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Opinion: A Post-election Vision for Guildford

Published on: 13 May, 2019
Updated on: 14 May, 2019

The leaders of the Residents for Guildford and Villages Party (R4GV) and the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), Joss Bigmore and Susan Parker set out their stall for the way forward at Guildford Borough Council.

R4GV and GGG are extremely grateful for the faith the voters of Guildford Borough placed in us on May 2. Incredibly, together, we won 19 seats. Whilst this does not give us a majority, the 26,500 votes we got, even though we put up only 23 candidates, is a clear victory for our independent parties.

The voters did not give an overall majority to any party. This is a once in a generation chance to embrace a brave new world of cooperation, both with each other and more importantly with you as residents.

Guildford Borough emphatically rejected the Conservatives, their approach to the Local Plan, and the decades of domination of the council Executive by a single party.

We seek a balanced council Executive drawing on the talent and expertise of R4GV, GGG and the Liberal Democrats. We would even suggest rotating the leadership to give substance to our commitment to real change. The council must move away from the over-centralised and unresponsive system that gave us the widely-disliked Local Plan.

On the crucial issue of the Local Plan, we would immediately seek fresh, independent legal advice on our options. This advice would also cover our approach to the Judicial Review we seem likely to face. We must engage again with the Secretary of State; we have to do everything in our power to minimise the intrusion into the green belt and our villages.

Another immediate priority would be to set-up regular community forums to ensure that your views are heard regularly and used to formulate future policy. We would also review all of the controversial Tory legacies such as the Walnut Bridge, the complete absence of a Town Centre Masterplan and the proposed new railway bridge in Ash.

We campaigned on pledges to bring honesty, transparency, integrity, selflessness and accountability back to Guildford Borough Council. In that spirit, we are sharing our vision.

Currently, the Liberal Democrats do not share our views, preferring to try and govern alone, perhaps relying on Conservative votes to do so. We really hope they think again; public opinion of politicians is at an all-time low, but we have a chance in Guildford to start to rebuild trust.

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Responses to Opinion: A Post-election Vision for Guildford

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 13, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    It is highly probable that many who voted Lib Dem would have voted GGG or R4GV, but did not believe, as a new party, they would be successful. Indeed, I can still scarcely believe the scale of their victories.

    For R4GV to get 15 out of 17 candidates elected, mostly in solid Tory wards is astonishing, and demonstrates the level of dissatisfaction with the previous regime.

    What is clear is that this result was more about the Local Plan, and returning democracy to Guildford, than any other issue.

    It would be a travesty if these new councillors were denied a voice, in terms of seats on the Executive.

  2. Lisa wright Reply

    May 13, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Jules must remember that neither GGG or R4GV fielded a full set of candidates in many wards where the Lib Dem’s did well.

    Would residents have voted for more GGG or R4GV councillors if they’d had the chance?

  3. Paul Bishop Reply

    May 17, 2019 at 10:09 am

    A piece from R4GV and GGG (can’t they just team up to give us fewer acronyms to deal with?) which focusses on the Local Plan and new building. Why are they not discussing the ever-increasing homelessness seen around Guildford, what can they really do about affordable housing?

    The more I read about R4GV the more I think they actually just care about the villages and don’t seem to even consider the rest of The borough.

    • Julian Lyon Reply

      May 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Interesting comment from Mr Bishop. The R4GV councillors do represent the town centre, Guildford Urban Area, Ash & Tongham Urban Area and, yes, rural villages – the widest distribution of councillors at Millmead this time around.

      Some of the R4GV councillors have a clear focus on the villages, but others are concentrated more in the town. Some have a built-environment background, and others are very much community-focused.

      One interesting piece of Local Plan evidence that is really telling in its failure to describe issues in villages but particularly in the urban areas, is the Settlement Profiles Report ( which treats all parts of Guildford’s urban area as if they are the same.

      Cllr Gunning pointed out the levels of deprivation in Stoke Ward. This is not the only place. Three parts of Westborough and one of Stoke are in the most deprived 25% of sub-areas (LSOAs) in the country. Fifteen such areas are in the most deprived in the country for children and young people – these are in wards represented by Lib Dems, Labour, R4GV, and Conservatives. Some GGG and Greens areas are not so much better (try googling ‘Indices of Multiple Deprivation and Sub-Domains’). These are not indicators of how well-off people are (or not), they are indicators of where, by some measures, the areas fall behind.

