Fringe Box



Letter: The Guildford Society Should Be Seeking A New Broom Not Offering Support

Published on: 22 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2014

emails letterFrom Ben Paton

Mr Stokoe [in his letter The Guildford Society Offers Support to Councillors proclaims the benefits of acting “diligently, apolitically and professionally”.

Was it “diligent” of GBC not to uphold its Code of Conduct?

Was it “diligent” to refuse to investigate the complaint against Cllr Juneja any further when the council received confirmation that to claim falsely to hold the professional qualification of “barrister” is a criminal offence?

Was it “professional” and “apolitical” for the standards committee to be ineffective for a period?

Was it “professional” and “apolitical” for the lead councillor for planning simultaneously to hold the position of lead councillor for governance?

Was it professional to release a draft local plan while questions concerning the housing requirement and the transport infrastructure requirement have not been answered and when multiple other studies concerning, for example, conservation of the historic and natural environment, have not been completed? (It seems that they are unlikely to be completed before the end of the consultation period.)

Is it professional to issue a draft local plan proposing to change the boundaries of the green belt without stating the “exceptional circumstances” required by law?

Is it professional to brand people who have legitimate differences of opinion “politically motivated”, and to denigrate their opinion as that of a vociferous minority whilst purporting to speak for an anecdotal and possibly fictional “silent majority”?

Is it “apolitical” to refer to members of the public who have legitimately sought to hold councillors to account for their conduct “racists”?

Apparently not one single councillor has gone on the public record to state that it is not acceptable that its Code of Conduct has not been upheld. That makes every single one of them complicit in a failure to uphold these moral and professional principles.

Everyone knows that public service is a great deal of hard work for no thanks. But knowing that it is a thankless job does not mean that the public must be grateful even when it receives a shoddy service.

Mr Stokoe might think that everything in the “State of Denmark” is fine. The Establishment might think it important to “close ranks” and defend its own. But that’s not how it appears to the man in the street.

Far from offering support the Guildford Society should be asking for a new broom – to start sweeping clean, starting at the top.

Ben Paton is a Wisley Action Group Campaigner

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Responses to Letter: The Guildford Society Should Be Seeking A New Broom Not Offering Support

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    July 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Why should Cllr Juneja stand down unless and until any case against her is proved? Since when in England is a person guilty until proved innocent?

    It’s oh so easy to throw stones from the outside but not so easy to be clear of falling glass when you are inside, within those very same windows…

  2. Julian Lyon Reply

    July 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Mr Paton’s letter is an unfortunate rant – light on relevant facts and heavy on opinion, unconstructive and inflammatory at a time when I would have expected anyone with a serious objection to parts of the draft Local Plan would be working through the facts and evidence, picking holes in proper arguments.

    Instead Mr Paton rather presumes to inhabit the moral high ground and spit at everyone beneath him. Sadly, therefore, Mr Paton comes across as just another NIMBY instead of as someone with valid objections to a neighbouring development proposal.

    I agree with Bill Stokoe’s letter. He made it clear that The Guildford Society does not agree with key aspects of the Local Plan and will be lodging its professional, considered and proportionate response.

    No-one bringing forward a Plan against a general background need for homes throughout the country and especially the South East, would find it easy-going. The irrelevant personal frailties and misdemeanours do not, however, make a case for sweeping these hard-working councillors aside.

    Nastiness may yet lead to Mr Paton losing his argument when there seem to be planning grounds for debating it, and if the argument is lost on planning grounds, it should not be seen as a fault of the council for daring to include Wisley Airfield in the Draft Local Plan.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    If Mr Lyon had a “serious objection” to my letter perhaps he would, to quote him, work “through the facts and evidence, picking holes in proper arguments”.

    It seems that he finds it easier to dismiss the questions than to answer them.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    My letter did not ask the lead councillor for planning to stand down.

    As for the facts, perhaps Mr Allen might care to read the Council’s report prepared by Mr Hooper. It is publicly available on the internet.

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