Fringe Box



Councillor to Stand as Lib Dem Candidate Following R4GV Rejection

Published on: 4 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 6 Apr, 2023

Cllr Paul Abbey

By Martin Giles

Things are rarely dull in Ash politics and so it is this evening.

As nominations for the May 4 borough councils elections closed this afternoon one R4GV candidate announced he was crossing the floor to the Lib Dems.

Paul Abbey, who represented Ash South & Tongham, was one of the 15 Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) candidates that took many by surprise when they were elected, largely at the expense of the Conservatives, in 2019. He will now stand as a Liberal Democrat in Tillingbourne ward.

Update: See added comment from Conservative leader Paul Spooner below.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

But his erstwhile leader was critical of his past performance: “We hope that Cllr Abbey is happier with his new colleagues. Unfortunately, we were unable to offer Paul a seat for this election as his performance over the last four years was below that which we expect for an R4GV Councillor.

“A 58 per cent  [since March 2021 – this figure was previously given incorrectly as 56 per cent for the four years since the last election – that figure is 68 per cent] at meetings and poor feedback from the residents of Ash South and Tongham made his position untenable with our group.

Paul Abbey’s attendance stats for period May 2019 to present, as published on the GBC website.

“We are very happy with our Ash South team of Sue Wyeth-Price and David Shaw.”

Speaking about the reasons for his decision Abbey said: “For the last four years I have sat as the councillor for Ash South & Tongham and it has been an honour and privilege to represent my community.

“However, my recent move to Chilworth has given me time to reflect and, after consideration, it has become clear that I can no longer remain a part of the R4GV political party. I have therefore taken steps to join the Liberal Democrats and here’s why.

“The Lib Dems have shown me that they genuinely care about all sections of our communities, and have the right priorities and values for the residents of our borough. They are a diverse group of people, each of them residents of the borough themselves, who support each other and work together as a team to stand up for all of the different communities across Guildford and our villages, and against vested interests.

“I am looking forward to now working on a wider range of issues aligned to my passions and strengths.

“The last four years have shown me that the Liberal Democrats are the team best suited to lead Guildford and our villages through the next four years and beyond. Their vision is the right one, and I strongly urge everyone who cares about Guildford borough and its future to vote Liberal Democrat on Thursday, May 4.”

Cllr Julia McShane

Liberal Democrat council leader Cllr Julia McShane commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Paul to our group. He brings a valuable perspective to the council chamber, and we are really happy he has recognised our dedication to working hard for all the communities across our borough.

“He will be a valued part of our team of local people working for a fairer, greener and thriving future for Guildford and our villages.”

Paul Abbey will be standing, alongside Danielle Newson, for the Liberal Democrats in Tillingbourne ward, which the Lib Dems won in a by-election in 2022 following the death of Conservative Richard Billington.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Paul Spooner, who as a Conservative borough councillor has represented Ash South & Tongham alongside Paul Abbey, added: “I am very surprised that Cllr Abbey is standing again. My ward colleague [Cllr Graeme Eyre] and I tried to work with Cllr Abbey for four years and I don’t think he responded to a single email himself during that whole period, although other R4GV members (not necessarily elected members) apparently stepped in to try and help at times.

“Out of respect for his issues, both Cllr Eyre and I have refrained from commenting publicly during the four years, but if he is standing again then I really have to question whether he is able to support residents as a Lib Dem, given his difficulties as an R4GV councillor. I guess stakeholders in Ash and Tongham would be the best to judge his performance to date.”

Share This Post

Responses to Councillor to Stand as Lib Dem Candidate Following R4GV Rejection

  1. George Potter Reply

    April 4, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Interesting that R4GV claim they were unable to offer Cllr Abbey a seat to stand given that just two weeks ago Cllr John Redpath was telling me about where they were going to ask him to stand.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

    • John Redpath Reply

      April 4, 2023 at 10:15 pm

      As is so often the case with George Potter, I have no idea what he’s going on about?

  2. Paul Ross Reply

    April 5, 2023 at 7:19 am

    People don’t leave winning teams. I wonder what he saw at R4GV that put him off?

    Presumably he was seeing the workings of the party and saw something he didn’t like? Wonder what it was.

    Have they got info that their support is dwindling maybe and so he jumped ship? Was it that video that circulated online recently?

    Feels like there’s a bigger story behind this story.

  3. RWL Davies Reply

    April 5, 2023 at 7:50 am

    Such shenanigans highlight the paucity of talent and utter ineffectiveness in resolving local issues exhibited by GBC.

  4. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 5, 2023 at 10:16 am

    Why do we have to worry about parties in local elections? I certainly hope people will vote on local issues and not automatically for their favoured party for running the national government.

    I am likely to use my three votes for people of three different parties, either people I’ve known well for many years (who may disagree with me on national politics but chime with me on local issues), or else for people with whom I can constructively engage by email.

  5. Sue Doughty Reply

    April 5, 2023 at 6:05 pm

    As most people know, the last four years have seen unprecedented problems due to the pandemic. People have been ill, loved ones have needed support and lives have been turned upside down. This has affected work patterns too.

    To criticise someone who achieved a 68 per cent attendance during the last four years is scraping the barrel, given these difficult times.

    During the last few years, we have seen a lot of changes in political allegiance and it is better that candidates represent a party which strongly represents their beliefs and concerns as happened here.

    Being a councillor is not a full-time job, with full-time pay. It fits in alongside one’s everyday life and is effectively a voluntary role with allowances. We should remember that and that councillors put in a lot of work, some of it behind the scenes dealing with casework.

    The Lib Dems will be fighting on positive messages in this election, not on trumped-up statistics which have to be rapidly changed because they are not true.

    R4GV and the Tories must give up this pointless mud-slinging. This isn’t what the public wants to hear and no way to gain respect.

    Sue Doughty is a former Lib Dem MP for Guildford

  6. Sue Wyeth-Price Reply

    April 6, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    I hope the residents of Tillingbourne will take heed of our experience of Cllr Abbey in Ash South Ward.

    As a borough councillor he has been so incredibly disappointing that I am not at all surprised that R4GV were reluctant to have him represent them in the future.

    I am surprised, however, that he has opted to join the Lib Dems given that he wrote to me in January asking me to nominate him again for R4GV for this next term.

    After discussing this with other local residents, I refused based on his non-performance over the last four years. His lack of support for residents is one of the primary reasons why I decided to stand as a candidate.

    There has been a lot happening in Ash in the last four years, and Cllr Abbey has only been notable by his absence.

    Sue Wyeth-Price is a R4GV candidate for Ash South in the forthcoming GBC election

  7. Tony Rooth Reply

    April 6, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    I have served as a borough councillor for 20 years and county councillor for six, standing in seven elections. I cannot recall any elections with the level and tone of personal and derogatory comments which some candidates are already throwing at others.

    I thought better of Joss Bigmore [R4GV] and Paul Spooner [Con] who should give an apology to Paul Abbey for their comments.

    All election candidates should consider more than once what they plan to say and write beforehand. In my experience, personal and party political points scoring can rebound on candidates when residents decide who to vote for.

    Tony Rooth is an Independent borough councillor for Pilgrims ward who is not standing in the forthcoming election

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 *