Fringe Box



Borough Council Leader Formally Elected and New Executive Announced

Published on: 11 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 16 Oct, 2012

Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South & Tongham) was formally elected, unopposed, this evening (October 11) to be the new Council Leader of Guildford Borough Council. The election was a formality following Cllr Mansbridge’s election as the Conservative Group leader in the wake of Cllr Tony Rooth’s resignation.

Immediately following Cllr Mansbridge’s election at the full council meeting,  a new Executive team was also announced. The team has expanded in size from eight to nine councillors, six of whom retain their Executive positions, four with the same portfolio. Two of the new appointments, Cllrs Furniss (Con, Christchurch) and Juneja (Con, Burpham) bring younger blood into the mix.

Following some criticism regarding the under representation of town centre wards on the Executive, the changes  increase the number of town centre ward councillors on the executive from one to three. But Cllr Mansbridge has not invited members from other political parties on to the Executive, although he is a liberty to do so.

Cllr Tony Rooth (Con, Pilgrim’s) said, as the ‘retiring’ leader: “To retire as a leader of a borough council is a major step but in my case a relatively easy one to make.”

He went on to list the achievements of the council under his leadership and said: “So what better time than now to go out on a high?”

No mention was made of the Guildford Vision Group challenge regarding the legality of town planning documents or Cllr Palmer’s resignation from the Executive that is believed to have led to Cllr Rooth’s resignation. (Cllr Rooth’s full speech can be seen below)

Cllr David Goodwin (Friary & St Nicolas) Lib Dem Group Leader responded to the election result, saying: “Congratulations on your election as Leader. I look forward to us working together. At the beginning it did not sound as if there was going to be much change when your first comment to the press was ‘Business as usual’. That’s exactly what we didn’t want to hear.”

“What we would like to hear is better scrutiny carried out [by the scrutiny committees] and a better relationship with the residents of this borough…we are here to provide services for them…I am looking for more responsibility and more decision making powers to be given to all elected councillors, especially those on the back benches. Good luck.

The new executive is listed below. The pen pictures have been provided by the Conservative Group.

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge

Councillor Stephen MANSBRIDGE

Council Leader

Stephen lives in Poyle Road, Tongham and believes strongly in supporting the local community through public service.

He was first elected to the Council in 2007 for South Ash and Tongham and has been involved in key issues such as the campaign to stop oil drilling on the Hog’s Back.

He trained at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and then served sixteen years in the British Army as a Coldstream Guards Officer with a distinguished operational record, including being Mentioned in Despatches. He has served around the world including tours in south-east Asia, America, the Mediterranean and Northern Ireland.

He has been in business for the last 14 years and currently runs a career strategy consultancy in central London for senior business people as well as being a Vice Patron for The Conservation Foundation, an environmental charity started by David Bellamy, helping a start-up child abuse charity and being a Vice President of the Coldstream Guards Association in the West Midlands. He also runs a HNW (high net worth) investor forum called AGMSV, which invests in early stage businesses.

He has been interviewed by the national media regarding top level employment issues. He has appeared on The Politics Show, News 24, The Today Programme and Five Live, as well as in articles ranging from Forbes magazine to The Times of India. He is also a regular commentator for the BBC on banking pay and bonuses.

Stephen is the new Leader of the Council, having been Deputy Leader for the last 6 months and having held the portfolio as Lead Member for Stronger Communities and Services.

Cllr James Palmer

Councillor James PALMER

Deputy Council Leader & Lead Member for Town Centre and Transport

James has been Borough Councillor for Shalford since May 2011 and was appointed Lead Member for the Town Centre and Transport in May 2012.

He lives in Guildford and was educated at the Royal Grammar School. Before returning to Guildford James lived in Mayford and he was a Borough Councillor in Woking, where he has an established record of serving the community. James was also the Lead Councillor for Environmental Issues and a college governor.

He loves the beautiful villages and countryside around Shalford, Compton, Artington, Peasmarsh and Chilworth and is determined to protect our local environment, particularly the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the historic town centre. He has campaigned to preserve our local countryside in Surrey and is a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. He is also a Friend of Watts Gallery, Compton.

James is a solicitor at a firm in the Borough, specialising in dispute resolution, which he believes is useful in local politics.

He relaxes by spending time with his family, including his 3 year old niece who is one of Shalford’s youngest residents.

Cllr Richard Billington

Councillor Richard BILLINGTON

Lead Member for Community Safety and Health

Richard has lives in Gomshall with his partner Lynda. He loves the Surrey countryside and enjoys country pursuits especially walking his Patterdale cross terrier in the Hurtwood. A former Captain in the Territorial Army, Richard’s early career was in marketing with BT, but for the last ten years he has run a care home in Surrey providing high intensity care for children with autism and learning difficulties.

