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The Voice – October 2021

Council of the Year

First of all, I would like to add my thanks to everyone who voted for Farnham Town Council to be awarded Council of the Year in the National Association of Town and Parish Council (NALC) Star Council Awards. We are delighted for the council be singled out in this way and for the recognition it brings to the town, our partners and volunteers. The award comes after extensive work by everyone, both in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to numerous other activities we have been pursing in recent years.

I would also congratulate Iain Lynch, Town Clerk, for his runner-up award in the best town clerk category. Iain always delivers over and above in advising Council and in leading the staff team who contribute so much to making Farnham a better place. 

Farnham Infrastructure Programme

The Programme Team at Surrey County Council have been working hard over the summer months to further the FIP projects. Last week, we held another Local Liaison Forum where the Team and councillors updated the online forum on recent work and how we see the individual projects proceeding.

The first major changes from the programme: HGV restrictions and reclassifying the A325 to route through-traffic away from the town centre, are now in place. The Highways team is now consulting on the first 20 mph restrictions, so you can expect announcements on this in the near future.

The next announcements and further consultation will relate to town centre proposals. These are a highly complex set of projects, underpinned by other measures relating to changes to travel modes and recognising the challenges necessitated by climate change.  

Climate change and related government proposals are prompting radical new approaches to transport and infrastructure by Surrey County Council and other councils across the country. These will inevitably shape and impact the Farnham Programme, so I would urge anyone interested to view the online information and take part in the consultation. If you want to be part of the process, see .

COP26 Event

You will be aware of the Climate Change conference being held in Glasgow during the first 2 weeks of November. Surrey County Council has been invited to run some local events in support of the conference; these events may get national media coverage or be shown in the conference halls. 

Since Farnham is involved in the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, which also addresses the impacts of climate change as part of its remit, Farnham Town Council is supporting Surrey in arranging some events in the town centre on Wednesday 10 November. This should be an interesting and informative day, so do try and come along. More details will be published nearer the time.

Museum of Farnham

In last week’s Herald you will have seen an article about the problems relating to Willmer House, home to the Museum of Farnham in West Street. Waverley Borough Council is the owner of this building and hence responsible for its maintenance.

The building is a Grade 1 listed building and thus a significant heritage entity in the town. The museum is also a vital asset to the town and must have an assured future, even if it might potentially be relocated to an alternate building. There was a public consultation on these two aspects back in 2019, in which there was clear community support for finding solutions.

Farnham Town Council has, over the last year, expressed a desire to join with Waverley in seeking solutions to the dilemma, however, only recently have we been invited to join the discussions. Farnham Maltings also needs to be more involved since they currently manage and operate the museum. The issues are complex, especially from the financial perspective, so Farnham Town Council could not realistically pursue solutions on its own. We hope that, by working together, the two councils and other partners might find the way forward from here.

Thinking ahead

Your town council is being very proactive on many topics that relate to the future of the town. The public feedback that we get is very supportive to what we tell you we are doing. We thank you for that.

Apart from the Infrastructure Programme, the council is talking actively to Waverley and Surrey councils about the future, especially in relation to activities that might best be delivered locally. This all falls in with the government’s declared intention for more localism and this seems to be supported by the principal councils. 

These are early days, but I just wanted to tell you that your local council is working hard behind the scenes to see how Farnham might be served better, in the future, with streamlined, more locally focused services and decisions.

Litter and vandalism

Every pound that Farnham residents pay in their council tax needs to be spent wisely. Our council, along with Waverley and Surrey, spends considerable sums of your money clearing litter, removing graffiti, and repairing damage caused by wanton vandalism. Please help us, in any way that you can, to deter these nefarious acts. I leave you with one last thought: who would want to set fire to a public bench that has been placed in one of our parks for the benefit of all of us?

By Councillor John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council

Published in the Farnham Herald on 25 October 2021

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