I have received many emails and phone calls regarding the future of Rylston, the Registry office on Oatlands Drive both as the County Councillor for Weybridge and as the Cabinet Member for Property and Business Services. I am also aware that a large number of people have signed a petition calling for the building to be saved.
Can I first of all reassure residents that absolutely no decision has been taken to sell the building or redevelop it.
It is true that Surrey County Council are reviewing all of their property assets to ensure that the return on its buildings is optimised. The financial position of Surrey has been well publicised and it is essential that it uses all of its assets to their maximum capability to continue to fund the exponential growth in adult social care and those with special education needs and disabilities. In some instances that may mean knocking down buildings that are no longer required for use by the services Surrey delivers and perhaps replacing the building with residential units both affordable and social as well as privately owned. The County is obliged to obtain best value at all times in whatever it does but it also has a social obligation to help those residents that need assistance including the provision of housing.
As part of the overall programme of review of the buildings and land that it owns (which I lead in my capacity as Cabinet member for Property and Business services) it is also reviewing the way in which services are delivered to residents .That includes encouraging greater use of the Surrey website to report issues around the County. Rylston formed part of that review as elements of the registry service can now be delivered on line but also because the demand for the building as a venue for weddings has changed over the past few years as many other attractive venues around the County have become licensed for weddings.
I have made it very clear that no decision on the future of Rylston would be taken without public discussion or indeed would any decision be taken without public support. That remains the case. What I have asked the Registry service to do is to look at the building to see if there are any other appropriate revenue generating opportunities that could sit alongside the Registry service and I will engage with residents if there are any suggestions.
The feedback I have had shows just how valued Rylston is as a building and as a venue. That helps enormously when Surrey are considering the options as after all Surrey County Council is here to serve its residents.
Ultimately the decision on the future of all of Surreys buildings rests with the Cabinet, but you have my assurance that as the Cabinet member responsible for making a recommendation to the cabinet on any property disposal, that I am fully appreciative of the strength of local opinion and that I have committed to ensure that any decision on its future will have local public support.