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Letter: Will Guildford Voters Fall For Tory ‘Gesture Politics’ This Time?

Published on: 17 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 17 Apr, 2021

From: Tony Rooth

R4GV borough councillor for Pilgrims

In response to: Councillors Clash in Confusion Debating Local Plan Review ‘During Election Purdah’

Cllr Paul Spooner’s motion to review housing numbers was part of coordinated Conservative “gesture politics”, party electioneering timed just before the local elections, in an obvious attempt to get the Conservatives off the hook of their own unpopular Local Plan.

He should not have proposed such a politically-loaded motion at a council meeting during “purdah”, the pre-election period.

And there are more Conservative “gesture politics” in Secretary of State Robert Jenrick’s decision on proposed improvements to M25/A3 junctions, now deferred until after the elections.

The proposed road improvements could help developers obtain planning permission for housing on Wisley airfield and sites around neighbouring villages such as Ripley, Send and the Horsleys.

Yet more ”gesture politics” surfaced in the petition launched by Guildford’s Conservative MP, Angela Richardson, to “tunnel” the A3, a massively costly project involving the major intersection of A3 with A31, facing an anticipated budget cost of £1.5 billion.

That would cause an enormous impact on local residents and our environment, not just along the A3 and A31 but in many neighbouring communities and villages.

Fortunately, Guildford residents not fallen for the MP’s petition. Only 90 people signed it over the 18 days since it was launched.

Will we see a repeat this year of the 2019 local election results? The Local Plan 2019 “gesture” resulted in the Conservatives being heavily defeated, losing control of the borough council.

Now the 2021 Conservative “gestures” deserve similar treatment from Guildford voters in the borough council by-elections and the county council voting on May 6.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Will Guildford Voters Fall For Tory ‘Gesture Politics’ This Time?

  1. David Roberts Reply

    April 17, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    One empty gesture Cllr Rooth doesn’t mention is the Conservative election pledge to extend the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to include Send.

    This is both undeliverable and cynical.

    Objectively, Send is a semi-urban river-valley village located miles away from the Surrey Hills landscape. It would never qualify as part of the AONB.

    Secondly, it was the Tories who kicked Send, along with many other villages, out the green belt in 2019 and they have not pledged to restore it. The green belt used to prevent development linking up the Woking and Guildford urban areas but that protection is now gone.

    The AONB proposal is just a far-fetched election gambit that will deceive no-one.

  2. Adam Aaronson Reply

    April 17, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    I listened to the webcast of the borough council meeting which you can find here: https://guildford.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/560809

    At 3.12.12 Councillor Spooner states: I actually do have a specific update from Surrey County Council ….. GBC has approached Surrey County Council to assist with a review of their Local Plan following the removal of the A3 improvement scheme through Guildford…

    Why is Surrey County Council writing to Cllr Spooner about this and not directly to GBC, enabling him to produce it at the council meeting as “new” information? It looks very much like another “Wisley Garden Village” style stunt.

    If the content is as relevant as Mr Spooner claims it to be, why has it not been made available to other councillors and interested parties?

    In my opinion, it should be in the public domain.

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