Fringe Box



Letter: The Send Electorate Were Well Informed

Published on: 24 May, 2015
Updated on: 24 May, 2015

Local Plan Letters imageFrom: Jenny Procter

Jenny Procter is a member of the Save Send Action Group

It is sad indeed that the group leading Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is installed once again and that the machinery is already in motion driving the much criticised Draft Local Plan.

Sad too, and an indictment, that no Conservative councillors had the guts to vote against Stephen Mansbridge’s leadership. Two abstained – and as they came from a well informed and challenged area, Clandon and the Horsleys, where the strongly Conservative electorate has trusted their future in their hands, I think they probably did not dare to vote with the crowd.

Even they did not vote against. So much for being able to withstand the party whip or peer pressure.

The reason Send voted resoundingly for change and elected two GGG councillors was because residents were alerted, well informed and understood what was being proposed as well as the pitfalls of being led by a group of people determined to push through their own agenda at any cost, regardless of real local need or wishes.

So much for Localism. Send had previously been an almost entirely Conservative enclave so this was a massive change of direction and demonstrated just how active an electorate can be in choosing effective representation.

Sadly there was not time to achieve this in every ward. Had there been I suspect there would have been a landslide for democracy, integrity and common sense.

For the Conservatives to be quoting the voting figures as a mandate giving victory is a travesty of the real situation.

A very large proportion of the voting public, did not vote Conservative and, of those who did, I suspect an equally, if not larger proportion did so on the basis of promises to protect Guildford’s green belt and serve local interests.

Those people are likely to be very disappointed and will not be happy if the council seizes their good will and runs away with it again on a badly conceived development spree nobody wants.

Not that this will be of concern to those who have already put forward a plan conceived under Monika Juneja’s leadership, someone we now know was a criminal.

She has been supported throughout by those in power and GBC itself. Stephen Mansbridge is her business partner but we are to believe there is no vested interest in this and that her work, despite her phoney credentials and limited planning knowledge, will be carried on.

Where did integrity go to? How can any of us believe in anything that is put forward by this group? Their power within the council means that the very small Executive at the top can push through any plan, almost regardless of opposition.

Then there are scare stories emerging from a recent consultation meeting in Fairlands that we are about to suffer a tsunami of migration from London.

Why? Because GBC want to encourage this migration by building thousands and thousands of houses compromising our way of life, our environment, our highways, the air we breathe and every aspect of what Guildford and the green belt is all about.

The way to contain migration out of London is to force it to stay in London where there is enough accommodation to do so. It is for London Boroughs to recognise their responsibility to those who need affordable housing, to stop closing down on social housing in order to profit from putting it into the private sector, to value and encourage Housing Associations, to regulate landlords so that they do not make excessive profit from rents and to clamp down on foreign investors holding vast swathes of property empty.

If this migration is encouraged it will consist of commuters and will not create the affordable housing situation that, we are all told, is required.

We in the Save Send Action Group will certainly not give up our fight and I am certain that in the light of what is happening now we will be joined by many more across the borough who are not prepared to be dictated to when our way of life is threatened and the real needs of our communities come way down the list on the agenda of our elected representatives.

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Responses to Letter: The Send Electorate Were Well Informed

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    May 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    It seems clear that Send is the village in his “one and a bit villages” of which Cllr Mansbridge was so dismissive.

    It is not entirely clear to me which “bit” of a village he was referring to. Could it have been part of West Clandon? Or was he referring to the 999 people who dissented by voting GGG in his own ward – in his terms a bit of Ash or a bit of Tongham?

    Doubtless someone will put me right on this.

  2. Andrew Roberts Reply

    May 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Jenny Proctor from the Save Send Action Grour states that: “The reason Send voted resoundingly for change and elected two GGG Councillors (over their conservative counterparts) was because residents were alerted, well informed and absolutely understood what was being proposed.”

    I disagree with many parts of this. Firstly, the two very experienced Conservative councillors, Terence Patrick and Keith Taylor, stepped down leaving a power vacuum. Had they stood I believe they would have been re-elected.

    Secondly, the Conservative candidates proposed had a clear mandate from Sir Paul Beresford of the Mole Valley Conservative Association to upset the Guildford Local Plan, which was not a positive message.

    Thirdly, the political leaflets from the GGG and the Save Send Action Group, not to mention the boards adorning the streets, outnumbered anything all the other parties combined distributed 10:1.

    As to whether the residents were well informed. The jury must be still out on that. The two GGG councillors pledged to refuse all green belt developments in Send starting with the current Longboat Basin Application on Tannery Lane.

    How they are going to do this with only one seat on the planning committee is anyone’s guess. Were the electorate well informed? I don’t think so!

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    May 25, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Send is right and Send will fight.

    Send is in danger of becoming a suburb of Woking. Bookham is danger of becoming a suburb of Leatherhead. If developers (helped by GBC) join the two together we shall all join Greater London and go the way of Middlesex.

    The people of Send support the national government and have returned their Conservative MP – who serves us as Foreign Secretary.

