Fringe Box



Housing Developments The Major Topic at Cranleigh’s Hustings

Published on: 23 May, 2017
Updated on: 24 May, 2017

By Kay Newnham

It was not Brexit but development that was the main topic of discussion at the general election hustings held in Cranleigh last night (May 22, 2017).

There was a poor turnout for the “Churches Together” event, far fewer than two years ago.

However, the discussion was lively and five candidates: Anne Milton, Conservative, Zoe Franklin, Liberal Democrats; Howard Smith, Labour; Mark Bray-Parry Green Party; Semi Essessi, Independent; and John Morris, Peace Party, acquitted themselves well and did not shirk from answering a wide variety of questions.

When asked their views on Brexit – all freely admitted they were Remainers – and despite not hiding their disappointment, respected the country’s decision – agreeing a future government must now get on with “a very big and difficult job”.

There were some very real concerns how the UK’s decision to leave the European Union would impact on small businesses, on the way future trade would be conducted with poorer nations who depend on UK business and how the decision would effect the UK economy in general.

Anne Milton, Guildford’s MP since 2005, urged voters to read the Conservative manifesto which she claimed would answer many of the important questions posed.

Responding to one questioner who described himself as, “an increasingly wobbly Conservative” who was becoming increasingly concerned by Theresa May’s description of Conservatism as, “the nasty party,” Milton argued that many of the manifesto pledges were, “strikingly different from anything I have seen before” and, went a long way to overcome the “nasty” description.

Anne Milton

All the candidates admitted the questions on the lips of everyone they met in Cranleigh was the over development currently being inflicted on them, and the lack of infrastructure to support such a huge influx of people.

Anne Milton, was in the firing line from those who asked why she had made a decision to lobby the Secretary of State to call in the Dunsfold planning application, which added to Cranleigh’s vulnerability, for which she made no apology.

Zoe Franklin

She said she firmly believed a Public Inquiry should be held and admitted that as the local MP she had “nagged” the Secretary of State to call it in.

Candidates unanimously believed Waverley Borough Council’s delayed Local Plan and the lack of green belt protection had caused Cranleigh enormous difficulties. Zoe Franklin said: “I don’t even like using the words here, but Cranleigh has been dumped on.”

John Morris

The Peace Party candidate, John Morris, who left Cranleigh in 1959 when his railway worker father wound up the Cranleigh line closure said: “Public transport must be improved or traffic chaos will surely follow.”

Labour’s Howard Smith believed it was time to make public transport free, and called for a pilot scheme to test its efficacy.

When the Dunsfold question was raised – yet again – Anne Milton said her fear was that Waitrose would set up at Dunsfold and suck the life out of Cranleigh High Street.

Howard Smith

She stressed it was not “an either or – Cranleigh versus Dunsfold”. In her opinion it was neither. The area’s infrastructure could not support a large number of homes.

After the meeting Milton told The Guildford Dragon –  that 500 small/affordable homes in Cranleigh was a manageable figure.

The full list of candidates standing in the general election follows:

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Responses to Housing Developments The Major Topic at Cranleigh’s Hustings

  1. Sally Parrott Reply

    May 24, 2017 at 9:49 am

    This was an interesting and well-chaired evening, with good discussion from the candidates.

    I gather it was organised by ‘Churches Together’. As a non-believer, I’d have preferred a secular venue such as Cranleigh Village Hall or the Arts Centre. I felt particularly uncomfortable when at the start of the meeting we were asked to pray together.

    I realise that the election was called at very short notice, but think some of the public might normally feel happier in a non-religious meeting-place.

  2. Paul Robinson Reply

    May 26, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    The Cranleigh railway closure was announced in 1963 & closed in 1965 so how could John Morris’s father have wound up the line in 1959?

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