Fringe Box



Opposition Gives Cautious Welcome To New Council Regime

Published on: 15 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 25 Oct, 2012

GBC Council Chamber Millmead

The Liberal Democrat and Labour Groups at Guildford Borough Council have reacted to announcements from the new Council Leader Stephen Mansbridge about a fresh approach from his new regime, with a cautious welcome.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Lib Dem Group said:”The Guildford Lib Dems welcome the opportunity for a change in management style of the Council Executive and look forward to the promised openness, transparency and most importantly dialogue with our residents.

“As elected members for our various communities we have heard directly the concerns of residents who have felt disengaged from their council, and we relish the opportunity for councillors and residents to have a real input into decision making.

“The current economic climate means that some of those decisions will not be easy and we hope that the new Executive will live up to their promise of real scrutiny of the workings of the council. We also hope that our officers will be able to work more freely with us to ensure that we are all doing what is best for the Borough of Guildford.”

Angela Gunning leader of the two councillor Labour Group said: “The Labour Group welcomed Cllr Mansbridge’s positive statements at the Council Meeting of 11th October. We have been very concerned over the past 18 months at the great gulf, intended or not, between the Executive and the rest of the council, namely the backbenchers.
“We look forward to closer cooperation, with more openness to ideas and proposals. We hope that the scrutiny function will become a challenging activity in which non-executive members will participate with enthusiasm.
“GVG [Guildford Vision Group] have made the Council ‘sit up’ and look at the proposed documents with more critical eyes. We hope that the Council can work with GVG for the long-term good of Guildford.”

The most contentious issue on the current council agenda is the adoption of new reference documents for town centre planning. The council are taking their own advice from legal counsel but surprisingly nearly six weeks later, no announcement has, so far, been made.

There has been a degree of cross party cooperation on the plans in the past and most dissent has not come from within the council but from the Guildford Vision Group. However, it is understood that the leadership takeover successfully conducted by Stephen Mansbridge has opened new and better lines of communication.

The performance of the scrutiny committees, the role of which is to scrutinise proposals before they are are enacted by the Executive, is likely to be another area that will provoke debate. There is widespread discontent amongst councillors, on all sides, that the scrutiny committees have not worked well enough in allowing representation of rank and file councillor views, concerns and criticisms to be properly represented.

Some Lib Dem Councillors have expressed views that this is largely caused by the Executive system itself. But there is likely to be agreement that changes to the existing system are required for it to work effectively.

Shadow Executive

Following the announcement of the new Executive team, the Lib Dem Group have re-issued their ‘Shadow Executive’ list. There has only been one change. Zoe Franklin replaces Mark Chapman as Deputy Leader of the group.

David Goodwin Leader
Zoe Franklin Deputy Leader
Anne Meredith  and Mark Chapman
Finance and Scrutiny
Steve Freeman Housing and Social Welfare
Tony Philips Sport, Leisure and Culture
Wendy May Environment
Liz Hogger Planning Committee spokesperson
Caroline Reeves Planning Policy, and Parking


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