Fringe Box



Letter: Criticism of the Tories’ Record – Is That It?

Published on: 9 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 9 Mar, 2022

From: Richard Mills

vice-chair of Guildford town centre Conservatives

In response to: We Should Take No Lessons from the Tories on Planning After Their Decades of Failure

I am grateful to the council leader, Joss Bigmore, for giving the confirmation I was seeking in my earlier letter: that to have any legal effect the proposed Town Centre Master Plan will have to be adopted by Guildford Borough Council and incorporated in the Local Plan after a full public consultation including, crucially, public examination.

Once again, however, my merely questioning the wisdom of a new Town Centre Master Plan seems to have provoked an outbreak of paranoia in the top leadership of R4GV.

After Cllr John Rigg’s [R4GV, Holy Trinity] call to bravery and commitment to defend the scheme, we have the council leader weighing in with a ludicrous parade of the Conservative’s iniquities, in what reads like the first draft of his re-election address.

His presentation of Guildford under R4GV’s Master Plan reads like a parody of the Shining City on the Hill, “the rejuvenated, vibrant, climate-conscious, attractive, economically active town being energetically developed by R4GV”, against the cesspool of a “deteriorating, polluted, congested town centre, full of empty and desolate brownfield sites, as presided over by the Conservatives”.

All this, Cllr Bigmore insists rather patronisingly, is the inevitable conclusion of “any intelligent analysis”.   I don’t doubt that he is an intelligent man, but it might be wise for him to recall how people tend to view such exaggerated claims:  if the speaker is thought to believe what he is saying he risks being thought naive; if he doesn’t he risks being thought a charlatan.

And maybe he could be a little more judicious in his use of evidence?  In his letter he cites four particular Conservative failures:

  • the vision documents they produced in 2015 “had zero effect”.  Yet these were among the first to promote opening up the river bank and extending pedestrianisation and helped promote community consensus in their favour
  • Conservatives ‘delivered the disastrous Solum development’.   Am I wrong in thinking that in fact, the Conservative-led council rejected Solum’s planning application and further resisted it when taken to appeal?
  • a “ridiculous” partnership with Djongying.  But can’t  we learn at least as much from contrasting environments as from simply comparing like with like?
  • a ‘disastrous’ pop-up village.   That there were misjudgements and over-optimism is not in dispute but Cllr Bigmore might at least have the generosity to acknowledge an imaginative attempt to make temporary use of a derelict site.

Faced with such an indictment one can only ask:  Is that it?

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Responses to Letter: Criticism of the Tories’ Record – Is That It?

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 12, 2022 at 6:48 am

    The Tories signally failed the residents of the 14 villages which they robbed of green belt status.

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