It is a challenging time to be standing for election as a Surrey County Councillor. The council itself has significant challenges. In the past few years, note:
- Failure to deliver some of the most basic services (Failed Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services, Failed HMI inspection of Fire and Rescue, cuts to local highway budget)
- Poor Financial Management (CIPFA Report)
- Cuts to Services
- High spending on high level permanent and interim staff and the rejection of an RA/Independent proposal for the open monitoring of the high salary costs
- Additional allowances for Conservative councillors
There has never been a greater need
for Independent councillors who are able to scrutinise and challenge decisions
free from party politics.
The council is composed of 81 elected Councillors, and in all but one election since 1965 the Conservative Partyy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey_County_Council has held the majority- there are currently 59 Conservatives, 9 Independent/Residents Assoc, 9 Lib Dems, 1 Labour, 1 Green. And, 1 vacant seat.
I am contesting the vacant seat.
More detailed reading below:
Residents will no doubt be aware of the poor state of Surrey County Council’s finances. It is of course partly the result the Government’s reduction of the grant funding allocated to the County Council, but an independent Report by the well-respected Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and commissioned by SCC itself, has severely criticised the County Council for its financial management and budget planning. https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-county-council-faces-unbridgeable-15161504
January 2019 SCC
Fire & Rescue service declared Inadequate
Following on from
the 2018 Ofsted Report which severely criticised SCC’s Children’s Services as
failing, an Inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and
Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has reported that SCC’s Fire and Rescue service is
“Inadequate” at efficiently keeping people safe, and is failing to make the
best use of its resources. This is further worrying evidence of a
council failing in the delivery of some of the basic services which it is
legally required to provide. https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-fire-rescue-rated-inadequate-15575032
Spending on High Level Temporary Staff
At a time of cuts
to services it is interesting to note that over the past year SCC has spent
almost £2.5 million on temporary and interim staff, mostly on high level
salaries. In one case SCC paid a recruitment company over £294k “to
source and manage an interim Adult Social Care director” for a year.
voted down an RA/Independent recommendation to “amend the Terms of Reference of
the People, Performance and Development Committee to provide for the monitoring
of the costs of senior management salaries, interim appointments and
redundancies” thus rejecting openness and transparency in regard to senior
- Closure of Children’s Centres
- Additional charges for household waste – construction wood and roofing felt, despite concerns over am increase in fly tipping
- The free travel concession for disabled pass holders will no longer start at 9.00am but will in future start at 9.30am on weekdays, all day at weekends and on bank holidays
- Further cuts to the local highway budget, the money allocated to fund locally determined highway maintenance work & improvements. So more bad news for our highways
Children’s Services rated as Inadequate by OFSTED in May 2018
SCC was rated inadequate for its services supporting children “who
need help and protection”, and in leadership, management and governance.
In its 2017 report, SCC was told “a number of children in Surrey who have
been at risk of serious harm were not assessed, helped or protected quickly
May 2018 Surrey County Conservatives Vote Themselves More Money
At the May 2018 Surrey County Council Meeting, the Conservatives
voted to create four new Deputy Cabinet Member posts to be filled by Conservative
county councillors, with an allowance each of £10,000. In addition, and
despite an Independent Review Panel recommendation that allowances be not paid
to all Committee Vice Chairmen, the Conservatives also decided that they should
continue to be paid.
In 2013, Haslemere voted for its first ever Independent Councillor
for Surrey County Council.
Vote for Nikki Barton to turn that bottom corner of South West Surrey white again.
(Press release from SCC RA/Independent Group re council budget cuts).