Fringe Box



Letter: Lib Dems’ General Election Chances Depend on Their Wisley Stance

Published on: 28 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 28 Sep, 2023

Zoe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP

From: David Roberts

The Lib Dems this week popped a glossy eight-page brochure through my door advertising Zöe Franklin as “the woman tipped to be our area’s next MP”.

Since her photo appears in this no less than 14 times, I am now very clear what Zöe looks like. And, since the choice is likely to be between Zöe and a Brexit-voting Tory, Zöe may even get my vote.

Nowhere in this leaflet, however, is there any mention of the single biggest issue that concerns voters in my part of the borough – the current orgy of uncontrolled housebuilding. Our LibDem council’s insensitivity to local over-development seems to have infected their parliamentary candidate with a bad case of political omertà.

I would ask Ms Franklin to please try and consider just two things:

1. Her chief rival, Angela Richardson, is one of three local Tory MPs who have just co-signed a letter to the planning inspectorate strongly opposing the plan to dump 2,000 new houses at the former Wisley airfield.

It has taken her a long time to denounce a project that the Tories assiduously promoted in their 2019 Local Plan, and which the Tory groups in Guildford and Kingston still seem keen on. But better late than never, if you want to steal an electoral march.

2. In last May’s local elections, nearly 15,000 votes were cast in the two wards most affected by the Wisley project, Send & Lovelace and Clandon & the Horsleys. 63 per cent of the total vote went to local parties, R4GV and GGG, who unambiguously oppose over-development and therefore won all six council seats. The Lib Dems scored a poor 11 per cent of the vote, 6 per cent behind the Tories.

This suggests that in a general election, there are easily over 9,000 orphaned votes up for grabs by the national parties.

Few MPs can boast a majority of this size.

The arithmetic couldn’t be clearer. The key to Lib Dem general election success in Guildford is for Zöe to get off the fence on Wisley while the Lib Dem group in Millmead back her up by committing to a meaningful revision of the fundamentally flawed Tory Local Plan.

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: Lib Dems’ General Election Chances Depend on Their Wisley Stance

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 28, 2023 at 7:42 am

    It would also be very welcome to have any communication from the media shy Lib Dem leader of the council, Cllr. McShame. Does she have any opinion on the orgy of overdevelopment we are suffering in the east of the borough? If she does, perhaps, in the interests of accountability, she would be kind enough to let us know.

    Being a leader requires certain characteristics, the chief of these is to lead from the front.

    Hiding away from any media scrutiny is simply not good enough, and a dereliction of the duties of leadership!

  2. Wayne Smith Reply

    September 29, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Anyone that lost 30 minutes of their life watching the last Guildford Dragon interview with Zöe Franklin

    will have seen her say that she’s:

    No planning expert;
    Didn’t know if the housing build need of 600 homes pa was correct;
    Doesn’t speak for the Guildford Lib Dems;
    They work with what developers want;
    Thought that the original proposal for the St Edward’s North Street development was positive.

    I now realise that I’ve wasted 60 minutes that I won’t get back, so anyone interested in watching again can save themselves some time by viewing from 13 minutes in, which pertains to local issues.

    Editor’s response: I hope watching interviews with our local politicians is not a waste of time. Whether you agree or not with any politician it is important we are engaged with our local politics so that we are informed we we vote. Encouraging more engagement with local politics was a major motivation for starting The Dragon and continues to be so. Despite the centralization of so much power in the UK, important decisions that directly affect our lives are still taken by Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council.

    • Wayne Smith Reply

      October 2, 2023 at 11:31 am

      I do appreciate The Dragon providing the interviews with our local councillors and, during election campaigns, the prospective Parliamentary candidates. They prove to be quite illuminating! Thank you.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    October 1, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    Every complaint about the Lib Dem’s cluelessness over local planning used to be countered by a knee-jerk reaction from the hyper-active Cllr George Potter [Burpham]. This was never a good substitute for an authoritative reaction from his party leader, who disgracefully continues to refuse to be interviewed by The Dragon, but at least it was a reaction of sorts. Now even Cllr Potter seems to have fallen silent.

    Reading Ben Paton letter today (‘In Practice the Lib Dems Have Not Protected the Green Belt’) and Bernard Quoroll’s opinion piece (‘The Council is at a Crossroads – Where is the Required Leadership?’) it’s hard not to see in this a deliberate and systematic dodging by the Lib Dems of the local issues that concern us most.

    This is not a good omen for Lib Dem prospects in either the October 19 SCC by-election in Horsley or the next general election.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *