Fringe Box



Attendance at Council Offices of Disgraced Former Councillor Causes Concern

Published on: 20 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2015

A meeting involving disgraced former councillor Monika Juneja about a Gypsy and Traveller site led to a controversy at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) last week that has left some councillors and council officers unhappy.

Cllr Spooner

Cllr Paul Spooner, lead councillor for planning and deputy leader of the Tory group.

Cllr Paul Spooner (Con, Ash South & Tongham) disagreed with the council leader, Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South & Tongham), about the advisability of Ms Juneja’s presence at the meeting and made his feelings known. Cllr Spooner, the lead councillor for planning, has, to date, been a loyal lieutenant and Tongham stable mate of Cllr Mansbridge.

Ms Juneja, the former lead councillor for planning was at the Old Bailey for forgery, deception and pretending to be a barrister.

The purpose of the meeting on July 15 was to discuss progress on matters involving a Gypsy and Traveller community at Home Park Farm, Effingham. The ward councillor for Effingham, Liz Hogger (Lib Dem), was not present.

Monika Juneja

Monika Juneja

Ms Juneja was at the meeting representing two Gypsy and Traveller ambassadors, who were with her.

Council officers at the meeting were unhappy with the criticism directed at the council and with the involvement of Ms Juneja, who is still believed to be completing 200 hours of community service as part of her sentence.

Cllr Spooner told The Guildford Dragon: “Ms Juneja was critical of the pace [of progress] in relation to Home Farm and this was backed by the leader… [she raised] issues on behalf of the two ambassadors relating to a long period… for most of the period the leader was the portfolio holder.”

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, council leader and leader of the Tory group.

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, council leader and leader of the Tory group.

Councillor Mansbridge took over the planning portfolio in August 2014 after he had asked Ms Juneja to step down as lead councillor for planning in the wake of criminal charges laid by Surrey Police. Cllr Spooner took over the portfolio two months ago, in May, after the borough council election, when a new Executive was appointed by Cllr Mansbridge.

Cllr Spooner continued: “After the meeting, several officers present expressed to me their concern regarding Ms Juneja’s presence and her criticism of the council. I confirmed to them, and subsequently to the leader and several Executive members that I was disappointed that a) I was not made aware that Ms Juneja would be present and b) that I thought it inappropriate and unhelpful to the two ambassadors.”

“Subsequently (on Saturday, July 18) I have had a one to one meeting with the leader. It was a positive and friendly meeting where I reiterated my concerns but the leader explained that it was the ambassadors’ choice to appoint Ms Juneja as their representative and this is beyond his control.”

The failure of Cllr Mansbridge to distance himself from Ms Juneja, who he described at her trial as a “close friend” and “strong supporter”, is known to have caused concern among members of the Tory group at GBC despite his unopposed re-election as group leader, following the borough council election in May.

Ms Juneja was told by the judge, when he suspended her 14-month prison sentence, that her public life was over but she has subsequently appeared on television, given press interviews and continued to organise a petition for a referendum on whether Guildford should have an elected mayor.

Ms Juneja said: “I was asked by the two Traveller ambassadors – both of whom I have a lot of time for – …to attend a meeting on a subject that they felt was not progressing.  I did fully understand this issue and I was the councillor who started that particular agenda at Home Farm, so I felt that I could help.

“One of the ‎ladies has to go the local sports centre to wash and has to wash her nine-year-old boy in a Flexi Tub; these points should be the news not me.

“The council has a duty to provide Traveller pitches and it is not doing so.

“I do wonder why my attendance seems to be such big news?  Surely, what should be asked is why these two ladies feel that they had to ask for my help?

“Everyone has the right to ask questions to their local council, even me.

“If the opposition did their job and scrutinised properly, maybe the ‎work would have been done by now.”

See also interview: Monika Juneja Says Why She Is Speaking Up for Travellers

Share This Post

Responses to Attendance at Council Offices of Disgraced Former Councillor Causes Concern

  1. Chris Dick Reply

    July 20, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    As a member of Effingham Residents Association I have met with the two traveller ambassadors on several occasions and been shown round their homes. There is a good relationship between some of the travellers and Guildford Borough Council (GBC) but little has been done about their living conditions.

    Finger pointing within GBC is likely to achieve little. It would be really great if GBC could actually deal with these problems, which they have known about for years.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 20, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    My respect for Cllr Spooner is increasing. Monika Juneja’s behaviour in trying to represent anyone is unconscionable. Presumably the ladies are aware of her true status?

    As to Mansbridge’s continued support for her, this just goes to show that, in my view, his judgement has seen no improvement.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I feel sorry for the Traveller representatives. Do they know Ms Juneja’s history?

    I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Cllr Spooner. Is Cllr Mansbridge putting his personal connections above his public duties?

    When, oh when, will the Tory group on Guildford Borough Council do something about it?

  4. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 10:12 am

    By arranging or attending this meeting council leader Stephen Mansbridge was doing little to repair the reputation of Guildford Borough Council. No matter how close a friend Monika Juneja is to him she is an admitted liar and forger, who has been told by an Old Bailey Judge that her “public life was over”.

    And how can such a meeting be arranged without the ward councillor present?

  5. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

    When, oh when, will Ms. Juneja learn that her involvement with politics is over. She has lost all respect from the general public and should not be allowed anywhere near the council offices.

    Cllr Spooner is well justified in his comments, but he needs to lobby the Tory councillors to back his protests.

    GBC have pointed out that they do not wish to bar anyone from the council offices. Ed.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *