Fringe Box



Letter: Why Is GBC Paying for Bridges?

Published on: 9 Feb, 2024
Updated on: 9 Feb, 2024

Walnut Bridge

From: John Redpath

former R4GV borough councillor

In response to a comment on: Guildford Council Answers Questions About Walnut Bridge

Mrs Coleman raises an interesting point about GBC and the amount paid for Walnut Bridge.
For the record, R4GV who at the time had only two councillors on the GBC Executive, voted against the exasperating funding for this bridge.

But the question that should really be asked is why were GBC paying for it in the first place? I’ll add to that,  why are GBC having to pay for the Ash road bridge?

Both these projects should have been the responsibility of the County Council and managed and paid for by them. Surrey and Homes England have contributed to Ash Road Bridge but it’ll be the borough that will need to pick up the balance.

The Tory council that survived until 2019 had ideas of grandeur that were way above their station and risked the borough council’s finances. We’ve seen much greater but similar grandiose projects by other Tory run borough councils, one of the most recent causing the bankruptcy of Woking.

The Tories were finally ousted from Guildford in 2019 and, whilst the current administration is, to say the least, inert, at least residents have been saved from any further inappropriate spending of the Borough Council’s money.

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Responses to Letter: Why Is GBC Paying for Bridges?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    February 9, 2024 at 11:54 am

    Prior to the Dame Shirley Porter gerrymandering in 1986-2009 any money spent by local councils was the jointly and several responsibility of each elected councillor. After that the law was quietly ammended. Since that time councillors have been spending money like the cashpoint has broken.

    I think it is now time that the council finaces were split in two groups: Group 1 Income and statutory expenditure’ and Group 2 non statutory projects, like the Ash Bridge, Walnut Bridge, Weyside Village, the Popup Village, the new sewage treatment works, Active Travel, Clay Lane link Road, to name but a few from the past 15 years or so.

    Any project in Group 2 if deemed as not ‘commercially viable’ should be immediatly dropped. For if it is not commercially viable in year one, then it won’t be later on when costs will have inevitably inflated and delays occurred.

    That is the only way to come back to fiancial credibility.

  2. Alan Judge Reply

    February 9, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    Why has it taken Mr Redpath so long to raise this question, bearing in mind he was a Guildford borough councillor for four years.

    By the way, the R4GV website incorrectly states on his profile that you are a current councillor and part of GBC’s Executive.

    • John Redpath Reply

      February 9, 2024 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you Alan Judge for pointing out the website error, I’ll see it’s corrected.

      This is nothing new and the questions have been raised many times before both in and outside council. I felt that in the light of Cllr Brooker’s comments in The Dragon, it was time to remind residents again that it was a Tory administration (of which Cllr Brooker was a part) that committed the borough to these two exorbitant projects.

      If Ash Road Bridge had been cancelled by us (the R4GV/Lib Dem coalition) then the council would have had to pay back a huge sum of money to Homes England, money which had already been spent or committed to by the previous administration.

      John Redpath is a former R4GV borough councillor

  3. John Murray Reply

    February 9, 2024 at 8:20 pm

    John Redpath criticises Tory profligacy in office and contrasts it with the financial probity exercised by the subsequent administration of which he was part. GBC’s published accounts tell a different story.

    In the four years of Tory control, ended 2019, the council recorded an operating surplus in every year, cumulatively amounting to £33.8 million. By contrast his own administration ran a deficit in three out of four years and the total deficit over that period amounted to £46.9 million.

    Not only that but in February 2023 one of the last acts of Mr Redpath’s group was to wave though a budget showing a cumulative deficit of £18.3 million.

    • John Redpath Reply

      February 10, 2024 at 9:39 am

      Sadly it was our administration that had to pay for commitments made by the former. Not surprising then that finances are so poor at the moment.

      My question has still not been answered. Why did the Tories burden the council with projects that were the county council’s responsibility. That’s what will be causing the on going deficit along with the Tory committment to weyside urban village. Another drain on the borough council’s budget.

      John Redpath is a former R4GV borough councillor

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 10, 2024 at 8:12 pm

    SCC is the Highway Authority for Surrey and it is responsible for the road network (except motorways and strategic routes), the bridges on it (except those owned by Network Rail) and footways and paths along the road.

    Off-road paths and bridges are GBC’s responsibility in GBC area. Walnut Bridge is off-road, so SCC is not responsible for it.

    Ash Road Bridge should have been fully under SCC control but GBC was keen to promote house building in Ash under the Local Plan. The administration previous to the Lib Dem/R4GV coalition took on the reponsibility for it and improvements to the A331 off-slip to the A31. GBC procured funds from Homes England, the developers and SCC.

    In my opinion GBC does not have the expertise nor the technical ability to manage such a project and to procure the most cost-effective design appropriate for the site.

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