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Election Debate: The Dragon Asks SCC Candidates ‘What Are You Offering Guildford?’

Published on: 23 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2021

What will decide your vote on May 6? Do you even know what is at stake?

As part our coverage of the Surrey County Council elections, we invited all parties standing in the 10 Guildford divisions to debate the issues that matter to them and the electorate.

In this first of four short debates, chaired by Dragon NEWS editor Martin Giles, we asked what issues their parties were campaigning on and why.

The Conservatives declined to take part 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.”

The parties were represented by Sam Peters (Green Party candidate for Shere), Susan Parker (GBC councillor and Guildford Greenbelt Group spokesperson), Anne Rouse (Labour candidate for Guildford North), George Potter (GBC councillor and Liberal Democrat candidate for Guildford East), John Morris (The Peace Party candidate for Guildford West) and Liz Hyland (R4GV candidate for Guildford East).

You can watch the debate here…

The debate ran from green issues to green belt, from the Independent approach to benefits of national parties and criticism of cuts to services and how these would be addressed.

The current Conservative council in Surrey came in for fierce criticism with Lib Dem George Potter saying “they have failed, they have let people down, it is incompetent”.

John Morris (Peace Party) said he would concentrate on areas such as adult and child social care and education where “they weren’t doing well at all”. He stressed that more funding was essential.

Anne Rouse (Labour) said that money could be saved by “changing the way the council is run” and advocated three unitary authorities as a way of making some savings, “spending less on civic amenities and putting the money into services”.

SCC Budget 2020-21

Susan Parker (GGG) criticised both GBC and SCC regimes saying there wasn’t a “sense of financial responsibility amongst any of the parties” adding that possibly “we should use consultants rather less and spend money on social services rather more”.

The use of private companies for providing council services was denounced by Sam Peters (Green Party) as a short term saving but “spending far, far more on private providers than if we did it our selves” with in-house resources. “Long term thinking would spend less money long term and provide better services,” he said.

Liz Hyland (R4GV) was concerned at the level of scrutiny of the county finances when the Conservatives had been in control for 24 years. “There’s money being wasted and we don’t know where because nobody is asking the question.”

Forthcoming debates, to be published over the next few days, will cover their views on unitary authorities, transport and getting around in Surrey and the pros and cons of a “no overall control” situation at SCC?

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