Surrey Heath

Surrey Heath is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England. Its council is based in Camberley. Much of the area is within the Metropolitan Green Belt.

Surrey Heath
Coat of arms of Surrey Heath
Coat of arms
Festina diligenter
(Latin: Make haste carefully)
Surrey Heath shown within Surrey
Surrey Heath shown within Surrey
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
Non-metropolitan countySurrey
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQCamberley
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodySurrey Heath Borough Council
 • LeadershipCllr Alan McClafferty (Conservative)
 • MPsMichael Gove (Conservative)
 • Total36.7 sq mi (95.1 km2)
Area rank220th (of 317)
 (mid-2019 est.)
 • Total89,305
 • Rank273rd (of 317)
 • Density2,400/sq mi (940/km2)
 • Ethnicity[1]
95.4% White
2.1% S.Asian
1.0% Black
1.4% Chinese or Other
1.4% Mixed Race
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code43UJ (ONS)
E07000214 (GSS)
OS grid referenceSU8752760851


St Saviour's Church, Valley End, Windlesham

The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of Frimley and Camberley Urban District, and Bagshot Rural District. The Borough acquired its name because it includes extensive areas of heath and woodland including Chobham Common and Lightwater Country Park.

Bagshot Rural DistrictEdit

Bagshot Rural District formed the largest part of Surrey Heath. The villages and hamlets in Bagshot rural district comprised Lightwater, Bagshot, Windlesham, Chobham including West End and Bisley.

The motto for the district was Festina Prudenter granted on 20 July 1960.

On the crest, the gold and white background was from the arms of Chertsey Abbey, which owned and is connected with the history of much of the district - Bagshot was included in a grant to the Abbey as early as 933. The stag's head on the crest refers to Bagshot Park, a royal demesne since Norman times and hunting ground of the Stuart kings, and also to the fact that much of the area was formerly part of Windsor Forest. The grenade on the crest refers to the area's military associations, in particular the former military camp at Chobham and the lion recalls the area's royal links. The fir cones and mound of heathland refers to Bagshot Heath, and the falcon is derived from the supporters of the Earls of Onslow.[2]

The Surrey Heath community have been recognised for one of the most organised volunteer initiatives to the COVID-19 outbreak through their Surrey Heath Prepared organisation.[3]


The local area is governed by Surrey Heath Borough Council with councillors' affiliations as follows:[4]

Political Party Seats
Conservative 18
Liberal Democrat 10
Independent 4
Green 2
Labour 1

The 2 May 2019 borough elections left the Conservative party with a majority of one, their smallest ever.[5]

For detailed election results, see Surrey Heath Borough Council elections.

In 2014, the British Election Study named Surrey Heath as the most right-wing constituency in the country.[6]

Parish CouncilsEdit

The parish council elections resulted in 7 Independent councillors for Bisley Parish council and 13 Conservative, 3 Green, 2 Independent and 1 Liberal Democrat for Windlesham Parish Council.[7]

Parish councils in Surrey Heath are in Bisley with the chairman being Cllr Barry Woodhead; Chobham with the chairman being Cllr Les Coombs; West End with the chairman being Cllr David Elliott and Windlesham (which includes Lightwater and Bagshot) where the chairman is Cllr Keith Hand.[8]

Council financial managementEdit

In 2016 the Conservative-led council approved the £110 million purchase of the Square Shopping centre in Camberley, through the purchase of an offshore trust based in Jersey (a condition of the vendor). Although Surrey Heath Borough Council owns the trust, it has no direct control over the asset and depends on unknown trustees to manage the assets of the trust.[9][10]

In 2019, the council's accounts report property investment assets valued at £83 million, a reported loss of £27 million.[9][10]

Reports involving Karen Whelan, former Chief ExecutiveEdit

In January 2019, it was revealed the then Chief Executive, Karen Whelan, had had her base salary increased by over 30% to £158,000, making it higher than that of the then Prime Minister, Theresa May. The increase had been 'approved' by Moira Gibson, the Conservative Council's leader, and was awarded at the same time that other public sector workers were being awarded pay-rises of 2.5%, in line with central government 'austerity measures'. [11]

In August 2019, Private Eye reported Ms Gibson had given an "unlawful £15,000 p.a. pay increase to Ms Whelan in 2019, backdated to April 2017". The additional payment was reportedly due to the council Chief Executive managing the council's commercial property portfolio.[12]

In October 2019, Ms Whelan was reported to have been placed on special leave, despite speculation that she had been suspended.[13][14]

In January 2020, the council received a report from an independent investigation into the payments made to Ms Whelan, prepared by law firm Browne Jacobson. Citing undisclosed ongoing matters, Browne Jacobson said the council should not release the report, "either in full or in part". At that time there was no report of Karen Whelan having left the pay of the council.[15]

