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Letter: Has GBC Been Snoozing on the Council House-building Job?

Published on: 22 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 22 Feb, 2021

From: Howard Smith

vice-chair Guildford Labour

A few days ago, we saw the shocking revelation in The Guildford Dragon NEWS about the current R4GV/Lib Dem administration, and the Conservative administration it replaced, paying a total £2.3m to central government – money received from the sale of council properties.

This vast sum had to be returned because of the failure of the council to reinvest the money which it had received from sales under right-to-buy legislation, in replacement properties.

At present, Guildford has about 2,500 families on its housing waiting list and this news must be a crushing blow for all of those families patiently waiting for a place to live at a reasonable rent.

Of course, Guildfordians will remember that at the borough elections in 2019, the Lib Dems promised they would embark on an unprecedented council building programme – committing to providing 3,000 homes over 10 years.

Two years in and very few properties have been built, with the R4GV Party and Liberal Democrat council actually building fewer homes than the previous Conservative administration.

We have heard an apology of sorts from the Liberal Democrats who seem to contend that it’s not a problem because of the money the town has received for the Weyside Urban Village (a completely separate project) or that is the fault of the previous administration. However, they have been running the council for nearly two years now (latterly with R4GV), and surely this should have been dealt with in that time frame, unless they have been snoozing on the job.

I know we get used to hearing outrageous claims from political parties at election time, but there can surely be no greater example of an administration failing the town so comprehensively. Not only have they failed to build homes for families in Guildford who need a place to live, but they’ve actually handed back money so desperately needed to do so.

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test One Response to Letter: Has GBC Been Snoozing on the Council House-building Job?

  1. Paul Spooner Reply

    February 22, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    I agree with Howard Smith. It is extraordinary that funds have been returned regularly since 2019, and apparently includes over £250k during the last quarter of the previous Conservative-run administration. I have checked all emails of the period and can find no record of this being raised by council officers.

    This must be a shock to all those on the council waiting list for social housing and, along with the failure of the new administration to continue building social houses, that were ramping up under the Conservatives, is nothing short of a disgrace.

    Paul Spooner is a former leader of Guildford Borough Council and a Conservative ward councillor for Ash South and Tongham.

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