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Letter: The Plan Should Have Been Reviewed Three Years Ago

Published on: 7 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 7 Apr, 2022

From: David Roberts

In response to: Council Accepts Legal Advice Not to Risk a Formal Review of the Local Plan

The GBC Executive was repeatedly urged to start a review of the Tory Local Plan three years ago, to discuss its terms of reference in a transparent and democratic manner and to set clear political objectives for its outcomes – for instance, to correct housing targets based on population projections shown to be false.

They had the majority to do so but prevaricated endlessly because both coalition parties are split, with urban councillors outnumbering those representing Guildford’s less populous villages. Even now, parochialism reigns, with many councillors unable to grasp that over-development in the countryside is what is preventing regeneration in the town.

With no directing brief, it is not surprising that council officers, lawyers and consultants should simply recommend kicking the whole problem down the road: less work for them, after all. At GBC, the technocrat tail continues to wag the political dog and councillors do their officers’ bidding.

The weakest of the do-nothing arguments is that we must all wait until central government policy becomes clear. But when not actually subject to U-turns, all major policy announcements of the current government are delayed by months or years.

When it suits them, the council routinely argue that the rules must be applied as they stand, not as they might be in future. In this case, however, we are being told to wait for Godot.

This is a relief to both the R4GV and Lib Dem leadership who can now shrug their shoulders until after the May 2023 local elections; “we tried, but…”.

Cllr Spooner will continue to crow that he was right all along, in the deluded hope that Tory electoral fortunes will rise from the dead. No one will meanwhile spare much thought for the villages already being visibly swamped by the unjustified over-development for which he and his hated Local Plan are chiefly responsible.

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test 7 Responses to Letter: The Plan Should Have Been Reviewed Three Years Ago

  1. John Phelps Reply

    April 8, 2022 at 6:49 am

    In the recent boundary review, it was clear that there is a 50/50 split between rural councillors and urban councillors. Mr Roberts should really start getting his facts straight before whinging every week in The Dragon. I wonder if he voted for the Tory government in 2019? I would bet the majority of the green belt residents did.

    I look forward to him putting his head above the parapet and standing for election in 2023 election? Or is that too much like hard work for Mr Roberts?

    He and those like him should stop moaning from their £ million+ houses and actually do something about it.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    April 9, 2022 at 9:55 am

    John Phelps gives a classic example of an ad hominem response.

    Where does he get his “50/50 split” numbers? Perhaps he can provide a source.

    Here in Ripley a vast majority voted against the Tory local government, though that sentiment will be much diluted by the boundary review.

    Accusations that those who, without evidence, live in “£ million+ houses” are not entitled to an opinion should, perhaps, be accompanied by proof that he himself actually does something more than sending emails.

    • George Potter Reply

      April 9, 2022 at 8:21 pm

      There are 48 councillors representing Guildford Borough. 24 of them represent the nine wards which cover Guildford town.

      I would suggest that, before Mr Perkins starts attacking Mr Phelps and demanding ‘sources’, he might want to try a little bit of basic counting.

      Guildford town makes up just half the borough. Knowing that doesn’t require a source, merely the most cursory ability and inclination to google and count.

      George Potter is the Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

      • John Perkins Reply

        April 10, 2022 at 4:26 pm

        One should always be wary of counting using numbers obtained via Google.

        The population of the borough is estimated at 150,000 with some 88,000 living in the town. That suggests a 50/50 split in councillor numbers is unfair to residents of the town and 58/42 would seem more appropriate. In terms of the electorate, 53/47 would seem fairer. So, no, I don’t think it’s an “attack” to question the 50/50 split.

        And I stand by my assertion that Mr Phelps was indulging in an ad hominem attack.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    April 10, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    Perhaps the editor could clarify the balance between urban and rural councillors? Contrary to Mr Phelps’s claim, it looks at least 2:1 to me, reflecting the borough’s population.

    Thanks to Cllr Spooner, I am no longer a green belt resident, and most certainly did not vote Tory in 2019. The Conservative party would have to abandon Mr Johnson and his nasty right-wing populism before I’d dream of doing so. We haven’t had a government as ideologically narrow as this one since Oliver Cromwell.

    As for standing as a councillor, I am on record as saying that I’d rather chew my arm off than join the nest of vipers that is GBC. I served the public for several decades, which was quite enough high profile for them as well as me. Is Mr Phelps suggesting that no one, including himself, be allowed to comment on public policy except elected councillors?

    Inflating unproductive and unrealisable assets in the form of house prices is a con trick fuelled by successive governments to give people an illusion of prosperity. I’d be delighted if they were all to plunge 80% or so, including mine. They would then start to be affordable. But I suppose too many people, including Mr Phelps perhaps, would then be left in debt.

    Editors’s response: The split between “town” and “rural wards in terms of councillors is exactly 50:50.

    There are 24 councillors representing what are normally regarded as the “town” wards ie: Burpham 2; Christchurch 2; Friary & St Nicolas 3; Holy Trinity 3; Merrow 3; Onslow 3; Stoke 2; Stoughton 3 and; Westborough 3.

    And 24 representing the “rural” wards ie: Ash South & Tongham 3; Ash Vale 2; Ash Wharf 2; Clandon & Horsley 3; Effingham 1; Lovelace 1; Normandy 1; Pilgrims 1; Pirbright 1; Send 2; Shalford 2; Tillingbourne 2; Worplesedon 3.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    April 10, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    The upcoming boundary changes will affect election results too.

  5. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    This debate is missing the point of the original letter. The odious Local Plan, adopted in 2019, should have already been reviewed. Leaving it unreviewed now and merely monitoring the evidence going forward is not the right thing to do.

    My understanding is that the plan has more housing agreed and scheduled than the basic housing number and is greatly in excess of any figure arising out of the standard method we were threatened within the consultant’s report with or without taking Woking’s possible unmet need (without including the hoped for further homes in the Town Centre Master Plan). In addition, there are other aspects of the Local Plan that need revising and bringing up to date.

    Ramsey Nagaty is the leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG)

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