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Letter: Something Is Very Wrong with Planning at GBC

Published on: 3 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 3 Feb, 2023

From: Paul Spooner

leader of the Conservative Group at Guildford Borough Council

In response to: No Councillor Prepared to Chair Planning Meeting So Traveller Pitches and 93 New Homes Delayed

It was very unfortunate that both the Lib Dem chairman and R4GV vice chairman of the GBC Planning Committee announced they were ill just a few hours prior to the meeting.

I cannot remember such a situation with that committee, but no other councillors had attended the chairman’s briefing by Planning Officers and I wasn’t surprised that another councillor would not step forward at the last minute.

Personally, I was already disappointed that the chairman had refused my request for a site visit in my ward.

Something is very wrong with Planning at GBC. Perhaps the Lib Dem lead member Cllr Tom Hunt [Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas] should consider his position as things go from bad to worse.

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Responses to Letter: Something Is Very Wrong with Planning at GBC

  1. George Potter Reply

    February 3, 2023 at 11:31 am

    It is very unfortunate that Cllr Spooner is making a claim which are untrue. He, along with all other councillors, was part of an email chain where it was made clear that both the chair and vice-chair alerted democratic services that they were unwell and unable to attend at the very first available opportunity. That is to say, they gave more than “a few hours” notice.

    Given Cllr Spooner’s record of absences, and abstentions, at the Planning Committee (and why was he not there on Wednesday night to step up to volunteer as chair?) it’s quite remarkable to see him attempting to throw stones.

    A saying about those who live in glass houses comes to mind.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

    Editors comment: the GBC website shows that Cllr Spooner has attended three of the seven Planning Committee meetings held since September 7, 2022. For all four absences he sent apologies and for two of those four meetings a substitute was “sent”.

    • Paul Spooner Reply

      February 3, 2023 at 7:49 pm

      I made the council aware that I would be in Dubai for Arab Health this week. Cllr Eyre kindly agreed to sub for me.

      Cllr Potter is very well aware that I suffered from long Covid from July to November 2022 and yet I still managed to make most committees.

      The Lib Dems are running the council and Cllr Potter is a lead member. It is high time that blame is not always cast elsewhere and Lib Dems started to demonstrate they know what they are doing.

      Paul Spooner is a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

      • George Potter Reply

        February 4, 2023 at 11:59 am

        I’m afraid Cllr Spooner has rather missed the point.

        There is nothing whatsoever wrong with him being unwell and unable to attend meetings. My point is that, given his own experiences with ill health, he should be a little less quick to try to score political points about the illness of others. Otherwise he risks being perceived as hypocritical.

        Similarly, whilst I’m sure a business trip to Dubai was unavoidable, to go on it and miss the opportunity to vote on an application which he claims is vital to Ash and Tongham does not seem quite consistent with his performative claims that other councillors aren’t taking the application seriously enough.

        George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

        • Paul Spooner Reply

          February 5, 2023 at 8:40 am

          Cllr Potter knows very well that applications for planning are announced by council officers seven days in advance of Planning Committee meetings. Arab Health dates are published a year in advance. Is Cllr Potter seriously suggesting that I should cancel flights and hotel accommodation as well as miss pre-arranged meetings because the GBC under his party’s control schedule applications in my ward when I will be away? Ridiculous.

          Paul Spooner is the Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

          • George Potter

            February 5, 2023 at 1:20 pm

            Not at all. I’m simply suggesting that Cllr Spooner be a little more consistent in his views.

            George Potter is the Lib Dem councillor for Burpham

    • Wayne Smith Reply

      February 6, 2023 at 8:37 pm

      Of Cllr Spooner’s four absences, one was for probably the most important Planning issue concerning Guildford in the last forty years – North Street redevelopment. His substitute also failed to attend.

      Editor’s comment: Cllr Spooner’s substitute, Cllr Graham Eyre (Con, South Ash & Tonghham), sent his apologies explaining that severe toothache would have made it difficult for him to speak.

  2. Barry Gardiner Reply

    February 3, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    I think an investigation would be the answer.

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