*Annual town meeting of electors

Every year, the town council arranges a meeting in which the authority presents to electors a review of its activities of the previous year and presents its plans for the following year.

This is your opportunity to give your views on what we have done and what you would like us to be doing.

The 2020 meeting – usually held in a hall – was postponed because of the Covid-19 lockdown, but, as you might expect, this year we will be going ahead with a virtual Zoom meeting.

The date is Thursday, March 18 at 6.30pm. Please make a note and we will publicise more details later. You can also register to receive more information at www.farnham.gov.uk

*Town council tax 2021/22

During December 2020, the council agreed a budget of around £1.4 million for 2021/22, similar to the previous year. In our recent January council meeting, we agreed a precept of around £1.17m to fund this budget.

The precept is the total tax to be collected from Farnham council taxpayers to fund the council’s activities, and it is collected by Waverley Council alongside contributions for Waverley Borough Council, Surrey County Council and Surrey Police.

The difference between the budget and the precept figures is met, mainly, by income (around £230,000) which the council raises through its events programme, sponsorship and services.

Not surprisingly, this income has been severely reduced this year because of the pandemic and we anticipate that next year’s programme and income will also be curtailed.

There would be good reasons to increase our precept this year, because the council has been extending its reach on many fronts to support our community.

However, in view of the financial pressures many Farnham people are experiencing at the moment, we have decided to limit any increase by budget reductions and by using some of our financial reserves. Let us hope that, by this time next year, the outlook will be better for all of us.

The Farnham Town Council precept for a typical Band D property will be £67.37 for the year, an increase of 2.5p per week on average. Farnham’s precept is less than the national average and represents, I believe, excellent value for money.

*Farnham Infrastructure Programme

This programme is progressing according to plan and you will have seen some outline announcements in the Herald.

The programme team have produced the ‘Optimised Infrastructure Plan’ which summarises the proposed improvements and identified problems the programme is addressing.

The plan has been compiled from what you have told us via the recent Local Liaison Forums, as well as from existing policies and previous studies, together with new technical assessments.

There will now be further consultations with the community to get your views on the plan. These will, again, be virtual meetings, held on March 4, 8 and 10.

All Farnham residents are welcome to attend these meetings – please refer to www.farnham.gov.uk/LLF for details. In the near future, you will also be receiving a leaflet in the post that will include details of the meetings and how to access the publications.

We would like to receive your views during the meetings or via a questionnaire by March 14. Please see the Farnham website or www.surreycc.gov.uk/farnhamprogramme for more information.

*Farnham’s vaccination programme

By the time you read this, approaching 10,000 people in the Farnham area will have received their first vaccination – a high proportion of our local population, with not a single vaccine wasted.

This has been a remarkable achievement, led by Farnham doctors and medical teams, putting us right at the front of protection from Covid-19.

Farnham Town Council would like to add its voice in thanking the clinicians for the tremendous effort and the efficient way in which this has been carried out.

I understand, from Dr Ed Wernick, who leads the local vaccination programme, that Farnham’s speed of roll-out is only limited by the availability of vaccine supplies, not by their capacity to deliver the injections.

This means Farnham people can be vaccinated locally, rather than having to travel long distances.

We also recognise the vital support that has been provided by volunteers.

There are more than 700 people who have volunteered to help the Farnham community as part of the local coronavirus response, and the town council has been proud to support the logistics of the vaccination programme alongside others such as the Farnham Lions, Rotary and Hedgehogs charities.

*Supporting local businesses

Please continue to support our local businesses, which will need our help more than ever as we emerge from the continuing lockdown.

Farnham Town Council is backing We Are Farnham to provide the opportunity for you to shop local online via the wearefarnham.co.uk website.

More local retailers, restaurants and other organisations are displaying on this transactional website; it’s a great way to experience some of the local offerings you might not have been aware of.

Have a look, as well, at virtualfarnham.co.uk where you can take a virtual walk around the shops to see what they are like inside. It’s great fun – the wonders of technology.

We would also encourage more local businesses to promote themselves on these websites – they’re proving a great way to grow your customer base.