Fringe Box



New Borough Council Administration Kicks-off by Re-electing Lib Dem Leader

Published on: 18 May, 2023
Updated on: 20 May, 2023

Cllr Julia McShane

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford Borough Council’s leader was compared to a stick of rock with the words “resident and friend of Guildford” running through her as she was formally elected by members.

The Lib Dem group leader, Cllr Julia McShane, was chosen by councillors to continue as leader, after her party secured a majority in May’s local elections to take sole control.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday (May 17) she said she was “delighted that the residents of Guildford and our villages” had shown they agreed with the party’s focus on making the borough “greener, fairer and thriving for all communities”.

Before May’s election, the Liberal Democrats were working in coalition with the Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) party, which saw its number of seats fall from 14 to seven.

Cllr McShane first became leader of the council in October, as part of a power-sharing deal between the two parties after the R4GV leader, Cllr Joss Bigmore, stood down under the terms of the agreement.

Putting forward the motion to have her elected as council leader, Cllr Catherine Houston (Liberal Democrats, Shalford) said Cllr McShane was a “rarity” in the council chamber having been born, raised and educated in the borough.

She told the meeting: “If she were a stick of rock the words ‘resident and friend of Guildford’ are the words that would be cast through her.”

Elected for a fourth term, and with her sister Cllr Sandy Lowry (Lib Dem, Westborough) also on the council, Cllr Houston highlighted the community roles Cllr McShane had held including running a parent and toddler group, volunteering at church events and being school governor at Guildford Grove Primary school for more than 20 years.

Cllr Houston added: “One of the things Julia is most insistent on is that this council exists to serve all its residents, not just those with the loudest voices.

“With her at its helm then those residents have the best chances of being found and of being heard.”

Cllr McShane was voted in unanimously by councillors and said it was a “privilege” to be elected to the role for a second time.

She told the meeting: “We may have a majority in this chamber but we know we don’t have a monopoly on wisdom.

“That is why I and this administration will always seek to work collaboratively with those who are interested in working to make our borough an even better place to live.”

She named her deputy leader as Cllr Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, St Nicolas) and the rest of her Executive, made up as follows: Cllr Angela Goodwin (Onslow); Cllr Carla Morson (Ash Vale); Cllr Catherine Houston (Shalford); Cllr George Potter (Burpham); Cllr Merel Rehorst-Smith (Effingham); Cllr Richard Lucas (Ash Vale).

Five of the eight Executive posts are held by women. Details of the allocated potfolios will be announced next week.

Cllr Fiona White (Lib Dem, Ash Wharf) remains as chair of the Planning Committee. Cllr Catherine Young (R4GV, Clandon& Horsley) is the new chair of the Licensing Committee.

The former council leader, and group leader of the Residents for Guildford and Villages party, Cllr Joss Bigmore (Merrow), missed out on a role as chairman of the corporate governance and standards committee.

In a three-way contest, Cllr Bigmore was eliminated in the first round of voting, Cllr Phil Bellamy (Lib Dem, Ash Wharf) went on to be elected as chair of the committee, with Cllr Bob Hughes (Con, Tillingbourne) taking the role of vice-chair.

Phil Brooker is the leader of the ten-councillor Conservative group. The three-councillor Labour and GGG (Guildford Greenbelt Group) groups are led by James Walsh and Patrick Oven respectively.

Share This Post

Responses to New Borough Council Administration Kicks-off by Re-electing Lib Dem Leader

  1. Martin Dowland Reply

    May 19, 2023 at 9:57 am

    Julia is a welcome leader (apart from Joss Bigmore) the best leader we have had for a long time. That’s more than can be said for much of the Executive.

    It is overloaded with very, very questionable ability, interest and a serious lack of understanding of what ‘rural’ means. This grouping is overloaded with urban bias, largely because of the distribution of its councillors.

    We need to be on the case of those who do have responsibility to care for the borough’s lungs, so we get realistic decisions, something which is currently absent.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *