by willforster on 19 October, 2020
Surrey County Council has agreed to move its headquarters to the former Cannon HQ in Woodhatch, in spite of objections raised by the cross-party group of Councillors responsible for scrutinising the move.
Last year, the County Council stated it wanted to move its HQ from Kingston-Upon-Thames to a location in Surrey. The Council had originally hoped to move to Midas House in Woking, but those plans were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although Councillors as a whole agreed that Woodhatch could in principle be a suitable location, there were serious concerns about poor transport connections and the complete lack of sustainable travel options. The task group – which I chair – had proposed that the issue be deferred to a future meeting, but Conservative Councillors ignored the concerns raised and voted to designate Woodhatch, just south of Reigate as Surrey’s new headquarters.
I was disappointed the Tories running Surrey County Council refused to listen to those scrutinising the County Hall move process. Scrutiny is an important part of the democratic process, and time and time again it is undermined by the Conservatives locally as well as on the national stage.
Just over a year ago, the Council declared a climate emergency and it regularly complains about Surrey’s roads being too congested. Yet now the Council is set to move to Woodhatch, knowing that the move would encourage people to use their cars. Surrey’s new HQ needs to be accessible to Councillors, staff and the public via public transport. Putting the Council’s headquarters on the outskirts of a town, where there is effectively no bus service or cycle lane, is not acceptable.
Finally, from a local perspective, I am sad that the Council has U-turned on its promise to come to Woking. Even when it had to drop plans to come to Midas House, the Council still thought Woking remained the best place for its headquarters. That promise has been broken, and again Woking’s Tory Councillors failed to stand up for Woking and voted for the Woodhatch move.1 Comment