Fringe Box



Letter: Yes, Fake News Was in Circulation on Social Media During These Elections

Published on: 10 May, 2023
Updated on: 10 May, 2023

Conservative Election Pamphlet warning of congestion charging if Lib Dems or R4GV won the borough election.

From: Peta Malthouse

In response to: Sadly, Fake News Misled the Electorate

Fake news was circulating on social media and not just about North Street.

The Conservative party claimed that if the Lib Dems or R4GV [Residents for Guildford & Villages] got in they would introduce a congestion charge. The only foundation for their claim appeared to be that it had been discussed. The Tory government required all councils to discuss this as part of their net zero obligations.

In London, Mayor Khan and TfL [Transport for London]were required under the terms of their Covid loan to extend the congestion charge, introduce ULEZ and develop cycle paths and pedestrian walkways, measures all unpopular with motorists and our own Surrey County Council which has successfully requested a Judicial Review on the ULEZ policy. In my view, this is a politically motivated, wasteful use of our money.

The Dragon interviewed Mr Horsley who admitted to previous membership of the Tory party. His last video claimed the North Street development was based on design features that would create a new Grenfell. He claimed the councillors had failed to take due note of this.

The Dragon also asked the developers if changes to the design would be made to their North Street plans if the government issued new guidelines. The developers responded saying changes were already being made to plans to ensure compliance.

But the point is that these kind of issues are not relevant to a planning decision. Why? Because all new buildings must comply with building regulations which are a separate part of any building scheme.

I found Mr Horsley’s videos spectacularly uninformed and misleading. I did my best on social media to correct obvious points, but they were circulated on the “Nextdoor” network and were very effective.

I was aware of three videos. According to published data he appears to have spent between £3,100 and £4,500 but what was the message?

I was unimpressed by comments made by hopeful Tory candidates regarding the Grenfell video. They should have openly and transparently informed the public about the building regulation point but didn’t.

According to The Dragon, my own councillor Keith Witham (Con, Normandy & Pirbright) circulated a link to the first video and later said: “said: “It’s a very interesting and informative video that people should watch and make up their own minds.”

Robin Horsley was not a member of the council and until shortly before the planning application went to committee appears to have taken no interest in the subject, otherwise, he would have been aware of the debate and the requirement of the council to liaise with developers and give advice pre-application (again Conservative government policy).

I can only conclude that the videos either displayed huge ignorance or were deliberately misleading, perhaps both. I would like Mr Horsley to tell us what his real motivation was because it cannot be simply altruistic.

His previous political associations, he is a supporter of Boris Johnson, amongst others, and also an ardent Brexiteer, surely raise that as a fair question. He now has a social media page called on Facebook.

He may not have been funded by others and, of course, he can express an opinion, I support his right to do so, but I am left feeling very unhappy about this.

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Responses to Letter: Yes, Fake News Was in Circulation on Social Media During These Elections

  1. Wayne Smith Reply

    May 10, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    Does anyone know if the £3100-£4500 spent by Robin Horsley includes the cost of the leaflets that he had printed to promote his over-dramatic videos?

    A stack of which was left in the SCC Visitors Centre at Newlands Corner. An interesting use of council property during local elections!

    Editor’s response: The sum reported was for the online promotion of videos only.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    May 11, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Robin Horsley emerged from these elections a thoroughly discredited figure. His impact on those elections is unknowable and he is no longer of any importance. We should now stop feeding his narcissism by uselessly speculating about his bizarre and probably tangled motives.

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