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Executive Member Resignation Led To Council Leader’s Departure

Published on: 21 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 24 Sep, 2012

Cllr James Palmer

The resignation of James Palmer from the Guildford Borough Council’s Executive was part of the chain of events that led to Cllr Tony Rooth’s decision to resign earlier this week, it has emerged.

Cllr James Palmer (Con, Shalford), the lead councillor for the Town Centre and Transport, was observed to appear very concerned with the way the town centre planning documents issue had been handled and the receipt of two QC opinions, obtained by the Guildford Vision Group. The legal opinions were that the adoption of the documents would be illegal.

Only promoted to the Executive in May, in the same reshuffle that saw Cllr Stephen Mansbridge promoted to Deputy Leader, it was emphasised by Council Leader Rooth that Cllr Palmer’s experience on Woking Borough Council’s Executive had been a factor in his selection.

A lawyer by profession, James Palmer was elected to Woking Borough Council in May 2000. Aged just 24, he was the youngest member of Woking council but, despite his youth, he rose to becomes the vice-chairman of its Executive. He stood down as the councillor for Mayford and Sutton Green in May 2006 to give more time to his work.

The Town Centre and Transport portfolio for Guildford Borough Council was created by Cllr Rooth and made the responsibility of Cllr Palmer at the time of his promotion in an attempt to give the planning issues, already contentious, sufficient attention and importance.

He attended a Guildford Vision Group meeting in late August where the legality of adopting the draft Interim Town Centre Framework by the council’s Executive was first publicly questioned.

Commenting at the end of the debate, he said that he felt “like a man with a noose around his neck”. But his realistic and conciliatory style impressed many of those present and one member of the audience said that he should be congratulated for having the courage to come to the meeting.

Cllr Palmer has been reinstated to the existing Executive since Cllr Rooth’s resignation as Council Leader. Following an election in full council in October. It will be the new Council Leader’s responsibility to form a new Executive with whichever councillors he or she selects.

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Responses to Executive Member Resignation Led To Council Leader’s Departure

  1. Gerald Bland

    September 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    This article tells only a small part of the story of councillor and officer engagement with Guildford Vision Group (‘GVG’) and of the attempts made by GVG to draw the Council’s attention to the deficiencies in the two planning documents intended to be adopted by the Council’s Executive on 6th September.

    For a fuller version interested readers may like to go to and click on ‘Timeline’ on the Home page.