Fringe Box



Surrey County Council Scraps Plans For Another ‘Posh’ Farnham Castle Awayday

Published on: 7 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 7 Feb, 2013
Farnham Castle

Farnham Castle – Photo Geoff Roberts (

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have welcomed the formal announcement that following the pressure they have brought to bear on the county council’s Tory Cabinet a future overnight stay at Farnham Castle has been cancelled.

Call for all foreign trips to be cut

However, following further answers to questions from the Liberal Democrat’s Leader of the Opposition, they are now calling on the Conservative Cabinet to cut overseas trips at council taxpayers’ expense.

Cllr Hazel Watson said: “It has been revealed that there were at least eleven trips overseas by Conservative Cabinet members in 2011-12 at council taxpayers’ expense. The cost of these, including in some cases council staff accompanying cabinet members, totalled at least £8,500. The total costs could be more as the county council does not maintain centrally a list of all trips by county councillors.

“Surrey’s residents should be told why it needed two Conservative Cabinet members to go on a trip to China, why one Cabinet member had to make six overseas trips and why none of these trips resulted in reports back to Surrey County Council by the Conservative Cabinet members involved.

“Just as the Conservative Cabinet councillors have cut their stays in a posh castle, they need to stop swanning off on unnecessary overseas trips at a time when Surrey residents are facing a 1.99% council tax increase.”

Surrey County Councillor for Guildford West, Fiona White, said: “It was wrong for Surrey to use Farnham Castle for their ‘bonding session’.  It would have cost less to use local authority owned buildings.

‘In times when we are all having to tighten our belts, councils have a responsibility to save money where they can.  Trips abroad can be helpful but the benefits need to be clearly established before the trip takes place. Such trips should be rare and limited only to those who need to go.

‘There needs to be a robust central record of such trips, their cost and the benefits so that members of the public can see why taxpayers’ money is being spent that way. Also, there must be a reporting back procedure so that residents can see that they are getting value for money.”

Guildford Borough Councillor, Angela Gunning (Lab, Stoke) said: “Fact-finding missions are useful where justified; visits to waste incineration plants could be valuable for Surrey’s future, and in the public interest. And of course Brussels is no further from Surrey than Leeds.
“But Farnham Castle? What’s wrong with using rooms at County Hall, with phones off and doors firmly shut. Severe cuts in local government expenditure means plans for all expenditure should be scrutinised very carefully.”
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Responses to Surrey County Council Scraps Plans For Another ‘Posh’ Farnham Castle Awayday

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    February 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    They would always be welcome at Guildford YMCA’s Riverside Conference Rooms. Great value for money and the satisfaction of knowing all surpluses go to support our charitable work with vulnerable young people!

    • Sue Doughty Reply

      February 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Pete is absolutely right. Great facilities and right next to the station.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Bonding sessions? Oh dear how ’90’s.

    As for fact finding trips, have the councillors not seen Google Earth? I can tell if my second cousin twice removed has weeded his garden in Australia using Google earth and with Skype I can see and hear what he looks like. All without even leaving the comfort of my own study.

    If the Surrey Councillors want a day out, then a visit to Riverside Nature Reserve followed by a trip down the Wey should suffice.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 8, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Perhaps this Tory controlled body should now follow in the spirit of Tory policy on this year’s Council Tax levy?

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