The former owner of Coffee Diem in Lion & Lamb Yard, George Murray, has taken the political reins as Farnham Residents group leader from long-serving councillor John Ward.

After seven years in the role, Cllr Ward, deputy mayor of Waverley, stepped down as leader of the independent group at its AGM last Thursday.

Having reached a self-imposed “Milestone of Maturity”, Cllr Ward has chosen to scale down his political involvements, although he anticipates being elected for a second term as mayor of Waverley in May. 

In “passing on the baton to younger members”, Cllr Ward reflected upon the group’s achievements, noting that Farnham Residents hold all three seats on Surrey County Council, controls Farnham Town Council, and is part of the ruling administration at Waverley.

His final words were reserved as thanks for “the backing and support” of his wife Gillian.

Fellow Cllr Peter Clark, the former deputy leader of Waverley, presented Cllr Ward with two cases of Rioja wine, and noted Cllr Ward’s personal commitment to “standing firm in the protection of one of our main principles – of not becoming a whipped political party”.

Having been elected as the new leader by a unanimous vote, Cllr George Murray took inspiration from Issac Newton’s observation that “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” in paying tribute to all three of his predecessors – Jerry Hyman, John Williamson and John Ward – as well as “all of the past and present members who have led us to securing the confidence of the electorate that we enjoy today”.

Looking forward, Cllr Murray thanked the group for “the trust you have placed in me” and promised to work with fellow members to “retain the trust and improve the lives of the residents of Farnham”.