Fringe Box



Letter: When Will Our Councillors Stand Up For The Electorate?

Published on: 17 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 17 Jul, 2014

Local Plan Letters imageFrom John Robson

My eldest daughter has just spent the best part of the last two years being educated on a building site at an outstanding infant school in Onslow. Her reward? She’ll now spend another seven to eight months being educated on a building site at a junior school in Onslow.

That’s because the Surrey County Council (SCC) answer to the continual intake crisis seems to be – just build more bulge classes on the school playing fields.

The principle that all children should receive an excellent education is sound, it is their right, but the belief that you can just shoehorn more children into the same size footprint and expecting standards to be maintained is just scandalous.

But the schools accept it. Why? In truth, unlike Guildford Borough Council (GBC) with the housing target, they have little choice: their doctrine is education not politics. The bitter-sweet trade-off is that they will receive Government funding to help repair their crumbling schools. They are told this is the only way they will receive the funding they desperately need. It is gun to the head politics.

Sound familiar? It should. It is a microcosm of what will happen to Guildford’s urban area should the green belt development proceed.

GBC’s mantra is constant, “Guildford Borough is 89% green belt, you’re only giving up 2%.” Say it enough times and, they hope, people will start to believe it. But our children, in their daily existence, endure building site conditions surrounded by tarmac and concrete not the the green space they used to enjoy which, little by little, is being eroded because of crass central government policy.

Upon receipt of the Westminster housing number dictat, I fully expected the council Executive to fall into line; it’s what they do. I believe, some members of the Executive harbour mainstream political ambitions which will, no doubt, be rubber stamped if the housing quota is delivered.

Some members of the Executive, a fair proportion, live on the periphery of the borough and will remain unaffected from the chaos that will ensue, should GBC deliver Westminster’s housing target.

What I am disappointed about is the number of councillors who have acceded to the party whip, those councillors, the ones in the trenches, who, on a daily basis, meet head on the needs and concerns of the electorate.

But I suppose in any British military campaign, the cannon fodder bear the brunt while the officers sit on the periphery of the battleground pondering the next strategic move, instigated from a bunker somewhere in London.

Guildford’s sleepwalking into the abyss. Above the infrastructure is already collapsing. The indiscriminate carpet bombing of the green belt will be the final straw for many but it will not provide the solution to Guildford’s many issues.

When will the councillors rediscover their purpose? When will they stop being the buffer between the electorate and the executive? When will they start acting with their conscience, start fighting their corner, represent the interests of the electorate and this town – not Westminster?

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Responses to Letter: When Will Our Councillors Stand Up For The Electorate?

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Very well put by John Robson. I agree fully.

    However, there are encouraging signs that some councillors are now prepared to put their heads above the parapet, evidence Andrew French’s letter in the local media last week, opposing the draft Local Plan. He and others also voted against it going out for consultation.

    So at least some, although unfortunately none of the executive, seem now prepared to listed to their electorate.

    Jules Cranwell is a member of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG)

  2. Mary Bedforth Reply

    July 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    There are apparently 80,000 empty homes in London. This staggering statistic is revealed by BBC London in their report about seven London councils who refuse to levy council tax on the owners of empty properties which they are empowered to do.

    ‘Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Bromley, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston-upon-Thames and Merton did not tax a single empty property.’

    If all of these unoccupied properties were made available for sale or rent, it would go a long way to relieving pressure from the developers’ demands to build on the green belt land surrounding London.

    There are very many distortions in our country at the present time.

    Power to penalise owners of empty homes goes unused

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