Fringe Box



Letter: Adoption of the Local Plan is Excellent News

Published on: 26 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 26 Apr, 2019

From Stephen Mansbridge

former Conservative GBC leader

It is excellent news that Guildford borough has now adopted a strategic plan for its economy, housing and business development.  The seven-year journey has been tough, but it was a task that had to be undertaken and I, as council leader for the first half of the process, have no regrets for the course of action that I, my Executive and political group initiated.

I congratulate Cllrs Paul Spooner and Matt Furniss for sticking to my original trajectory, although I was surprised that they did and did not seize the opportunity to change direction, which they could have done so easily.

I also congratulate former Cllr Monika Juneja for galvanising a reluctant planning service into delivering a first draft of the plan, which is not vastly different to the plan that the council has now adopted, with many policies unchanged.  It was a herculean effort and instigated a level of public engagement that had not been seen in Guildford before. Her work in achieving this was diligent, detailed and very committed.

What is so important, is that the Plan gives the stakeholders in Guildford’s economy certainty that the borough is a progressive and growing place.  A strategic plan is not a planning application and every developer will be subject to rigorous planning constraints, and it is for the council’s planners to ensure that good development results from its decisions.

The Plan also gives the financial planners a clearer view of receipts from the New Homes Bonus, which should amount to more than £200m over the period, if all the homes were built.  This should offset future deficits, remove the need for service or staff cuts, and allow a fund for new Social Housing.

Lastly and by no means least, the heavy lifting has been accomplished by a very professional Local Plan Team, who deserve great praise for all their hard work in a very challenging climate.  I hope they can look at their work with pride and see that they have achieved much from a convoluted and insincere foundation before 2012, created by people clinging to the status quo rather than wanting to properly understand the future.  A first-class job – well done!

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Responses to Letter: Adoption of the Local Plan is Excellent News

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 26, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    A rotten job begun by Stephen Mansbridge and his coterie. It is quite appalling that he is still congratulating the disgraced former councillor Monika Juneja.

    This decision will ruin his own backyard. Why he and the Conservatives want to do this I and most of the borough cannot understand.

    We will do everything in our power to get it changed.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    April 27, 2019 at 11:03 am

    It’s marvellous that Mr Mansbridge is boasting about the authorship and true provenance of this Local Plan. His very diligent colleague, the then deputy leader of the Conservative Group in Guildford, lead member for the Local Plan and lead member for governance.

    Voters might reflect on whether they want to vote for the Conservative Party in Guildford that refused to reopen the investigation of the then Cllr Juneja even though the Bar Standards Council had written to notify it that she was not a barrister and whose scrutiny committee found that Cllr Juneja had not breached the council’s Code of Conduct.

    Voters might also reflect on the fact that the then Cllr Juneja “…pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey today (Monday, May 11 [2016]) of pretending to be a barrister. She also pleaded guilty to three charges of forgery and one of deception to obtain a pecuniary advantage. Three further counts of fraud were dropped but remain on file.” (Source Guildford Dragon: Former Councillor Monika Juneja Pleads Guilty To Forgery and ‘Barrister’ Pretence.)

    It would appear that the Conservative Party’s and Mr Mansbridge’s loyalty to the then Cllr Juneja when she was deputy leader of the Conservative group was far greater than its loyalty to the truth.

    Do we want the council run by people who use the civil servants to gather ‘conclusions-based-evidence’ or evidence-based conclusions?

    Ben Paton is a GGG candidate for Effingham in the borough council elections to be held on May 2.

  3. Adam Aaronson Reply

    April 27, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, this will be excellent news for property developers, but not such good news for Guildford and Villages residents.

    In the interests of transparency, readers might be interested in having a look at the website of
    Fortitude Dynamics Planning and Development founded by Mr Mansbridge and Ms Juneja.

    “Our Planning and Development service provides problem solving advice to a wide range of clients, from private landowners to commercial entities and public institutions. The advice of our highly experienced team, who have worked on a broad spectrum of developments across the commercial, residential and rural sectors, is based on:

    “An understanding of clients strategic objectives
    Detailed knowledge of local agendas, issues and politics in all areas
    A profound awareness of the national context within which planning exists.”

  4. David Roberts Reply

    April 27, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    As someone who provided evidence that helped secure the conviction at the Old Bailey of Monika Juneja, I’m delighted by this reminder of the true parenthood of the Guildford Local Plan. Mr Mansbridge, who had his own run-ins with the law, is absolutely right to claim paternity and Ms Juneja’s maternal role.

    I hope his successor, Cllr Spooner, appreciates this letter from beyond the political grave and his community of interest with Fortitude Dynamics and the housing lobby. The Tory councillors who voted this suicidal Plan through acted like zombies. This is somehow fitting for a party that receives more money in bequests from dead people than living supporters. Let’s drive a stake through the heart of this council at Thursday’s elections.

  5. Mary Bedforth Reply

    April 29, 2019 at 10:38 am

    I am very surprised that The Dragon has given house room to these two former councillors to expound. No apologies from them I note.

    This is the last time I am coming here, either to read or to comment.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 29, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      That would be a pity – all opinions deserve some respect.

      What’s more, with friends like these two, the Conservatives might not need enemies.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      April 29, 2019 at 9:51 pm

      On the other hand, the comments posted in response to these letters inform and remind all readers, including new residents, of the shameful behaviour in the council that led to this Local Plan. I for one will miss Mary Bedforth’s succinct comments.

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