Relief as Government u-turn scuppers Surrey County power grab

September 21, 2020 7:12 PM

Ann-Marie Barker"It's a huge relief" said local Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, as news broke of a government u-turn which scuppers Surrey County Council's democratic power grab.

The government had been widely expected to release a white paper in September which promoted unitary authorities. The plans would have combined current councils and taken local democracy further away from residents. The Conservatives who run Surrey County Council knew the government proposals were coming and had spent months planning their power grab of local councils like Woking.

"I find it quite astonishing, that in a time when we were all working hard locally to tackle the pandemic, Surrey County Council unilaterally decided to reorganise the deckchairs on the titanic" points out Cllr Barker.

Surrey's plan, which Cllr Barker previously described as 'the biggest threat to Woking since the Martians' had been put together with zero consultation with Woking Council or local residents, but with a substantial sum paid to consultants PwC.

"The only communication Surrey did have with residents was to spend yet more money sending out a glossy brochure saying how much Surrey had done in the fight against Covid. This totally ignored the efforts put in by Woking Council and the many voluntary schemes across our local area" said Cllr Barker.

Questions now turn to why the government had a change of heart. It seems local opposition may have played a big part.

"It is clear the government heard a lot of opposition from local boroughs and from their own councillors and party members" said Cllr Barker " I just hope this misguided centralising power grab is now kicked into the long grass where it belongs".