Fringe Box



Letter: It’s a Sad State of Affairs

Published on: 3 May, 2024
Updated on: 3 May, 2024

From: Philip Brooker

In response to: Times Rankings Showing GBC To Be Worst Council in Surrey Dismissed by Lib Dems

The Dragon’s article “Times Rankings Showing GBC to be Worst Council in Surrey”, rings true from my knowledge of the strong position of the council when I was a GBC councillor and member of the Executive before 2019, and today.

The Times’ rankings are, unsurprisingly, rejected by an unnamed Liberal Democrat spokesperson relying mainly on the old adage, adapted as “lies, damned lies and statistics”. It would be interesting to hear what The Times thinks of the Lib Dem defence – for most people, The Times is considered one of our premier news outlets with a reputation to uphold and would be unlikely to publish anything prior to carrying out due diligence.

Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson is right to point out the deteriorating services provided by the Lib Dem-run council essentially to recover money overspent during their period in office, particularly the £10 million overstatement of reserves and an £18.5 million overspend on housing maintenance projects.

Quoting from an article published in The Dragon on September 30, 2023 from a former Independent Person to GBC “Passing a deficit budget without a full understanding of how the deficit is going to be met is in my view, poor practice and in some circumstances, unlawful”. It appears that not only The Times has concerns over GBC’s finances.

So I have to conclude that it is a depressing state of affairs for Guildford residents that the once prosperous Guildford Borough has deteriorated so completely in only five short years under a council with the Lib Dems as the dominant party.

When the Conservatives left office in 2019, we had significant financial reserves and the planning department was always in the top five per cent of councils countrywide for determining planning applications. Now we are reportedly in the bottom 50 worst-run councils financially and in the bottom 10 per cent for planning.

It is to be hoped that the new senior staff appointed at the council will reverse this trend but without adequate political direction, this will always be an uphill struggle.

In February of this year, following the Guildford Labour Group’s appeal for the council leaders to step down, I publicly recommended that a coalition of the competent be considered as an alternative. In an election year, the chances of the Lib Dems admitting defeat now are dismally low.


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Responses to Letter: It’s a Sad State of Affairs

  1. Michelle Gardner Reply

    May 3, 2024 at 3:02 pm

    I wonder how much “Future Guildford” [the programme to rationalise GBC staffing in view of cuts to government grants] cost? How long did the the plan take to draw up, by outside experts? How long did it take to put into operation? How much of a success it has been? And how much of a failure?

  2. David Humphries Reply

    May 3, 2024 at 4:49 pm

    A fair summary of the current poor position.

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