He brings a wealth of local government experience to Guildford having been a London Borough Councillor for eight years where he was made an Honorary Alderman. He served on a variety of committees including housing and planning. During that time he also became heavily involved with policing and the local community, chairing the Community Police Engagement Group and also becoming an Independent Custody Visitor. In 2008 he joined the board of the Croydon Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership. He has since resigned from these duties to concentrate fulltime on Guildford after his election to Guildford council in May 2011

He is vice chairman of the Licensing committee and in the recent reorganisation he was appointed to the executive with responsibility for a wide portfolio. This includes Policing, Licensing and Public Health. He is relishing the chance to contribute to reducing crime and increasing the health and well being of Guildford residents. He will also be working with our partners to ensure a vibrant but safe night-time economy in the town centre.

Cllr Sarah Creedy

Councillor Sarah CREEDY

Lead Member for Housing and Social Welfare

Sarah left Cambridge to study at Guildford’s law college and then moved into Holy Trinity ward with her family in 1995. She gave up work as a solicitor to become more active in local matters and was first elected as a Councillor in 2003.

She has successfully campaigned to preserve the Spike as a community centre, overseen the adoption of local footpaths, worked to secure the future of Tyting Farm and battled on the planning committee against inappropriate development within the ward. Sarah is a member of the Holy Trinity Amenity Group and works closely with its committee on local issues.

While Chairman of the Licensing Committee Sarah often urged caution about extending the hours for pubs and nightclubs. She is now a member of the Council’s Executive committee with responsibility for Housing and Community Care – a job which has increased her admiration for the huge army of volunteers working in many areas in the town.

Sarah is married with three children the youngest of whom is still at school. She is an active Governor for two local schools and serves as a trustee of Abbots Hospital and Guildford Poyle Charities.

Cllr Matt Furniss

Councillor Matt FURNISS

Lead Member for Environmental and Support Services

Matt was first elected as a Borough Councillor for Christchurch in 2007 and has lived in Guildford for over 12 years.

Matt works for Roots & Wings Organic which is a premium food company. He looks after the major UK multiples along with the National and International wholesalers.

Matt has served as Chairman of Customer and Community Scrutiny Committee for four years and has also been Chairman of Licensing. He has also served on nearly all Council Committees over the past five years giving a good understanding on the workings of Guildford. He will remain as the Planning Committee member for Christchurch and as a member on the Licensing Committee.

Matt is also a governor St. Peters Catholic Comprehensive in Merrow, and on the Civilian Committee of 261 Squadron Air Cadets in Guildford.

Matt is taking up the role of Lead Member for Environment and Support Services covering Parks & Countryside which is an central Borough Asset and Waste and Recycling Services delivering our pledge to meet 70% recycling by 2015.

Cllr Monika Juneja

Councillor Monika JUNEJA

Lead Member for Development and Governance

Monika was elected in May 2011 in her home Ward Burpham, she is a local girl who went to George Abbot School and has seen first hand how her Ward has changed and grown over the past years. Monika has played an active role in her community and is passionate about what matters to her residents.

Monika was called to the Bar in 2002. She works as a barrister with a vast knowledge of both Criminal and Government law, and regularly attends court and deals with young offenders, she understands how a split second choice can change lives and how strong characters can influence and help guide future paths individuals can choose to take.

She believes that government should be a facilitator for individuals, families, business and communities to achieve their full potential.

Monika was recently elected Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and intends to make sure that communication and engagement is a strong force within the team. She is also now Lead Member for Development & Governance. The portfolio brings challenges and requires fresh eyes and a greater understanding of how to move some of the key areas forward. She is passionate about having Consultation as one of her elements within her portfolio and believes this is a key driver to getting things right going forward.

Cllr Nigel Manning

Councillor Nigel MANNING

Lead Member for Finance

Nigel has been a Guildford Borough and Ash Parish Councillor for the last 11 years. Since 2002 he has also been Chairman of the Parish Council. Under his stewardship the Parish Council has gone from strength to strength, providing a strong and democratic voice for the local community. The parish rate has also gone down in real terms and has in fact actually reduced this year, yet the Council has continued to increase the number of amenities and services it provides.

These have included extending the summer hanging baskets to all main roads throughout Ash Parish. All recreation grounds have now been upgraded to include new play equipment for both our younger children and teenagers. Across the Parish, the 600 residential lights continue to be upgraded with the old concrete columns being completely replaced and new ‘White Lights’ being installed which help reduce anti-social behaviour. The Christmas Fantasia and Summer Fun Day have become very popular annual events.

