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Letter: Lib Dems Have Crossed a Line in Claiming Credit for the GBC Budget

Published on: 15 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 15 Feb, 2023

From John Rigg

R4GV councillor and GBC lead for regeneration

In response to Coalition Partners Trade Verbal Blows While Claiming Credit for Latest Council Budget

In a way, what a humiliation for us all. Local politics really does not need the Machiavellian methods of national politics. If the Liz Truss debacle shows anything it is that seeking office and pretending you have past success and competence has considerable risk for the whole community when found out.

Last week, Guildford’s Lib Dems crossed that line with an outrageous claim.

Their claim of sound budget management is a massive misrepresentation to our community. The recording of Wednesday’s council budget meeting shows so clearly that they played no part in running council finances. By contrast, housing and planning, their principal portfolios, are two of the worst performing.

My first reaction to reading the Liberal Democrats claims about their achievements at the council was one of disbelief, which subsided to one of great sadness.

I hail from a strong Liberal town, Rochdale. My family were Liberal Democrat voters, we have a past Liberal MP in our wider family and my sister was a Lib Dem councillor and Mayor of Southampton. I previously stood as a Lib Dem councillor myself in Guildford.

Whilst l had major doubts about their ambitions and skills and now, after North Street development, about their cohesion l had believed the Lib Dems locally to be decent, with integrity.

But the attendant tribalism of national ties risks their putting Guildford a poor second in terms of their own goals, conduct and interests.

However, last week’s claim over GBC’s budget success and competency is something else (not to mention their MP candidate’s claims re the North Street redevelopment).

Their budget claims were so disappointing, to say the least. In fact, it reflects badly on all councillors if we knowingly misrepresent (to use a more polite term) our way into election success.

Is this the first taste of the Lib Dem candidates approach in May’s borough elections? I hope some Lib Dems might wish to draw a line they do not go beyond.

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Responses to Letter: Lib Dems Have Crossed a Line in Claiming Credit for the GBC Budget

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    February 15, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Reminiscent of the claim that the Lib Dems would build 3,000 council houses.

    Since the council’s total stock of extant council houses is only around 5,000, that was a humongous claim.

    Have they built any?

    Perhaps they’d tell us and take credit where credit is due.

    • William Brewster Reply

      February 26, 2023 at 10:51 pm

      The reason for not enough houses being built is because of people like Ben Paton don’t want anything built next to them, even on an old airfield. Taylor Wimpey will build homes for low-income families but it seems Mr Paton doesn’t want them in Ockham. It’s millionaires’ row at the moment.

      The rest of Britain is being built on so why not an old airfield that’s on the A3 and M25?

      I remember residents in Ockham doing nothing but complain about the farmer who was a tenant on the airfield. They don’t like farming and they don’t like houses. What do they like?

      I can’t think of a better place to build new houses than the former airfield. Why a few rich people who have moved into Ockham think they are exempt from what the little people have to put up with is baffling. I say hard cheese.

      • Ben Paton Reply

        February 27, 2023 at 4:05 pm

        More twaddle.
        This time an unjustified ad hominem attack on me and all the residents of Ockham, not to mention Lovelace Ward.
        1. I, and I suspect most of the residents and voters of Ockham, have no objection to building Council Houses in places where people want to live in them. I have advocated that in the Dragon:-
        2. Taylor Wimpey is not planning to build any houses for low income families on Three Farms Meadow. The average price of the houses in TW’s 2017 viability study was £374k. Key workers probably wont find that ‘affordable’.
        3. Most of Three Farms Meadow is prime Grade 2 and Grade 3 agricultural land. Only about 10% of it is runway.
        4. It is not true that the residents of Ockham ‘did nothing but complain’ about the local tenant farmer – who had farmed the land for decades before WIPL fired him. Many of us have campaigned for WIPL to give the lease back to him. The land was much better managed then and employed local residents. (The present contract farmer operates from Maidenhead.)
        5. Mr Brewster seems to want to ignore the issues and promote housing envy. Perhaps he believes in the Marxist theory of class warfare.
        6. Mr Brewster should be careful about projecting his prejudices onto other people about whom he in fact knows very little or nothing. What does he know about what I or residents in Lovelace Ward know about ‘what the little people have to put up with’?

      • Mark Bray-Parry Reply

        February 27, 2023 at 4:36 pm

        William Brewster seems to conflate the affordable homes promised by Taylor Wimpey for Wisley Airfield with the council houses promised by Lib Dems.

        Let’s be clear about this, opposing Wisley Airfield development has nothing to do with council homes. Even the “affordable homes” represent very little affordability at current market rate.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    February 16, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    I fully expect Cllr Potter will react viciously to this, proving Cllr Rigg’s point.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 16, 2023 at 5:43 pm

    In my former employ, we had a saying: “There are those who do a good job and those who talk a good job.”

    The ones who did a good job were the ones who just got quietly on with it. The ones who talked a good job made a huge song and dance but rarely achieved anything other than gaining the credit for other peoples efforts.

    It seems it wasn’t confined to my trade…

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    February 17, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Mr Rigg writes: “… what a humiliation for us all.”

    Decades of rule by the Guildford ‘Conservatives’ and the Guildford Lib Dems made Guildford Borough Council an embarrassment long before R4GV was even created. It featured regularly in Private Eye’s Rotten Borough column.

    The council is reaping the crops that previous council administrations have sown.

    The list of humiliations is long. It includes a former council leader who had to resign after promoting a referendum for an “elected mayor” and implying that he had not canvassed support from the Student’s Union at the university when he had; a former deputy leader in charge of the Local Plan who was convicted at the Old Bailey after an investigation by Surrey Police of falsely representing that she was a barrister (despite failing the Bar Council exams); a Local Plan that grossly overstated the need for housing, put initially at over 20,000 houses and subsequently revised to a still excessive 12,000.

    The council’s failure to stop the monstrous Solum development of the railway station showed how the Local Plan is powerless to defend the interests of residents and voters against determined property developers.

    The humiliations will only stop when 1) national parties can no longer determine council policies 2) a new Local Plan is put in place.

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