Borough Council Strong Leader Problem

Fortunately, Boroughs like Surrey Heath have £10M budgets, compared with +£1B county budget, almost a rounding error… So what’s broken here?

  1. Same 4 things at the county level, not much further explanation required here, just smaller numbers
  2. Going into debt. Borough Councils like Surrey Heath can take the whole council and all its residents into enormous debt. Debt that is impossible to repay, as it is being incurred to acquire assets that will not pay off. In the Surrey Heath case, it was for retail space that will never pay off, the Camberley Mall. Retail is on the verge of massive change, and the Camberley Mall has no possibility of being fit for purpose. And the debt? £2,000 for every man and woman and child. Do any of them know it? Not on your life…
  3. Institutionalised NIMBYism. The scourge of “Not In My Back Yard”, a problem across the country. There is no bigger economic problem in the whole UK than the fact there is no place to live, no place for the under 40’s to buy and live in.  Surrey Heath is like most Boroughs, total affordable homes built in the last 2 years? 1, yes 1… Plans to change it? None…  What about the Central government’s demand to build 30% of all homes as affordable? Can you spell two-fingers?
  4. Bending the law and all the intents of the law… When you fly as far under the radar as Borough Councils do, you can bend the law and intent of the law with impugnity, and they do all the time.  So, if you are the leader, you can tell everyone you are a Barrister when you aren’t, and you can even put it on the Council’s web site, a clear violation of the law. Does anyone care? Not usually… You can go and borrow £160M using the collateral of the security of your residents and not tell them that they just gave you £2,000 for every man, woman, and child in your borough… Does anyone care? Only when the bill comes in…