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Tory Councillor Resigns from GBC Planning Committee Saying: ‘I’ve Had Enough!’

Published on: 3 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 3 Mar, 2023

Cllr David Bilbe Speaking at a Planning Committee Meeting in February.

By Martin Giles and Hugh Coakley

A Conservative councillor has resigned from the Guildford Borough Council Planning Committee saying: “I cannot be associated with something so badly managed. It is appalling… I’ve had enough. Everybody has a limit.”

Yesterday, Cllr David Bilbe, who served on the GBC Executive until 2019, wrote to the head of democratic services at GBC: “Please accept my immediate resignation from the planning committee. Paul [Spooner, leader of the Conservative group] will be offering a substitute.

Summarising his reasons, Bilbe said: “I’ve resigned from a sense of professional frustration. There are too many decisions and comments made without being underpinned by sound and robust legal and policy reasons.

“Too many proposals are being taken to the planning committee by councillors as favours when they don’t need to be and planning enforcement is less than useless. GBC is now the worst-performing planning council in the country.”

This morning Cllr Bilbe gave a video interview to The Dragon NEWS

Earlier Cllr Bilbe had explained his decision in more detail:

“In my view, too many of the decisions and applications are called to committee or debated from a personal point of view with insufficient knowledge and regard to law and policy. This leads to inconsistency and poor decision making which is overturned at appeal when an application is refused.

“There is too much pre-determination and concert party voting with decisions agreed before debate by the larger parties which are in collaboration with each other. I often see members reading from pre-prepared scripts which is not lawful under the Localism Bill. It is almost predictable how certain committee members will vote, even before the debate.

“GBC planning is almost the worst performing in the country. The threat of designation is real and there is little indication as to how things will improve. Recent proposals approved by council to change various processes at GBC, in my view, will restrict democracy and place more decision-making authority into the hands of GBC employees.

“This appears to be a move to streamline decision-making and make it harder for an elected councillor to make significant input, particularly as the seven-day rule will disappear.

“As an aside, turnover is appallingly high in planning and resourcing is thin. Enforcement are not dealing with prominent infringements of planning approvals or lack thereof robustly. An example is the Palm Nurseries Traveller site or Wanborough Fields.

“Confidence from the residents is at an all-time low. There does seem to be a pre-disposition to be favourable towards developers particularly where town centre applications are put forward in my view and this is unacceptable.

“I have gone beyond my limit of frustration. Recent party literature in advance of the election does little to show that the leadership is taking the service to residents seriously and has a concrete plan to address shortcomings. Wasting time bringing legal action in the High Court against a resident application which is likely to be lost and cost GBC a serious amout of money is akin to fiddling while Rome burns.”

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Responses to Tory Councillor Resigns from GBC Planning Committee Saying: ‘I’ve Had Enough!’

  1. D Roberts Reply

    March 3, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    There will be hollow laughter in the Horsleys at Cllr Bilbe’s comment that the council is pre-disposed towards developers over town-centre planning applications.

    Am I wrong, or wasn’t the big North Street application rejected?

    And hasn’t every significant planning application for the Horsleys been approved, with only one still pending?

    Some councillors need to get out more. While the town continues to rot away, they need to see the harm the Tory Local Plan has already brought to Guildford’s villages.

  2. William Brewster Reply

    March 3, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    This councillor has done the right thing by refusing to just say nothing and let our planning councillors do what they like regardless of what’s the right decision. Let’s hope they will be held accountable if they are up to no good.

    I would love to know what had been going on behind closed doors.

  3. David Smith Reply

    March 4, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Has anyone seen how many appeals have been allowed? It seems there is almost a 50 per cent success rate if you look at the latest Planning Committee agenda.

  4. William Brewster Reply

    March 4, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    Who’s next to resign?

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