Fringe Box



Letter: Council’s Malady is Hypocrisy

Published on: 12 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 12 Apr, 2016

emails letterFrom Ben Paton

Colin Cross sets out the symptoms of the local planning authority’s malady. The ailment appears to be a failure to live up the standards proclaimed in its Codes of Conduct. Most of us are aware of cases of Guildford Borough Council (GBC) not applying the rules properly or fairly, also known as hypocrisy.

Here are a few examples:

1) GBC is supposed to have a ‘clear understanding of housing need’ in its area, according to the National Planning Policy Framework, para 159. But it has not taken receipt of the Justin Gardner [sub-contractors to GL Hearn, commissioned by GBC to produce the Strategic Housing Market Assessment or SHMA] housing need model. Without a copy of the demographic model and without ever testing the assumptions and scenarios how can GBC have a clear understanding?

2) The Conservative majority ran for election on a mandate to protect the green belt. But it apparently feels no obligation whatsoever to apply any constraints with regard to anything (let alone the green belt) to the Objectively Assessed Housing Need estimate. And of course the Objectively Assessed Housing Need figure is, by definition, not objective because it incapable of replication by any third party and has never been tested – even by GBC.

The one part of the countryside which the Conservative Executive wishes to protect is Ash. Funnily enough, GBC’s current leader and deputy leader represent Ash wards, as did the former leader Stephen Mansbridge. With three members, Ash is disproportionately represented on the council’s Executive. The draft local plan proposes to create a new green belt area in Ash while other parts of the green belt are happily sacrificed.

3) GBC avows a principle of openness and transparency. But it refuses to obtain and disclose the sub contractor’s demographic model. It refuses to enquire as to who owns the Caymans company Wisley Property Investments.

4) The Conservative majority proclaims that there is a housing crisis. But until recently it had not built any council houses for twenty years. And it continues to sell them off at less than free market vacant possession values.

5) If anyone dares perceive the facts slightly differently from Guildford Borough Council they risk being branded “bloody rabble” and “rude”. Such a holier than thou approach might be easier to accept if members of the Conservative leadership were paragons of politeness themselves, or if they had shown good judgement in the past. After all, in their judgment [former councillor] Ms Juneja had no case to answer but, despite this, a court subsequently convicted her of forgery and deception.

GBC appears to consider itself to be the sole arbiter of what may be considered to be the facts. Has a culture of disdain for the public become institutionalised?

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Responses to Letter: Council’s Malady is Hypocrisy

  1. Michael Bruton Reply

    April 12, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Hear, hear Mr Paton.

    Having been elected in 2011 and 2015 on a mandate of protecting the green belt, the Tories now plan to betray it. But what appalls me most is the silence, generally, of most Tory/Liberal councillors over the various scandals and shenanigans that have arisen within their own council.

    From unexplained payoffs, drink driving convictions, the Juneja scandal and the council’s farcical and expensive investigation, calculating housing need based on a formula the council does not possess or understand – and even worse does not wish to understand or know and so on, ad nauseam.

    Now we see the council in its real colours – through the prism of the chairman of the Planning Committee, Ms Moseley – who, I understand from the council website, works for HM Revenue & Customs.

    Her apparent contempt for the well behaved and courteous citizens of Ockham and Horsley, at the former Wisley Airfield Planning Meeting shows what the Tories really think of the voters and taxpayers of Guildford,”A bloody rabble”.

    I have not previously observed such cheap and vulgar behaviour in public from a councillor. I do wonder what the Tories say about the populace in private. No wonder they are called the ‘nasty’ party.

    Now we discover that the offending passage from the webcast has apparently been excised, Soviet style. By whom and on who’s instructions? We are fortunate that someone captured the swearing of Ms Moseley and put it into the public arena/ on to YouTube for posterity.

  2. A Caplin Reply

    April 13, 2016 at 12:17 am

    All highly valid points.

    The arrogance and culture of disdain is sadly palpable. I thought Paul Spooner would provide a much-needed breath of fresh air but the Executive is non-representational and the rhetoric is predictable.

    Let’s have some real answers, some genuine discussion and honest handling of consultations which are now ‘summarised’ for our convenience? Is this 1984?

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