Skip to main content

Challenges of 2020

On the approach to Christmas, it seems a good time to review some of the Council’s activities over the last year and ahead in 2021.

As for everyone else, Farnham Town Council has been turned upside down this year by COVID-19. We have had to operate from behind closed doors in the Town Hall (with public access by appointment) and most of our meetings have been held remotely by Zoom and Teams. Our event programme has been severely curtailed, which means that the usual income contribution coming from events and sponsorship has reduced.

Despite all this we have managed to deliver many of the usual events such as COVID-compliant Farmers’ Markets, a trial West Street arts and crafts market, summer Music in the Meadow concerts, the Remembrance Service and a recorded annual Civic Carol Service in St Andrew’s Church. This service featured the Farnham Youth Choir, singing together for the first time since March. The service will be broadcast on Facebook Live (available via a link on on Wednesday 23 December at 7pm; make a note in your diaries for what will be a wonderful and moving Farnham occasion.

Thanks to all who have helped this year

This is also a good time for me to thank some of the people who have made all this possible. In the Town Council we have a small but highly dedicated team of officers who run the council. All the office-based and the outside workforce make an outstanding contribution and they share the councillors’ passion to make Farnham a great place to live in. No space to mention them all individually, but I would like to pay tribute to their collective focus and behind the scenes contributions that create opportunity for effective community partnership on so many things the Town Council does. This ensures we can punch above our weight and deliver excellent value for money for our residents.

Alongside the Town Council officers we have a very committed group of councillors, all bringing their particular interests and experiences to contribute to the team effort. What is not always known is that the councillors themselves work voluntarily and do not receive allowances or payment for the many hours they spend in leading and supporting the work of the council, holding others to account for their interventions in Farnham.

This year has been particularly busy for the council because, on top of our usual activities, we have embarked on the Farnham Infrastructure Programme. This work involves us all and brings us into regular contact with the Borough and County councils, on whom we also rely for many significant services delivered locally. The Infrastructure Programme, ably led by Surrey Leader Cllr Tim Oliver, and supported by Waverley Leader Cllr John Ward and Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, has widened the Town Council’s profile and places us well for extending our responsibilities, especially if the government changes the way in which local government is organised.

Working with the Community

Farnham is fortunate to have so many impressive community organisations that look after both general and special interests. As well as the long list of familiar organisations and charities that have done everything they can to support our residents in a very challenging year, I would like to mention in particular the Town Council’s partnership with the Farnham Maltings on many joint initiatives. Also, I would like to thank the Lions, the Hedgehogs and other community groups for sustaining some very important initiatives during the pandemic.

What lies ahead in 2021

Next year will also be a challenge. We await to see in what way and how quickly we can return to normal times, so long as the country can get on top of the pandemic. Hopefully, we will be able to progress new activities that are currently being considered, and we expect to make more progress on the Infrastructure Programme.

We are confident that we will be able to deliver a great range of services, as we do now, within the same budgetary framework as this year. Even though our finances are inevitably being affected by COVID, the Town Council has agreed to a small overall reduction in its 2021/22 budget.

Christmas and New Year

Everyone in Farnham Town Council wishes you all a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year. Remember to stay safe and please support our local businesses in the run up to Christmas. For help with your Christmas shopping ideas visit and

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council Published in the Farnham Herald on 17 December 2020

Print Friendly, PDF & Email