Fringe Box



Letter: Can The Council Leader Tell Us When We Will See Some Change?

Published on: 1 May, 2017
Updated on: 1 May, 2017

From Stephen Mansbridge

former leader of Guildford Borough Council

It is exceptionally disappointing that very little has changed with Guildford’s infrastructure during the last decade.  We are faced daily with traffic jams: the A3 unfit for purpose, the gyratory unchanged with recurring fatalities; and the radiating road network clogged solid during the now elongated rush hours.

We see scheme after scheme which never gets beyond the drawing board for the station and North Street.  The rail link is a groaning misery for commuters and airport travellers alike.  Bridge Street could be a shining gate way to Guildford, but it is little better than a slum.

The largest brownfield scheme for 1,000 houses and a new lower odour sewage works was progressing well, but was put on the back burner because the MP disliked the chosen access route after I stepped down.

A further bus station consultation, which will elicit the same answers as the one five years before, because nothing has changed.  £1.5m spend on a hidden pop-up village that failed and has missed its scheduled re-opening.

One could go on, looking at the lack of power, water supply and treatment services upgrading.  The Upper High Street has many empty shops showing the changing face of retail.

We had a powerful agenda to move forward with a range of schemes to start to put as many of these areas on to an improved footing, but – other than hot air – nothing appears to be happening, apart from a new footbridge linking an outdated station to Bedford road as our ‘shining’ gate way.

I would be thrilled if the response to this letter was a series of committed dates and funding which prove this view wrong, and I would welcome that.  However, changes to the M25 junction and university roundabout are not going to have a real impact on Guildford and its environs.

Please can the council leader and the lead member for infrastructure focus themselves on producing a believable set of deliverable programmes so that residents can have a hope of seeing our place change.  Another reason, why Cllr Furniss should stick to his already complicated task or stand down and let someone with more time tackle these mounting issues.

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Responses to Letter: Can The Council Leader Tell Us When We Will See Some Change?

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 1, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Guildford today is not really different to how it was when Mr Mansbridge was in command. Perhaps he might like to provide a substantiated list of the infrastructure improvements achieved during his term of office?

    As far as I know there was much talk, but precious little action under his stewardship.

  2. David Smith Reply

    May 1, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    I have to agree with the writer, what is happening with key sites like North Street and the area outside the Odeon? Last I heard was that Hilton were interested in the site Harper owns. What’s the point of building a new bridge if only to direct people into a zone of discard?

    Is anything going to be done with Bridge Street after a spate of horrible accidents? Even making the road 20 mph would be something.

    Most change at the moment is being brought about by private developers like the Tunsgate shopping centre and the station re-development, which I hear is going to appeal in the autumn. Could the council not be more strategic in promoting regeneration in the areas it owns?

    Let’s see some positive change please. I mean, at least in Mansbridge’s time, we got an Aldi and Waitrose. Seems that its just bickering and infighting that happens at the moment.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 2, 2017 at 9:31 am

    A very interesting letter from the former leader of GBC.

    I thoroughly agreed with his concern over our out-of-date infrastructure.

    Perhaps no further development should take place until we have the infrastructure to support it?

    This alone is a major task indeed and those who wish to take up the challenge should not be distracted to events elsewhere.

  4. A Atkinson Reply

    May 2, 2017 at 10:02 am

    But, don’t forget, there is the green corridor, modal shift, new phasing of traffic lights, magic carpets and floo powder.

  5. Paul Bishop Reply

    May 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I think the problem is around the confidence of the people in those councillors in power, to make this change. They are too concerned for their own reputations that they would not want to push anything controversial, in case it dents their career prospects.

    We need more councillors and leaders who are willing to put their neck out and get things done. Of course, not everyone will like change but I don’t see much merit on the CV of either our council leader or his ‘top team’ at the moment.

    It’s past the time for looking at what we could do, we now need to start implementing things. Otherwise, in another ten years I suspect we will be living in a very different town, and I don’t see that as a positive.

  6. Guy Sutlieff Reply

    May 3, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I’m not entirely convinced we actually want infrastructure “improvements” from people who think that randomly scattering the town’s bus stops to the four winds will encourage bus use, and believe closing Walnut Tree Close will ease congestion.

    But as A Atkinson says this is all academic because we are soon to experience modal shift and all will be well.

  7. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    This is priceless, given it is the ex-leader’s ‘trajectory’ that created the almost unchanged current Local Plan. It never has had any answer to the infrastructure improvements needed. It only caters to developers’ demand for houses, extra houses, and more houses.

    If the GBC Executive gets its way the infrastructure will break, and remain broken, leaving Guildford more like a third world economy, than a prosperous country town.

    “A plague on both their houses.”

  8. Jim Allen Reply

    May 3, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    This is a bit rich coming from the previous leader of the council. He failed in his trajectory – and he is still missing the point. Any engineer worth his salt can pump Guildford’s sewage uphill 3 metres and one mile distant to place a new sewage works on unstable land – but is it rational?

    Any road builder can build a road but where does it actually need to go and will it have the capacity for the increase in traffic commensurate with the planned number of houses?

    Any pipe layer can lay pipes in the ground but there has to be sufficient water to flow through them and sufficient capacity to deal with sewage.

    Sadly the political planners are all gungho on development but few appear to be properly considering the capacity we have for the necessary infrastructure.

    It is time a 50-year plan is produced with rational targets and expectations If a small country like Costa Rica can do it with a population of 4.8 million surely Guildford Borough can do it with population of 150,000.

    Sadly Ex Councillor Mansbridge’s trajectory across the wild verges of Fraud and referenda are like Kim Jun Ill’s rockets badly constructed off target and explodes before reaching said target…

  9. John Robson Reply

    May 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    The infrastructure will never be put in place, this is just the Trojan Horse through which the Conservatives will demolish the green belt.

    In fact, if it’s in the manifesto these days, you just know it means the opposite.

    One thing that Guildford has suffered from though is the lack of leadership that has lived in the real hardnosed, commercial world.

    We’ve gone from a leader that screams at the troops on the parade ground to one that just screams and screams and screams.

    Throw in the fact that the deputy leader of the council lacks any real experience and it’s pretty obvious why this Local Plan has descended into farce.

    But then again, this was never a Local Plan for Guildford, it seems this was more of a career plan for the council leader and his deputy. Jobs for the boys, carnage for the rest of us.

  10. Colin Cross Reply

    May 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    An entertaining and wise comment from Jim Allen as usual, but worthy of consideration.

    Ultimately we have to look to Guildford town centre to provide 50% of the borough’s need in in the new Local Plan, but it currently sits at around 25% while the north-eastern rural areas are due for a 70% expansion with no infrastructure or sustainable support.

    Guildford has a lot of available space but chooses to ignore it. Why?
    Please don’t start by telling me we need more surface car parks or retail options when it’s crying out for more medium/high density accommodation.

    Colin Cross is the Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace.

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