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Letter: Is This the Way We Want Councillors To Be Influenced?

Published on: 4 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 4 Sep, 2023

From: John Redpath

In response to: Social Media Attacks Did Affect Election Result

Anyone who reads John Rigg’s letter may not be aware how much he is holding back, both factually and emotionally.

Many may read his letter and say that Robin Horsley’s interference by clever use of social media was just political meddling that should be expected by politicians at election time. 

Similarly with lies promoted by the Tories, such as their claim that R4GV would introduce a congestion charge if they were re-elected. But politicians lie in national elections so why shouldn’t lies also be acceptable at a local level? How sad that it has come to this.

Conservative Election Pamphlet warning of congestion charging if Lib Dems or R4GV won the 2023 borough election.

But my concerns about Horsley’s campaign are far deeper and there are important questions to be answered. He emailed councillors prior to the North Street planning committee meeting threatening us with a huge social media campaign if we voted for the North Street development.

One email sent on the day of the North Street Planning Committee meeting suspiciously stated: “FYI – I will be watching tonight. Be interesting to see how LDs vote. Hospital pass wasn’t it”.

I believe all councillors, except the Planning Committee chair Fiona White [Lib Dem, Ash Wharf], received this email. In hindsight, it now doesn’t seem so odd that the Lib Dems voted against North Street and that, at the eleventh hour, Cllr George Potter [Lib Dem, Burpham], in his speech, encouraged the committee to vote against it.

Had Horsley got to them? Were they running scared? It certainly seemed odd on the night that all Lib Dems voted against an application they had previously appeared to support.

After lying by initially denying it, Potter, the Lib Dem lead councillor, eventually admitted to The Dragon NEWS that he had had a private meeting with Horsley. Why?

Was Fiona White, the Planning Committee chair, aware of Horsley’s threatening emails to councillors and, if so, should she have had the application deferred?

If, as it appears, the Lib Dems were “nobbled” by Horsley, either because they were frightened of voter reaction or saw a political advantage, then would the North Street developers have a legal case against the council and the conduct of the committee?

Is it legally acceptable to pressurise members of a Planning Committee or other councillors in this way? Even if it is, is this the way we think councillors should be influenced?

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Responses to Letter: Is This the Way We Want Councillors To Be Influenced?

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    September 4, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you John Redpath for informing the public about Robin Horsley’s unsavoury campaign.

    I was not taken in by it but too many people were. One could say people showed their true colours – unfortunately they were party political colours.

    It is a shame that many who want to do good for this borough are not able to, whatever their politics. Sadly the losers are the residents.

    As I keep saying, if only the Guildford Borough Councillors put the benefit of the residents who live here first rather than one person with what seems to be a strange vendetta none of us can completely understand. I am sure only time will tell why.

    I hope we do not suffer any more of this needless campaign for a site that has needed to be developed for years.

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