    On a local level Send was atrociously served by its longstanding conservative borough councillors, who swallowed the party propaganda hook, line and sinker.

    Opposition from within the Guildford Conservative Party is practically impossible. Just look at its track record of pluralism, reasoned debate, and diversity of opinion under Cllr Mansbridge’s leadership. Mansbridge tried to prevent my selection as the Conservative candidate for Lovelace, unprecedently attending the selection committee and then arguing that ‘loyalty’ above all else was the quality required in a candidate.

    Send has no chance of preserving its historic character if the ‘trajectory’ for the local plan chosen by Mansbridge and Juneja is sustained.

    Most people know little and care less about local politics until some big issue arises that affects them. The people of Send have been alerted in time to do something before it is too late. They have made a wise choice in their borough councillors who will give then a local, authentic and independent voice.

  4. Andrew Roberts Reply

    May 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Once again a very bitter letter from Ben Patton who is still obviously reeling from his failure to be elected as a local councillor for Lovelace.

    Mr Paton’s letter was full of factual inaccuracies.

    For Mr Paton’s information, the people of Send have just returned Sir Paul Beresford as MP not the Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP who happens to be the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge.

    It is hugely insulting and completely wrong for Mr Paton to state that the people of Send have been atrociously served by the previous longstanding Conservative Guildford Borough Councillors. Both Cllr Taylor and Cllr Patrick served the community extremely well for many many years and were hugely respected by the local residents for all the work they carried out.

    With regards to their views on the local plan they may differ slightly from yours, but it is not acceptable to insult them because of that! You would do well to read Cllr Taylor’s representations and to read them in the context of the man who has sat for more hours on the planning committee of GBC than anyone else!

    Finally, may I suggest that Mr Paton restricts his insults to subjects he knows something about like the Wisley Airfield application rather than try and jump on the Send bandwagon!

  5. Colin Cross Reply

    May 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Send voters took the only realistic option open to them if they mean to save Send.
    Lovelace voters took a similar choice last year and did not waver at this election.
    These wards and others are under the most horrendous threat as never before .
    Ultimately, party alliegances evaporate in the cold light of a rurally lethal Local Plan.
    Both Ben and Harry are right and we must hope GGG mature quickly enough to know
    how to differentiate between friend and foe in the Council Chamber.
    Their pre-election efforts in this regard were much flawed, we look for better to come.

  6. Ben Paton Reply

    May 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I must thank Mr Roberts for correcting an inaccuracy in my comment. He is of course correct that Sir Paul Beresford’s constituency includes Send. I did point this out to the Dragon before publication but the correction did not get through.

    As for ‘insults’, please allow me to clarify that I do not mean to insult anyone merely to express my opinion.

    Of course I respect the hours that the former councillors for Send spent serving the public. But time alone is not the only consideration. If it were then presumably on the basis of the hours she put in Ms Juneja would be a great public servant.

    Judgement is as or more important than the hours a councillor puts in. So far as I am aware both the said councillors were unstinting in support of a draft local plan now known to have been unsound. And they also supported the Strategic Housing Market Assessment – which should have been finalised before the draft local plan was put out to public consultation. Nor so far as I am aware did they show any misgivings about the Hooper Report or the apparent breaches of the council’s codes.

    And presumably by virtue of such long tenure these councillors must also bear some responsibility for the fact that GBC has not built any social housing for 20 years. The resulting shortage was used as a justification for the draft local plan.

    It is by judgements such as these that I believe the people of the whole borough were badly served.

  7. Jenny Procter, Save Send Action Group Reply

    May 28, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    In reply to Harry Eve, The ‘bit’ referred to is Clandon where, David Reeve (GGG) was elected as one of 3 (I believe). Councillors representing that ward.

    In reply to further comments from andrew Roberts and Ben Paton

    The two previous long serving Conservative candidates in Send made themselves deeply unpopular by supporting the draft local plan and not heeding the views of the community. It is highly unlikely they would have been re elected had they stood. Their stance may have resulted from compliance with the Conservative whip. If this were so it only adds fuel to the flame. Whatever their personal view, if they were powerless to act they were precious little use to the community they served. This was another good reason not to trust any potential incoming Conservative candidate to serve the interests of Send.

    Had the community/ies been well served there would have been no need for Save Send or GGG or any other protest group. I have realised just how important local politics are. Since borough councils are responsible for planning, having councillors who really represent local views and are prepared to stand against unwonted edicts from above is vital if the local voice is not to be overridden. I would add that if central government wants to protect green belt as has been loudly proclaimed they would do better to have control of local councils who run away with localism. Someone is passing the buck. What can ever affect us more than development that shapes and moulds the future for generations to come?

    There is a need for some appropriate development but not on the scale put forward in the draft local plan and the ‘inset’ proposals, not understood by many, which take swathes of land out of green belt to easily facilitate future additional large scale development are quite insidious.

  8. Jim Allen Reply

    May 30, 2015 at 10:40 am

    I wish the people of Send good luck with their Neighbourhood Plan. If they can get it past and through the local processes…

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