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Election Debate Part 2: Parties Opposed to Tory ‘Power Grab’ On Single Unitary Authorities

Published on: 25 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2021

In the second of four short debates, chaired by Dragon NEWS editor Martin Giles, we asked the parties fielding candidates in the 10 Guildford divisions of Surrey County Council for their views on the proposals for the adoption of unitary authorities.

Unsurprisingly, there was consensus in opposition to the Surrey County Council Tory proposal for a single unitary authority. Sam Peters (Green Party candidate for Shere) said it was an attempt by the Tories “to respond to the big losses in 2019, to stifle local democracy and to take decisions away from the local community”.

George Potter (Lib Dem candidate for Guildford East) was clear it was a “transparent power grab” and Liz Hyland (R4GV candidate for Guildford East) was suspicious that SCC had not published their report into the proposals asking: “What has SCC to hide?”

John Morris (Peace Party candidate for Guildford North) said there was “no evidence” unitary authorities would be better for Surrey. Susan Parker (GBC councillor and Guildford Greenbelt Group spokesperson) felt that a single authority of 1.2m million people would be “totally unwieldy” and Anne Rouse (Labour candidate for Guildford North) said: “We need the consensus of the residents” before moving forward on such an important change.”

The Conservatives declined to take part in the debate saying: “We have decided that we will not be taking part in any online hustings so that we can concentrate our efforts on speaking to people directly.”

You can watch the debate here…

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test One Response to Election Debate Part 2: Parties Opposed to Tory ‘Power Grab’ On Single Unitary Authorities

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 26, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    There may well be merit in splitting Surrey into three unitaries for most things, but if that path is followed it should not apply to most public transport provision such as tendered (subsidised non-commercial) inter-urban and rural bus services, which I think would be best pushed up to a properly funded TfSE (Transport for South East) to avoid the potential problem of cross-border (whether county, borough or unitary border) services where one authority wants to subsidise it but the other side doesn’t.

    I suspect there is less cross-regional border travel than cross-county border. For example, on trains from Reading to Birmingham I recollect noticing more people alighting at Oxford but boarding at Leamington Spa.

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