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Dragon Interview: Council Leader Says He ‘Understands the Anger’ Over the Local Plan

Published on: 29 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 1 Oct, 2021

Cllr Joss Bigmore

By Martin Giles

In a round-up interview, the leader of Guildford Borough Council Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch) pulls no punches when he explains, again, how he feels the council’s hands are tied by the Local Plan adopted by the previous administration.

He said: “I can see what is happening to those villages, The Horsleys and Ash, I can see the consequences of the Local Plan. To be clear, this is fully expected by the people that designed it… And I understand the anger.”

He also says he has an open mind about the “County Deal” proposal that was recently revealed by The Dragon, saying it would be a good thing if more power is devolved from central government to county level. But while he acknowledges that some, even in his own party, might have reservations about the proposal, it also becomes clear is that he feels he can “do business” with the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver.

See also: The ‘County Deal’ – What Does it Offer Surrey?

Cllr Bigmore reviews Sunday’s Car-Free Day in Guildford considering it a success. He was especially impressed by the impact on the Upper High Street and thought this year’s event was a good foundation for future years.

He was also impressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to Guildford.

And the council leader explains the status of Guildford’s latest bid to become a city.

Please listen to this wide-ranging and forthright interview here…

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test 4 Responses to Dragon Interview: Council Leader Says He ‘Understands the Anger’ Over the Local Plan

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, it is certainly good to hear from Cllr Joss Bigmore on items affecting the borough and the format is a good way for residents to hear about topics from our councillor leader himself. Yes, residents can view webcasts of Guildford Borough Council meetings but Martin Giles can ask a whole range of questions and topical questions too. Let’s hope we hear more.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    September 30, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    Another great interview by The Dragon. Congratulations.

    Cllr Bigmore needs to understand a few things:

    – No one will believe he cares about the countryside until he does something to make the Local Plan review meaningful. Leaders must be ruthless;
    – The controlling mind of R4GV is not Cllr Bigmore but Cllr Rigg, whose concerns are exclusively urban;
    – The Lib Dems are cynically using R4GV as a human shield to conceal their own divisions over the Plan. Lib Dem Cllrs Harwood and Potter seem no better than orange Tories;
    – R4GV are therefore taking all the flak, including from those very Tories who created the Plan, for the sin of promising to fix it. The losers at the next election will be R4GV’s rural councillors, in wards such as Lovelace and Clandon & Horsley.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 2, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Joss Bigmore and his R4GV colleagues were elected to review and fix the Local Plan, not to throw in towel at the first hurdle. Why has he become an apologist for the hated Tory Plan?

    From the tone of this interview, I guess this is the last nail in the coffin for any meaningful review. It’s a shameful surrender.

    Here is an extract from R4GV’s manifesto:

    “We stand for:
    * Putting local issues first – not national party politics
    * Making the Borough Council responsive to residents’ views
    * Ensuring value-for-money and transparent accountability
    * Building affordable and social housing on brownfield sites first
    * Tackling the causes of air pollution and promoting sustainability
    * Prioritising the availability of community services
    * A Local Plan with a coherent Borough-wide vision for a vibrant and thriving community

    “We believe that, as well as campaigning on the issues that matter to you, we need to change the Borough Council.
    The concerns and needs of residents must be better reflected in Council policies, actions and expenditure.
    To achieve this we have a number of independent candidates representing Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) in the local elections on May 2nd, 2019.”

    I could not find a caveat in the above of “unless our hands are tied by the previous leadership”

    Also, I have seen no evidence of improved transparency. For example, we have seen no details of the scope and timetable for the promised review of the local plan.

    Furthermore, I see no sign that residents’ concerns are being reflected in council policies. Our villages are being overrun by unsustainable development now. Procrastination or denial of a review is unacceptable. Time they got on with it.

  4. Simon Mason Reply

    October 2, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Great interview and good to hear it from the leader.

    I wish Martin Giles has asked the leader why the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) has still not been adopted in Guildford. Is this a deliberate policy decision or just the Council dragging its feet? Maybe merging with Waverley will be a good thing as their planners are tenacious when it comes to squeezing developers for this tax.

    There are so many windfall sites coming forward piecemeal in the borough for 10 or under houses, and the borough and parishes are losing out on millions of pounds to pay for local infrastructure.

    I have asked Cllr Jan Harwood, through The Dragon, on many occasions over the last 2.5 years but nothing has been done.

    Editor’s response: It is hoped that these update interviews can become a more regular feature of our coverage, perhaps on a monthly basis. If they do, and time allows I will raise your question.

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