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


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.


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


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 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.