Your town council has been shortlisted for Council of the Year by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
NALC represents 10,000 local councils, so we would regard this as an outstanding accolade if we win the award.
I will come back to this in the next FTC Voice, explaining what we believe we have achieved to reach the finals, but if you are already supportive please go straight to the online vote at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CVQVYSZ and vote for Farnham.
The town council has had many challenges planning this year’s programme, because of the ever-changing Covid situation. However, we have managed to hold a number of Music in the Meadow events, which many of you will have attended, even though we have needed to impose social-distancing rules on the attendees.
These Sundays in the park are in full swing now and will extend to September. Last Sunday was rained upon for some of the time, however we were treated to four wonderful performances by younger musicians.
Keep an eye on the council website for details of a wide range of events, hopefully with fewer onerous Covid restrictions.
The popular farmers’ markets have continued to run monthly, as always in Central car park. As well as these, the town council has been trialling Sunday markets in West Street, to bring additional footfall in support of our retailers. These have been popular so we will be reviewing our next steps and consider having them more frequently.
Farnham in Bloom
The council has entered the town in the South and South East In Bloom competition again this year, and was invited to participate in the national Britain in Bloom competition as well.
Many local people and visitors tell us how much they appreciate the flowers round the town; we must thank our grounds staff and volunteers for all the effort they put into this, together with local businesses, including our corporate sponsor Patio Black Spot Removal company, which helps underwrite the costs of the flowers.
This year we had some additional support from the Waverley external contractors to make sure the roadside grass was cut in time for the judging, since Farnham was part of the borough’s No Mow May initiative (itself a national scheme).
Arts, crafts and culture
Farnham is certainly getting itself known nationally these days. Coming hot after our recognition as a world craft town (announced earlier this year), we now see ourselves voted as a top cultural centre in Britain, based on the cultural offering per head of population.
This was reported in last week’s Mail on Sunday. When the Brightwells centre opens, we shall also have a new cinema, adding to the offerings at the Farnham Maltings, the museum, the Craft Study Centre, the Farnham Pottery and the New Ashgate Gallery, alongside numerous other venues.
Farnham’s younger people
The town council is very conscious our younger people have had a hard time during the pandemic. Not only has their education been disrupted, but their freedom to meet up and enjoy themselves has been impacted enormously.
We have been looking at this in many ways, in conjunction with young people, and alongside the borough and county councils and the support organisations. We are organising a BMX event in Gostrey Meadow and a skate jam in the skate park during August.
We expect to be able to announce a number of other initiatives later this year.
Farnham Infrastructure Programme
Following the consultations earlier this year, the programme has been progressing on a number of fronts.
Sometimes stories get around that don’t quite reflect what is actually happening, so here is the latest update.
The first elements are now under way. The programme has already announced the intention to restrict heavy goods vehicles on some of our roads; you will see new signage to enable this appearing in coming weeks. There will also be a number of small schemes announced to help people get around the town, including 20mph zones, potential road reclassification, and improved wayfinding to support walking and cycling.
The wider programme is reliant to some extent on ‘modal shift’ – the technical term for encouraging all of us to think about using our cars less, and opting to walk, cycle and use improved public transport more.
This is not a campaign to ban people coming to town by car; it is intended to help reduce congestion and air pollution for all our benefits as we tackle some of the trickier elements of the climate challenge and delivering our carbon reduction targets.
Further work is also in hand on town-centre changes. This is complicated for many reasons, so it is important that enough time is taken to consider all the factors and make sure the proposals benefit everyone as much as possible.
No decisions have been made in regard to the major road improvements. However, Surrey County Council will soon be submitting a strategic outline business case to the Department of Transport, relating to the A31 and station area project, to secure a place in the major highway funding streams.
Over the summer, councillors will be involved in shaping these schemes with the programme team. Once there are clearer proposals, there will be further public engagement.
COMING UP in this year’s season of open air concerts in Gostrey Meadow:
August 1 – The Revivals Band (Pop and rock)
August 8 – The TR5s (Rock ‘n’ roll, skiffle)
August 15 – Azure (Modern rock and pop)
August 22 – Kindred Spirit (Folk rock)