About the Council

The Council structure

The Council is made up of 36 councillors who are elected by local residents and represent 17 wards. The whole Council agrees overall policies. Day-to-day decisions are then made by the Executive comprising a leader and five councillors who are appointed by the Council.

The Executive's work is reviewed by a single Overview and Scrutiny Committee which considers a range of social, environmental and economic matters. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is responsible for setting up task groups to look at different aspects of our work and can `call-in' (or stall) the Executive's decisions for further consideration.

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Our vision

The Council's vision is 'towards tomorrow today'.

It means:

  • achieving things and looking to improve

  • having a forward-thinking attitude

  • building on what is good today, and

  • planning and working for the future.

More information about our vision and values is available elsewhere on this site.

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Our priorities

We provide a wide range of services and facilities and to help us to use our resources in the most effective way, we have to set priorities. We will focus on four key priority areas for the coming year, as follows.

  • decent and affordable housing

  • economic development

  • the environment

  • health and well-being.

Decent and affordable housing

One of the most important issues identified by our residents is the need to provide good-quality affordable housing for local people. This includes social housing as well as homes for key workers and others excluded from the open market because of the relationship between house prices to buy and rent and people's incomes.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) carried out in 2008 identifies the need to provide 499 additional units of affordable housing per annum. Progress in this area has become increasingly difficult over recent years. Due to the economic climate, development activity has declined with few house builders starting on site in the Borough on schemes with an element of affordable housing. The affordable housing opportunities coming forward are therefore limited. The target of 499 additional units is unlikely to be achieved without a significant change in market conditions.

In spite of these challenges the Council is:

  • reviewing the suitability of its land holdings for the delivery of affordable housing;
  • working with Woking Borough Homes to continue its property acquisition programme;
  • adopting a revised affordable housing policy through the Local Development Framework;
  • progressing the Private Finance Initiative affordable housing scheme at Moor Lane.

Economic development

The Council has agreed that economic development is an important area of work and has added this as a priority, to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn and build for the future.

Economic development will focus on the following key objectives.

  • Supporting existing businesses in the Borough, enabling them to survive the economic downturn, to trade profitably and to create wealth locally and provide employment opportunities (both existing and additional)
  • Creating the right environment for and actively encouraging new businesses to locate in the Borough
  • Working to retain and encourage a balanced and varied economy and a range of employment sectors and opportunities across the Borough, so as to mitigate against the worst effects of the economic downturn on the local economy and community
  • Seeking to grow employment opportunities in high tech and leading edge businesses to enhance skill levels and earning potential, so as to increase local spending power and wealth distribution
  • Working with existing and new businesses to promote sustainability and further the Council's climate change agenda (e.g. reduction in CO2 emissions) and equal opportunities policies
  • Directly investing and working with the Town Centre Partnership and other partners to continue to promote and enhance the Town Centre's retail and leisure provision to encourage shoppers and other visitors
  • Working with other agencies and partners to ensure infrastructure (such as transport links) develops in line with residential and business growth
  • Seeking to encourage employment opportunities as local as possible to where people live, to create a sense of community and to reduce carbon mileage and congestion.

The environment

To improve the quality of life for people who live in, work in and visit the Borough, we must protect and improve the environment in ways which can be maintained without using up natural resources and are sustainable in the future. This includes working on reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change.

We are working to maintain a clean, healthy and safe environment and keep the amount of waste sent to landfill as low as possible and increase recycling.

Our priorities include the following.

  • Continuing to divert waste from landfill with our alternate weekly collection of waste and recyclables, weekly collection of food waste, garden waste collection service and recycling sites. These successful services have seen our recycling rate rise to over 50% in 2010, a major landmark.

  • Working with our partners, Serco, performance on street cleaning and grounds maintenance has seen a steady improvement. More needs to be done and changes have been made that should ensure improvements continue in future years.

  • Our Climate Change Strategy provides a clear vision of how Woking wishes to achieve a low carbon and well-adapted area, integrating mitigation and adaptation. First adopted in 2002, it provides a short, medium and long term framework aligned with national targets under the Climate Change Act of at least an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, against a 1990 baseline. The strategy incorporates three principal objectives: reduction in Borough-wide CO2 equivalent emissions; adaptation to climate change; and promotion of sustainable development.

Health and well-being

We contribute to the health and well-being of our residents through the work we do to make sure that buildings, businesses and the environment are not causing harm. We also work to encourage people to take part in leisure and cultural activities that are available to everyone.

Our priorities include the following.

  • Progressing the aims of the cultural strategy and meeting the community's needs, including bringing our development plans relating to arts, sports, health and well-being and green spaces into force.

  • The Lightbox, a new gallery and museum for Woking, opened in 2007 and we will continue to work with and support this prestigious project as a valuable community facility.

  • Increasing the number of people from all sections of the community taking part in sports and cultural activities and target programmes for under-represented groups.

  • Working with the Safer Woking Partnership to reduce crime, improve safety, and tackle anti-social behaviour.

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Beacon Council

Beacon status recognises local councils which are delivering excellent public services. Winners are invited to share their experience and expertise to help other councils.

The Council has been successful in three categories:

  • Sustainable Energy, recognising our work developing innovative energy projects
  • Promoting Sustainable Communities through the Planning Process, in recognition of our work on developing affordable housing, energy efficient developments and better access to both local facilities and open spaces
  • Climate Change.