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Letter: How Can This Inconsistent Pattern of Voting be Understood?

Published on: 13 May, 2022
Updated on: 13 May, 2022

From: John Ferns

I write as a proud member of the “Ash Rabble”.

In his opinion piece, Who Cares What Guildford Borough Residents Want?  Martin Giles says: “It is certainly hard to imagine a welcome for blue rosettes, in the east of the borough at least. And why would they welcome them in their current Conservative bastion, Ash and Tongham, or other over-developed wards where infrastructure is not keeping up with new houses?”

The Ash electorate has suffered the many and varied antics of Ash Parish Council (APC) for quite long enough, as has been extensively reported in The Dragon in recent years.

I was at the AGM of APC on Monday, and noticing Cllr Fiona White, a local resident and chair of the GBC planning committee sitting just in front of me, I thought it might be an opportune moment to ask APC about their planning processes. It was a prescient topic, as the planning inspector’s ruling in the Ash Manor public inquiry was published within 48 hours.

At the parish level, the APC planning committee, chaired by Cllr Moseley, has consistently resisted the myriad planning applications in Ash. However, in spite of APC’s very cogent and detailed objections to GBC, their representative on the GBC planning committee, the same Cllr Moseley, had voted in favour of all developments in Ash, bar one (when she voted to abstain), and resolutely for development on the Ash Manor application in all of its many iterations over several years on the GBC planning committee.

On the one occasion when she abstained, it was noticed that Jo Randall a fellow parish and borough councillor, who is also the vice-chair of the APC planning committee, appeared as a speaker at GBC to formally object to an application (Wild Flower Meadows) in her own ward. It should be noted that Wild Flower Meadows was a pivotal application to enable the Ash Road Bridge, a project endorsed and mandated by GBC.

Surely I am not alone in finding her Cllr Moseley’s abstention questionable? At best, a vote to abstain on the Ash Manor site might have been more appropriate and consistent, given the site’s sensitivity and the extraordinary campaign over more than six years, spearheaded by the Ash Green Residents Association.

Did Cllr Moseley consider that to have been seen voting for the Wild Flower Meadows scheme might have been poorly interpreted back in the APC council chamber? Or maybe her consistent voting record on Ash Manor is a manifestation of her disdain for any group that is prepared to invest considerable time, energy and personal money to stand up and be heard? What was so special about Wild Flower Meadows that she was moved to abstain on that occasion?

Whilst residents of Ash (and the wider borough) have very limited ability to influence anything in Millmead on a daily basis, the electorate of Ash is able to record their displeasure in the parish and borough elections next May, just as it did in the Surrey County Council elections last May.

In the meantime, I imagine the residents of Ash Green and those on Ash Lodge Drive, will watch the full council meeting on Monday with more than a passing interest, to see if Cllr Moseley can prise back the chairmanship of the GBC planning committee.

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