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Looking forward to 2021

I always want to look on the bright side, and New Year is especially the time to be looking forward positively. However, at the time of writing, 2021 presents uncertainties due to the twists and turns of COVID-19.

I hope you all enjoyed Christmas, even if your usual family gatherings were somewhat curtailed this year. We don’t know how the pandemic will pan out in 2021 but the town council will be doing its best to continue its Covid-compliant activities and events, in whatever way we can. Here are some key topics.


We will be announcing our usual event programme in 2021, just as soon as the social distancing rules let us do so; let’s hope we can hold our summer events in Gostrey Meadow, in particular. We would expect to be able to continue the monthly Farmers’ Markets and we hope to restart the Sunday West Street markets. We were planning a number of these in 2020, but we only managed one trial. This was a huge success, so we plan to hold regular themed markets, some based on speciality products and some aimed at typical market fare, but all with a quality focus.

Farnham Infrastructure Programme

2020 has been a start-up year for this project, led by Surrey in partnership with Waverley and Farnham councils: the project team studying the background, preparing options and listening to views from the public. In 2021 we will see the team presenting plans and options, which will go to further public consultation. Hopefully, we will make good progress on this project since we all know the frustrations that our outdated road system presents to our everyday lives. The really positive side of this project is that it is not just looking at roads in isolation, it is also looking at other problems in the Farnham area, such as the separation from the town centre that some of our neighbourhoods feel, a shortage of doctors’ surgeries in some areas and various aspects relating to travel to schools.

The town centre is at the top of most people’s lists. Our wonderful town centre and conservation area is in urgent need of revitalising, to make it a more welcoming place to come to. I really hope we can get some clarity and consensus on this aspect, especially as our retail businesses need all the help we can give to them to ensure their future prosperity. The Brightwells scheme will also be opening in 2021, after more than 20 years in the making, so that will add a new dimension to the town centre experience and, whatever our views on its arrival, we need it to make a positive contribution to the town’s economy.

One of the unexpected consequences of 2020 has been the increased collaboration between the town centre retailers, helped we hope by extra efforts from the town council and other organisations to support this sector in difficult trading times. This is a great community spirit, mirroring all the community initiatives that have supported Farnham people in this difficult year.

Local Government Reorganisation

In 2020, government announced it was time to make further changes to the way that councils are organised. Currently the arrangements of typically three tiers of councils looking after different aspects of local services is quite complex and probably leads to inefficiencies and misunderstandings. Councils would generally welcome some changes, but there are many different views as to how this should be addressed. Right now, government has stalled on this subject since it is bound up in many other complex problems, but we still expect new moves in 2021. Farnham Town Council would hope to extend its role if this proceeds, since we believe we provide good value for money and we think we have widespread support from our community.

We are ready

There are many unknowns facing us at the moment, but whatever happens we will be ready to respond, just as we have done this year. We will always keep in touch with you via the Herald, our website and social media. We look forward to working for you and with you all in 2021.

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council Published in the Farnham Herald on 28 December 2020

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