Agenda item

Questions from Councillors

To hear questions (if any) from councillors of which due notice has been given.


(a)       Councillor George Potter asked the Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Councillor John Rigg, the following question:


“A new sewage treatment works for Guildford was due to be completed by 2025 as part of the Weyside Urban Village project. However, this has now been delayed and is sufficiently behind schedule that the Weyside Urban Village project now has an Amber-Red ranking due to these delays.


The current Moorfield sewage treatment works has a maximum capacity of 89,810 pe (people equivalent). As early as 2018 figures show that the works was serving 99,200 pe, meaning that it has been significantly overcapacity for many years.


What is the latest estimated completion date for the replacement sewage treatment works?


What actions are being undertaken to ensure adequate supply of sewage capacity for Guildford until the new sewage treatment works is completed?


What discussions are the lead member and officers, as representatives of the municipal authority, having with Thames Water about ensuring Thames Water meets their obligations under Section 93 of the Water Industry Act?


What has been the outcome of any such discussions to date?


The Lead Councillor’s response to the question is as follows:


The Thames Water New Sewage Treatment Works (NSTW) is funded by the Weyside Project however, programme and delivery is the responsibility of Thames Water. The amber risk rating relates to the delivery of the facility and is a prudent industry measure at this stage of the project.


Delay to submission of the Thames Water Planning Application to SCC has been caused by a late consultation response from the Environment Agency.


Thames Water Programme milestones as below;


Contractor procurement; August 2021 – Achieved

Planning application submission; January 2022 – Achieved

Planning Committee; August 2022 - Delayed

Revised Planning Committee; 26 October 2022 – Subject to SCC report

Planning Consent issue; November 2022- Subject to SCC Planning Committee

Site Establishment; January 2023

Construction start; February 2023

Construction end; April 2025

Commissioning; August 2026

Transfer Existing Sewage Treatment Works to GBC; September 2026


To summarise, Thames Water are targeting completion of the NSTW in April 2025 with commissioning completed by August 2026, as per the original programme. This will be achieved by re scheduling initial site activities subject to achieving a timely consent from SCC.


The Weyside team and GBC officers manage the relationship and monitor both financial and milestone progress of design and construction of the NSTW, as set out in the legal agreement dated 30 April 2019 between The Council and Thames Water.


The team do not have any jurisdiction to discuss Thames Water’s obligations under Section 93 of the Water Industry Act. This is the role of the Water Services Regulation Authority; Ofwat.”


In response to a supplementary question which sought clarification in respect of the Amber-Red status and a response in relation to the Council’s obligations under Section 78 of the Water Industry Act 1991, and the likelihood of sewage pollution of the River Wey due to the water authority not meeting its statutory obligations, the Lead Councillor stated that all of the Council’s projects were colour coded which meant that those which were Amber-Red required close monitoring.  The new water sewage works, to be constructed by the water authority was being progressed as quickly as possible, but there had been delays because the Environment Agency had not responded promptly to consultations, which was why the project was amber rated. The Lead Councillor indicated that, generally, the project was progressing very well, but that he would contact the water authority in respect of the dumping of sewage and inform Councillor Potter accordingly.


(b)       Councillor Tony Rooth asked the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, the following question:


“Could the Lead Councillor confirm agreement that presentations slides/graphs on agenda items for all Council and committee meetings will be distributed to relevant/all councillors and published on the Council’s website at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting date/time. These presentations etc. are usually delivered at the meeting itself without prior inclusion in agenda or distributed prior to the meeting.  At least 24 hours pre meeting distribution will give councillors and residents/public the time and opportunity to view, consider and comment on agenda items (with the benefit of prior sight of presentations etc.) in order to demonstrate openness and transparency to councillors and residents/the public alike.”


The Deputy Leader’s response to the question was as follows:


“I thank Cllr Rooth for his question.


Although we do not have control over third party providers, we do endeavour to circulate presentation slides for committee meetings to councillors and publish them online as soon as we can.  However, occasionally it is not possible to do this for various reasons, for example where important information to be included in the presentation is not available. 


I’m happy to confirm that we will always try to circulate such presentations to councillors and, where permissible, publish them online at least 24 hours before the Council/committee meeting.”


By way of a supplementary question, the Deputy Leader was asked to clarify his statement that “we do endeavour to circulate presentation, slides for committee meetings to councillors”, and to state which committee meetings such endeavour had been carried out.   The Deputy Leader was also asked why this long overdue approach towards openness, and transparency had taken two years to introduce.


In response, the Deputy Leader indicated that Councillor Rooth had misunderstood the answer to his question, and that the approach had not changed over the past two years.  The Deputy Leader reiterated that we would always try to circulate such presentations to councillors and, where permissible, publish them online at least 24 hours before a Council or committee meeting.