Fringe Box



Your Chance to Question Local Political Leaders Directly at The Dragon Hustings

Published on: 4 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 5 Apr, 2023

Everything is up for grabs at the forthcoming borough council election, no one is able to call it.

The last election saw the powerful emergence of a new independent residents party Residents for Guildford and Villages but can they sustain their success now they have a track record to defend?

Can the Conservatives, normally dominant in Guildford’s politics, regain any ground? Or will the Lib Dems, who have shared power with R4GV but have disagreed over the important North Street proposal, clear up and take control?

Dragon editor Martin Giles

A hustings, organised by The Guildford Dragon NEWS and chaired by its editor Martin Giles, will give you the chance to ask leading councillors your questions directly. It will be held at the Guildford United Reformed Church, Portsmouth Road, Guildford GU2 4BS.

Modelled on the BBC Question Time format, the audience will be asked, when they arrive, to write their question before the panel convenes.

Questions for the panellists will be selected from those submitted. We expect the event to last about one and a half hours. A vigorous but civilised debate is expected.

The panellists are: Joss Bigmore, former leader of GBC and leader of Residents for Guildford and Villages, Ramsey Nagaty, the leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, George Potter, a Liberal Democrat lead councillor, Anne Rouse, from the Guildford Labour Party, and Paul Spooner former council leader and leader of the Conservative group at GBC.

The Green Party has also been invited.

Questions could be posed on any number of local topics. Planning issues, including building height control, Climate Change, GBC finances and customer services.

If you want to pose a question, please come to the Guildford United Reformed Church, Portsmouth Road, Guildford GU2 4BS on Thursday, April 13 at 7.15pm.

We look forward to a lively debate.

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Responses to Your Chance to Question Local Political Leaders Directly at The Dragon Hustings

  1. Joss Bigmore Reply

    April 4, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    Can we please have a response from the Lib Dems as to who is their leader? Residents need to know if the Lib Dems get a majority who will lead the council. Is it George Potter, Julia McShane or maybe Paul Abbey?

    Joss Bigmore is the leader of Residents for Guildford & Villages

    • Mark Stamp Reply

      April 5, 2023 at 12:55 am

      I was trying to find the information as to the leaders of each party group on the council website last week and could not find it.

      Surely this could easily be added alongside the ward and any Executive role a councillor holds?

    • George Potter Reply

      April 5, 2023 at 11:19 am

      Cllr Joss Bigmore didn’t represent R4GV at at least two of the 2019 hustings in Guildford, and I should know because I was at those hustings representing the Lib Dems on those occasions too, and yet Cllr Bigmore still ended up the leader of R4GV.

      The Labour spokesperson isn’t even a councillor, the Conservative spokesperson is unlikely to be on the council after May, and GGG are barely even a party anymore given their permanent alliance with R4GV. All of which should make it clear that the nomination of a person for a Question Time style panel debate is not, in fact, a sign of the anointment of a future council leader.

      As such I’m not really quite sure why Cllr Bigmore is so keen to attack Cllr McShane specifically. Is it because he feels threatened by someone who’s more interested in firmly getting on with the job than flashy self-promotion? Is it because he can’t think up any arguments better than snide innuendo? Or does he just not like it when women are in positions of power?

      George Potter is a Lib Dem candidate for Burpham in the forthcoming borough council election.

      • Joss Bigmore Reply

        April 6, 2023 at 1:07 pm

        George Potter [Lib Dem candidate for Burpham], as ever, sees demons where there are none. When party politics is his primary driver it’s hard for him to see the difference between a legitimate question and a political attack.

        GBC has the “Strong Leader Model” of governance, rather than a committee system: the leader has very significant powers. Therefore, I think it is only right that the electorate know who will lead the political groups, and the council, in the event of electoral success.

        I am the R4GV leader and will lead the council if we get a majority and I am re-elected. My assumption, given Cllr Spooner has given himself a monumental challenge in Westborough, is that if you vote Conservative and they win, you will get Matt Furniss [Conservative candidate for Pilgrims ward] as GBC Leader.

        Who do you get if you vote Lib Dem? Cllr Potter, Cllr McShane, someone else?

        I am not attacking Cllr McShane [Lib Dem candidate in Westborough], nor do I feel threatened by her, just seeking the answer as to who will wield the Executive authority in the event of a Lib Dem majority.

        Joss Bigmore is a R4GV candidate for Merrow

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    April 4, 2023 at 8:33 pm

    What are the candidates’ proposals for dealing with the sewage treatment shortage in two years time?

    Talk to Thames Water or stop granting planning permissions until the new Sewage Treatment Works are built?

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 6, 2023 at 6:07 am

    Again the council leader, Julia McShane dodges scrutiny by residents and sends a substitute. Is this wise, or proper, as an election looms?

    I can’t see this unwillingness to face residents helping the electoral chances of the Lib Dems.

  4. Dawn Kelly Reply

    April 6, 2023 at 8:22 am

    Will the Dragon Hustings be recorded and available for those who are unable to attend please?

    Editor’s comment: We hope to do that but wish to encourage as much personal attendance as possible. Of course, only those present will be able to pose questions.

  5. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 6, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t mind who are the candidates’ leaders as long as the candidates elected are allowed to speak their own minds in GBC meetings.

    Anyway, if I vote for people I know in three different parties they will presumably have three different leaders, if that matters.

  6. Vanessa King Reply

    April 13, 2023 at 3:38 pm

    It is my understanding that the Lib Dems elect their leaders. There is no assumption of leadership, especially given the composition of the group is likely to change after May 4. Therefore it may not possible to answer your question.

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