Fringe Box



Letter: Anyone Fit to Govern Would Have Resigned

Published on: 10 May, 2024
Updated on: 10 May, 2024

Solace report published

From: Philip Brooker

Conservative leader of the opposition at Guildford Borough Council and ward councillor for Worplesdon

The Dragon continues its excellent coverage of the chaos at the Liberal Democrat-run Guildford Borough Council.

The independent report reads like a horror story on how not to run an organisation, with references to lack of strategy, lack of coherent plans, no oversight, no sense of ownership, poor culture, non-existent budget monitoring systems, lack of co-ordination of finance systems etc.

Perhaps in summary, I should simply quote from paragraph 4.3 of the report. “There is no coherent improvement plan with suitable strategic and operational elements. There is no clear direction of travel and there is a debilitating and serious absence of a range of important strategies, plans and systems”.

The report also stated (para 3.1) that “During 2022 and 2023” (well after the Conservatives lost office in 2019) “a series of issues emerged which revealed serious weaknesses in the governance and management of the council”, which was reported in The Dragon’s story Council Leader Apologises Following Publication of Damning Report on GBC as posing a serious risk to residents.

Much of the above rapidly became obvious and the Conservatives, despite remaining in opposition with less than half of the seats of the ruling Lib Dems, have repeatedly tried to hold their administration to account for lack of transparency, decisions being taken without cost-benefit analysis, lack of budgetary and financial control, and the collaboration with Waverley (also criticised in the report).

All such attempts to improve the governance at GBC were voted down by the Lib Dems, accompanied by platitudes implying “nothing to see here” or hiding behind an excessive interpretation of the confidentiality rules. Transparency this was not.

The Conservatives are hopeful that the new senior officer team under the new chief executive, Pedro Wrobel, will be able to turn this around but will be hindered by lack of Lib Dem political leadership, and it will not happen overnight. We, unfortunately, are in for the long haul.

Perhaps I should conclude with another quote, this one from the Lib Dem leader of the council in the above Dragon article. “The people of Guildford deserve better from their council and for that we give our heartfelt apology”.

But the Lib Dems have been the largest party in Guildford for five years and ignored the chaos they have caused, wasted the significant and prudent reserves they inherited from the Conservatives, damaged our town as a destination shopping centre and presided over financial chaos. Anyone fit to govern would have resigned as well as apologise.

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Responses to Letter: Anyone Fit to Govern Would Have Resigned

  1. David Humphries Reply

    May 10, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    So true.

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