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Letter: See Through This Blatant, Cynical Conservative Electioneering

Published on: 23 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 23 Mar, 2021

From: Liz Hogger

Lib Dem borough councillor for Effingham

In response to: Perhaps Cllr Iles and Her Co-Plotters Should Play Their Games Somewhere Else?

I have followed the correspondence about the Guildford Local Plan from Conservative politicians in Mole Valley constituency with a rising sense of disbelief.

It seems county Cllr Julie Iles and MP Sir Paul Beresford will stop at nothing in their attempts to rewrite recent history in the run-up to the county council elections. They give totally unsubstantiated assurances about their influence with government to allow a lower housing target if the Local Plan is reviewed. That’s at least three years too late.

Cllr Iles would do well to remember that the voters in her county division of The Horsleys (which includes my borough ward of Effingham) are well-informed and have good memories.

We remember clearly how the Conservatives pushed through the adoption of the Local Plan on April 25, 2019, just one week before the borough council elections when most Conservative borough councillors lost their seats.

We also remember clearly that the housing target which led to the removal of swathes of land from the green belt in that Local Plan was imposed on us by the Conservative government.

Perhaps Cllr Iles is hoping voters in The Horsleys will not realise that a review of the Local Plan could have no impact on the outcome of the planning application due soon from Taylor Wimpey for a new town of 2,000 new homes on the former Wisley Airfield site, removed from the green belt under the Conservative Local Plan?

Reviewing and revising a Local Plan requires a formal process lasting some two years. During that time, Guildford’s Planning Committee will be obliged to determine the Wisley application according to present planning policy as set out in the adopted Local Plan.

That planning application will be affected by the Conservative government’s decision on whether to proceed with the upgrading of the A3/M25 interchange. Conveniently, the Secretary of State has deferred that decision until May 12, safely after the county council elections.

Perhaps local Conservatives do have the ear of the government when it comes to the timing of announcements that might impact on a local election.

I am sure residents in The Horsleys will see right through this blatant, cynical Conservative electioneering, and will use their votes accordingly in the county elections on May 6.

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Responses to Letter: See Through This Blatant, Cynical Conservative Electioneering

  1. Paul Beresford Reply

    March 23, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Cllr Ms Hogger’s memory of events over the GBC Local Plan is convenient, Nelsonian and wrong.

    I, supported by Mole Valley Conservatives opposed the green belt raid on the GBC/Mole Valley wards from the earliest Draft Local Plan, through all the consultations. I was against these aspects of the Plan when it was passed in that extra-ordinary GBC full Council meeting by Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrat leader, with most GBC Conservatives from the Mole Valley constituency voting against.

    She is correct that “a review of the Local Plan could have no impact on the outcome of the planning application due soon from Taylor Wimpey for a new town of 2,000 new homes on the former Wisley Airfield site”.

    This is because a review now is too late but would not have been if the Liberal Democrat leader had commenced the review when asked by me immediately after the GBC elections. She refused. Not a surprise considering she voted for the Plan.

    It is not too late for some sites in the villages in the GBC wards in Mole Valley, but speed is required.

    Sir Paul Beresford is the Conservative MP for Mole Valley

  2. Julie Iles Reply

    March 23, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Cllr Hogger will be well aware of the opportunity for Guildford Borough Council to review the plan given that the A3 capacity upgrade was a key constraint. She will also know very well that I have always been opposed to the Local Plan and to the application for housing at the former Wisley airfield. I’m afraid she gives me too much credit if she thinks I have the ear of government on any timing of announcements. However, she and other GBC councillors have the opportunity to use the fact that the A3 is not being widened to review the plan.

    The County Council elections are not linked to the Guildford Local Plan. I do however think that people standing for election should be held to their promises and I repeat R4GV councillors pledged to “amend the Local Plan” citing 4,000 more houses on our countryside than were required, even by inflated estimates. No ifs, no buts so why aren’t they reviewing it? Why aren’t the Lib Dems collaborating with them to do so?

    That’s what I call blatant and cynical electioneering.

    Julie Iles is the Conservative county councillor for The Horsleys

    • J Davy Reply

      March 24, 2021 at 11:45 am

      Julie Iles is a County Councillor, is she not?

      Editor: Thank you for pointing out our error, now amended.

  3. Simon Mason Reply

    March 23, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    Cllr Liz Hogger is scathing in her attack on the Tories for pushing through the the adoption of the Local Plan during purdah yet she decided to abstain from that all important vote when it mattered! Pot calling Kettle Black. Lets hope voters do have long memories

    • Liz Hogger Reply

      March 24, 2021 at 6:08 pm

      Abstaining is not the same as supporting. At the adoption vote, my difficult duty was to consider the best interests of my ward of Effingham.

      The inclusion in the Local Plan of the new town at the former Wisley Airfield is an outrage. On the other hand, the threat of even more development on Effingham’s green belt being allowed because Guildford did not have a five-year housing land supply was very real: that was one of the reasons for the 2018 decision by the Secretary of State to allow the Berkeley Homes planning appeal for 295 houses and a new school to be built on Effingham’s green belt.

      Along with all Lib Dem councillors, I supported the motion at the full GBC council meeting two weeks earlier to defer the vote on adoption until after the borough elections, so that the current views of the electorate would count. That motion to defer was defeated by the massive Conservative majority. Arguably that was the key vote, and it demonstrated the Conservatives’ disdain for local democracy.

      Liz Hoggeris the Lib Dem borough councillor for Effingham

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