Fringe Box



Council Leader Asks Cllr Monika Juneja To Step Down

Published on: 18 Aug, 2014
Updated on: 19 Aug, 2014
Stephen Mansbridge Speech feature new

Council Leader and Leader of the Conservative Group Stephen Mansbridge

Council Leader Stephen Mansbridge has asked Monika Juneja to step down from her role as lead member for planning at Guildford Borough Council (GBC). Cllr Mansbridge is to take on the planning portfolio himself.

The announcement came in an email sent this afternoon (August 18) from the GBC PR team “on behalf of the Leader of the Conservative Group”.

In an angry message Cllr Mansbridge blames a, “clear political campaign by a number of residents from the East of the borough” and mentions “the slurry of biased media coverage on this issue”.

Cllr Juneja, who has been charged with seven criminal offences, including pretending to be a barrister, and is due to make her first court appearance on September 2, will continue in her role as ward councillor for Burpham.

Cllr Mansbridge’s entire message is published below:

“The police investigation into Cllr Juneja’s professional life beyond Guildford Borough Council, and the subsequent charges, are the result of a clear political campaign by a number of residents from the East of the borough who seek to discredit the council’s Draft Local Plan.

“The complainants hide behind a charge for better public probity; whilst they mask behind computers with insults, rhetoric, disdain and disorder.  They have spent a year hounding this councillor.

“It is worth reminding ourselves of the e-mail sent by Mr Julian Cranwell on 15 December 2013, which stated ‘…I do want her off the job of planning, given her history of pro-development.  I accept that GGBG [believed to stand for the Guildford Green Belt Group] should keep away from this, it just needs a few good folks to make individual complaints, and we should get her out of the role.’

“Having returned from holiday, I have taken soundings amongst my political group, and I am clear on four points:

  • you are innocent until proven guilty in this country and I hope that never changes with the slurry of biased media coverage on this issue;
  • many of my elected political group do not wish Cllr Juneja to resign from her Executive role;
  • why complain, if you are not a victim?
  • the conduct of Surrey Police in terms of this investigation and its relationship with the complainants is the subject of a number of complaints to the IPCC.

“We have a difficult task to accomplish, which is to steer a Local Plan through to successful adoption in order to secure the future of the borough of Guildford.  If we want Guildford to remain as lively and good as it is today, then we need to embrace this opportunity rather than reject it.  We need to remember that continuity is protected by change and not destroyed by it.

“Having said all this, most reluctantly I have asked Cllr Juneja to step down from her Executive position.  Whilst, I have had many messages from organisations, pressure groups and individuals from around the borough imploring me to keep her on, as I have had from my own councillors, I make this decision with the best interests of Cllr Juneja, my Conservative Group and the council as a whole at heart.

“Cllr Juneja will not be suspended by the Conservative Group from her role as a councillor, as a clear majority have voiced their opinion that this is an unnecessary act, particularly bearing in mind her diligence, commitment and heavy workload during her time as a lead member.

“I shall take charge of the Local Plan process and planning, supported by my Executive.

“At this point, on behalf of the Executive, Conservative Group and the Council, I wish to thank Cllr Juneja for the exceptional service that she has given as a Lead Member for both Planning and Governance.  Her departure is a loss for herself and the Executive, a loss for local politics at large and a loss for the borough as a whole.  She takes with her a vast body of knowledge which cannot easily be replaced.”

See also: No Response From Tory Group on the Future of Councillor Facing Criminal Charges and The Dragon Says: It Is Time For Cllr Juneja To Step Aside

Share This Post

Responses to Council Leader Asks Cllr Monika Juneja To Step Down

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    What absolute tosh!

    As someone who lives in the west of Guildford, has been resident in the borough for 14 years and has a good knowledge of the area, including the eastern villages, I would like Mr Mansbridge to know:

    – I and many others are concerned with the rhetoric of growth coming from Guildford Borough Council (GBC) and the government at the detriment to current residents.

