Fringe Box



Local Plan Consultation Turmoil – Council Announces New Deadline For Comments

Published on: 23 Sep, 2014
Updated on: 24 Sep, 2014

Local Plan Consultation logoGuildford Borough Council (GBC) has this evening (September 23) apologised for continued confusion over the Draft Local Plan consultation and extended the deadline to this Friday (September 26).

An earlier apology following a complaint from the chair of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), Susan Parker. Withe the apology came a request from GBC for anyone affected to contact the council.

But in a dramatic turn at 6.44pm it was left to a council spokesperson to announce: “We can reassure everyone that all comments submitted to the Draft Local Plan consultation up until 23:59 on Monday 22 September were received. They are in our system and will be fully considered.

“Because of some unfortunate confusion regarding automated email replies, we will continue to accept submissions up until 23:59 on Friday 26 September.

“We are very sorry for any confusion or concerns caused by this error.”

Mrs Parker, who has led the GGG since it’s formation earlier this year, said of the situation last night (September 22): “This is an outrage. GBC announced that the consultation would be open until midnight.

“I have been contacted by someone who was relying on being able to send an email this evening , sent it at around 10pm, and received an email at 10.14pm (22.14) telling him that the consultation was now closed – almost two hours before it was due to close.  Another correspondent confirmed that her response was rejected at 23.21pm.

“No one knows how many people have had their responses rejected.  Are these replies stored? It would seem not. Whatever people have to say, they have a right to believe that a deadline will not be changed unilaterally to prevent them saying it.  If a time is publicised, and confirmed, then that time must stand…

“The council needs to re-open the consultation for at least a day, with wide publicity, in order to ensure that all rejected responses are now taken on board.

“I have written to all four MPs [those whose constituencies partly fall within the GBC area] this evening asking them to help with this, urgently.  Michael Gove has sent a message telling me to send it to an address that then bounces.  Jonathan Lord has said an automated message that he will try to respond in 10 working days. I am waiting for the responses from Anne Milton and Paul Beresford.”

The complaint follows confusion about the deadline for responses. Following an enquiry yesterday morning, from The Guildford Dragon NEWS, the council issued a press release stating the the consultation ended at 5pm and the Swan Lane shop closed at 4pm. At 4.30pm Susan Parker noticed the stated time in the article and contacted the council as the time stated contradicted an earlier publicised time of 2359hrs for emailed submissions.

Cllr Spooner, lead councillor for licensing and governance

Cllr Spooner, lead councillor for licensing and governance

Cllr Paul Spooner, (Con, South Ash & Tongham) lead councillor for governance, confirmed that responses would be accepted until 2359hrs and the council’s PR team issued a correction. But Susan Parker subsequently received several reports of responses being rejected by email, accompanying messages stating that the consultation had closed.

Roland McKinney in a comment sent to The Dragon today (September 23) wrote: “I emailed a submission yesterday at 5.13 pm which was rejected.  Following advice from Cllr Spooner I resent this morning at 10.10 am.  Rejected.

“What a shower of incompetents.  And these people are in charge of the Local Plan, and Guildford’s future.  I wouldn’t let them walk a dog.”

Cllr Spooner was invited to comment earlier today but no comment has so far been received.

Share This Post

Responses to Local Plan Consultation Turmoil – Council Announces New Deadline For Comments

  1. Michael Bruton Reply

    September 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Nothing surprises me nowadays about Tory Guildford Borough Council. We have loads of highly/over paid staff running the council and they cannot even get the basics right.

    How do we now know what they do with our Local Plan submissions generally? Do they collate them, acknowledge all of them or maybe lose a few? How do we know what we submit will actually reach the planning inspector?

    Can we now expect another odd press release from Cllr Mansbridge, asking us “Why complain if you are not a victim?”

  2. Roland McKinney Reply

    September 23, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Update at 1753hrs.

    Following the BBC Drive radio announcement and the statement referred to above, I resubmitted – and received by return the same rejection email.

    If you were to write a farce featuring this level of incompetence everyone would laugh and thank heavens it wasn’t true. But this is true, it is what is happening here in Guildford Borough.

    How can anyone have any confidence in the future of Guildford with this shower in charge?

  3. Helen Jefferies Reply

    September 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    These guys couldn’t organise the “proverbial” in a brewery.

    It is time that they fell on their swords or perhaps they’d rather meet their fate at the ballot box.

    At some point in time someone will realise how toxic this is to the Tory vote. The question is will this be before it’s too late?

    Time for a vote of no confidence in whoever is running the place.

  4. George Potter Reply

    September 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    In fairness, it’s easy to understand someone setting up the auto-reply for email submissions incorrectly by mistake.

    What’s not so easy to understand is why no one double checked it and why it wasn’t fixed properly after it was brought to the council’s attention.

  5. Jim Allen Reply

    September 23, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    After a considerable amount of work correcting and typesetting 350 plus pages in that same time period can I make a formal complaint to GBC regarding the unfairness to those who actually got their submissions in on time?

    The fiasco was caused by so many people who were so dilitory in making their submissions.

    It was almost as if they wanted to be able to complain ‘again’ when they could not submit because the system became overloaded with so many submissions at the same time.

    We have to be so careful when we make ‘petty complaints’ when so many serious faults really need complaining about. We must be very careful the word “vexatious” does not appear on the lips of council employees.

    Elected councillors are very quick to side with the ‘silent majority’ we don’t want our very serious concerns to be called ‘vexatious objectors’.

  6. Diane Maxfield Reply

    September 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t know about “…loads of highly/over paid staff…”. My experience is that there are probably too many ‘chiefs’ but too few ‘indians’, so work is not always checked properly because the ‘indians’ are under too much pressure.

    The real problem is that there is not enough scrutiny by the public of what is actually happening in the council. The head of the planning department left long before we reached this crucial stage.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *