Tag Archives: woking borough council

Woking: Lib Dems landed with massive Tory debt

Liberal Democrats have inherited a huge headache from the Conservatives in Woking. The Borough is quite small, with a population of around 100,000, and is located in archetypal Blue Wall Surrey, centred around the busy town of the same name. But as we all know there is now a very large patch of orange stretching across the county, and Woking Lib Dems led the way, taking control in 2022. Since the local elections earlier this month we now hold 20 of the 30 council seats, and our Leader is Councillor Ann-Marie Barker.

It’s important to note that the Conservatives were in control from 2011 to 2019, followed by two years of No Overall Control with a minority Conservative administration.

Now it’s common for an incoming administration to blame the previous one for the problems it faces. But this problem is in a league of its own because, as has now been revealed, the Conservatives racked up a debt of around £2 billion – yes, you read that correctly! That makes Woking the most indebted council in the UK, relative to its size, and Government commissioners have now been sent in.

So how on earth does a small Council, in an admittedly affluent area, get into so much trouble? Yesterday the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published a damning report into the whole sorry affair. It seems that the Council borrowed huge sums to regenerate the town centre.

As a result of past investment decisions, the council has failed its best value duty leaving an unprecedented legacy for the current leadership team, which they have not been able to address.

Posted in News | 14 Comments

Conservatives lose control of council as Councillor Graham Chrystie joins Lib Dems in Woking

Graham Chrystie, a Pyrford Councillor for 8 years, has left the Conservative party and joined the Liberal Democrats. The move comes on the eve of May’s local elections. Cllr Chrystie is not up for election, but it now means that the Council is in No Overall Control, with 15 Conservatives facing 15 opposition councillors.

The current state of the parties is:

Conservative  15
Lib Dem           9
Lab                  3
Ind                   3

Cllr Chrystie said:

The Conservative Party in Woking is failing on openness, proper consultation and financial disclosure, The Leader of the Council, who has his main residence in Scotland, has curtailed debate within the Conservative group and has proceeded with projects which too often lack transparency. Residents have not been properly consulted on key decisions such as plans for a Pub/Restaurant on West Byfleet Recreation Ground, a site held by the Borough only as a Trustee for local residents.

I cannot in conscience remain a member of the Conservative Group. I now feel I can work more effectively for my ward residents and deliver what local people want, within the Liberal Democrat Group, where I can operate within an established, harmonious and effective team.


Welcoming Cllr Chrystie to the Liberal Democrat Group, Leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker said:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Court bid to get Woking election result overturned

Get Surrey reports:

Woking Borough Council (WBC) will appear at the High Court later this month after an application was made to declare an election result invalid.

Labour hopeful Mohammad Ali, who came second at the borough council election for the Maybury and Sheerwater ward in May, has submitted the claim, highlighting what he calls ‘persistent electoral irregularities’ including the number of postal votes in the area and rejected ballots.

Posted in Election law | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Recent Comments

  • David LG
    @Geoffrey Payne I believe the 50 seats figure was for if Farage enters the race. The MRP polls I mention (two this year so far) will be based on polling data fr...
  • Katharine Pindar
    @Peter Martin. I feel your pain, Peter, in that no party is committed to redistribution, since I also would like to see the ratio in industry between workers' p...
  • Geoffrey Payne
    @David LG, look again at the first paragraph, it does mention 50 seats! With our voting system it is a bit of a lottery trying to predict how many seats we will...
  • David LG
    I really don't care for the pessimism of the first paragraph. Most recent MRP polls have us winning around 50 seats already, and the only reason it's not higher...
  • David Raw
    Yes, indeed, Mary Reid, I most certainly do, and after nearly sixty years of doing that I hope you will allow me to reply to that. It's not what's stated on...