The Waverley Borough Council offices at The Burys in Godalming have long been a worry because of their energy-inefficiency and high running costs; estimates vary between £300,000 and £1 million a year.
Whatever that figure may be, it is a waste of our money.
Obviously current spiralling energy costs make this an even more pressing issue.
Equally, built in 1971, the offices are far too big and poorly designed for the needs of today’s local government.
You might think a Tory administration would attempt to atone for the Brightwells fiasco in Farnham.
But no, the Burys problem was also repeatedly kicked down the road by Tory-dominated councils from 2007 on.
Indeed, in 2018, the-then Tory executive commissioned an independent assessment from Lambert Smith Hampton, which clearly stated the problem could no longer be delayed and proposed a number of solutions, concluding that the council must: replace the existing council offices and include a multi-storey car park in a new structure at The Burys, and build on the crown court car park.
These recommendations were again kicked down the road.
And, of course, that executive was dissolved following the defeat of the Tories in the 2019 local elections.
These expert proposals formed the basis of the recent regeneration project put forward for public scrutiny by the current coalition earlier this year.
The aim in drawing public attention to these tentative ideas was to open up a public conversation about solutions that everyone could live with.
Indeed, at the December 2022 Waverley full council, leader Paul Follows proposed an all-party committee to sort it out. The Tories voted against.
What makes this a matter of public concern is that two of the three remaining Tory councillors, Peter Martin and Steve Cosser, recently co-authored a petition to “save our car park” which drew 4,400 signatures.
Petitioners had no idea Lambert Smith Hampton – whose advice had been buried – had recommended as a matter of urgency the precise measures the current council had put out as a starting point for public discussion.
As a local councillor summed it up: “4,400 concerned local people have been played by the very Tory councillors who commissioned the advice in the first place.”
Cllr Richard Ashworth
Cllr Penny Rivers
Cllr Clare Weightman