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Star Council Awards

We need your votes

In the last FTC Voice (29th July), I mentioned that your town council has been shortlisted for a Council of the Year award. Five English councils are on the shortlist and the winner will be decided by a public vote that is now in progress. We would really appreciate your support and votes for this award. To win it would not only be an accolade for the council but would also bring praise and recognition for everyone in Farnham.

You can vote between now and 23 August very easily at Please give Farnham your vote and encourage your friends and family to join in.

This council has now been in place for two years. We like to think that we have made great progress in that time but, of course, our achievements to date reflect the work of previous councils as well as the current one, together with many local individuals and organisations. I am summarising here what we believe are our achievements, contributing to our position as finalists.

Working with our community

We have a close relationship with our local communities, working with many charities, community groups, residents’ associations, health and wellbeing organisations, and individuals, so that, together, we can enhance the lives of all our citizens. We use Farnham in Bloom not only to smarten up the town with flowers, but also to bring together the community, providing inspirational activities for all.

In our individual communities, we actively support the neighbourhood centres and activities, paying special attention to the needs of young people, the elderly and those who most need help.

Fighting the Covid-19 pandemic

As soon as the pandemic took hold in Britain, the council mobilised its own resources together with many local charities and individuals, to provide vital support to any local people who might become isolated and need help with shopping, medical needs and personal wellbeing. 

We soon had an active call centre, and we established a support fund that raised £67,000 to provide financial help where needed. We also arranged a weekly community network meeting, working with our key partner Farnham Maltings. This lives on as the Farnham Neighbours’ Network.

Working in partnership with our local doctors and volunteers, we helped to set up a vaccination centre, which became a leader in getting its local population inoculated. Over 200 enthusiastic volunteers supported the vaccination team in a smooth-running service for the Farnham community.

Supporting local business

The council has close links with local retailers, hospitality venues and the wider business community. We work with all these businesses to promote their activities and encourage both local people and visitors to come to the town. In return, many businesses sponsor some of the council’s activities.

Despite widespread problems in the retail sector, Farnham has a thriving shopping centre, which we have assisted with the online retail opportunity called We Are Farnham. We are supporting the business-led initiative to create a Business Improvement District in the town centre.

Farnham’s monthly Farmers’ Market is in its 20th year and remains one of the largest monthly markets in the country. We  are now also trialling new speciality street markets in response to their increasing popularity.

Ensuring Farnham is a wonderful place to live

The council provides a year-round, free events programme in conjunction with many local arts and culture organisations. We have regular weekend outdoor entertainment events in Gostrey Meadow, providing a platform for local artistic talents.

Alongside this, we work with the local arts and culture organisations to promote a wide range of cultural activities. As a craft and creative arts town, we support artists, designers and makers; helping students and graduates of the town’s renowned University for the Creative Arts.

What we are doing for Young People

Over recent years we have been planning better support for our younger generation. The pandemic has focused the need to provide more, affordable activities for youngsters. We are providing or co-ordinating more events for young people and will be working with our partners to bring about improvements for active outdoor activities during the coming year. Within the town’s infrastructure improvements, we will be providing more, safer cycle ways, which should encourage cycling and growing independence from the car.

What we are doing for Infrastructure

Everyone in Farnham knows about the Farnham Infrastructure Programme. This council has shown a determination, not achieved before, to work with our partner councils and make real improvements to the town centre, the neighbourhoods and the major surrounding road system.

This is a long and complicated programme, that is just starting to show results on the ground. We look forward to seeing a much-improved town centre that will be a real joy to visit, and we hope to see some matching improvements across the town.

We are working hard to bring the community along with these plans. We hope to make it much easier to get around the town as a pedestrian or cyclist, as well as retaining access for those coming by car. We will also be working with children and schools to give back more freedom to young people when they want to get around town, independent of lifts by parents.

Responding to environmental challenges

We have introduced green technology to the council’s operations, and we are working with partners to implement a Biodiversity Plan, which includes planting more trees and rewilding some greenspaces. Addressing the changes needed for climate change is woven into all our plans.

Town accolades

Too many to mention but let us just list: many national and regional In Bloom awards, England’s Craft TownWorld Craft TownTop UK Culture Centre (per head of population), national recognition on Neighbourhood Planning.

Looking to the future

The work does not stop here. We are aiming to become a stronger local council within the government’s localism plans, simply because we know that by having a local council conversant with the area and people, we can best deliver the changes that our community wants.

Please give us your support in the public vote; it just takes a few clicks at to vote for Farnham.

By Councillor John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council.

Published in the Farnham Herald on 12 August 2021

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