Woking faces greatest threat since Martians from Surrey Super State

July 13, 2020 11:24 AM
By Cllr Ann-Marie Barker
Originally published by Woking Liberal Democrats

Local Councils that provide all services make sense, but not a super state

Speaking following the announcement that the County Council wants to become the sole authority for all of Surrey Cllr Ann-Marie Barker said:

"Not since HG Wells penned his tale of Martian invasion have Surrey towns been under such threat from a single body seeking to create a super state."

Cllr Barker went on to explain that:

"Surrey Conservatives have announced a massive power grab that will leave us with just one council for the whole of Surrey"

Woking and the 10 other local councils will be scrapped. All 1.2 million Surrey residents will be represented by a single remote 'unitary' authority, based in the London Borough of Kingston. This Surrey super state would be one of the largest councils in the country.

The wrong time

It is the wrong time. Council staff are among many who have stayed at work and worked so hard during Covid. There is much to be done in recovery over the months and years to come.

"Do we really want to be diverted by a restructure at this time?" asked Cllr Barker

Local voices must be heard

All we know about Surrey's plans so far are that they seem only to have been discussed by Conservative politicians and council officials. Any future plans for Woking, and the other Surrey boroughs, must involve the public and councillors at all levels.

"We don't want to lose local control to a Surrey super state with no say in our future destiny" said Cllr Barker.

A Surrey super state would be attractive to the Conservatives because they hold 58 of the 81 seats on the County Council, whereas in boroughs and districts like Woking, they only have a majority on 2 of the 11 Councils. It has even been suggested that in advance of a new authority next year's opportunity for residents to have their say at the ballot box could be cancelled, silencing local voices.

Benefits of unitaries

A single local 'unitary' council that look after our roads and schools, collects and disposes of our rubbish, takes care of older residents and provide playgrounds for children makes sense, but it needs to be just that, 'local'. A new structure that combines groups of three or four Surrey boroughs together would be a better way ahead. Woking could combine with neighbouring authorities such as Guildford and Waverley to provide local services

"But we need to discuss this when the time is right, last week's announcement hit Surrey with as much surprise as the Martian cylinders landing on Horsell Common" pointed out Cllr Barker.