Fringe Box



Council Group Leader Interview: John Morris – The Peace Party

Published on: 4 May, 2015
Updated on: 4 May, 2015

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has invited a leader of each political party and a representative independent candidate, standing for election to Guildford Borough Council (GBC), to be interviewed. The response to each question is limited to up to 100 words.

Unlike the parliamentary candidate interviews there is no scoring of or comment on their responses.

The Peace Party are fielding four candidates in the borough: three in Westborough and one in Onslow. John  is the leader of the The Peace Party and is standing in Westborough ward.

John Morris

John Morris Peace1. Most respondents to GBC’s own Local Plan public consultation do not want developments to be built on the green belt. What “exceptional circumstances” can you imagine that would justify such development?

They might well emerge as people come to realise, as has the Peace Party, that all that we do in our communities is based on treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves.  I am fortunate that my wife and I have a home of our own but I am well aware that thousands of local residents do not: I am not treating others as I wish to be treated myself.  Thousands more homes need to be urgently built locally – or within easy reach.  I am prepared to see the value of my home drop as supply of homes reaches demand.

Peace-Party logo2. Do you agree with the government policy of capping Council Tax rises of 2% or more without a referendum?

No. It is within the power of governments, in the UK at least, to create the extra cash needed for the use of local government, for example, so that no capping should take place.  In any case, we feel that the figure of 2% is too arbitrary.

3. Would your party be prepared to enter a coalition, or any kind of working agreement, with any other political party in the council, should the need arise?

Yes, of course.  Such action would be in the best interests of the community.  Councillors should work for whatever they individually perceive to be best for their constituents and the borough as a whole, regardless of party lines.  Trevor Jones, sole Peace Party candidate in Onslow Ward says, “In my case in Onslow, if elected, I would want to work jointly with the two other councillors.”

4. Can the council do anything to speed up development of brownfield sites and allow the construction of more houses on them?

The Peace Party does not yet have the detailed knowledge of planning and development procedures to know whether the council can act in the way suggested.  All we do know is that there is a crying need for more homes and that Peace Party councillors would be working as hard as they can to ensure those homes are built be they on brown or greenfield sites.

5. Is there any way, other than social housing provision, to prioritise homes for local residents?

I would hope that anyone seeking a home of their own in Guildford would have an equal chance of buying or renting that home as anyone else: quality is one of the core human values.  The greatest importance for me is to ensure that the supply of homes at least equals, if not exceeds, the supply of them.  Only in that way, in my view, will homes, provided by the council or obtainable privately, become affordable.

6. With the rejection of Guildford Museum’s bid for Heritage Lottery funding how can a “History Hub” that befits Guildford be afforded?

Peace Party candidates see the provision of a “History Hub” as of far lower priority than the provision of homes in the borough and the continuing efficient delivery of statutory services.  One presumes that further bids can be made for Heritage Lottery funding by those keen to see a hub developed in the borough.

7. Do you agree that the new proposed “hybrid” model of governance at the council will, if approved, improve things?

Currently, Peace Party candidates have no opinion to offer on the model proposed.

8. Why can it be so hard to get people to stand as councillors? Is the low level of allowances a factor?

The Peace Party has not, so far, found it hard to get people to stand; perhaps its approaches to life have helped?  We do wonder whether there are any wards without enough candidates to force an election.  If not, then what is the problem?  Allowances should only be for costs actually incurred and maybe loss of earnings, not as a mini-salary in its own right.

9. Do you agree that the Planning Inspectorate should have the final say on planning applications that go to appeal and the Local Plan?

It is just so regrettable that the council and the people of Guildford cannot reach unity on certain planning applications and other matters.  The Peace Party, with its background in the peaceful resolution of conflict, looks forward to helping the processes of better ways of  “getting to ‘yes’” than has clearly happened in the past.  It is so sad when outside arbiters need to be brought in to resolve problems, leaving many people unhappy with decisions.

10. What is the most important issue facing Guildford Borough Council over the next four years.

For the Peace Party, the most important issue, beside the provision of a great deal more housing, is guiding the borough to becoming a beacon of peace in Britain by, for example, signing up to the “Charter for Compassion”, signing the World Beyond War’s “Declaration of Peace”, joining 78 other UK cities in joining the “Mayors for Peace” international organisation and mounting the “Making Peace Exhibition” in 2016.   These actions, it is hoped, will cause the council to quietly forego its association with “Armed Forces Day” and related militaristic activities.

What do you think of  John Morris’ answers?  Have your say by using the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below.

Click here to see other GBC group leader interviews.

Click here to see Parliamentary candidate interviews.

Candidates from the following parties are standing in the Guildford Borough Council elections on May 7th: Conservative; Green Party; Guildford Greenbelt Group; Labour; Liberal Democrats; Peace Party; UKIP. There are also Independent candidates.

The Green Party declined the invitation to participate in these interviews.

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