Fringe Box



Letter: This Is Not a Local Plan, It’s Westminster’s Plan

Published on: 8 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 9 Jul, 2014

Local Plan Letters imageFrom John Robson

I must live in a parallel universe to Gordon Bridger (Councillors Deserve Credit…). I didn’t see much real debate from the elected representatives. What I saw was the Executive steamroller proceeding on its merry way to open up the green belt for developer profiteering, notwithstanding the protestations of most of the 19,000 responses to the draft local plan thus far.

This isn’t a local plan, this is Westminster’s plan. That’s why the consultation has merely paid lip service; it’s just something the Executive have to endure. They hope to demonstrate in the eyes of the inspector that they have acted responsibly. In reality, the GBC Executive has sold Guildford and its green belt down the river to meet the failings of central government economic policy.

The collateral damage is that the genuine fears of residents of Guildford borough are nonchalantly brushed aside, “You’ve had you say, you’ve had your three minutes, order, or I’ll clear the council chamber,” cries the custodian of our “democracy”.

The Executive talk the talk, but they won’t be the ones walking the walk. They won’t be the ones pleading with schools to accept their children into next year’s bulge class built over the school playing-fields.

They won’t be the ones pleading with the GP for an appointment in three to four weeks, they won’t be the ones enduring the daily commute and they won’t be the ones queuing for an affordable home only to be gazumped by London-based property speculators, who will cram four students into a two-bed house because it produces a better yield at a blistering £1,200 a month, plus.

This, of course, being on the proviso that our altruistic developers actually decide to build some “affordable homes” to start with. That’s right, we’ll ask them nicely..

Look at Guildford’s projection of demography over the next 50 years, because that is a realistic time-term. Yes, we need housing, we need brown field housing, we need starter homes, retirement homes, flats and we need a proper housing ladder, not one that contains only four-bed detached executive homes.

We need to rectify this already dysfunctional town. We need a vibrant town centre, with an imaginative joined-up transport policy to ensure it doesn’t take 40 minutes to travel the last mile into town centre. After four years, “the draft” Local Plan still does not deliver this.

Conversely, and I know that this may not sit well with the true blue ethos of Guildford borough, but if you want to protect the green belt, vote Conservative in the local elections and Labour in the general election. That is the only way this Executive will stand up to central government, as they did in 2010. Otherwise, the asset-stripping of Guildford will continue unabated.

It’s only 2% of our green belt they claim; more smoke and mirrors. There is only 13% of green belt left in England. If we’re going to play the statistics games let’s look at the big picture.

Once the genie is out of the bottle where will it end? If the likes of the University of Surrey get their way, Aldershot is the answer.

I heard that one member of the Executive didn’t even see the merits of attending the council meeting because he had a prior engagement in the West End to watch Penn & Teller perform their professional illusions. He could’ve saved himself a trip: the real illusionists were at work in Millmead. Remember the green belt? Now you see it, now you don’t.

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Responses to Letter: This Is Not a Local Plan, It’s Westminster’s Plan

  1. Helen Jefferies Reply

    July 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I couldn’t have put this better if I tried.

    The ballot box is getting closer and residents will get their chance next May.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    July 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Congratulations to John Robson for an excellent letter.

    How depressing that all the arguments in favour of proceeding with the draft local plan are negative.

    The best the council Leader can do is set up bogus rhetorical questions and then state that this plan is better than his hypothetical alternatives.

    – No, it isn’t the case that the alternative to this plan is no plan.
    – No, it isn’t the case that doing things in the correct and logical order will cause the plan to be delayed by two to three years.
    – No, this Executive is not indispensable. It may have spent £1.5m of public money on this process.

    But that does not mean they have done a good job.

    The Guildford Borough Council Executive is in power currently and represents the “Establishment” but that alone does not make it legitimate or right. Outworn prestige can go a long way. But the chickens find their way home to roost eventually.

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