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Letter: A Single Unitary for Surrey is the Best Option for Guildford Residents  

Published on: 5 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 5 Aug, 2020

Chapel Street

From Matt Furniss

Conservative county councillor for Shalford

The responses received from some political parties at Guildford Borough Council on your article Tories Object After Council Calls Halt to Town Centre Upgrades clearly demonstrate the benefits of a single unitary authority in Surrey.

The standard response from both the Liberal Democrats and R4GV of “it is not our responsibility” and “Surrey County Council is responsible” is not the right attitude if they wish to improve our resident communities in the town and countryside.

One single authority for Surrey would be simpler and cheaper for residents, it would join things up to deliver much more effective outcomes, providing for a stronger local economy, better health integration with the NHS, improved transport and planning.

A single unitary for Surrey would provide one point of contact for residents, providing a simpler, direct service with no buck-passing.

The previous Conservative administration worked in partnership with SCC to deliver significant benefits for Guildford providing joint funded projects to support the town centre economy. The High Street Setts and Tunsgate are just two examples.

If the coalition at GBC are unwilling to deliver improvements and support to our local economy, then what are they offering to support business apart from handing out the Conservative central government grants?

If we get rid of the layers of bureaucracy by stripping out duplication, local communities will be much more empowered – greater access to decision making (and money) to deliver what people really need in their towns and villages.

Surrey County Council is delivering approximately £1 billion in net revenue funding on vital services such as education, fire services, highways – including on-street parking, traffic management, street lighting, transport, libraries, recreation, arts and museums, social care, strategic planning, trading standards, and waste disposal to Surrey’s 1.2 million residents. Plus, a £1.4 billion capital improvement budget.

Why then does the current coalition admit defeat at a £1.3m project which they believe another authority is better placed than them to deliver? What value are we getting from GBC now?

A unitary authority would be able to deliver investment into our economy quickly and efficiently, along with other projects, providing best value for residents and a better place to live.

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Responses to Letter: A Single Unitary for Surrey is the Best Option for Guildford Residents  

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    August 5, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Cllr Furniss suffers the naivety of the young and lacks the wisdom of old age and life’s experience.

    The supposition that putting all your eggs in one large basket is the best way forward demonstrates this.

    He supported the Clay Lane link road, I suspect me might have proposed it. It was a road to nowhere, heading in the wrong direction, according to the transport consultant for the Weyside Urban Village, something I pointed out some years ago.

    Then there is the 24-hour enforcement of bus lanes in Guildford although the buses only run 18 hours a day at most. Another demonstration of poor judgement or deliberate money-grabbing through fines which penalises the residents of Surrey.

    Therefore any proposal supported by the councillor should be inspected with a fine-tooth comb; history shows his choices are very poor for the residents of Surrey.

    • Neil Langridge Reply

      August 8, 2020 at 11:43 am

      Good points from Jim Allen but Cllr Furniss is not naive, he knows exactly what he’s doing, it’s a power grab for a party that voters are increasingly (and finally) realising is staggeringly incompetent.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    August 6, 2020 at 6:47 am

    It’s interesting that Cllr Furniss did not express these views while he was happy to be a “double-hatting” at GBC and SCC. Is this perhaps sour grapes, after being slung out of GBC, with most of his Tory colleagues, over the dreadful Local Plan?

  3. David Roberts Reply

    August 6, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Cllr Furniss has shown himself to be out of touch with what’s best for Guildford residents by getting himself spectacularly voted off the borough council at the last elections.

    This attempt to forge a new avenue for his political ambitions is therefore likely to be counter-productive.

  4. Patrick Haveron Reply

    August 6, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Yet Surrey CC can’t deliver a simple online planning meeting? On such a controversial oil-drilling application in Dunsfold?

    Surrey’s monitoring officer, Paul Evans, said there was: “…a significant likelihood that the irregularities arising from the technical difficulties at the meeting on 29 June 2020 render the resolution to refuse invalid and would render any notice of refusal unlawful.

    “The most appropriate and fairest course of action is to take the application back to the committee. This is what the Council has decided to do. “In the circumstances, the council will in due course resubmit the application to the Planning and Regulatory Committee to be redetermined afresh with full entitlement given to members of the public and the applicant to make or remake their statements orally and with full provision for debate by members.”

  5. John Perkins Reply

    August 7, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Cllr Furniss makes a reasonable case for unitary authority, but fails to explain why it should be his which takes over rather than the other way around. His arguments largely appear to be that the boroughs won’t do what they are told by the county. It might be that the boroughs are unruly or it might be that the county is unreasonable in its demands.

    SCC is not delivering revenue funding on vital services; it’s spending its residents’ money on those things which they need and demand. Unitary authorities would have to do the same.

    The previous Conservative administration also collaborated with SCC on the infamous “letter of support” for the developers over the Wisley “Garden Village” bid. Matt Furniss wore two hats at that time.

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