A consultation on proposals to make changes and reduce council services will begin on Monday 2 October 2023, following a decision by councillors during last night’s Full Council meeting (Thursday 28 September).
To address the council’s severe financial challenges the council must become a smaller, more efficient council focused on delivering essential services to residents.
The six-week consultation gives residents and community stakeholders the opportunity to have their say on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy which recommends a revised 2024/25 budget that includes £12m of savings. Analysis of the recent resident engagement conducted in summer 2023 has informed these proposals.
Proposals include the reduction or removal of discretionary services, unless they can become ‘self-funding’ and internal measures such as reducing the size and cost of the Civic Offices, as well as management costs.
The consultation specifically seeks views on three proposals: the closure of public toilets; handing over the management and maintenance of pavilions (excluding pitches) to alternative organisations; and the phased closure of Pool in the Park.
Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “I know many residents will have strong views on these proposals, particularly the proposed phased closure of Pool in the Park.
“I totally understand residents’ frustration. I don’t want to see the pool close and will consider all feasible alternatives to keeping it open. Yet the harsh realities are that the council must make significant savings in order to tackle the severe financial crisis that my administration inherited.
“It is vitally important that residents formally submit their views on these proposals to the council. The council must fully understand the impact that these proposals could have on individuals and communities.
“No decision has been made on the future of these services, but the council’s financial challenges are so severe that future decisions will not always align with residents’ views. The final decision on any changes will be made by Full Council on Thursday 8 February 2024.
“There is no doubt that the future is challenging and things will get worse before they get better. It requires the determination and resolve of councillors, the staff that support them, residents and stakeholders. I want Woking to recover and become a council that delivers for residents.”
Residents and community stakeholders can submit their views on the draft proposals from Monday 2 October 2023 via Woking Community Forum.
Key stakeholders, community groups and sports clubs will be consulted directly. Paper copies of the consultation will be available at a number of locations across the borough including the Civic Offices and centres for the community.
The consultation ends midnight, Sunday 12 November 2023.
All responses will be evaluated and considered as part of budget decisions in February 2024.