    – From all the campaigning, letter writing, council meetings and discussions I can quite honestly say there’s about 2 per cent of people who actually agree with the level of housing development and growth currently proposed in the Local Plan.

    – There are even fewer people supporting huge developments in Gosden Hill, Blackwell farm and Wisley Airfield. I haven’t met a single person that thinks these developments are a positive thing without widening or tunnelling of the A3.

    GBC should be welcoming the detailed inputs from the section of highly educated and experienced residents who are volunteering their time to dissect all the evidence documents and proposed plans to make sure the final plan is sound, safe and sustainable for Guildford whilst protecting the countryside setting which drew us here in the first place.

    Unfortunately, the council seems to prefer to ignore this valuable resource and plough on with a Local Plan that will later be pulled to pieces in court.

    I have had every opportunity to speak directly with Ms Juneja and Cllr Mansbridge can be assured that if I had anything derogatory to say I would have said it to her face.

    He should stop hiding behind the ‘they’re picking on us’ attitude and take note that this is not a playground.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Since Cllr Mansbridge has chosen to selectively quote a small extract from my private correspondence, I would like readers to be aware of the full extract which is:

    “I’d like to reiterate that I have nothing against her personally, but I do want her off the job of planning, given her history of pro-development.

    “I accept that GGBG should keep away from this, it just needs a few good folks to make individual complaints, and we should get her out of the role.”

    I make no apologies for the above which I wrote in the light of information I had seen.

    Nobody has seen fit to produce any evidence of any insults, attacks, disdain, or racist intent, that have been circulating and reported by some parts of the media. I have been particularly offended and insulted by the latter.

    I am clear on four points:

    – You are indeed innocent until proven guilty, and the case against Cllr Juneja is for the courts to decide.

    – Concerned members of the public, who suspect wrong-doing by elected officials, should not expect to be abused in correspondence or press announcements from elected officials.

    – Not one jot of evidence has been produced of press bias, abusive statements, personal attacks, or racist intent, as has been alleged.

    – We are all victims if complaints against elected officials are not properly investigated and instead those who make the complaints are attacked.

  3. Roland McKinney Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    What an astonishing question from the leader of Guildford Tories. “Why complain if you are not a victim?”

    How about the following reason?

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller, concentration camp inmate 1937 to 1945

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    How interesting to see how GBC regards ‘whistle blowers’.

  5. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    “Why complain if you are not a victim?”


    Whatever the reasons that brought about police enquiries into Ms Juneja, the CPS have decided the evidence is sufficient for a prosecution to be in the public interest. The charges are serious.

    I am astounded at Cllr Mansbridge for trying to suggest this situation is the fault of the meddlesome electorate. Wrongdoing should be fought, and the leader of the council should encourage that.

  6. Michael Bruton Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I agree with the comments from Mr McKinney and Ms Wright. We have just seen yet another irrational outburst from Cllr Mansbridge. “If in doubt hit out!”

    Perhaps Cllr Mansbridge ought to attend an anger management course ? They are de rigeur in the public sector these days.

    I would love to read all these ‘many messages imploring me (Cllr Mansbridge) to keep her (Cllr Juneja) on’. Let those Tory councillors who remain Cllr Juneja’s fervent supporters speak out too.

    With borough elections in May 2015 it would be good to know now. And are none capable of taking on Cllr Juneja’s role ? Or do they now realise what a mess has been made of the whole process to date by the council? Most politicians of course row away from such problems. Any volunteers?

  7. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I think is the right outcome, albeit in the wrong way. We need no further distractions to the Local Plan process.

    You could make a film out of this narrative or at the very least a classic cartoon.

    Cllr Juneja could not continue to carry out her Executive role under the circumstances, irrespective of what her “elected conservative group” colleagues allegedly think.

    I agree with a re-tweet from Cllr Spooner that he found interesting an article in the Guildford Dragon: “Letter: We Need To Take Party Politics Out Of Local Politics” with which I wholeheartedly agree. So let’s do it. I hope very few borough councillors disagree.