At Guildford Borough Council Nigel has been on the Executive as lead member for Procurement and Projects. Here he has used his financial expertise and commonsense in securing value for money for all Borough residents. This has enabled a steady reduction in the Borough Council Tax to below inflation increases with a zero rate this current year.

Nigel is a trustee of Ash Citizen Advice Bureau, the James Payne Memorial fund and the Henry Smith’s charity.

Cllr Jen Powell

Councillor Jennifer POWELL

Lead Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture

Jen has represented the Clandon and Horsley ward on Guildford Borough Council since 1987. Having lived and worked in the area as a resident of West Horsley for the last 42 years, she appreciates all aspects of life in the villages.

For many years Jen was a school teacher teaching Home Economics until 1989 in Surrey

Jen was appointed to the Bench in 1980 and served as a Magistrate until 2009.

Jen is a member of the Executive and has responsibility for Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Her personal and passionate interest in the arts and Guildford’s history enables her to appreciate their value for Guildford.

As Chairman of Guildford in Bloom, she has seen the town win top awards and, with the chairmanship of Guildford International Music Festival, has brought a wider choice of music to the Borough. She recognises the importance of tourism as it brings the Borough economic benefit.

Jen has two married children and six grandchildren, giving her great enjoyment but less time for golf!

Cllr Nick Sutcliffe

Councillor Nick SUTCLIFFE

Lead Member For Planning Strategy & Policy

Nick was first elected as a Borough Councillor for Ash in 1999 and has been a Borough Councillor for Ash South & Tongham since May 2003.

Nick was Lead Member for environmental services for two and a half years from May 2010 leading the council’s expansion in its mixed plastics recycling service across the Borough and the decision to invest £4.5 million in a new vehicle fleet for recycling and garden waste.

Nick spent six years until 2010 as Chairman of Guildford Borough’s environment and housing scrutiny committee.

Nick is taking up the role of Lead Member for the Local Plan to ensure that the Borough’s planning policy is brought up to date so as to reduce the risk of widespread unplanned development which could be detrimental to the Borough.



“To retire as leader of a Borough Council is a major step but in my case a relatively easy one to make.

As council leader, you are always under pressure and stress from various sources. You have to look at what you have achieved to date, what you want to do in the future and the timing of any retirement.

Guildford borough council has faced many challenges in the last nine years whilst I have been lead member for finance and resources, deputy leader and now leader for the last two and half years. However, we have many achievements to be proud over those years built on the leadership of Andrew Hodges’ and myself since 2010

In the last 2 years Guildford became

–  the first district council in England to gain the AAA credit  rating

– rated as the top performing non – metropolitan borough in the UK

– only one of five English councils to achieve customer accreditation across the whole council

We also opened on time and under budget G Live entertainment venue, which had 136,000 visitors in its first year.

We froze our council tax for both the last two years, having kept it down at or below inflation since our election in 2003.

We now receive nearly £ 1 million per year, for the next ten years, from outsourcing our leisure services in particular the spectrum.

This year saw Guildford take to the national and international stage with the Olympic cycle races, Olympic Torch and the Tour of Britain

There is more to come in future from our efforts to date – our new recycling service, John Lewis already confirming they want to come to Guildford, our University wanting to set up new veterinary school and yesterday’s announcement that Guildford may be the first town in the world to have working 5g communications!

So what better time than to go out on a high!

I would like to thank the tremendous helpful advice and assistance from our excellent staff. I place on record my thanks and appreciation to David Hill and all his team for the superb work they have put in to help make this council the success I think it has become

I would also thank all those who have worked with me in leadership roles; Cllr Jenny Wicks for her hard work and expertise on waste and planning, Cllr. Jen Powell for her fantastic involvement in culture, leisure and Olympics; Cllr. Sarah Creedy for making so much and more to come of the new portfolio of housing and social care; to name only three of my hard-working colleagues.

Suffice it to say that I have now abandoned the almost full time job of council leader mainly to have some time for myself, my elderly mother, my grown up daughters and to have some fun  – I now even swing a golf club and so many staff say how happy and well I now look having taken off the chains of office

I wish Cllr. Mansbridge and his new Executive success in the future. I hope that they will enjoy what they do and that, with my agreed assistance to help him with business and economic development, he will also manage the necessary time with his business in London and his wife and three lovely children at home.”

Cllr. Tony Rooth

Retiring Leader, Guildford Borough Council

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