Fringe Box



Dragon Interview: Murray Grubb Jnr

Published on: 11 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 13 Nov, 2013
Cllr Murrey Grubb 2 262

Cllr Murrey Grubb Jnr

Murray Grubb Jnr is the Conservative borough councillor for Ash Wharf. He was elected at a by-election in April, so has only been a borough councillor for six months, but already he has been promoted to the council’s Executive, the group of up to ten councillors who act as a cabinet.

As you might suspect from his name, he is not a native of these parts. Of course, we are well used to Scots on the political scene but not so much at a local level.

The Guildford Dragon thought it was time to find out more …

What made you move from Fife in Scotland to Surrey?

I moved from Fife in 2002. I was working as a banker at that time, and the firm that I was with relocated me down south to better cover my high net worth accounts in the GU and SL postcode region.

Are you sure you weren’t deported? Tories are like hen’s teeth north of the border aren’t they?

I certainly am part of a very small fraternity. I was born in Kirkcaldy, which is a staunch Labour area, Gordon Brown is the local MP. I worked as an electrical engineer apprentice in the Rosyth dockyard and was a member of the trade union while there. However my political affiliations always been to the Tory party. To me it seemed they rewarded success instead of facilitating certain lifestyles that were both created and maintained under a benefit system and successive Labour governments.

What made you get interested in local politics and step forward to become a councillor?

When I moved to Tongham in Surrey I used to socialise and meet up with Cllr John Aides who was a lifelong Conservative councillor. I attended many local events with him and I was active during any election periods as a canvasser etc. Also as a father of two very young children, local policy for school placements and development impact on us directly. With so much change happening in Ash, and the surrounding areas, the only way to influence anything was to get involved, so that’s exactly what I did.

Is being a borough councillor what you expected it to be?

Being a borough councillor is both a blessing and a curse. Your constituents think you have unlimited power to change things for the local good and, unfortunately, once you are involved you realise there are no shortcuts or magic wands to wave. But it is incredibly rewarding to be involved with the huge amount of change that is planned for the borough and being instrumental in how it moves forward.

How many hours work a week do you spend on council business?

It is easily 20-25 hours but in some weeks this can rise to 40+. It is worth noting that these are often anti-social hours, weekend and evening engagements, and others are during the day where you have to use holiday entitlement from your day job to be able to attend. This is on top of the planning and preparation work you have to do as part of your portfolio.

Do you think the allowances paid to councillors are enough?

It’s a hard question to answer. If people feel that my earning of £390 a month for 100+ hours of work is seen to be enough then it is. I, like most of my colleagues on the council, think that you have to do this role from a non-commercial standpoint, for the improvement of the local area. I want to make my ward the best area that it can be, with the happiest residents and the best facilities that are within our power to provide.

What are the main issues in your ward? How will you address them?

For Ash Wharf it is development, without question. There are plans being muted for literally thousands of houses to be developed in the area. This will, if left unmanaged and unplanned, have catastrophic effects on the local amenities of schools, doctors, dentists etc. Not to mention the local road network which already suffers horrendously from rush hour grid-locks. There is also the unknown effects of flooding that may raise their head during and after the development starts and ends.

You have been promoted to the Executive very quickly. Has that caused any friction with party colleagues?

Not really. I have a very specialised set of skills in technology transformations. In my day job I design, deploy and maintain cutting edge customer contact centres. I have done this for many councils and the Met Police 999 centre. As a result Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, the leader of the council, promoted me with the specific task of implementing the council’s new contact centre and digital strategy. Really I was the only councillor with the working knowledge to achieve the objectives. As a result my fellow councillors can see the specialised value I bring and in turn have proven to be highly supportive of my role.

You have told me that you read the Guildford Dragon NEWS. What do you like about it?

I like anything that promotes local news and local values. In a national media world it takes something pretty out of the ordinary to make the headlines but with an online news service that is targeted to my local area, like the Guildford Dragon is, coupled with its regular twitter updates that I also follow from my @murraygrubbjnr address, I can see what’s happening as soon as it’s posted and keep abreast, not just of the initial post, but then also the feedback and comments that residents place.

Do you think webcasting council meetings will be a good thing? What else can be done to increase public interest in and engagement with local politics?

I think anything that allows members of the public to actively participate in local democracy through the medium best suited to them is a good thing. Webcasting is not just a high tech medium for young people, it can empower people who can’t make the meeting, who may be elderly, frail, disabled or otherwise limited in their ability to get to the council office meetings which often run late into the evening. I think that for the public to really engage, they need to feel their say really does matter and their actions really can make a difference.

People may think local politics is boring and unimportant, but they’re wrong on both counts. My theory is this: if you have an opinion and you’re prepared to voice it, and follow it through with any required actions, then you should get involved with your local parish and borough councillors to make those actions worthwhile and have a greater chance of success.

See also: Open Debate: Should We Pay Our Councillors?

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Responses to Dragon Interview: Murray Grubb Jnr

  1. Gordan Walker Reply

    November 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Go Murray. You’ve done so well and I’m sure you will be fantastic in whatever you do. The people’s person.

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