Responding to Cllr Andrew Povey's comments on BBC Radio Surrey this morning, Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said today:
"I am pleased that Cllr Povey agrees with what the Liberal Democrats and I have been saying about Surrey County Council's finances over the last 18 months. He is right to draw attention to the criticisms of the County Council contained within CIPFA's report "Financial Resilience Review - Surrey County Council". This report was commissioned by the current Leader of the Council and was kept hidden from county councillors for months.
"He is correct in his judgement of the folly of the Leader of the Council in pursuing a doomed policy of a 15% council tax rise which was subsequently abandoned. The CIPFA report clearly stated that such a referendum was unwinnable but the Leader of the Council refused to act on their advice.
"Instead of blaming the government for lack of funding and backing an unwinnable referendum, the Conservative administration should have been working on identifying sensible efficiencies and a realistic level of deliverable savings without cutting services. It should also have acted much earlier on the many empty buildings it owns across the county, which have cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds each year to maintain.
"Surrey County Council is in a poor financial position with no clear plan to improve the situation. Unless a solution is found, then we only have to look to Northamptonshire County Council to see the consequences of when the money eventually runs out."
A link to Cllr Povey's interview on BBC Radio Surrey can be found here (starting at 2:07:35):
A link to the CIPFA report can be found here:
Cllr Andrew Povey was Leader of Surrey County Council from 2009-11, and was elected in 2017 for the division of Cranleigh & Ewhurst.