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Local Politicians Comment on PM’s Dragon Interview

Published on: 1 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 3 Dec, 2023

Local political parties were invited to comment on the responses given yesterday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Dragon editor Martin Giles.

See: Exclusive: Prime Minister Says: ‘There’s a Clear Choice for Guildford Voters at Next Election.’

Dragon editor questions the Prime Minister, while Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson looks on.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “There is indeed a clear choice at the next election in Guildford – it’s the clear choice between the Conservatives or change with the Liberal Democrats.

“The Conservatives who have let down Guildford and our villages, or people can vote for change with an experienced local champion in Zöe Franklin and the Lib Dems.

“As Guildford’s MP, Zöe will be our strong voice in Parliament, calling for more investment in the NHS and helping people with the cost of living. Zöe and the Lib Dems have a plan to give Guildford and our villages a greener, fairer, thriving future.

“Whereas, the Conservatives have left the NHS on its knees, made the cost of living crisis worse with Liz Truss’ awful budget and allowed sewage to be dumped into the River Wey. It’s time for change and to remove this Conservative Government, which is out of touch and out of ideas.”

Brian Creese, former chair of Guildford Labour, also took up an NHS issue, GP waiting times and the PM’s response that new telephone systems would help. He said: “The difficulty with the new telephone/online systems at GP surgeries is that some patients like the elderly or disabled may find these particularly difficult to manage. We must make sure that patients who need them can still have face-to-face interactions.

“We welcome the new services from pharmacies, but it doesn’t help when pharmacies are closing – we have seen several in Guildford which are closing due to lack of support from the government.

“We do not think the Prime Minister understands the difficulty of finding housing in Guildford, particularly those working in areas such as nursing, teaching or local government. We need more housing to resolve the housing crisis and should use the brownfield sites which are already designated in Guildford to provide them.

“However, we are glad to hear that the PM understands that if you want an MP in government in Guildford the only choice is Conservative or Labour.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Joss Bigmore, leader of the Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) party, said: “R4GV are not going to get involved in commenting on the general election and national issues but I think the upcoming Local Plan review is a key test where our residents will be able to see if the national parties put their money where their mouth is.

“The PM has said there will be no imposition of top-down housing targets, therefore I presume that the Lib Dems could remove all allocations from as yet undeveloped sites and test this claim, or they will have to be open and commit to those sites if they believe there is shortage of housing in the borough.

“It will be interesting to see how their strategy emerges as its clear a significant proportion of the Borough residents believes we have too much development in both our rural and urban areas as our physical and social infrastructure is already under extreme pressure.”

After the exclusive Dragon interview the prime minister was interviewed by other local journalists.

Yesterday the PM also commented on local government financing. He was asked: “In this area, we have Woking Borough Council, you may have heard, which used to be run by the Conservatives. It’s got enormous debts. I wanted to know what you made of that situation and whether more should have been said in the autumn statement about funding for councils like Woking facing such huge problems and facing massive cuts to services?”

Mr Sunak responded: “The first thing is, for local council here, the total resources available are up by about six and a half per cent, from memory. So the idea that somehow they’ve been cut is not quite right, there is more money going into local government.

“Weeks after I became prime minister, we announced a huge amount of extra funding, particularly for social care, which is a big pressure for local councils up and down the country of wanting to put extra funding into that because you know, that was important to people.

“But ultimately, local councils are responsible for management of their own finances and making sure they look after taxpayers’ money. And that’s the same here as it is anywhere else.”

Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson, added: “If I keep it local to Guildford, we’ve got a Lib Dem-run [borough] council at the moment. They’ve got deficit issues, there’s an alleged fraud case, there’s £320,000 of taxpayers’ money being put towards the legal costs of that case, you know,  it’s about really good management of people’s resources so that they can get the services.”

Challenged that GBC’s financial issues were nothing like those of Woking she said: “Woking has a debt issue, Guildford has a deficit issue. So the situation is different for both of them.”

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Responses to Local Politicians Comment on PM’s Dragon Interview

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    December 1, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    My major concern is once again political Honesty. The other morning the PM stated we will stop excessive immigration. Then in the afternoon he opened the door for multitudes of those “suitable qualified” to experience the UK. You can’t have both.

    Which ever level and what ever subject – is there any person involved with politics who actually knows the difference between “the factual truth” and the “technical exactitude” of Churchill’s time?

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      December 3, 2023 at 3:34 pm

      Jim’s getting his “facts” wrong. The phrase Churchill used in parliament as a euphemism for a lie was “terminological inexactitude”.

  2. Helena Townsend Reply

    December 2, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    Voting for the Liberal Democrats is the same as voting for Labour in a general election. So I’m not sure why Zoe Franklin thinks she’ll have any impact at all. We sadly need an MP aligned to the party with a majority, Lib Dems may gain seats but they won’t win the general election.

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      December 3, 2023 at 3:25 pm

      Unfortunately that’s a very old trope. Perhaps Ms Townsend has forgotten which party the Lib Dems went into coalition with when they last had the chance? It certainly wasn’t Labour.

  3. Stephen Rowden Reply

    December 4, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    The response of the local Lib Dems and Labour representatives to Martin Giles’ interview with our Prime Minister and our Member of Parliament Angela Richardson are sadly predictable in their lack of clarity and meaningful content.

    Phrases from the Lib Dems such as, “left the NHS on its knees”, need “more investment in the NHS” and measures “helping people with the cost of living” make explosive headlines. But the reality, for example, from my recent contact with all levels of the NHS in Guildford and London has been one of quick and effective treatment. I know that to be the same for my friends of advancing age.

    I have also observed the substantial government investments associated with the cost of living made in recent years. Never enough, but imagine if we did not have it.

    A cursory view of the local and parliamentary newsletter published by our MP shows the wide breadth of support she gives to Guildford both locally and nationally. The various groups and forums she has influenced can only be of benefit to Guildford residents

    I would meanwhile encourage Guildford residents to view the borough council meeting web casts to judge the performance of the Lib Dem controlled council and the local issues that our MP raises.

    Stephen Rowden is a former Conservative candidate for the borough council

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