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Full Guildford Borough Council Meeting Round Up

Published on: 13 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 16 Oct, 2018

The full meeting of Guildford Borough Council, October 9, 2018

The following report is a roundup of short items covering business conducted at the last full meeting of Guildford Borough Council (GBC) on Tuesday, October 9 2018, which have not been covered in other stories…

Claims of Late Notice of Transparency Motion

Cllr Tony Rooth

Claims that a motion proposed by Cllr Tony Rooth (Ind, Pilgrims) on “transparency” at GBC’s full council meeting on Tuesday (October 9) was only included at the “last minute” have been shown to be incorrect. The motion headed, “Notice of motion dated 27 September 2018 from Cllr Tony Rooth” (Ind, Pilgrims) had been circulated to all councillors on October 1.

A number of councillors during the debate and afterwards said they had only seen the motion shortly before commencement of the meeting.

A short investigation showed that basic motion was submitted prior to agenda being published and circulated with it but the general nature of the motion, ie that it was not simply about compliance with the Local Government Transparency Code, had not been appreciated, so the focus had been a technical audit response. See also: Letter: Council Motion Was Not Last Minute and Bad Tempered Debate on Transparency Gives Clear View of Bad Blood.

Committee membership allocations

The allocation of committee memberships was revisited following the formation of a two-member Independent group. The main point of contention was whether a seat on the Planning Committee should remain with the Labour group, also two members strong, or be given to an Independent.

After much debate and examination of the calculations Council Leader Spooner admitted that the leadership had preferred the Labour Party membership as it was one of the main, established political parties.

Committee membership allocation agreed at GBC full council

The vote on the motion to agree the allocation (as set out above) was carried by 23 votes to four with 13 abstentions, mainly the Lib Dem group who were joined by Conservatives Nils Christiansen (Holy Trinity) and Jenny Wicks (Clandon & Horsley).

Review of public speaking procedure rules

Cllr Matt Furniss

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch) proposed a motion to approve what he said had been: “…effectively a piece of tidying up because we have not had procedure rules on all committees, it has been a little bit of a mish-mash in certain cases. This creates a very clear guide for members of the public on their procedure speaking rules.”

Cllr David Reeve (GGG, Clandon & Horsley) expressed concern over the level of public engagement and questioned the rule that public questions had to be directly related to the agenda.

Cllr Rooth (Ind, Pilgrims) agreeing said that public engagement and involvement needed to be further encouraged and moved an amendment proposing the council set up a cross-party “task and finish group” to review the public speaking rules, specifically: the length of time public speakers are given to speak, the maximum number of public speakers allowed, giving permission for them to use visual aids including slide projections and, the size of petitions required to trigger various council reactions.

The amendment motion was the subject of a recorded vote. 27 voted against, all Conservatives plus three Lib Dems including their leader Caroline Reeves, eight abstained, including Conservatives Murray Grubb and Sheila Kirkland and the Mayor (a usual position) plus five Lib Dems. The three GGG members and the two Independents all voted for the motion.

The main motion was then carried without even the need for a show of hands.

Review of Councillor’s Allowances 2019

The council agreed to take measures to have in place an Independent Review Panel made up of members of the general public, to review borough councillors’ and parish councillor allowances. The recruitment of two additional reviewers is necessary.

Cllr Nils Christiansen

Routine Consideration of Health issues in Every Council Decision

Cllr Nils Christiansen’s motion that consideration of how every council decision “…will promote and support the improved health and well being of residents” should become mandatory. There were no dissenters and the proposal was adopted.

The press and public were then excluded for two items: “The use of urgent powers delegated to the managing director” and “Investment Opportunity Update“, given by GBC’s Director of Finance and believed to be the proposed £81 million investment in student housing at the University of Surrey.

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Responses to Full Guildford Borough Council Meeting Round Up

  1. Jenny Grove Reply

    October 15, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I notice that press and public were excluded for the “Investment Opportunity Update” believed to be about the proposed £81 million investment in student housing at the University of Surrey. So much for transparency, or maybe they were afraid too many people would turn up to ask questions; and why not? £81 million of our money and we know nothing of the thinking behind it, the risks to our investment, what return we shall have and over how long?

    Why is our council tying itself up with the UoS in this manner in the first place, particularly in light of the fact that GBC is the University’s Planning Authority? What is going on here? First, we have Dongying and now this.

    Yes, the university should build more student accommodation on their plentiful supply of land and free up the many houses, currently used as student accommodation, on which no council tax can be gathered, for families to buy, so that proper communities can again be established. If the council wants to invest £81 million of our money, let’s make them be transparent about it.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    They haven’t got £81 million. They will need to borrow for this extravagant gesture. They have already stated that there will be a deficit in next year’s funds for essential services of over £8 million. One has to question the maths and the reasoning behind the proposal to spend money they haven’t got on a project which should not be their concern at all.

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