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Letter: Were Tory Council Leaders Breathtakingly Naive?

Published on: 4 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2021

From: David Roberts

In response to: The A3 Issue Means We Must Review the Local Plan

I have taken Cllr Spooner’s excellent advice and gone back to what he and Cllr Furniss said about the Local Plan in 2019 – in particular, the interviews he gave to The Dragon on February 24, 2019 and April 25, 2019. I’ve also re-read Cllr Furniss’s letter (“Fears over Transport Assessment are Unfounded”) on 24 April 2019 replying to objections from Mr Eve.

What I find is a litany of complacency about what was blindingly obvious to everyone else at the time: that there was absolutely no prospect of infrastructure being able to support the excessive housing targets in the Local Plan.

Specifically pressed on this by Dragon editor Martin Giles, Cllr Spooner insists “We already have a very strong local infrastructure.” “We have looked at all the constraints and applied all we possibly could,” he says, proclaiming “I’m an optimist!” and predicting a great “modal shift” away from car use by 2029, with people walking and cycling from Wisley to Guildford.

Likewise, Cllr Furniss writes, “Unlike the previous Local Plan 2003, this Local Plan has transport and Infrastructure at its heart in order to support Guildford and any future development… This Local Plan has been supported by a significant amount of evidence and work by professionals, it gives a clear direction for infrastructure investment which is already underway.”

Did the two councillors honestly believe what they were saying or were they breathtakingly naive? Or was this a “flawed Plan,” all along, as Sir Paul Beresford MP calls it: “a disastrous Local Plan which has already been approved – in a hurried and undemocratic manner just prior to the last elections”?

Local Tories will have no electoral credibility until they decide which it is.

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