A heavily redacted version of the investigation report was subsequently released, which Private Eye magazine reported in May 2020 "clearly stated the payments [to Ms Whelan] were "unlawful either for want of [Ms Gibson's] authority ... or because the relevant procedural requirements were not followed"". The article also reported "Whelan enjoyed stays in two luxury hotels" which the Browne Jacobson investigation described as "in each case ... outwith the council's policy on overnight accommodation". The article continued "Whelan had told her PA to put her gift and hospitality entries in a separate log from that of other officers" with the Browne Jacobson report noting "It is unclear how inspection would occur if the existence of the separate log was unknown".[16]

Local residents started a petition calling on the council to release the non-redacted version of the independent investigation report to the police.[17]

Vote of no confidence in council leader (2020)Edit

In January 2020, Conservative and council leader Richard Brooks resigned along with deputy leader Charlotte Morley following a unanimous vote of no confidence in the leader by the Conservative council group.[15]. Alan McClafferty was elected as new Conservative leader and council leader, who went on to sack a number of Conservative front benchers, including gaff prone Paul Deach, whose campaign was blamed for the Liberal Democrat's successes.[18]

Councillor's court attendance for non-payment of council taxEdit

In June 2016 Conservative Councillor Daniel Robert Adams attended court for non-payment of council tax.[19] In the same financial year he received two allowances (a basic and a special allowance) totalling £6400.40 from Surrey Heath Council.[20]


The area forms the heart of the heath that spans Esher, Oxshott, Weybridge, Wisley, all around Woking, Brookwood, Deepcut, Pirbright, Frimley, Lightwater, Camberley, Chobham Common, Virginia Water and Ottershaw. It is made up of naturally wet, very acid sandy and loamy soil, which is just 1.9% of English soil and 0.2% of Welsh soil, which gives rise to pines and coniferous landscapes, such as pioneered at Wentworth and Foxhills estate (now spa, hotel, restaurant and golf club) by pro-American independence statesman Charles James Fox.[21] In geology it gives rise to the name, Bagshot Formation.

The western section of the district is largely urbanised, with heaths nonetheless providing substantial green buffer around Camberley, Lightwater, Deepcut, Frimley, Frimley Green and Mytchett. The east of the district is less urbanised, and contains Surrey Heath's four civil parishes:[22]

Within the borough there are five Sites of Special Scientific Interest, four of which are part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area of European Importance as a habitat for certain endangered bird species; these make up some of the six Wildlife Reserves managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust in Surrey Heath.

Notable peopleEdit


Surrey Heath is twinned with Sucy-en-Brie, France, and Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany.[23]

Energy policyEdit

In May 2006, a report commissioned by British Gas showed that housing in Surrey Heath produced the 3rd highest average carbon emissions in the country at an average of 7,477 kg of carbon dioxide per dwelling.[24]

Opinion pollEdit

Surrey Heath was voted the 6th best place to live in Channel 4's 2007 Location, Location, Location 'best and worst' survey.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Local statistics - Office for National Statistics".
  3. ^ Times <> (, Byline (17 April 2020). "The Coronavirus Crisis: Keeping Faith with NHS Volunteers While Community Initiatives Blossom". Byline Times. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Your Councillors". Surrey Heath Borough Council. 9 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  5. ^ Heath, Surrey [@Surreyheath] (3 May 2019). "All results for the Borough Elections have now been declared. Here's what the political makeup of the Council now looks like... / #LE19 #localelections2019 @YourVote_UK @ElectoralCommUK #surreyheath" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Wheeler, Brian (1 December 2014). "Strange reasons why people vote" – via
  7. ^ Heath, Surrey [@Surreyheath] (3 May 2019). "It's a wrap! All Parish results now declared! / #LE19 #localelections2019 @YourVote_UK @ElectoralCommUK #surreyheath" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ "Surrey Heath Councillors".
  9. ^ a b Parker, Graham (9 November 2018). "Surrey Heath stands by £110m purchase of Camberley centre". Property Week. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Surrey Heath Borough Council Financial Statements 2018-9 (draft) page 13" (PDF). Surrey Heath Borough Council. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  11. ^ Jubert, Jamie (2 August 2019). "Council's chief's pay packet sky rockets 30%". getsurrey. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  12. ^ Private Eye, Issue 1503.
  13. ^ Phillips, Jamie (4 October 2019). "Council chief exec on leave while pay investigation takes place". getsurrey. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Under fire chief on 'period of leave'". Local Government Chronicle. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b Boyd, Alex (20 January 2020). "Council leader and deputy leader resign with no explanation". getsurrey. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  16. ^ Private Eye, Issue 1522, p.20
  17. ^ Private Eye, Issue 1522, 22 May 2020.
  18. ^ joannea (30 January 2020). "New leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council elected". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  19. ^ Dobinson, Isabel (12 December 2017). "Five councillors summonsed to court for not paying council tax". getsurrey. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Surrey Heath Borough Council member allowances paid in FY 16-17" (PDF). Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Soilscapes soil types viewer - National Soil Resources Institute. Cranfield University".
  22. ^ Surrey Council Archived 26 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "About Surrey Heath".
  24. ^ Centrica plc Archived 26 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (27 February 2013). Retrieved on 17 July 2013.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°20′22″N 0°44′36″W / 51.3395°N 0.7433°W / 51.3395; -0.7433