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Letter: The Conservative Record Stands for All to See

Published on: 11 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 11 Jan, 2023

From: John Price

In response to: Is the North Street Design What Voters Really Wanted?

I would challenge many of the comments made in Mr Spooner’s letter.

The Conservative record stands for all to see. As I said in my previous letter no progress of regenerating Guildford Town centre since the early 80s in the construction of the original Friary Shopping Centre, perhaps over 40 years ago.

I remember attending a property lunch in the City of London where Tony Pidgely was the guest speaker. He asked for a show of hands for those who lived in Guildford. He then said that he felt sorry for us living in an area under the local council.

Yes, the local electorate in 2019 did choose, as they have a right to in a free country. They chose, I would suggest, on the basis of years of inaction by national political parties, more interested in national politics and tribalism than helping Guildford.

The greatest speed that the Conservative GBC has ever moved at was to push through their Local Plan (despite overwhelming public protest) days before their demise at the borough election in 2019.

One can draw similarities with the Conservative push on the London Road cycle scheme.
It was clear that appropriate consultation had not been carried out, and at the recent public meeting, that the majority of the 400 people who attended were against the plan.

There was no real acknowledgement from the Conservative Surrey county councillors that it won’t work. They just wanted to say they would talk to people and engage better in the future. The residents and those who use the road are against the proposal but we SCC know better.

I note Angela Richardson MP, who stood literally on the sidelines at the public meeting, did not come out against the scheme presumably in embarrassment at the shambolic approach led by Cllr Matt Furniss [Con, Shalford] and other Conservatives on this road scheme.

Why the reticence?

I would suggest it’s all part of the Westminster view of managing any issue – bickering, backstabbing, and “the opposition must be wrong”

But in this case, they are not.

The residents’ party, R4GV, were absolutely right to alert the community to the London Road proposals. If Cllr Furniss had the only say I suspect he would not have cared and just let it go through.

Take a look at Guildford, empty shops, derelict sites, no regeneration in forty years. The town was dying when the Conservatives lost power. There is now life, focus and commitment to get things done. So let it happen.

In the future, we need to ensure there is proper and non-political discussion on what is best, and stop these last-minute attempts to derail years of hard work.

If the North Street scheme fails no self-respecting quality developer will want to set foot in Guildford if Berkeley can’t succeed here.

I gather Angela Richardson has now written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State, asking him to call in the North Street planning application. They are desperate. [The SoS has now issued a holding order. See: North Street Application Put on Hold Until Secretary of State Decides Whether to Take Decision Himself.]

A planning application widely consulted countless times and now a staggeringly detailed 250-page officers’ recommendation.

I doubt she has seen, let alone read it, but I guess she has seen the noise on social media from those against change and sees it as an opportunity. National politics need to concentrate on Westminster and let local politics be run by local parties, with local representation.

She is just playing games on her soapbox. Having had four years to engage with the council, take a real interest in Guildford and influence matters at North Street where was she?

She has not engaged as her predecessor Anne Milton did and now she tries to try and block something they failed to deliver for over 30 years and give the impression the Tories care about the electorate.

Is there a local election on the horizon I wonder? Oh yes, in May.

Finally, I am confused re the reference to the “Guildford Heritage Quarter”. Where is the heritage quarter? Surely it’s not on the old site of the Studio One and Two cinema, and Brett’s Burgers?

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test One Response to Letter: The Conservative Record Stands for All to See

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    January 12, 2023 at 10:08 am

    I guess the “Heritage Quarter” (which I don’t think I’ve heard of as such) is Quarry Street, Castle Street, and the castle itself, where Guildford has, in my opinion, the most interesting old houses. Although actually, if you look above the shops to the firstst floor I suppose the High Street could be included too, not to mention the Guildhall, Holy Trinity, and Abbot’s Hospital, and beyond that the Grammar School.

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