    Others, including a former trade union official, have said “normal” people in similar circumstances would have been immediately suspended, as would employees in the commercial world, pending a criminal trial, to protect the organisation or company. I suspect council officials have been suspended in the past, so why not councillors?

    Cllr Mansbridge, as leader of Guildford Borough Council should have risen above any public mud slinging and done the right thing without resorting to blaming everyone else.

    Why are we planning to destroy parts of the borough and why are politicians going back on election pledges, as will happen if this draft local plan goes forward without significant re-drafting.

    People should stop blaming others as the leader of the council has done in public. The sentiment and statements I get from central government is that local processes and “guidance” can be adapted to fit local conditions and issues.

    Let’s test this by producing a plan which suits the natural constraints of the borough rather than using statements like “they told me to do it” and blame “meddling kids”. Much of the blame lies with central government.

  8. Adam Knight Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Simon Drew, a lawyer with the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit, as reported in The Guildford Dragon NEWS, said:

    “It is alleged that Ms Juneja constructed false letters from the University of Greenwich and the BPP Law School outlining qualifications that she did not hold.

    “It is also alleged that she pretended to be a barrister acquiring legal roles at various councils and that she provided recruitment agencies with untrue or misleading information about her CV, as well as supplying false qualifications to secure employment with Bromley Council.

    “The alleged offences took place on dates between July 2000 and May 2014.”

    I don’t see how a “clear political campaign” to “discredit the council’s Draft Local Plan” could’ve concocted this situation, that is unless the aforementioned “residents from the East of the borough” have somehow mastered time-travel.

  9. Pete Knight Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    It’s ridiculous to blame those in the East of the borough for the charges the CPS have approved.

    I think Cllr Mansbridge is seriously out of touch with the people of Guildford. I am not from the East of the borough and I completely agree that Cllr Juneja should be asked to stand down from [her lead councillor] post.

    I am not sure the Conservatives will be successful at the next election in Guildford. The council seems to be a complete shower at moment with one drama after another: squabbles in meetings (and subsequent apologies); a fall out with the planning team; drink driving and now this.

    Where do we get these people from? It’s like a soap opera, except with the consequence that the tax payer is paying the price.

  10. Mary Bedforth Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I totally agree with the foregoing and especially with Pete Knight.

    Two quotations come to mind. 😉

    Psalm 103 v 12.
    ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.’


    The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling from which comes the memorable line, ‘East is East and West is West’.

    There are no such divisions in Guildford. We are all sick to death of what has been going on.

  11. Tony Edwards Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    With a display of supreme arrogance, Cllr Mansbridge reprimands Guildford residents for the pursuit of truth.

    To say he is out of touch with the people is a masterpiece of understatement but it concerns me greatly that he has now assumed the driving seat of the giant bulldozer that is currently ‘shaping’ the Local Plan.

  12. Dave Fassom Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    “…why complain, if you are not a victim?”

    Is the council leader suggesting that in future no one should report any wrong doing by a councillor unless one has been a victim of his or her crime?

    This is the man that is pushing through a 750+ pupil school on a piece of green belt in the middle of West Clandon without any substantive evidence to back up a ‘need’ other than we had one pupil from Send ‘forced’ to have to travel all the way to Woking – heaven forbid.

    They say we get the politicians we deserve but I do not know what we have done to deserve this lot.

    So I am complaining and, on this occasion, I am a victim.

  13. Bernard Parke Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    But who else is there to take on the task?

  14. Bob Panton Reply

    August 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    The arrogance shown by Mr Mansbridge does not surprise me. I am sure many of us have witnessed it at some point. His outburst did somewhat remind me of a small boy throwing his toys from the pram, and leads me to suggest Cllr Mansbridge should grow up.

    The inane comment “why complain if you are not a victim” is one that has also shocked me. This attitude makes the difficult work of the police much harder. Surely we ought to be encouraging the public to report suspected crime and not walk away from it because it has not affected them.

    I am sure everyone agrees some more housing is needed in the borough, but not to the detriment of the green belt nor by the use of bully boy tactics to obtain it.

