read them carefully, and blogged about them. The changes seem to be common sense to me, and timely, given the severe lack of movement in house sales, and therefore the likelihood of more families converting lofts and putting up extensions.

The main changes are listed below (sorry about the length of this post, but best to quote in full I think):


From 1 October 2008 an extension or addition to your home will be considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:



  • More than half the area of land around the "original house"* would be covered by additions or other buildings.

  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.

  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.

  • Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres for an attached house and four metres for a detached house.

  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.

  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres including ground floor.

  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.

  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.

  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.

  • Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.

  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.

  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.

  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.

  • Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.

  • On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.

  • On designated* land no cladding of the exterior.

  • On designated* land no side extensions.

* The term "original house" means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Shack?

Last night our church (Guildford Baptist Church, a.k.a. Millmead) had the first of what will be a series of debates on topical issues. Mostly we work our way through a book of the bible over a few months in the sermons, but, a new member of the leadership team, Tim Wears, wanted to introduce an opportunity to deal with things that don’t necessarily pop up in the middle of Hosea (for example), but are as pertinent to our society and culture as is the consideration of the consequences of ignoring God’s law. And, move from didactic teaching to discussion and debate.

TheShackSo, this first time we debated the bestseller The Shack, by William P Young. A very engaging story about the tragedy of a lost young life, and the journey to forgiveness and family reconciliation, stands out because of the central literary device and context – a weekend spent with God in The Shack where a young girl died.

I won’t say any more – it would spoil the read if you decide to pick it up. But the debate last night covered claims of ‘dubious theology’; the understanding of art; the purpose of the author; the intended audience; and whether it really was appropriate to write of God the Father (one person in the Trinity) as a woman (there you go, I’ve let one of the surprise out the bag!).

On balance, I would say it’s a good read, but I wouldn’t call it great art, and, I don’t think that it should be viewed as the latest best way to talk about faith with my friends and colleagues. Churches have this tendency to leap on books and movies with moral or theological messages, as if that’s the only way to find ground in conversation to talk God. I don’t see it that way – I see the opportunity to speak about God in every conversation. Not to say that I take all those opportunities! (Should I?)

But I do think that churches should be less presumptuous to believe they has the right to choose the means by which to communicate the gospel. It might be just as valid to learn about the lyrics of the band that my friend Rob had blazoned across his T-shirt last night, as it is to ask someone if they happen to have read The Shack.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Food and councillors everywhere

What a lovely day at the Farnham Food Festival. Our Smith & Causey stall was wonderfully positioned next to Steve Drake's cooking demonstration, Grandpa's Spells band, the organics burger stall, and a chocolate stand - a real sensory overload!

So lots of food, but also lots of councillors. I enjoyed seeing many colleagues perusing the market throughout the day, and had rewarding conversations with one of two of them. In fact, at one point I think I spotted at least 6 councillors there at the same time!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Txt 2 u

Moving into the 21st Century - that was my thought when I noticed a story on the front page of the latest Homes and People magazine for Waverley's tenants and leaseholders. Regular readers (10 of you?) will know that I'm geek - a fan of gadgets. And so text messaging is something I use every day (although not as much as my Mum).

The story is about the fact that EPS, the company who carry out housing repairs on behalf of the council, can now text residents to remind them of when they are coming. What a great, simple, useful idea. With the prevalence of mobile phonea almost 100% now, this should give a lot more people more certainly when waiting in for EPS to call.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Don't Panic!

Phew - a short but very comforting email that I wanted to share straightaway.
The airwaves have been full of information about Council's whose reserves have been put at risk by being located in the savings accounts of some of the Icelandic banks that in these past days have been taken under state control.


However, today, the head of finance at Waverley, Paul Wenham, and the portfolio for finance on the council's executive, Mike Band, have told us that

We would like to reassure members that Waverley Borough Council does not currently have any cash investments with any of the Icelandic banks.

Very good news.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Planning Applications 8th October 2008

Well, I was planning (ha - what a pun) on listing the applications here this week, but there are none to report. Perhaps it's enough that East Street has dominated planning news for the recent past.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Place Survey

I assume this took place last year, but it might have passed me by somehow. Apparently there's an exact format handed down to local authorities from the Communities and Local Government department, and it's sent out to a random 2,500 homes in the borough.
Just in case you receive it, and wonder whether to fill it in, in my view, it's worth it. It will contribute to some national indicators - and whilst I'm not a great fan of statistics, the more people fill the forms in, the more likely the indicators will reflect something of reality.

