Fringe Box



Letter: How Did It Come to This?

Published on: 27 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 27 Aug, 2023

The council offices at Millmead

From: Ben Paton

In response to: GBC Struggling to Control Spending

Once upon a time, local government officials enjoyed a degree of job security. From that job security, they also had the luxury of speaking truth to power – of pointing out to politicians elected on the back of a desirable illusion or myth that 2 + 2 = 4 and not 3 or 5.

Perhaps it is a myth that some of those officials exercised their power to keep local politicians on the straight and narrow but some of those officials also showed the qualities of loyalty to their local government and service to the public. And the product of these qualities was that some of them embodied corporate knowledge and developed local expertise.

At least the officials had the option to keep the politicians on the straight and narrow – rather than just asking “how high” when asked to jump to and implement nonsense like the Local Plan – well over ten years in the making.

Then came along politicians for whom their ends appeared to justify means. They got rid of entire cohorts or generations of public servants who had the misfortune to actually know what they were doing and the gumption to point out the consequences of ignoring the objective facts.

With these people out of the way, the path was cleared for nonsense, literally, to be made law and for things like the Local Plan to be enacted.

Instead of “sticking to their knitting”, ie representing their constituents, the local “representatives” sought to implement their party’s policies – the nonsense nostrums of their political mythologies.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Is anyone accountable? We know who the local politicians were: Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja followed by Cllrs Spooner and Furniss. Damage done, most of them are no longer in office. They will all say, no doubt, that the crop that their successors are reaping was not from seed that they sowed.

On the whole, we also know who the directors of Planning and Finance were. But all of them have either left or been paid off.

The taxpayer will pick up the bill – as usual. Has the taxpayer been well-served by the parties in office and the parties in opposition in Guildford?

Was there objective scrutiny? Did those responsible do what they were paid to do, ie have regard to objective facts and do what was “right” rather than what was simply “legal”?

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