  15. Michael Bruton Reply

    August 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    In answer to Bernard Parke. There must be, out of the vast number of Conservative Councillors, one brave soul able to pick up the baton over the Local Plan. Surely someone from the Executive – all appointed by Mr Mansbridge – should be willing ?

    In life the saying is that ‘failure is an orphan’. The Local Plan process is a mess – notwithstanding Cllr Mansbridge’s ‘trajectory’

    That might explain why no one has come forward.

  16. Bernard Parke Reply

    August 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Out of the “vast number” is there at least one who will get the message and listen to the people who elected them.

    The green belt is sacrosanct – hands off!

    • Mary Bedforth Reply

      August 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      That’s what the CPRE sticker on the back window of my car reads: ‘Hands Off the Green Belt’.

      I obtained it the County Show from the Guildford Green Belt tent.

  17. Jules Cranwell Reply

    August 20, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Well done Bernard Parke. Can we vote for him to take on the Local Plan?

  18. Paul Kassell Reply

    August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

    There are many points in this press release that concern me, but let me keep my response short and concentrate on just two:

    (1) How much are the GBC PR team paid that released this unadulterated tosh on behalf of Cllr Mansbridge?

    (2) Comments, made by readers of The Guildford Dragon NEWS, stating that the post will be too much for our council leader assume that the result is not predetermined and the views of residents will be analysed and acted upon.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      August 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      The statement was distributed by the PR team at GBC but there was no indication that they had any hand in its preparation. It was made clear that they were distributing it on behalf of Cllr Mansbridge in his role as leader of the Conservative group. Editor

  19. Peta Malthouse Reply

    August 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I feel I need to add:

    1. Cllr Juneja should have seen for herself that it was right for her to resign from her lead role, at this stage.

    2. Cllr Mansbridge should have seen the need for her to resign straight away.

    Finally, it is the role of the council officers to produce policies for councillors to approve and to comply with the requirements for consultation.

    Perhaps if the councillors had let our last head of planning get on with it she would not have left? We have still to be told officially why Carol Humphrey left her post.

  20. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    August 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I don’t think a leader capable of making such a foolhardy statement has the necessary qualities to the lead the Local Plan.

    The GBC PR team would surely have advised him against most of both its content and tone if they knew anything about public relations, although one gets the impression Cllr Mansbridge does what he likes anyway.

  21. Martin Elliott Reply

    August 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Why did Cllr Mansbridge use the unusual route of an email from GBC PR department?

    Was it so the public he respects so much couldn’t see it?

    Surely it should be available in the public areas of the GBC website, or maybe on the virtually inactive Guildford Conservative Group website.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      August 21, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      The GBC PR team is the usual dissemination route for messages from GBC to the media.

      It is less usual for the PR team to be used to send a message from a councillor with his/her political party group hat on. I understand that it was felt necessary to use this route, on this occasion, to prevent any delay. Ed.

  22. Gill Woolfson Reply

    August 23, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Cllr Mansbridge must be under stress to issue such a rant of a statement. Should he be taking on additional responsibilities, if he is under so much pressure?

    He blames everyone else for the current situation, including the residents from the East of the borough and Surrey Police. According to his statement his elected political group feels the same way. Shame on all of them.

    Cllr Mansbridge asks: “Why complain, if you are not a victim?”. The answer is because you are a good citizen. If you see a robbery, you report it, even if you are not the victim.

    Cllr Mansbridge claims that he has received many messages from many groups and individuals begging him to keep Cllr Juneja on. May we have their names?

    This affair shines a light on the attitudes of the Conservative group on Guildford Borough Council. They appear arrogant and out of touch with the feelings of people in Guildford and its parishes.

  23. Paul Kassell Reply

    August 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

    My apologies for impugning the folks of the PR department and thanks Ed. for the correction.

    It was difficult to believe that the Council Leader could make a statement as crass as: “why complain, if you are not a victim?”

  24. Garry Walton Reply

    September 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I am appalled by Cllr Mansbridge’s response.

    Who would support this breach of faith with the electorate? His party? His planning group? Give us names.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *