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Council Leader Challenged On His Connection With Mayoral Petition

Published on: 29 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 31 Jul, 2015
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Cllr Leader Stephen Mansbridge faced a question regarding his connection with a petition organised by former councillor Monika Juneja.

Council leader Stephen Mansbridge was challenged by the sole Labour councillor at a Guildford Borough Council (GBC) meeting last night (July 28) to say what his connection with a petition, for a referendum to have an elected mayor, is.

In her question, during a debate on new governance arrangements for the council, Cllr Gunning, (Lab, Stoke) said: I have not heard councillor Mansbridge say anything to date about the option of a directly elected mayor, so I would like to know why there is a reference in Private Eye of 26th June where it says: “He hopes to become the town’s first elected mayor and Monika [former councillor Monika Juneja] is right behind him”?

Cllr Angela Gunning asked about a report in Private Eye that Cllr Mansbridge wanted to be the elected mayor.

Cllr Angela Gunning asked about a report in Private Eye that Cllr Mansbridge wanted to be the elected mayor.

“It would be very helpful to this council if he confirmed or denied this statement and I’d like to know Cllr Mansbridge’s connection with this petition?

Replying, Cllr Mansbridge (Con, South Ash & Tongham) appeared to deny any connection with the petition. He said: “In short Cllr Gunning, irrelevant and no. The discreditation that has occurred in Private Eye has been an orchestrated campaign by the Guildford Greenbelt Group for which I have documentary evidence. That is why it has appeared so regularly.

“Secondly, I think we need to be aware that it is any individual’s right, if they chose to exercise it, to put together a petition.

“Cllr Juneja, I think, only had three days of being a councillor [while the petition was being raised] until she stood down as part of the election. Whereas we do have a councillor in this chamber who seeks to subvert the decisions of this chamber by continuing to orchestrate a petition.”

When Cllr Mansbridge finished speaking a clearly irate Cllr Parker, (GGG, Send) interrupted Cllr Goodwin to ask permission to react to the accusation within Cllr Mansbridge’s response.

Cllr Susan Parker.

Cllr Susan Parker: “I have never spoken to any Private Eye journalist.”

She said: “There have been allegations made again that were inappropriate and untrue and it is about time that there was some measure of honesty and a parliamentary style and protocol here. …I am not aware that Guildford Greenbelt Group controls the editorial policy of Private Eye. I think that is an extraordinary remark. …nor have I ever had a conversation with any journalist – or any contact whatsoever – with any journalist of Private Eye, in any way whatsoever.

“I think it is the most extraordinary allegation to have made and I would like Cllr Mansbridge to publish these supposed documentary evidences that he has, that he’s alleged, because I am not aware of them. And I think it is about time that there was some measure of honesty and a ceasing of continual allegations, all of which seem to be wholly untrue.”

In a reference to Monika Juneja, Cllr Parker concluded: “I would note also that I am not the person who has actually been convicted of fraud or forgery*. Nor am I in business with people…” at this point Satish Mistry (head of legal and governance) interjected to say that she had had time to make her personal statement in response and this concluded the exchange.

After the meeting Cllr Angela Gunning, who posed the question that initiated the verbal spat, said: “In answer to my question, he has disassociated himself from the mayoral petition currently operated by Monika Juneja.

“However we shall have wait and see whether the petition is ever handed in, whether a referendum ensues, and from there who puts themselves forward as candidate for directly elected mayor, should there be a ‘yes’ vote.”

Cllr Susan Parker said: “I have never spoken or communicated with any Private Eye journalist. It’s obviously ridiculous to suggest that GGG is “orchestrating” Private Eye’s editorial policy.

“The personal attacks on me by Cllr Mansbridge must be rather tiresome as far as the general public are concerned. Frankly I am coming to expect this intemperate abuse from the Council Leader.  Every council meeting seems to bring more wild, unfounded allegations.

“I think most voters in Guildford might prefer it if Guildford Borough Council were to be run in such a way that it did not attract the attention of the “Rotten Boroughs” section of Private Eye.”

This morning (Jul 29) The editor of Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column, Tim Minogue, wrote to The Guildford Dragon NEWS: “What a silly thing for Cllr Mansbridge to say. ‘Rotten Boroughs’ is a column about local government and the Juneja saga is a very good local government story.

“Many readers in the Guildford area have alerted us to various developments and we have followed those tips up. It’s called journalism. We have no interest in discrediting Cllr Mansbridge – he seems to be doing a good enough job of that on his own.”

*Monika Juneja was actually convicted of forgery, deception and pretending to be a barrister. Charges of fraud, as directed by the trial judge, remain on file.

A Conservative group spokesperson has been asked if there is any comment from the group or Cllr Mansbridge. Any comment received will be published as soon as possible.


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Responses to Council Leader Challenged On His Connection With Mayoral Petition

  1. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    July 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Might I add that on Armed Forces Day a student accosted me and my partner in a Guildford pub and told us that the students had started this petition because, and I quote: “Guildford Greenbelt Group had too much power.” When I asked him why the name Monika Juneja was on the top of the form if it had been started by the students, he said: “She’s just funding it.”

    Mr Minogue [Rotten Boroughs column editor at Private Eye] will be delighted to hear that the shenanigans at Millmead will be providing him with plenty of copy for some time to come, until the promise to uphold standards of governance and transparency is honoured.

    Stephen Mansbridge must accept that if he constantly and publicly stands by his business associate then her reputation and actions will stand by him.

    Editor’s comment: How the petition for a referendum on whether Guildford should have an elected mayor is funded is unconfirmed. The Guildford Dragon NEWS has asked Monika Juneja to explain but she has refused.

  2. Michael Bruton Reply

    July 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    What laughs!

    First we have Cllr Mansbridge and his ‘lever arch file’ – a freedom of information request failed to produce that – a file which Cllr Mansbridge claimed he had, at Ms Juneja’s trial?

    Now we have Cllr Mansbridge getting upset over Guildford Tory council’s regular appearance in the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column of Private Eye.

    As a fan of Ian Hislop on HIGNFY [BBC’s Have I Got News For You] and as a Private Eye reader – I say well done The Eye. Who knows what more it might report?

    It’s also good to know that Guildford Tories read The Eye, as surely some of them now must, although I was unaware that they possessed such a literary taste. Who knows – they might even cultivate a sense of humour.

    One thing is for sure, Cllr Angela Gunning deserves applause for her question.

  3. Fiona White Reply

    July 29, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    This is not the first time that Cllr Mansbridge has claimed to have documentary evidence on an issue which is very important to Guildford and its reputation.

    There is a public interest argument for him producing the evidence so that residents of Guildford can judge for themselves.

    Please would Cllr Mansbridge let us know when and where that evidence will be available for examination.

    Fiona White is the county councillor for Guildford West.

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 31, 2015 at 8:25 am

    By what right does Mr. Mistry interrupt councillors when reacting to unfounded accusations? Councillors are elected to represent the public.

  5. Tony Edwards Reply

    July 31, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Guildford Borough Council seems to be making a first rate job of ensuring that it will continue to make a para or two in Private Eye.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if its curious goings-on will qualify it for editorial consideration in other sections of the national media too.

  6. Ken Bickley Reply

    July 31, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Has no one told Cllr Mansbridge that when you are in a hole the best thing to do is to stop digging?

    By the way, I have had no contact with the Guildford Greenbelt Group or other political party. I am just a disillusioned resident of the Burpham Ward which used to be “represented” by Monika Juneja.

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