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Lib Dem Councillor Quits Over Wisley Bid Citing ‘Incompatible Relationship’ with Leader

Published on: 30 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 30 Oct, 2018

Cllrs Caroline Reeves and Colin Cross an “incompatible relationship”

A Liberal Democrat councillor has resigned from the party’s group at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) citing an “incompatible relationship” with the group’s leader, Caroline Reeves.

Tensions within the group have been obvious for some time. Lib Dems frequently vote in different ways, claiming that they do not impose a party whip. But it seems last night’s announcement that the GBC Executive was going to decide on a bid for a Garden Village at the former Wisley Airfield was the last straw for Cllr Colin Cross, whose Lovelace ward includes the site.

A statement, given exclusively to The Guildford Dragon NEWS, said: “GBC councillor Colin Cross, Lovelace Ward, has announced his resignation from the Liberal Democrat Group at GBC with immediate effect.

“He is not affiliating with any other group at present but will continue to stand up for Ripley, Ockham and Wisley Villages.

“He has cited the incompatible relationship with the current Lib Dem Group Leader as the main reason for his decision and wishes his fellow Lib Dem councillors good luck in the upcoming elections.”

Cllr Reeves’ decision not to call in the decision to make the bid to the Overview & Scrutiny committee, which she chairs, appears to have been the final straw for Cllr Cross.

She said to do so would have prevented the bid being made because of the November 9 deadline. Others point out that the prospectus was issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in August.

Cllr Cross was absent for the vote in November last year (2017) on whether GBC should submit the draft Local Plan for examination. But two of his party colleagues, David Goodwin and Tony Phillips, both ward councillors for Onslow, voted against, and all other Lib Dems voted in favour.

The resignation will not have any implication on the Conservative grip on power at Millmead. The party standings are now: Conservatives 32, Liberal Democrats 8, Guildford Greenbelt Group 3, Labour 2 and Independents 3.

But it is not yet clear if Cllr Cross will join the new Independent group created by Cllrs Rooth and McShee. If he does, it will affect the number of committee memberships the group has, in particular, it would secure a seat on the Planning Committee, something the Tory leadership appears to have been keen to deny.

Cllrs Cros and Reeves in happier times at the Lib Dem Lovelace by-election victory in 2014.

In 2014 Cross secured a spectacular by-election victory overturning a 55% Tory majority in what had been one of the Conservatives’ safest seats.

In the 2015 borough council election, Cllr Cross defended his seat easily. The strength of feeling within his ward over local plan proposals was reflected by the demotion to third place of the Conservative candidate, Julie Iles. Helen Jeffries, of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, came second, sharing many of Cllr Cross’s views on local green belt development.

Lovelace election result 2015

From the outset, it was clear that Colin Cross did not see eye to eye with his leader, Cllr Reeves, over the Local Plan but this was dismissed, Cllr Reeves saying such differences of opinion were allowed in the Lib Dem group.

Cllr Reeves has been invited to comment.

See also: Short Notice Given of Council Bid to Secure Government Funding for Wisley Development

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Responses to Lib Dem Councillor Quits Over Wisley Bid Citing ‘Incompatible Relationship’ with Leader

  1. John Perkins Reply

    October 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Well done Colin Cross! It’s a pleasure to see principle taking precedence at GBC.

    Another reallocation of committee seats might now be required. Were Cllr Cross to join the Independent group before the next council meeting it would mean that it would be almost impossible to deny one seat on the Planning Committee to that group.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 30, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Good For Colin Cross

    His natural home is with GGG, but if not, then I do hope he’ll continue as an Independent.

  3. David J King Reply

    November 1, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Bravo, Cllr Cross.

    The electorate wants many more independents to oust the incompetent, conniving party apparatchiks.

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