Oh, and if you don't send it back, they will send you two reminders - again, CLG department rules.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Plan to succeed

A few days ago I received an email from a resident, telling me about the release of some government statistics on planning departments around the country. Well, it wasn't great reading: the email stated that:

For the year ended June 2008, Waverley came
(a) 65th out of 66 local authority in the South East of England, and
(b) 334th out of 341 local authorities around the country.

[I think I heard two reponses from you there - firstly "Yikes", and secondly "Not a surprise"]

Well, I pondered over the numbers, visited the government website where the statistics can be found, and thought about how stats can be misleading of course. But, I' delighted to say, that before I had decided whether to blog or not, Matthew Evans, the new head of planning, sent the following reply, which I'm delighted to post below. Honest, apologetic, and aspirational - great response:

I would agree that performance during this period was poor.

What is important to highlight is that Council has taken a number of actions to address this - including changing work practices, restructuring the planning service and increasing capacity. I believe these will soon start to result in improvements in the speed which Waverley determines applications.

I have only been with the Council for the last month as the new Head of Planning but it is clear to me that the Council recognises the problem and is very clear about what needs to be done to address it .

I assume that your concerns reflect delays that you have experienced first hand. I can only apologise if this is the case.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Order, Order

A couple of "Temporary Prohibition of Traffic Orders" came through the door recently from Surrey County Council, so I thought I'd share them with you. Click the title of either one below to go to my Ward map, where you'll find them highlighted.

D5302 Manley Bridge Road
The order is necessary to enable BT to access telephone poles to carry out maintenance work. The Temporary Order will come into force on 20 October 2008 for a period of 2 months. However, it is anticipated that the works will be carried out from between 9.30 and 15.30 from 20-25 October 2008.

D5315 Greenfield Road
The order is necessary to enable contractors to carry out repairs to a damaged drain. The Temporary Order will come into force on 20 October 2008 for a period of 2 months. However, it is anticipated that the works will be carried out between 20 and 25 October 2008.

The prohibition will only be operative while the County Council or other authorised persons acting on its behalf display signs indicating the said prohibition.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Thank you Mr Chairman

Make Public Opinion Count
I should begin by declaring three matters of personal interest, of which I have been reminded by various members of the public who have spoken this evening.

Firstly, that I am a member of the Farnham Theatre Association (FTA), which Mr Nicholls reminded me about. Secondly, that I drive a car, pertinent to the traffic issues that Mr Hyman brought to our attention. And thirdly, that I work for big oil, meaning that I am very aware of the energy challenges mentioned by Mr Lancaster when he spoke about the Farnham Transition Town initiative.

May I preface my main comments by quoting from today's blog by Daniel Hannan, a local MEP: "There is no dishounour in a politician reflecting public opinion. Eurocrats call it populism. I call it democracy." The challenge incumbent on all councillors as community representatives is to balance the responsibility to lead, with the accountability to represent.

I have seen this kind of development being successful eleswhere around the world. I could cope with working and shopping in this environment. But, presenting 'regeneration' as the reason that this application is right, is misleading. Indeed, including the word 'regeneration' in the name of the company can mislead also.

As an aside, pointing to rundown buildings as the reason for this regeneration is a bit like the government's policy towards Post Offices. Take all the business away from them so that they become unviable, and then say that need to be close because they are unviable!

Section 11.3(a) of tonight's report describes that the planning brief stipulates that the solution must "positively contribute". The key question is who measures this? I believe that we on behalf of our residents must measure this.

I am sure that potentially, if not already in reality, in some perspectives, this proposal could 'comply' with regulations in every aspect. However, compliant is not the same as right, not the same as aspired. I believe that Farnham residents have demonstrated that this plan is not their ambition. It may be the council's ambitions, but are these the same as the residents' ambitions? I cannot in good conscience claim that the slient majority thinks they are.

We should demonstrate responsible, accountable, and aspirational leadership.

Mr Chairman, if I were a member of the planning committee, I would vote to reject the recommendation to grant planning permission, and seek to create a formal group comprising of some councillors, key representatives of Crest Nicholson, and some of the Farnham residents represented here this evening, to work on a better solution.

Thank you.

