Fringe Box



Council Leader Agreed Proposal to Make Wisley Bid in August

Published on: 8 Nov, 2018
Updated on: 9 Nov, 2018

The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked council leader Paul Spooner about the bid opportunity for Wisley Airfield which caused such consternation at the council meeting on October 30 (2018), the ramifications of which are continuing.

Here are the questions sent to Cllr Spooner and his responses:

Q. Can you please tell us when you, or any councillor, first knew, or were consulted about, the decision to apply for the government’s Garden Communities scheme?

Cllr Paul Spooner

A. I was first made aware of the opportunity of a funding bid on Friday, 19 October.

Further to your query, I should add that I am not aware that any other councillors were made aware of the opportunity prior to me at 3.30pm on Friday, 19 October. It is also worth clarifying that the report at Executive Committee on Tuesday [October 30] was to support producing and submitting a bid prior to the closing date, and the preparation of a bid is now ongoing by officers.

Q. If you were told only on 19 October, how long had council officers been working on the application before informing you?

A. Not very long as there was no application presented at Exec. The document presented on Tuesday [October 30] at Exec was a report requesting authority to draw up and submit a bid.

Q. Why, once informed, did you not immediately inform other councillors, in particular the ward councillor and Cllr Caroline Reeves, given her position as Overview & Scrutinu chair, so the implications could be considered and their views made known?

A. I was informed at 3.30pm on Friday 19 October. I was off at 4am on the Monday to Freiburg, returning Wedneday evening. It is NOT my responsibility to inform councillors and you will have to ask officers why (if you are correct) other councillors were not briefed w/c 22 October prior to Exec. My input on 19 October was to enable debate at Exec and that happened.

Q. Did you tell council officers on 19 October that you did not wish to use your delegated powers to approve the application, or did that decision come later. If so, when?

A. Yes, I advised officers on 19 October.

Written by Cllr Spooner later on November 2.

A. I have just worked my way through all my comms and to ensure I don’t mislead, can I clarify?

1) I received an email from Tracey Coleman [GBC director of planning and regeneration] on 17 August asking if I would support the principle of a bid on the basis of more recognition from Highways England, involvement from TCPA promoting better communities through Garden Villages, and more funding to enable the council to have a greater expectation in design terms, given that WPI [Wisley Property Investment Ltd] would not be the developers.

2) I responded with ‘Yes fully support this’ on 20 August.

See also: Council Officers Avoid Implied Accusation They Did Not Communicate on Wisley Bid and Lib Dems Tackle Lack of Openness at GBC in Wake of Revelations

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Responses to Council Leader Agreed Proposal to Make Wisley Bid in August

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    November 8, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Of course, Cllr Spooner ‘can clarify’.

    As Sir Humphrey said, ‘Clarification is not to make oneself clear; it is to put oneself in the clear’.

    And as Jim Hacker said, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave…’

  2. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    November 9, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Just to clarify, I am asking whether this item was intentionally held back to ensure that it could not be both called in and submitted. Typically that would be a decision taken by the leader of the council and actioned by the Democratic Services Department.

    This is a clear subversion of democracy, and if it did not originate from the leader, then who is really making these decisions?

    This is a very serious governance breach indeed, and suggestive of a most unpleasant culture in the Executive corridor at GBC.

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