Fringe Box



Dragon Interview: New Lib Dem Group Leader – Caroline Reeves

Published on: 29 Apr, 2014
Updated on: 30 Apr, 2014
Cllr Caroline Reeves

Cllr Caroline Reeves

The Liberal Democrat group at Guildford Borough council have just announced the appointment of a new leader, Cllr Caroline Reeves. Wasting no time, the Dragon quickly caught up with her to ask her about the change and her new role and aspirations…

Why is the Lib Dem Group changing its leader?

The elections in 2010 were a difficult time for Guildford Lib Dems, our numbers decreased and while we gained two new councillors, we lost several long-standing, very experienced and hard working councillors (including the group leader Fiona White).

It was fortunate for us that David Goodwin [who is also a county councillor] agreed to take over as our group leader and we were able to rely on his experience while we re-grouped and re-organised ourselves. Four years on the group has grown in experience and skills and as we prepare for the elections in May 2015 we decided now was the time to get our election team in place.

What will you bring to this role?

As a group we are already deeply committed to our individual wards but there is always more we can do. I hope to make the group even stronger and more active communicators with their residents and ensure our voice is heard within the council. I am also keen to get the group as a whole using social media which is a fantastic tool for interacting with people quickly and easily, particularly younger residents.

What is the first main change you will make?

I feel it is extremely important that we connect with younger voters, and as I have said, I intend to increase our presence in social media as a way of ensuring our residents are aware of what we do in all our wards and the way we work closely with our residents. I want to ensure that all our councillors are signed up to, and active on social media, and talking regularly to their residents at councillor surgeries and residents’ meetings.

Given the poll ratings for Liberal Democrats across the country can you see any real prospect of electoral success in Guildford Borough?

Well given the general state of flux nationally, I don’t think anyone can predict what will happen in the elections next year.

The effect of  the emerging Local Plan is obviously of deep concern to residents and some councillors in the borough have expressed worries about the how this will play out in the elections. What is crucial is that we continue to do what is best for all the residents across the borough and not just those who shout loudest. If we end up with councillors who are elected on a ‘one topic ticket’ this could make the day-to-day nitty gritty of all round council life either interesting or challenging.

Ultimately I think our strength as Lib Dems is the hard work we do in the wards we represent and we hope that residents will support us with their votes as a result of this. However, we never take that support for granted which is why I’m so keen to improve our communication with residents.

Doesn’t the involvement of national political parties in local politics cause people to vote like sheep rather than really consider local issues?

Yes, unfortunately, and that’s why we need to make sure our residents know what we do for them on a local and personal level, and keep our communications very strong.

If there was one change you could effect in Guildford right now what would it be?

If I had a magic wand I would remove the need for food banks, it’s incredible that in these times we have people who are in work and yet still needing to call on support from food banks. But sadly it’s not that simple as there are so many reasons why people find themselves needing that support and we need much more work to tackle those issues first.

If I can sneak in a second… I would like to be able to show residents across the borough that we are not being alarmist and irresponsible in our work on the Local Plan, and that we do need to build more homes across the borough in a rational and measured plan. We need to provide for our children and their children. And the best way to do to this is by creating a solid, well-thought out Local Plan and the accompanying policy  documents.


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