(Click here to view the webcast)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Planning Applications 1st October 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1756: 18/09/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a two storey extension following demolition of existing single storey structure. Littlefield Cottage, 44 Gardeners Hill Road, Frensham.
E: 483957 N: 143003
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: Mr & Mrs Clark, Littlefield Cottage, Gardeners Hill Road, Frensham, Surrey GU10 3AL
Agent: Kerry Field, 4 Hillary Road, Farnham GU9 8QY

WA/2008/1762: 22/09/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of two storey side extension and single storey rear extension. 9 High Street, Farnham.
E: 482287 N: 143510
Case Officer: Cameron Stanley

Applicant: P Brooker, 9 High Street, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4BS
Agent: Mr Andrew Tomkins, Abode Architects LLP, The Forge, 5 Upper Church Lane, Farnham GU9 7PW

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

It's late

Late, both in the evening, and 'in the day' with regard to East Street. However, I've been ploughing through my Waverley email inbox, and reading many emails with extra information from objectors to the planning application. Virtually all of them have been sent to all councillors, and focus on three main areas of traffic, theatre, and flooding.

One gentleman quite obviously puts a phenomenal amount of work into his research, and quite possibly gets more into the detail that Waverley's planning department. I'm not saying this to annoy any council planners, but to point out that between them, the objectors have a significant amount of knowledge and expertise, which they've brought to bear on all facets of the East Street proposals.

The quandry for councillors on the planning committee, is that on some particular issues (flooding and traffic for example), there are statutory consultees (Environment Agency and Surrey County Highwas respectively), and as such, their response is quite properly critical. A key question is therefore, is it possible for members of the public to draw councillors' attention to matters of material consideration, that have not been drawn out, or missed, by the statutory consultees?

Monday, 29 September 2008

Record the Vote

Well, it's here at last, the week when the planning decision on the East Street application will take place. After much pondering, I'll be ringing committee services at the Council Offices this morning, and asking to speak at the meeting on Wednesday night.

Firstly, because I believe that on such an utterly crucial issue to the future of the town and everyone who lives in it, all councillors, particularly Farnham councillors, should demonstrate their position. Admittedly, I have the advantage that, not voting, I can pretty much say what I like, and not worry excessively about 'predisposition' or 'predetermination'.

[On a related matter, I saw an email thread last week that discussed a recorded vote. I see that local opposition groups are hoping this will occur, but the thread I was reading (from a separate source) stated the belief that as planning is not a political issue, then a recorded vote was not appropriate. I disagree. I believe that every vote made by a councillor is an appropriate piece of information for public dissemination - surely this is obvious as meetings are held in public, and, as they are webcast, could theoretically be paused, all votes counted and logged, and a record retained. Why not simply organise a record each time (practical issues aside / to be resolved)?]

Secondly, because I've asked questions on this blog previously about East Street, and, whilst having listened to many of your views - by email, post, over coffee, in the street - I haven't enunciated my own beliefs, and it's time to do so.

I'm certain that this will be the most 'popular' committee meeting in Waverley's history, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A Rough Ditch in Rowledge

roughditch_logo_black Not the one along the south side of Long Road, but a fantastic barn dance band who showed off their not inconsiderable skills in Rowledge village hall tonight, in aid of the band's "Family Charity", Riding for the Disabled.

Roughditch Band delivered what they promised, playing a wonderful mixture of tunes, and, most wonderfully, singing a great Aussie tune, with four-part close harmony that reminded me of barber shop in its pleasing delicacy and uncommon nature in the UK.

It's been a while since my wife and I have been out on a Saturday night, (we're usually collapsed at home after a long week), but this was truly worth it, for a worthwhile cause, and simply great fun.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Planning Applications 24th September 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1693: 02/09/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a new dwelling following demolition of existing dwelling. Rosemead Cottage, River Lane, Farnham.
E: 482533 N: 145386
Case Officer: Mr P Falconer

Applicant: R Kent, C/O Agent
Agent: Mark Leedale Planning, 52 Crondall Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7DD

WA/2008/1694: 03/09/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of conservatory following demolition of existing single storey structure. 1 Cokenor Wood, Farnham.
E: 482620 N: 144718
Case Officer: Mrs A Griffiths

Applicant: Mr & Mrs West, 1 Cokenor Wood, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4QN
Agent: N Roberts, Amex Holdings Ltd, 5 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, Hants RH25 8WF

WA/2008/1701: 11/09/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a detached garage. 22 Broadwell Road, Farnham.
E: 482635 N: 144580
Case Officer: Mr J Hammick

Applicant: Mr & Mrs Fabian, 22 Broadwell Road, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4QH
Agent: Davetee Chartered, Building Consultancy, Davetee House, 11/13 Lenten Street, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 1HG

WA/2008/1709: 04/09/2008
Proposed Development: Construction of an all weather playing surface and associated works. Frensham Heights School, Frensham Heights Road, Rowledge.
E: 483174 N: 142661
Case Officer: Mr R Pearmain

Applicant: Frensham Heights, Educational Trust Ltd, C/O Agent
Agent: K Goodwin, CgMs Ltd, Morley House, 26 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2AT