THE man who was Woking Borough Council’s chief executive for the time the authority was accruing debts that have effectively led to bankruptcy has declined to answer questions about his role in the authority’s financial strategy.

Ray Morgan was the top council officer from 2015 to 2021 and was a strong proponent of the Victoria Square town centre redevelopment and its tower blocks.

Mr Morgan was vilified by residents for allegedly trying to turn the town into a “mini-Singapore” – something he has vehemently denied. He supported the council’s purchase of the Wolsey Place shopping centre and various office buildings and the Sheerwater regeneration, to aid the creation of a vibrant local economy and provide homes for local people.

Speaking the day after the Section 114 declaration, he said: “I have not been party to any of the deliberations recently made by the council and neither was I asked by it or others about any of the decisions that were taken by the council, following advice from officers and advisors, and, on a cross-party basis, in respect of Victoria Square, Sheerwater and the replacement of Victoria Arch; which are the major investments by the council.

“As an official of the council, I was always happy to engage with the media to explain the council’s position and the reasoning behind the advice I and my colleagues gave to the council. 

“However, as I am no longer employed by the council, I do not think it appropriate for me to engage in a public discussion when I am no longer in possession of the facts of the matter.”

Most of the spending black hole was created between 2016 and 2019, when Mr Morgan was chief executive. He had joined the council as director of financial services in 1989 and was appointed an executive director in 2000. In 2005, he became acting chief executive.