Fringe Box



Opinion: Dragon Predictions for Executive Changes

Published on: 3 May, 2016
Updated on: 5 May, 2016

Opinion Logo 1By Martin Giles

Changes are afoot within the Executive of Guildford Borough Council (GBC) this week.

The making of Cllr Nigel Manning as the Deputy Mayor on Wednesday (May 4th) will force him to step down from the Executive and hand over his finance portfolio.

Cllr Nigel Manning

Cllr Nigel Manning

By common consent, he has been an effective holder of the borough’s purse strings. While not immune to the inexorable budgetary pressure from central government, GBC is in better financial shape than many local authorities.

So who will take over? At the end of the season who else might be shaping up for promotion or facing a relegation battle? Here are some Dragon predictions…

Moving up?

Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith

Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith

Nikki Nelson-Smith (Con, Christchurch) after a successful year as mayor. An economist, Cllr Nelson-Smith was strangely overlooked by Stephen Mansbridge during his tenure as an Executive candidate. Maybe he sensed she wasn’t a fan?

Perhaps her training as an economist will put her in line for Cllr Manning’s old job? She deserves some reward for all those fractious meetings she has had to chair.

Cllr Matt Furniss.

Cllr Matt Furniss.

Cllr Manning’s departure will also mean there will presumably be a vacancy for deputy council leader. The former intern for Anne Milton MP, Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), lead councillor for transport, would seem the likely choice.

Not everyone’s favourite cup of tea, Cllr Furniss still enjoys  the approval of Ms Milton and perhaps his sights are on Westminster? Nothing wrong with that, of course.

Moving aside or down?

Cllr Geoff Davis

Cllr Geoff Davis

Could time be called on Cllr Geoff Davis (Con, Holy Trinity) as an Executive member? His clumsy handling of the Guildford Museum saga is hard to excuse and makes him a prime candidate for demotion or side lining. If it is too difficult for council leader Paul Spooner to demote him, perhaps he will be moved aside or the portfolios redefined?

The “economic development, culture and tourism” portfolio could be another option for Cllr Nelson-Smith. She spoke up intelligently over the Guildford Philharmonic debate a few years ago.

Cllr Murray Grubb

Cllr Murray Grubb

Murray Grubb Jnr (Con, Ash Wharf). This likeable councillor has always impressed in one-to-one meetings but what does he do?

His portfolio is “transformation and customer focus” – who could blame him for keeping a low profile. To be fair though, he has full-time employment which must make life as a lead councillor challenging.

His removal from the Executive could also help counter the “Ash mafia” jibes.

Other promotion long shots:

Nils Christiansen (Con, Holy Trinity) a chartered accountant and an intelligent thinker, capable of making telling contributions in the chamber.

Cllr Jenny Wicks’ (Con, Clandon & Horsley) sacking by Stephen Mansbridge, when he was council leader, could be seen as a feather in her cap these days. Bags of experience and a safe pair of hands.

So, time for a recall? Probably not likely given her green belt protectionist views? Anyway, might be the last thing she wants.

A similar commitment to the green belt is understood to be shared by former senior cop Matthew Sarti (Con, Clandon & Horsley). He seems to be hiding his light under a bushel so far, but you know what they say, sometimes it is better having people inside the Executive tent…

Then there are persistent rumours about Michael Illman (Con, Shalford), might seem an unlikely Executive candidate but who knows?

And finally, David Bilbé (Con, Normandy) another councillor who made his antipathy the Stephen Mansbridge known. He has presence but could be facing some difficult questions within his own ward over green belt development. Accepting an Executive position might cause him a little local difficulty.

Oh well, we won’t have long to wait.

Share This Post

Responses to Opinion: Dragon Predictions for Executive Changes

  1. Gavin Morgan Reply

    May 4, 2016 at 8:55 am

    It is great to have a article that helps us get to know our councillors better.

    This is, of course, an opinion piece and I recommend everyone to get to know their councillor so they can make up their own mind.

    My involvement with Guildford Museum over the last year has resulted in me attending a number of council meetings. I strongly recommend other people to do the same as it gives a great insight into how our town and borough is run.

  2. Fiona White Reply

    May 4, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I totally agree with Gavin Morgan. If you can’t get to the meetings they are webcast.

    There is also the county council who deal with roads, education, children’s and adults’ services. You should get to know your county councillors too. It is not so easy to get to county council meetings, which are held in Kingston during by the daytime, but you can catch up with them by webcast as well.

    Fiona White is the Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford West.

  3. Eric Walker Reply

    May 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    To me the most considered, articulate and genuine councillor is Nils Christiansen [Con, Holy Trinity]. Several of the councillors you see in the chamber seem more intent on political point scoring rather than concentrating on the issues at hand and others seem to glow in their own hubris.

    In looks and mannerism like the great Sir Clive Woodward, Cllr Christiansen seems to think clearly under pressure and gets to the point quickly. Guildford would be lucky to have him on the Executive but maybe he would be too great a threat to the existing leadership?

  4. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I share Mr. Walker’s feelings as to the suitability of Cllr Christiansen serving the town on the Executive committee. So much talent and ability is so often overlooked when the political masters crack the whip.

  5. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 4, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I like the sound of this Nils Christiansen chap. GBC need to use any talent available.

    While we’re at it, do they have to restrict the talent pool to only Tory councillors?

    It would be a refreshing change to look across the entire council, as there are several highly experienced and talented candidates in the other parties, not least GGG.

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 *