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Letter: I Am Not Ashamed of My Associations – I Only Want Changes For The Good of Guildford

Published on: 6 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2019

The logo of the new “Residents for Guildford and Villages” group

From Julian Lyon

In response to: New Group “Residents for Guildford and Villages” Call Meeting to Encourage More Independent Candidates

I have looked very carefully at Cllr Susan Parker’s assertions for the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG). First of all, Guildford Vision Group (GVG) and Guildford Society (GSoc) are not party political campaigners. They are not standing in these elections and their independence should not be at issue.

Both groups have to deal with whoever is elected. The membership of GVG includes Conservative Association members and Lib Dem members. Perhaps there are no Labour nor GGG members.

I am not aware of any engagement in, let alone attacks of, GGG at hustings, and both groups are broadly sympathetic to the aspirations of GGG to preserve the green belt.

Cllr Parker is correct to reference my appointment by, then, Council Leader Stephen Mansbridge to chair the council’s Local Plan Forum (discontinued by Cllr Spooner four years ago on becoming council leader).

Its aim was to try to find a way of communicating between objectors and the Local Plan team. I am happy to defend my impartiality before, during and after the Local Plan Forum (however much anyone at the time, or since, has assumed I was somehow Mr Mansbridge’s poodle).

Cllr Parker should be embracing the emergence of Independent candidates, given that there seem to be more green belt sites in the Local Plan now rather than fewer, despite her almost-four years on the council. That is why so many people feel it necessary and appropriate to have more Independent councillors this time around. We need to hold this council to account, and we need to do so now.

I am not sorry that I have a history of trying to the best for both town and villages. I am not ashamed of my attempts to do so through and for community-based organisations. I can honestly say that I have not politicised GSoc or GVG. As a result of the poor experiences of trying to engage with the politicians on the council, I have decided to stand as a candidate in May.

Those who are so rattled that they need to seek to knock me back (the Conservatives, Lib Dems and now the Green Belt Group so far) need to look more at what has caused me to throw my hat into the ring. Otherwise, they might conclude that, from my time chairing a CBI committee, I have too much interest in business; or that, because I chair a group on the RICS, I have too much interest in property; or because I chaired the Guildford Society, that I have too much interest in Guildford.

Perhaps they would also conclude that; or because I have been on the Steering Group of the Guildford Vision Group, that I have too much interest in improving the environment in the town centre and preferring town centre housing to green belt homes; or because I was a trustee of South East Music Trust and am a supporter of the Guildford Shakespeare Company and Grange Park Opera, that I have too much interest in the Arts in Guildford; or because I have run businesses (in the property sector but not in Guildford) and am a chartered surveyor, running a global corporate occupier services department at Savills in London, that I have too much business experience.

If they were to worry about all of those things, they may conclude that I have nothing to offer the council – or they may understand why it is that they are so rattled.

The main thing to understand is that, with more positive, pragmatic, open-minded and transparent engagement with GSoc and GVG, I would not have felt it necessary to stand in the forthcoming elections.

I hope several more people will come to the meeting on 15th January at 7.30 at Millmead Baptist Church and will put themselves forward either as supporters, helpers or candidates, to really help us make a change for good in May.

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Responses to Letter: I Am Not Ashamed of My Associations – I Only Want Changes For The Good of Guildford

  1. Stephen Mansbridge Reply

    January 7, 2019 at 10:36 am

    It is important to note that Julian Lyon was asked to chair the Local Plan Forum because of his track record of independence, fair-minded and pragmatic approach to working with people who had very different views.

    His appointment was the result of a selection process and it is a shame that it was terminated.

    I have often disagreed with Julian on various subjects, but that does not mean that I would not welcome his participation. Again, I welcome his stand as an Independent and I am glad that people are rattled.

    For the record, I have a Jack Russell and am not fond of poodles.

    Stephen Mansbridge is the former Conservative leader of Guildford Bprough Council

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 7, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    On a similar point, GBC has posted, but not as far as I can see advertised, an invitation to the public to become an independent Council Watchdog on the Guildford Borough Council’s Corporate Governance and Standards Committee.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    January 7, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    I’m all in favour of anyone with a willingness to engage with the facts and make rational arguments becoming a borough councillor.

    But Mr Mansbridge’s endorsement provides little reassurance. Many will recollect the then chairman of the Guildford Society writing to the Surrey Advertiser:(printed 23rd May 2014) “I was dismayed to read on the front page of the Surrey Advertiser (16th May) that Councillor Monika Juneja has been subjected to such personal attacks about her ethnicity and qualifications. I am also disappointed that some people must feel there is so little merit in their own arguments that they have to resort to smearing the Lead Member for Planning.

    In many ways, we are incredibly fortunate to have someone of Cllr Juneja’s undoubted ability who is prepared to spend vast amounts of time and energy managing the Local Plan process. I would rather help inform the debate (the process of which has been substantially enabled by Cllr Juneja’s efforts) than have a competition to see who can deliver the nastiest rhetoric.”

    Unfortunately, on that occasion, the Jack Russell was unable to identify something fishy.

    Nor was Mr Lyon very fair-minded in saying that the only reason I objected to GBC’s plans for building the third largest town in the centre of the parish of Ockham was that I lived there. My objections are based on rather more than that as my submissions to the Public Inquiry demonstrated. There’s plenty of playing the man and not the ball on the council already.

    The Mansbridge-Lyon axis seems alive and well. Where does Mr Lyon stand on the question of an elected Mayor?

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