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Letter: Let’s See Real Openness From This Council Administration

Published on: 10 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 10 Jun, 2021

From: Paul Spooner

Paul Spooner is a former leader of GBC and a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

In response to: ‘Wisley Bid Errors Must Not Recur’ – GBC to Consider Constitutional Changes

Looking at what happened at GBC’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee in an objective way, it was, in essence, the second independent investigation into the bid to try and obtain central government funding, and the second time that the conclusions have not suited the political agenda of the coalition currently “running” Guildford and focusing on the recommendations.

I assume that this means that the current administration will be publishing all notes and minutes of all meetings since May 2019 between lead members, officers and the private sector within a few days? Perhaps an open diary for lead members too, so that the public can check that all meetings are being accounted for in public?

That should keep The Guildford Dragon NEWS busy with plenty of content.

Let’s start with all the notes, minutes, correspondence and details of all meetings involving Cllr Rigg and other lead members in relation to the failure to complete the Tesco roundabout and the return of £2 million to the eM3 LEP announced this week. The GBC PR disgracefully laid all blame on the University of Surrey. I beg to differ.

If it is not a witch hunt then let us see real openness and transparency as consistently hyped by the current administration.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Let’s See Real Openness From This Council Administration

  1. Simon Mason Reply

    June 10, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Please do not waste any more Council Tax money on more witch hunts. Far too much council taxpayers money has already been wasted on smoking gun investigations that seem to peter out and come to nothing.

    The first that I can remember was the political appointment of a second QC to determine whether the Conservatives adoption of the Local Plan was legal. (GBC’s existing QC advice was not deemed independent enough as he had been too involved).

    We never got to see the results of this report, nor how much it had cost but quite clearly the result showed no legal wrongdoing.
    Since then we have had the Burchatts Barn report which effectively came to nothing, (mainly because the consultants seemed to have interviewed the wrong people). The council house receipts fiasco and now this enquiry into the Wisley bid.

    This bid was to try and secure government grant money to assist with the cost of infrastructure associated with the Wisley allocation. As I understand it the Council would have received this money.

    The people moan like mad when the council have to hand money back to central government (unspent council house sale proceeds)- and moan like mad when the council try and secure government funding.

    I understand that people are upset that the drive to secure funding was clearly coming from WPIL via Savills but this must happen all the time as the private sector engages with the public sector. Surely any money the council can get from central government in these hard-pressed times is a good thing.

    Let’s remember that this application for funding occurred after the government planning inspector had passed the Plan and before it was adopted with the Lib Dem leader’s support.

    All I am trying to say is that whilst councillors are tied up with witch hunt after witch hunt they are not able to concentrate on the real business in hand.

    It is clear that Cllr Spooner’s and Cllr Furniss’ legacy is a terrible Local Plan but all energy and efforts now need to be focussed on controlling or blocking the allocations coming forward, in line with the infrastructure constraints imposed on them.

    This task should be the current administration’s focus, nothing else. Their success at this will be their legacy.

    • John Perkins Reply

      June 11, 2021 at 9:30 pm

      Actually, we don’t all accept that council tax is wasted on “witch hunts”: such things are are matter of opinion until settled in an independent forum.

      “The people” do not “moan like mad”, they merely complain when their representatives fail to represent them.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    June 10, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    Cllr Spooner should practice what he preaches and produce the minutes of all the meetings that he has had with the promoters of the former Wisley Airfield site, Savills and Wisley Investment Properties Ltd, incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

  3. Lisa Wright Reply

    June 10, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    If Cllr Spooner is so keen on transparency, let’s see the previous council administrations diaries, meetings and minutes for the period 2015 to 2019.

    We could go further and see what was happening between councillors and developers between 2011 and 2015 at the very start of the Local Plan proceedings. Now they really would be useful.

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