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Letter: Cllr Potter Ignores the Truths and Prefers to Shoot the Messenger

Published on: 5 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 5 Jul, 2020

From Karen Stevens

Save Hog’s Back campaigner

In response to: Open Letters That Play Fast and Loose With the Facts Won’t Help With the Local Plan

I am disappointed that the letter from Cllr George Potter [Lib Dem, Burpham] does not move the discussion forward.

He ignores the substance of my letter (Open Letter: It Is Time the Council Addresses the Mistakes of its Predecessors), ie the fact that the council has already commissioned traffic studies which demonstrate there is insufficient capacity on the road network to accommodate the scale of development being proposed. I even referred the council to the relevant document.

Instead, he tries to attack my letter on matters of process and questions my integrity by stating I am playing “fast and loose” with the facts.

Normally, I would ignore this petty slur, but in this case, I would like to know to which facts Cllr Potter refers?

My facts included:

  • The A3 widening scheme has not been included in the Government’s latest Road Investment Strategy;
  • The memorandum of understanding between GBC and Highways England states that if the widening scheme does not go ahead, the Local Plan can be reviewed;
  • The Local Plan provides 40 per cent housing land supply above the objectively assessed need, meaning Blackwell Farm could be dropped and deliver still more than housing need;
  • The Tesco roundabout near the hospital risks breakdown if just 150 houses are built at Blackwell Farm (without the A3 scheme going ahead);
  • The Liberal Democrats promised to review the Local Plan. Their press release dated May 16, 2019, states clearly: “Our top priorities as we begin our leadership of Guildford Borough Council will be to review the Local Plan…”

The press release does not state this was going to be only a review of the legalities of the Local Plan, as Cllr Potter suggests.

Another fact is that government policy states a local planning authority should review its local plan at regular intervals to assess whether some or all of it may need updating.

I am also concerned by Cllr Potter’s response to Lisa Wright’s letter of June 29. Why does GBC believe it is of more benefit to residents to “add more detail” to an appalling Local Plan than to actually try to change the Plan itself?

If the framework (the spatial strategy in the Local Plan) is fundamentally wrong, ie the houses are in the wrong place, then their design and the design of the public realm around them is a lesser consideration.

Cllr Potter criticised me on the open-letter protocol. He may wish to note that I did send copies of my initial letter to all councillors, including him, and did not receive a single reply from any member of his party.

The only reply I have seen from the Liberal Democrats was posted by Cllr Caroline Reeve [Friary & St Nicolas] on The Guildford Dragon NEWS. So I felt it reasonable for my response to this also to be via The Dragon.

Finally, Cllr Potter appears to be trying to bat away the real issues by suggesting I am a single campaigner. He may not be aware, but there were many thousands of objections made by residents to the deeply unpopular, developer-led Local Plan.

Cllr Potter would do better by addressing the problems associated with the Plan rather than simply attacking those who do not support it. Failure to fulfil promises and address residents’ objections to the Plan sank the Conservative Party at the last election.

My message to Cllr Potter and his fellow councillors is this: “Don’t shoot the messenger and don’t put up smoke-screens that distract from the real problems. Get on and do as you promised.”

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Responses to Letter: Cllr Potter Ignores the Truths and Prefers to Shoot the Messenger

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 5, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    If anyone is playing fast and loose with the truth here it is Mr Potter. Everything Karen Stevens has said is backed up by evidence, unlike the contributions from Mr Potter.

    Cllr Reeves did indeed promise to review the Local Plan, and to claim this was only to review the legality of it is a lie.

    He would do well to keep his own counsel, and get on with his job as a councillor.

  2. Keith Meldrum Reply

    July 6, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Yet another well researched and presented letter from Karen Stevens to which I hope readers will receive an equally balanced and detailed response.

  3. Colin Cross Reply

    July 7, 2020 at 12:46 am

    I trust that Cllr Potter has now learnt the lesson that any decision to cross swords with Karen Stevens should not be taken lightly. Karen is a formidable campaigner who has eloquently presented the case for the defence of Blackwell Farm for some years now.

    Interestingly, there are some differences but many similarities with the case against the former Wisley Airfield site being in the list of strategic sites in the Local Plan as it too has massive infrastructure shortfalls, as it stands, and a lot more problems besides that, too many to list here.

    Let’s face it, the Guildford Local Plan was a misguided Conservative gamble that has flopped badly and we are faced with its early review and that will need some homework done to ensure the optimum outcome. That’s to say it can’t happen overnight if it is to succeed.

    Please note, I am not speaking on behalf of my party (R4GV) here but as a longtime admirer of Karen’s efforts and sincerity in fighting for her chosen cause.

    Colin Cross is the borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham).

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    I totally agree with Cllr Cross. Cllr Potter would be well advised to pay more respect to such an esteemed and admired resident as Karen Stevens.

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