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Monthly Archives: July 2009

For all those who have been wondering when work will start – if ever – on Woking’s planned 18-storey office block, a news item on Property Week’s website from last month offers a few clues. It points out that there is a need to get Hutley Investments’  160,000 sq ft property started soon as its planning permission runs out in 2011. Managing director Edward Hutley is quoted as saying: “2009 is a year of mothballing. We had to take the decision to wait before proceeding with development, as there was no point going out into that market until you can get a decent deal.”  Apparently, Hutley will not start marketing the scheme until next year but, even if the building is completed in 2012, the prospects for higher rent are promising, says Property Week, which reckons Woking remains a good commercial prospect for office development despite the credit crunch. I suppose that’s good news for all of us who live there

 

 

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There are at least one or two things which make one uneasy about the council’s response to its alarming debt levels of almost £100m http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2053718_woking_borough_council_debts_highest_in_the_county

One is the assurance, according to the Woking News and Mail,  that the Lightbox, above, will pay its £638,000 money back. Er, how can it, when admission is free? At the very least, we need a bit more clarity about the financial arrangements here. Then there is the sun-seeking Canopy, and the mysterious finances of the energy-efficiency company, Thameswey, that Woking council has set up, and whose workings trouble a number of contributors to the forum on the council’s website. An airy wave of the arm from the council’s chief executive, Ray Morgan, who says council taxpayers have nothing to worry about, really won’t do.

I’m a great supporter of the Lightbox, unlike some, but I do think a transparent, easily accessible exposition of its finances, and its financial relationship with Woking council would help clear the air.  The Canopy, which I welcomed as giving the town a new, modern look, has had enormous cost overruns, and the council has proved strangely shy about giving details about the energy savings it has so far accumulated.  All this creates an atmosphere of suspicion towards new projects, such as the Woking Gateway. It really is time for Woking council to develop a new relationship with its council taxpayers, and keep them up to date with the full, financial facts. The council is now reported to be considering scrapping Woking’s Christmas lights this year to save money, and its car parking revenue is projected to be down by £1.3m this year. It’s not looking too good