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Letter: Questions Remain Over Liongate

Published on: 15 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 15 Jul, 2022

From: Howard Smith

Vice-chair Guildford Labour

See also: Investigation Concludes GBC Not At Fault Over Multi-million Liongate Building Sale

Many questions still remain unanswered on why the council sold the Liongate office building so cheaply.

There seemed to be a sense of panic among the senior members of the council administration at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting at Guildford Borough Council on Tuesday night, as questions poured in about the sale of Liongate House two years ago at a knock-down price.

Everyone in Guildford will know this building well as it sits on the corner of Stoke interchange. It is currently swathed in scaffolding as the final touches to its conversion to residential use are completed.  Around 100 luxury flats are now on the market and it’s believed many are already under offer.

Despite a report commissioned at great expense, no one is any the wiser as to why the building wasn’t marketed clearly stating that it could be converted to residential under Permitted Development.

This grave error is believed to have cost GBC around £5 million. The R4GV councillors responsible, John Rigg (Holy Trinity) and Tim Anderson (Clandon & Horsley) dodged questions, preferring to dwell on whether the building should have been purchased in the first place. That’s a fair question but not the one at hand.

At one point there appeared to be an attempt to smear former Conservative councillor Geoff Davis who spoke from his experience in the property field, suggesting he was somehow involved in the purchase – it would have been very easy to check that he wasn’t a councillor at the time.

Concerned residents will continue to ask questions about this fiasco until we have clear answers. The fact that the current administration also appears to have a problem with scrutiny or perhaps accountability, ensures that we must.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Questions Remain Over Liongate

  1. John Phelps Reply

    July 15, 2022 at 11:39 am

    Is this really what people care about? Mr Smith has stated “questions remain” but failed to provide one question in his letter. How are the Lib Dems and Independents meant to respond to his faux concerns?

    It was an incredibly dull item on the agenda and a complete waste of the council’s resources. I too thought Mr Davis had been responsible for the purchase, otherwise why would he care? Now I know he wasn’t responsible, it is clear to me that this is not for good of the Guildford people but, yet again, political games by Labour and the Conservatives.

    I for one am tired of hearing about “Liongate”.

    • Howard Smith Reply

      July 15, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      The question in my letter is “why wasn’t the building marketed clearly stating that it could be converted to residential under permitted development?”

      The matter of £5 million is at stake.

      Isn’t John Phelps at least curious to know why?

      Howard Smith is vice-chair of Guildford Labour.

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