Foreword from the Leader of the Council: A council which works for you
"First and foremost, Woking Borough Council’s Corporate Plan is a document about values and how these shape the future of the borough.
"But no plan, however forward-looking, could ignore the place from which it starts. The impact of covid-19 during 2020 and 2021 will continue to have a significant impact on the council’s business and the degree to which it can bring its values to bear.
"Fortunately, good financial management has been the cornerstone of the council’s activity during the past decade. This has placed the authority in a better position than it might otherwise have been during the pandemic and allowed it to better support those within the community that needed it during successive lockdowns.
"Financial challenges remain. But with the advent of a new corporate leadership, the time is right to define more comprehensively the council’s core vision and values that will inform service delivery and the relationship it has with the residents it serves.
"I am delighted that Woking Borough Council is producing a Corporate Plan. It is an opportunity to express why the council does what it does. An opportunity for residents to better understand its motivations and to better judge the job that it does for them.
"This plan is unique because it will only last for one year. The reason for that is because I want residents to have their say on the council’s core vision and values.
"Only once residents have had their say will the council put together a five-year strategy for 2022 to 2027, which takes us to the beginning of the next Local Development Framework Core Strategy period.
"However, before then I want to have a conversation with local residents that reflects their needs and concerns. My ambition for the five-year strategy is it will reflect Woking as a whole – and the council’s role in shaping the place, empowering the people and being the very best organisation it can be in the service of all.
"My vision is of a council in constant communication with residents. Through the creation of an online civic space and our Residents’ Panel, everyone in our borough will be able to have their say on any issue they want.
"My ambition is to embed this culture of consultation into the decision-making process so that councillors will have residents’ feedback on any subject available to them. That will not necessarily mean that everyone gets what they want all the time. Instead it will ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to be heard.
"And it means that the council will have a system for democratic engagement that far exceeds a simple vote once a year. I want the council to be making decisions for residents, alongside residents and with residents understanding about what the council is doing and why.
"I have committed to improving some of the ways that the council does its business to ensure openness and transparency which were highlighted by the independent report and the last peer review.
"So our values I hope will reflect optimism, ambition, trust, openness, communication, compassion and a positive culture for our residents, staff, and partners."
Cllr Ayesha Azad, Leader of Woking Borough Council and elected member for Heathlands
Introduction from the council's Chief Executive
"We will continue to support residents and businesses through this challenging time and will carefully direct our resources to ensure we provide essential services, particularly for our most vulnerable residents, whilst looking to the future to develop an ambitious five year strategy.
"We will continue to build upon recent achievements to make Woking an economically vibrant, inclusive, digitally connected borough – one that prioritises sustainable growth that drives long term prosperity and wellbeing for residents.
"We will continue to be at the forefront of innovation in addressing the challenges we face as a result of climate change. The commitments we have made to tackle climate change are fundamental to good growth and must underpin our regeneration plans. The targets we set to reduce carbon emissions and improve biodiversity and how they manifest in improving the living environment for residents go hand in hand with improving the wellbeing and health for all.
"By working with health colleagues, we can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of residents, making services more accessible, focussing on prevention and joining up services in a way that benefits people.
"We face significant challenges as a result of the pandemic but I believe Woking has the building blocks and opportunities to strengthen its position as a key regional economic hub. Our town centre will continue to be a destination for business and leisure, and a fantastic place to live, work and reconnect with friends and family now and in the future.
"We want to hear from businesses and from our partners about how we achieve our ambitions through the Big Conversation. And by listening to our residents, we will ensure our plans encapsulate the views and needs of local communities.
"The engagement with our residents this year will not be a one off – continuous dialogue with residents will help inform our decision making, providing ongoing feedback that helps shape our plans. The Big Conversation will offer a new way of working that’s embedded in our service teams and a conversation that enables residents to engage in the future challenges we face together."
Julie Fisher, Chief Executive of Woking Borough Council