Fringe Box



Letter: How The Council Can Fill Its Budget Hole

Published on: 5 Sep, 2014
Updated on: 11 Sep, 2014

openletter1A Dragon NEWS reader, Neville Bryan, has sent an open letter to Cllr Nigel Manning (Con, Ash Vale), lead councillor for finance and asset management, following the announcement of a £6.5 million budget shortfall

Dear Cllr Manning,

As I understand it the University of Surrey owe 3,200+ student places, from the 2003 development brief agreement (i.e. they are the numbers of accommodation places which they have been given permission to build but have not).

These students, actually 3,700 more of them according to the 2011 census, confirmed by the fact that there are 11,500 full time students and 5100 university campus places, are now residing in local houses and are not paying council tax.

Many of these will be in Guildford homes, probably in number between 1,300 to 1,800. If you persuade the university to build the accommodation in line with its 2003 promise (the basis for the removal of Manor Farm from the green belt) and the 2003 brief, the the following could result:

1. GBC will get more income to the tune of £1-2 million per annum as these houses will now pay council tax, and fill your budget hole;
2. badly affected communities will be happy as they can become proper communities again;
3. voters will be happy as we will not have to lose their green belt.

Okay the university will stand less chance of getting Blackwell Farm in the local plan, it should not be there anyway, and your leader might loose some university friends, but Guildford wins, and I promise to say thank you.

Just an idea…

Neville Bryan
Wood Street Village

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Responses to Letter: How The Council Can Fill Its Budget Hole

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Here’s another suggestion…

    Don’t spend £25m on speculative property deals, with no guarantee that this will not widen the deficit further.

    With no experience of the property market, should the new properties fail to meet the revenue expectations, the council’s executive will have turned a £6.5m deficit into a £31.3m deficit.

    As they say, the value of investments may go down, as well as up.

  2. Mary Bedforth Reply

    September 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Another suggestion. Stop spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of our council tax on consultations from numerous planning advisers and the like. For example Allies & Morrison.

  3. Kelly-Marie Blundell Reply

    September 6, 2014 at 11:19 am

    As I understand, the Conservatives are using the New Homes Bonus to bulk reserves, rather than using it to provide the community provisions that new sites need.

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    September 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    There is nothing wrong in the use of consultants if the council doesn’t have either the resources or competency to analyse planning issues.

    What is wrong is inappropriate or excessive research, or terms of reference which do not address the real issues or demand false conclusions in advance.

  5. Mary Bedforth Reply

    September 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Perhaps someone who knows how could do a FoI request on the exact amount that has been spent by GBC on consultations and consultants in reference to the local plan, and to whom. I think we should be told.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      September 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      It is simple, straightforward process to make a Freedom of Information request.It could go like this…


      Dear data handler at (e.g. GBC)

      Please supply the following information (insert the information requested) under a Freedom of information request.

      I look forward to your prompt response.

      Yours sincerely,

      (Your Name)
      (Your [Email?] address)

  6. Aaron Sharpe Reply

    September 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I agree that the University of Surrey should be providing more housing for students.

    However the charges for accommodation at the Manor Park site are often higher than rental fees for rooms in a shared house elsewhere in Guildford. It’s over £500 per month for the cheapest Manor Park rooms which is unaffordable to many students.

    The university should be encouraged to provide more affordable housing for its students if the expectation is to free up local housing stock.

  7. Kathryn Waring Reply

    September 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I completely agree with your Mr Bryan’s suggestion.

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