There are some questions which one never bothers to ask. Some which one wishes to dodge: Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from?

One which currently, in this area at least, needs to be answered is: What are local councils for? 

Surely not enlarging a property portfolio? Surely not for investing in vanity projects?

Being me, I looked it up. I discovered the duties of the council are:

* Representing the local community.

* Delivering services to meet local needs.

* Striving to improve quality of life and community well-being.

* Developing and evaluating the policies and programmes of the municipality.

* Determining which services the municipality provides.

* Ensuring that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council.

On that basis, how should we mark Woking Borough Council?

Representing the local community. Well, if Woking was not on the map it certainly is now, and for all the wrong reasons. Its disastrous debts have made it a talking point, even in parliament. Perhaps another question I should ask is: ‘What are the duties of auditors?’

Delivering services to meet local needs. There are some things WBC has done which would merit a ‘good’ mark. The layout of Jubilee Square is good: the amphitheatre look comes into its own when the community gets together on public occasions, such as the King’s Accession, Remembrance Day, and I’ll include publicity for the annual pantomime. The town centre loos have received some very positive comments. 

Of course, there have been some disasters and most of them come under the heading of what councils are not for: property portfolios and vanity building. 

The waste collection gets a ‘good’ mark, especially when you consider the problems of residents elsewhere in the country with numerous waste containers into which they must sort their rubbish. And we are so lucky that paper, glass, plastic and certain other recyclable items can be placed in the one container. 

Striving to improve quality of life and wellbeing. We have some great open spaces and public parks which are certainly good for our wellbeing. What they have achieved at Brookwood Cemetery, after so many years of neglect of this beautiful area, also gets ‘good’ marks. 

The way the local parks, and playgrounds, are cared for is also good, although in some cases ‘could try harder’ could be added to the comments.

The Pool in the Park and leisure centre would also, I think, come under this heading, also the various well-used community centres and the Citizens Advice – which must now be known as Citizens Advice Woking.

This last mentioned is of enormous importance: earlier this month, this wonderful charity prevented a suicide.

Developing and evaluating the policies and programmes of the municipality. I am not at all sure what that entails, and would probably write ‘see the above’ as some of the policies would overlap some of the above comments. But basically I think the comment would be ‘failed’.

On the other hand, perhaps I should include some things WBC have done right – past tense, I fear – Party in the Park, the very well received food festivals, gay pride, the well-designed Amazon play park in Woking Park which cost rather a lot, was much enjoyed, but is now rather neglected.

Determine which services the municipality provides. Surely that is the basics in that the WBC should act in a parental way. Affordable housing – genuinely affordable, as were the original council houses which were sturdily built and included a garden, however small.

Sanitation is vital: I have been reading in Alan Crosby’s book A History of Woking how the Necropolis Company, owners of most of what became Woking, were negligent in the provision of sanitation and general infrastructure, so somewhere along the line Woking’s council improved those two things. And now they are talking of closing public conveniences.

Serviceable roads: they’ve failed on that, with potholes and road closures for a variety of reasons including bits falling off buildings. 

A diversity of shops with a mixture of wares. Good public transport and plenty of car parks – reasonably priced. 

Failed – if this were a school examination paper the ‘failed’ comment would be followed by something to the effect of ‘see the head teacher’.

The nearest the WBC has to a head teacher is us – the residents of this poor town. We really must force WBC to ‘try harder’.

Ensuring that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council. Does that sound like councils being allowed to mark their own exam papers?

Statutory responsibilities include the obvious licensing, development control, building control, environmental health, street parking, traffic regulations , housing and waste collection. Those things should be set in stone.

As teachers everywhere tell pupils, if you don’t understand, ask! Well, perhaps we are not asking loudly enough. Remember, the council is not in a position to hand out detentions or even lines. Perhaps we should be handing those to them.