Statement by Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, Leader of Woking Borough Council, to annual meeting of Council (Monday 24 May 2022) announcing new Portfolio Holders


Tuesday, 24 May, 2022

“So, what about the people who will work to deliver on these priorities.

“I will be taking on the partnerships the Council has with external companies. This includes relationships with Amey, Serco, Freedom Leisure, Skanska. It’s really important that we work closely with these organisations and that they are delivering for local people. 

“Looking at Serco in particular they do a good job of collecting litter and collecting up fly-tipped waste. Where I’d like to see improvement, and a more sustainable approach, is in the gardening work, the flowers shrubs and other planting that makes our area more attractive. I am seeking a yea-round approach to sustainable gardening and working with local people who want to contribute to gardens in communal areas.

“I’ll also cover engagement with local people, businesses and organisations. It is absolutely vital that we take everyone with the Council on our future path. I acknowledge the work done by the previous administration setting up a framework and we will take that a step further this year. 

“In particular the masterplan will be open for wide consultation both online and in person. We will be holding events, have a regular site where people can come and look and give their views on plans as the masterplan emerges. 

“I will be out and about as much as I can meeting with businesses, organisations and individuals across the borough to ensure I understand what is important to each area of Woking for their local community.

“A year or so ago I called for us to look at the infrastructure needs of the east of the borough, in particular given the amount of development ongoing or planned for that part of the borough. This led to an infrastructure plan for the whole of Woking. 

“I’ve also been successful in reviving the infrastructure task group in the last year and there has been some great input there across the parties. I’m very hopeful we can do more with this in the years ahead to make sure to try and ensure we have the infrastructure that is needed, in schools, health, driving, walking and cycling.

Deputy Leader

“I am very pleased to announce that my Deputy will be Cllr Will Forster. There are a number of strategic projects providing challenges to the Council and Cllr Forster has bravely stepped up to take on moving those forward. Projects include the Victoria Square development the Victoria Arch widening and Sheerwater.

“Cllr Forster will also build on his existing relationships with Woking’s excellent voluntary sector to help and support them in their work.

Finance and economic development

Cllr Dale Roberts only joined the Council 12 months ago, but he’s made a huge impact in that time. He chaired the Economic Development Task Group last year and asked many pertinent questions at the Standards and Audit Committee. 

"Cllr Roberts will take on a new portfolio combining Finance and Economic Development. The finances of Woking Borough are very much tied up in its economic development so this seems a perfect marriage to get the most out of both and use the wide ranging skills of Cllr Roberts.

Planning Policy

"Ensuring we have both a masterplan that works for Woking Town Centre and we can provide as much affordable housing as is possible is in the hands of Cllr Liam Lyons as he returns to the political fray after a successful mayoral year. 
“Cllr Lyons is looking forward to building on his past work in planning policy and housing and seeking to get the best deal for local people for people to provide homes that work for the population.


“As control of housing moves back in house Cllr Ian Johnson will oversee the new housing management process, get on top of repairs and maintenance of our housing, monitor performance of the housing strategy and work with other portfolio holders to bring forward housing developments on council-owned sites.

Living Well

“Another newcomer Cllr Ellen Nicholson has also made a significant impression in her first 12 months in the Council. She played a key role on the Joint Committee with work on the Health and Wellbeing group and got important answers on pollution in our rivers. Council agreed her proposals for White Ribbon accreditation, supporting the safety of women and girls. 

“Ellen is a nurse by profession and the Living Well portfolio we have created to cover both community activities health and well-being, sport and leisure fits her perfectly. Cllr Nicholson will work with Freedom Leisure, who already offer a great range of sports and leisure activities for all ages. She will put in place an updated programme for playground refurbishments and work to make Woking a safe and welcoming place for all.

Greener Woking

“My final portfolio focuses on a Greener Woking and will be headed by long-standing Cllr Rob Leach. Rob will be working with the Greener Woking Task Group as we progress the Council towards carbon zero and looking to roll that out across the borough. 

“Work has been done in the past to insulate homes and we will seek government support to take this a step further and help local people have warmer homes that cost less to heat in this time of astronomical energy costs. 

“We will look to improve walking and cycling routes and to have infrastructure in place for electric vehicle and cycle charging so people have choices in how they travel. We will involve local people in a Greener Woking so everyone can contribute to improving our environment. 

Planning Committee

"In addition to the Executive members, I am delighted that Cllr Louise Morales will continue her excellent work as Chair of Planning and of the Local Development Framework.

“It is a going to be a challenging year ahead but my Executive and I, and all of our group, are looking forward with hope to this opportunity to change Woking for good.”

Read the Leader of the Council's statement on the new administration's priorities for the year ahead