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‘Disturbing’ Email Sparks Concern About Safety of Borough Councillors

Published on: 11 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 11 Feb, 2023

By David Reading

A suggestion that procedures may need to be put in place to ensure the safety of Guildford borough councillors was put forward by the chair of a council advisory board this week.

The idea that action should be considered came in the light of an email, said to be “disturbing”, which was received by the council before the recent planning committee meeting.

At that planning meeting, the committee was being asked to consider plans for four travellers’ pitches at Ipsley Lodge Stables, Hog’s Back, Seale.

The matter of the “disturbing” email was raised subsequently at a meeting of the council’s Strategy and Resources Executive Advisory Board (EAB).

The chair, Cllr Ruth Brothwell (R4GV, Worplesdon), spoke about increased public involvement in council matters, saying that more and more people were approaching the council these days particularly in the light of the Local Plan.

She said: “At almost every planning meeting there is an email sent to planning members and last week the one we received was disturbing enough that I personally went to John Armstrong (the council’s democratic services manager) and asked him whether we needed a police presence or security there. It was just one of those things but it happens at almost every planning meeting that something is coming up and things are a little bit contentious.”

She posed the question: “I wondered if we needed to include anything at all for  safeguarding of councillors?”

Asked to comment on the email, GBC said in a statement: “The comment made by Cllr Brothwell was about allegations made by a third party in relation to the Ipsley Lodge application.”

But the statement added: “As far as we are aware, there have been no reports of threats or intimidation towards councillors or officers with regards to the application in question. It was not deemed necessary to have a police or security presence at the meeting.”

In the event, no decision on the Ipsley Lodge application was made at the planning meeting because no councillor was prepared to step in and chair the meeting in the absence of the chair and vice chair through sickness. The application will be decided at a later date.

See: No Councillor Prepared to Chair Planning Meeting So Traveller Pitches and 93 New Homes Delayed

Cllr Brothwell’s reference to the email in question annoyed residents in the Ash area who watched the meeting online. They felt it could have implied it was one of them who was responsible because of their opposition to another application – a plan to build 93 homes at May and Juniper Cottages, Ash Green Road, Ash.

A spokesperson for Ash Green Residents’ Association (AGRA) said afterwards: “We are pleased that the residents of Ash and Ash Green have now been exonerated.”

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Responses to ‘Disturbing’ Email Sparks Concern About Safety of Borough Councillors

  1. William Brewster Reply

    March 1, 2023 at 8:15 pm

    If our councillors were making fair none biased decisions then people would trust them more and have some respect for them and their decisions. Currently, we have one of the worst, the most incapable planning departments in the whole country. GBC hang your head in shame.

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