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County Councillor Quits Saying SCC Agreement With Developer Was Final Straw

Published on: 1 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 1 Sep, 2023

Colin Cross who resigned as a county councillor yesterday

By Martin Giles

Colin Cross the Residents for Guildford & Villages county councillor for The Horsleys has resigned.

He notified the county council of his decision yesterday saying: “The final straw in coming to this decision has been the very recent publication of the Statement of Common Ground between WSP (representing developer Taylor Wimpey) and SCC for the planning permission to be determined relating to land at Wisley Airfield.”

WSP Global Inc is an international consultancy understood to have been given the job of negotiating with SCC on the transport issues for the Wisley development.

A by-election in the Horsleys division is expected to be held in October.

In his resignation letter, copied to The Dragon, the former councillor said: “For some time now I have been considering my position at SCC for various reasons and have finally decided to stand down as councillor for The Horsleys with immediate effect.”

Referring to the “final straw” agreement he said: “This document, clearly written and published by WSP on behalf of Taylor Wimpey is, in the view of many Horsley residents, a travesty of the true situation on the ground and contradicts much of the previous constructive criticism from SCC in recent years, which has somehow been erased and replaced by a broad-based agreement.

“One particular anomaly is that, on the one hand, it is signed off on August 25 by a very senior TW Consultant of many years standing, and for SCC by a middle-ranking planning officer with one member of staff, a Mr Richard Cooper. Surely this merited a senior SCC director’s involvement and signature bearing in mind the importance of this controversial site?

“I consider the SCC agreement to the statement to be a travesty of the highest order and an insult to the residents in the parishes of East and West Horsley, East Clandon, Effingham, Ripley, Ockham and Wisley, where there is long-standing and overwhelming opposition to this ill-conceived, isolated, over-development.”

R4GV say they will be fielding Dennis Booth, who recently served as Mayor of Guildford and borough councillor for Christchurch who, they say “shares Colin’s passion for protecting our green spaces and holding SCC to account for residents”.

Colin Cross served for some thirty years as a parish councillor for Ripley, including taking on the role of chairman for five years, before being elected to Guildford Borough Council (GBC) in 2014 to represent Lovelace ward in a dramatic victory.

A victorious Colin Cross in 2014 with Lib Dem leader Caroline Reeves (right).

Lovelace had been the Conservative Party’s safest GBC seat but concerns had grown over the emerging Local Plan and Conservative leaders at Guildford disliked the Conservative candidate Ben Paton nominated by the Mole Valley Conservative Association who was critical of the leadership and the direction the plan was taking.

See: Lib Dems Win Lovelace Ward in a By-Election Landslide from Fractured Tories

Former councillor Paul Spooner, the deputy leader of the Conservative Group at the time, was seen hugging the Lib Dem leader when the Lib Dem victory was announced.

But Cross resigned from the Liberal Democrats in 2017 as he believed that their borough council leadership had betrayed residents by supporting the Conservative-led Local Plan which included a target of 14,000 houses on mainly green belt land around Guildford, and the removal 15 villages, including Effingham, Ripley and East and West Horsley, from the green belt.

After a spell as an Independent, in 2019 he joined the newly formed Residents for Guildford and Villages party and was re-elected to represent the Lovelace Ward at GBC.

Then, in 2021 he was elected to represent The Horsleys division, which includes East Clandon, East & West Horsley, Effingham, Ripley, Ockham and Wisley, at Surrey County Council.

Colin Cross with his prospective replacement Dennis Booth

Colin Cross added that the revelation of this Statement of Common Ground has made the decision for me and the time is now right for me to hand over to someone who has the time and determination to continue my campaign and the work I have been doing. Dennis Booth is that person.

“It has been an honour for me to serve our residents and communities at parish, borough and county levels and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have given me such great support over so many years.”

Surrey County Council has been invited to comment.

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Responses to County Councillor Quits Saying SCC Agreement With Developer Was Final Straw

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    September 1, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    There are certain guys in the community who have standards scruples honesty and care for the community.

    I would say Colin Cross is near the top in any listing.

    Now, like me, he is free to work with the community to improve the borough behind the scenes without the restrictions that being a councillor can impose.

    SCC is getting above its station. They are meant to work for us! We don’t have to accept dictatorship from them.

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