Eye-watering: how Woking councils glittering dream turned to dust
In the autumn of 2020, the Tory leader of Woking council announced he was stepping down. In his valedictory speech, David Bittleston insisted Woking was not merely the best council in the country but was going places. Ahead of us, this borough has an exciting future, he declared.
Bittlestons self-congratulatory boosterism was par for the course. He and the towns municipal leaders were signed up to a grandiose high-rise vision that would transform the modest commuter town in leafy Surrey into a glittering modern city, Singapore-style economic hub and premier global business location.
This week Woking filed for effective bankruptcy after running up a deficit of 1.2bn on a series of risky property and regeneration deals. The place perhaps best known as the inspiration for The Jams hit song Town Called Malice, has become the biggest financial basket case in UK local government history.
The former Tory leader of Woking council, David Bittleston. Photograph: Woking borough council