Fringe Box



Letter: Cllr Spooner’s Comment Is Absolute Nonsense

Published on: 3 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 4 Feb, 2023

Head of Democratic Services John Armstrong announcing the postponement of the Planning Committee meeting

From: Fiona White

Lib Dem borough councillor for Westborough and chair of the GBC Planning Committee

In response to: Something Is Very Wrong with Planning at GBC

I am sorry to say that Cllr Paul Spooner’s comments are absolute nonsense.

I notified the council’s officers as soon as I knew that I was too unwell to be able to attend the meeting on February 1st. I am absolutely certain that Cllr Cross did the same.

It is the first time since we took over the roles of chairman and vice chairman of the committee that neither of us has been able to be at a meeting. Obviously I am very sorry for the members of the public who had travelled to Guildford, some of them to speak and others to hear the outcome of the debates.

While Cllr Spooner made the point that no other councillors were at the chairman’s briefing, I understand that officers tried to contact all committee members ahead of the meeting to try to arrange an alternative chairman but without success. Anyone who had come forward would have had full support from officers to enable them to chair the meeting effectively.

Cllr Spooner’s request for a site visit was discussed in detail at a chairman’s briefing which Cllr Cross and I both attended with officers. We came to the conclusion that nothing more could be gained from a visit than could be shown during the officer presentation at the meeting. That presentation would be available to all members whereas there is a limited number of members who can get to site visits due to other daytime commitments such as work.

To imply that Cllr Hunt could have foreseen the situation and somehow controlled it really does stretch credulity too far. There are times when councillors are unwell, often at the last minute as Cllr Spooner knows from his personal experience. It was unfortunate that it was the chairman and vice chairman on this occasion.

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