Fringe Box



Opinion: GGG Alone Stands Up for Countryside, Town and Environment

Published on: 10 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2019

This is the latest in a series of opinion pieces from the political groups which currently form Guildford Borough Council (GBC) during the period running up to the next borough council elections in May 2019. All previous articles in the series can be found here.

We are grateful to all the participants for agreeing to take part. Our aim is to allow our readers to hear from local politicians directly and become better informed of the political choice they have…

Cllr Susan Parker

By Susan Parker

leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group

The Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) is the only established local party that has stood up for protection of our countryside, our town and our environment.

We are a genuinely local party, with no control from national groups – no other party can say this. We oppose big party bullying and will work with independent councillors.

More local voices are needed to stick up for local interests. We work with residents’ groups – our party grew out of residents’ groups and parish councils.

Our existing GGG councillors were elected on a platform of protecting our environment and opposing one-party rule. There are only three of us in the council, out of 48 councillors, but we have nonetheless scrutinised Executive decisions and policies, have successfully championed our cultural heritage, historical buildings, good governance, transparency in decision-making, and fiscal responsibility.

Without GGG there would not have been an air quality initiative, and there would not have been a climate change working group. With more councillors, we could have achieved more.

If we are elected, we stand a chance, working with Independent councillors, of holding the balance of power. We’ll work with other parties to change the direction that Guildford is travelling in.

Guildford’s Local Plan has recently gone through the final part of the Examination in Public. We don’t yet know if timing means it will be adopted before the election on 2nd May. But we do know: the council Executive has broken their promise to protect the green belt, that the local plan increases Guildford’s housing by an unnecessary 25%, and that 70% of those new homes on green fields.

We know – and it isn’t publicly discussed – that Guildford plans a further wave of green belt development and review over the next 15 years. If you’ve escaped thus far, the bulldozers are coming.

We also know that the urban area and North Street offer scope to build homes in the town instead. We don’t need big executive homes but low-cost high-quality homes on brownfield land which assist urban regeneration.

We want smart high tech businesses, not warehouse sprawl. After the election, we can review the plan and amend it. We know Office of National Statistics housing need figures are much lower than those included in Guildford’s plan; our need is for lower cost housing for the young, not high house numbers.

Our environment is desperately important. How can we criticise the third world for cutting rainforest when we cut down ancient woodland? Our climate is changing fast, and as a local authority, we have an enormous opportunity to help the community resist climate change.

GGG have pushed the environment to the forefront of Guildford’s agenda while being fiscally prudent. We’ve campaigned for climate change measures to be a corporate target for the council, and this has been accepted.

We’re pushing for Guildford to be zero carbon before 2040 and for the highest possible environmental standards on all new buildings, and we want to promote carbon capture. If elected, we’ll revive our town, save our countryside, and create a sustainable future.

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Responses to Opinion: GGG Alone Stands Up for Countryside, Town and Environment

  1. Joss Bigmore Reply

    March 11, 2019 at 8:41 am

    R4GV supports the efforts of GGG. Until the emergence of the Independent group they have fought, mostly alone, offering the only scrutiny of council actions and the only resistance to bad decisions. In return, they have been badly treated, regularly shown disrespect by those in power, and rarely given credit for the things they have achieved.

    Joss Bigmore is the organiser of Residents for Guildford (R4GV) an umbrella group for Independent candidates at May’s borough council election

    • Susan Parker Reply

      March 11, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks to Joss Bigmore for the kind words. I’m sure that after the election R4GV independents and GGG can work very closely together, since we have very many views in common. We both want to run the council by local people, for local people.

      (The public should note that R4GV candidates will probably only be listed as “Independent” on the ballot papers – do check their names from the publicity).

      Susan Parker is the leader of Guildford Greenbelt Group.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 11, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    This land is my land, this land is your land,
    From the Three Farms meadows to the Blackwell Farmland,
    To the Gosden Hill lands, and all the Ash lands,
    This land was made for you and me…

    With thanks and apologies to Woody Guthrie.

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