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Letter: Council Has Appointed KPMG To Review Burchatts Barn Decision Process

Published on: 13 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 13 Apr, 2020

Burchatts Barn – Photo Mandy Millyard

From: Gordon Bridger

hon alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

In response to: Burchatts Farm Barn Finally Leased After Successful Planning Appeal

The decision to lease out this valuable popular asset which was left to the “community in perpetuity” was one of the most shameful decisions of the last Conservative regime and was to my mind an important reason why senior councillors Matt Furniss and Nikki Nelson-Smith, both Conservative Christchurch ward councillors, were not re-elected.

I understand that the new council, pressured by Cllrs John and Maddy Redpath [both R4GV for Holy Trinity], have agreed to an investigation into how this decision was reached. To avoid criticism of past decisions, the council have appointed reputable external consultants KPMG.

I am assured that they will seek the views of the public and I hope that when this is announced that those with experience of trying to rent the barn will speak out and seek an explanation as to why and by whom rentals were trebled so that it lay unused for years.

I trust that they will be pressed to investigate why Guildford Shakespeare Company, who offered many community benefits and would have made the barn available to the public, were not chosen since their bid of £36k annually was only £4k less than the winners.

I hope they will also be pressed to investigate why this decision only went to an informal meeting of some of the Executive for a decision. Discussion at a formal meeting would have allowed open discussion about the offers.

And what were the grounds for approving the lease which was approved by those on the GBC’s Property Review Group, a mix of councillors and council officers, under delegated authority?

I hope The Guildford Dragon NEWS will be able to alert those who have the relevant knowledge to give evidence and make their views known to KPMG when the time comes.

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Responses to Letter: Council Has Appointed KPMG To Review Burchatts Barn Decision Process

  1. Michael Penny Reply

    April 13, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    I strongly disagree with this letter. The Guildford chiropractor will mean the building is used by lots of people many in extreme pain. A real service to the whole town.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 14, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Michael Penny says he disagrees with the letter, yet gives no clue as to what he disagrees with.

      If use by “lots of people” is a definition of real service then every shop, pub, cafe and nail bar qualifies.

  2. Mike Forster Reply

    April 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Whilst I strongly agree with the leasing process being fully transparent, is it right at a time of severe financial restrictions being imposed by the council, that fees should be incurred by appointing external consultants to investigate this transaction?

  3. Peta Malthouse Reply

    April 14, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    I wholly agree with this exceptional action to refer the decision for external review.

    There have been complaints, for some time, that the council’s decision making processes lacked transparency and, in my view, as a result, the wider good of the people of Guildford has been neglected. It is only by finding out how questionable decisions are made that you can take steps to remedy the situation.

    There was an overwhelming vote against the last Tory council last May. It followed the concerns that many many people were voicing about all sorts of issues but mostly about the Local Plan.

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