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Caroline Reeves Thanked For “Strong, Compassionate Dedication” as GBC Leader

Published on: 4 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 7 Oct, 2020

Cllr Caroline reeves who is stepping down as leader of GBC… for now.

Guildford’s Lib Dems have formally thanked Cllr Caroline Reeves for “18 months of strong, compassionate leadership and dedication” as she passes the GBC baton to R4GV’s Joss Bigmore.

See also: Local Parties Finally Bow to Pressure and Reveal Power-Share Details

The official leadership handover will be made at a full council meeting on Tuesday (6 October).

A Lib Dem statement sketched the path that led to the decision. The 2019 local elections returned a council with the Lib Dems and R4GV as the two largest parties. “This sent a message to the council, that people wanted a different, more collaborative style of politics at GBC,” the statement said.

A MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed with R4GV, confirming an agreement in principle, made public in May.

The agreement includes creation and continuation of a balanced executive and rotation of the leadership. The agreement also means leadership will be returned to the Lib Dems in October, 2022.

Coalition councils with politically balanced executives also operate in neighbouring Waverley and Mendip District Council in the South-west.

The Lib Dem Council Group also thanked Cllr Reeves (Friary & St Nicolas) for “outstanding service to the people and borough of Guildford.

“Particularly for her constant dedication to her work and leading us through the Covid-19 pandemic so far. We are proud of all we have achieved over the past 18 months.”

Cllr George Potter

Group chair Cllr George Potter (Burpham), said: “All of us in the group want to offer our deepest thanks and gratitude to Caroline for the outstanding service she has given to the people and the borough of Guildford.

“Not just for the service she has given in the past 18 months, leading a new administration, setting a new direction, and steering us capably through the Covid-19 crisis, but also for her tireless service over the past 15 years, first as a ward councillor and then as Lib Dem group leader since 2014.

“I cannot think of any councillor who works as tirelessly for their residents or the borough as Caroline has and we have been incredibly lucky to have her as council leader when Guildford needed her experience, compassion and relentless work ethic the most.

“We are proud to call her our colleague and we are proud she will be continuing as our group leader and as council deputy leader as we continue our coalition administration.”

Cllr James Walsh

But Cllr James Walsh (Lab, Stoke), said: “This is a very curious statement from the Liberal Democrats. It feels like a last-minute panicky response to disquiet about the timing of this capitulation and a murky deal no one has seen. (See: Labour Calls GBC Leadership Handover ‘Puzzling’ and ‘a Shoddy Business’)

“The Lib Dems and R4GV keep mentioning the deal, and that its existence was announced in May, without actually showing the public the detail or explaining why it wasn’t aired when the full council voted on the leadership in May 2019.

“We also note the comment about the leadership being ‘rotated in accordance with the agreement between the two parties’. What about the agreement of the public, many of whom voted for a Lib Dem-led council only to see it handed over after barely a year?

“How can anyone trust their vote with the Liberal Democrats in Guildford again?”

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

Leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, Ramsey Nagaty said: “GGG adds our thanks to the work Caroline has done as Leader especially as regards leading the Council response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Adding: “Our party is disappointed that Caroline and the Liberals did not make early efforts to more fully address the concerns of residents as regards the Local Plan and the many issues from this that had resulted in such a tumultuous change in the political makeup of the current council.”

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