Fringe Box



Dragon Interview: Former Conservative Group Leader – Why I Resigned

Published on: 25 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 30 Jun, 2020

Cllr Paul Spooner (Con, South Ash and Tongham) surprised many when he survived as the Conservative group leader at Guildford Borough Council despite an unprecedented defeat at last year’s borough council election.

But following two unheralded resignations, he is now the former Conservative group leader and a former parish councillor in Ash. His resignation from both positions caused by a breakdown in his relationship with some senior party colleagues.

Following are the questions posed by David Reading of the Dragon’s Ash Aspect and Cllr Spooner’s forthright responses…

Cllr Paul Spooner

Why did you resign from Ash Parish Council?

I resigned from Ash Parish Council on March 23, 2020 after almost nine years as a parish councillor for several reasons.

Out of respect for some colleagues who remain on the council, I do not wish to go into detail at this time, however, to place the decision in context, I supported the chairman for many years but believed that we had reached a point where, in my opinion, the parish council is no longer providing “fair value” to residents who pay an ever-increasing parish precept every year.

Whenever I raised concerns the response from the chairman or his consort [Marsha Moseley] was negative and I was accused of not providing “detail on an alternative budget” or being “unhelpful” and I believed that by leaving the parish council I was better able to support my residents at a borough level by asking pertinent questions from the public area rather than the very controlled environment that exists within the parish council.

In my resignation letter, I made it clear that I was not questioning the dedication of the parish chairman to his version of Ash, but we were no longer aligned and that I would always aim to be objective in supporting the parish council, but would now be free to be a genuine “critical friend” from outside the parish council, representing the residents of Ash.

Your resignation does not appear to have been minuted. Do you know why? Do you think it should have been?

I am very disappointed that no record of my resignation has been presented or minuted. The chairman appears to have taken the decision not to recognise my resignation at a parish council meeting and the only public record I note is my removal as a parish councillor from the parish website.

There is speculation that there has been a significant disagreement between you and Nigel Manning and Marsha Moseley. Is this true and did it contribute towards your decision to resign? If it is true, what was or is the difference of opinion?

I do not feel it is appropriate to go into detail but it is clear that there has been a breakdown in a number of relationships with Cllr Manning and Cllr Moseley, not just my own.

Do you have any comment to make on Nigel Manning’s chairmanship of Ash Parish Council?

See my comments above.

Have you considered seeking the Conservative candidature for the Ash Division at next year’s SCC election, opposing Marsha Moseley?

Whilst this is an internal party matter I do believe that putting myself forward for county councillor selection contributed to the breakdown in the relationship.

Why did you resign as GBC’s Conservative group leader?

I felt the situation had become untenable due to the breakdown in relationship with two members of the group. It was affecting the group dynamic and was unfair on colleagues. Sadly, it does not appear to have resolved the situation.

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Responses to Dragon Interview: Former Conservative Group Leader – Why I Resigned

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    June 25, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    Loyalty to the tribe seems to take precedence over loyalty to reality?

    Is this true transparency?

    Do the words “bloody rabble” still apply to the public?

    • Stuart Taylor Reply

      June 28, 2020 at 2:03 pm

      Claiming to represent the residents of Ash at the parish council, while no longer being a parish councillor and the accountability that brings, seems a little odd.

      Editor’s note: Paul Spooner remains a Conservative borough councillor for South Ash & Tongham.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 26, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    And this is the totally dysfunctional group who handed us a totally dysfunctional Local Plan on the eve of being slung out of power. Most edifying.

    At least Cllr Spooner has put the final nail in the coffin of either of these being elected to rule the rather diminished Tory cabal at GBC.

    Will they now apologise?

    Perhaps Paul Spooner now regrets supporting Cllr Moseley over her “bloody rabble” remark, and her refusal to properly apologise?

  3. David Roberts Reply

    June 30, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    It seems that the “bloody rabble” label now describes the group whose member coined it rather than us innocent members of the public. I hope the next Tory leader will not be Cllr Moseley or her “consort”.

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