      I would count myself as an R4GV supporter, and I have been trying to bring these deprivation indices to the attention of our plan-makers, who have the scope to help alleviate the issues such as with outdoor environment where 18 sub-areas are in the most deprived 25% (2, both in Friary & St Nicolas, in the most deprived 10%) in the country.

      This is a problem for us all. This is a range of issues where “business as usual” has failed to deal with the finding solutions. This is precisely why the constructive dialogue of the politically-inexperienced enthusiasm of R4GV and the established councillors of the Lib Dems, together representing a broad local geography, should be the impetus for improvement to so many residents’ lives.

      I look forward to progressive, thoughtful and effective leadership of the council. I hope R4GV are involved in that administration.

    • Ian Price Reply

      May 17, 2019 at 7:26 pm

      The Tories were in charge of this council for many years and yet did nothing about the deprivation and homeless. Where were paul Bishop’s comments when they were in power?

    • Ben Paton Reply

      May 18, 2019 at 5:58 am

      What evidence can Paul Bishop produce in support of the assumption behind his statements that the Conservative and Lib Dem run Council has been doing about any of these issues for the past fifteen years?

      What election commitments have either made to do anything real about any of it?

      The only person that in a comment has even gone to the ward level and sub-ward level national statistics and actually looked at measures of deprivation has been Mr Lyon. He has produced and published detailed presentations on these matters. The council has not produced any analysis of this data that I have seen. Nor has Mr Bishop.

      The R4GV and GGG manifestos have been informed by detailed analysis by the Guildford Residents Association (eg the MacDonal Report) and by Guildford Vision Group. It is rational and evidence-based. And the Conservative Group and Lib Dems in Guildford have studiously ignored it.

      Rather than trying to slur those who have argued from the facts that the Local Plan is not founded on sustainable principles and flouts the NPPF, Mr Bishop might come up with some serious analysis of his own.

      His approach is the same as Messrs Mansbridge and Spooner: play the man and not the ball.

      Ben Paton was a GGG candidate for Effingham in the recent borough council election.

    • John Perkins Reply

      May 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Perhaps Mr Bishop can explain how the Local Plan provides affordable housing and resolves homelessness? At the same time, he might tell us why homelessness is increasing after so many years of absolute rule by a national party.

      • Paul Bishop Reply

        May 19, 2019 at 10:10 pm

        Three out of the four replies mention the Local Plan when my entire point was that we are focussing far too heavily on this in local politics.

        The respondents have all just perfectly reinforced my point for me and my entire concern with R4GV and GGG. I don’t believe the Conservatives did a particularly good job at dealing with a number of the ‘other’ issues (the many things which aren’t the Local Plan). But I do believe, that for anyone to come to the table saying they are going to do a better job, it would be nice to see some detail and policy about these things. Currently, I’ve seen nothing.

        I don’t have the time to devote to being an effective councillor and such I would never run to be one. Many people from R4GV have run for these positions and so have taken on a responsibility to deliver on wider issues, not just the Local Plan.

        It’s no surprise that Mr Paton didn’t win a seat when his view of valid contribution is coming up with “serious analysis” of the NPPF and how our Local Plan apparently flouts it. I’d prefer to spend my spare time volunteering with the youngsters at our local schools than doing that, I’m afraid.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    May 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Homelessness could have been tackled to a large extent by the Conservatives in the long years they were in charge, mainly by building low-rise flats on brownfield sites in the town centre, and not encouraging developers to build large houses in the villages.

    They could also have supported Housing Associations. They failed.

    • Paul Bishop Reply

      May 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      They have indeed failed. I’d love to see how R4GV propose to deal with it. And by this, I mean details, what brownfield sites? When can building start on these?

      It’s very easy to throw criticism around but R4GV have put themselves in a position where they now can’t just criticise, they are the people who need to make the difference. I’m still waiting to hear anything significant that doesn’t involve Wisley, the Local Plan or green belt. They are all issues, but not the only things affecting our borough.

  5. A Moran Reply

    May 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I note Paul Bishop’s comments about the need R4GV and GGG to join up and simplify acronyms.

    The article: Opinion: A Post-election Vision for Guildford already did just that.

    The first thing I noticed when I opened the article was the R4GV logo next to the GGG logo. Before my eyes, they synthesized dramatically into a very progressive new motto: GO!

    The symbolic ‘G’ in R4GV is embracing the words for both the residents of Guildford town and the villages,

    The leaf in the globe shape of the ‘O’ on the GGG logo inspires thoughts of new beginnings, fresh hope as well as a reminder about the urgency/emergency of climate change.

    I don’t know if this was what was intended but I was inspired and encouraged by it.

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