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Letter: What Ash and Tongham Residents Need To Know About Developer Contributions in Ash & Tongham

Published on: 27 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2024

From: Graham Drage

Reform UK candidate for Godalming & Ash in the General Election

I am writing as a Reform UK candidate to express my concern for the residents of Ash and Tongham regarding the recent development of 1,800 houses and Section 106 contributions. S106 contributions relate to developer financial contributions intended for social infrastructure projects to mitigate the development, such as school places, doctors’ surgeries and other community amenities.

In the case of the Ash & Tongham development, a total of £19.8m was collected, of which Ash road bridge constitutes £4m, leaving approximately £15m. Within this amount, provisions were made for three types of education (early years, primary and secondary), highways, allotments and parks, police, recreation, SANGS (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces), SAM (management fee), libraries etc.

As you are aware, a good Section 106 agreement specifies several details: the involved parties, the purpose of the contribution, the amount, the trigger point and the timeframe within which the council must spend the money.

This last point is crucial. The Section 106 agreement includes a clawback clause, allowing developers to reclaim contributions if not spent within the required timeframe. While some funds have a 10-year lifespan, a significant portion defaults to five years, and that period is nearly up.

I have reliable information that not a single additional school space or doctor’s surgery has been created with this money. While a large component of this is managed at county level, it is ultimately Guildford Borough Council’s responsibility to ensure proper disbursement, with clear project plans in place. The Liberal Democrats, who hold the council majority, have demonstrated significant disregard for these responsibilities.

Regarding the allocation to schools, St Paul’s CofE Infant School suggested additional funds had been allocated for new school places in the area. However, this assertion is incorrect for several reasons:

  • The supposed expansion of St Paul’s Infant School does not create new places there but rather creates spaces at Waverley Abbey School for junior school transitions. Essentially, Surrey County Council’s decision to expand St Paul’s merely creates the illusion of increased spaces in Ash, without any actual additional places.
  • Early Years education, particularly private institutions like “Nurturing Childcare,” has not benefited. St Paul’s Church’s actions have made things very difficult for this much-loved local nursery school, leading to them vacating the church premises.
  • Subsequently, the church is using allocated funds to establish a new Early Years facility, claiming it equates to new and additional school places. In reality, this initiative merely replaces one school with another, without expanding overall capacity.

With the General Election just one week away, it appears residents of Ash and Tongham may be unaware of these critical issues. Guildford Borough Council, predominantly under Liberal Democrat control, has been entirely remiss in managing and overseeing this matter.

Godalming & Ash Candidates as at May 26 2024


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Responses to Letter: What Ash and Tongham Residents Need To Know About Developer Contributions in Ash & Tongham

  1. Howard Moss Reply

    June 27, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    I am not sure what if anything this letter from Graham Drage has to do with him being the Reform UK party candidate in the upcoming General Election, which we are told he is right at the start of the letter, other than seeking some free publicity.

    By his own admission the 106 arrangements are dealt with at county and borough council level, so nothing to do with the General Election, but he uses this platform to mention that the Liberal Democrats are predominantly in control of GBC, presumably in an attempt to score political points.

    In any event to comply with, or at least to stop any perceived bias or in fairness to the election Guidelines surely The Dragon should also publicise along with the letter the names and parties of all the other candidates and their party standing in this constituency?

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