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Opinion: More Independents Would Be a Force for Change

Published on: 2 Dec, 2018
Updated on: 5 Dec, 2018

This is the second article in the “second round” of a series of opinion pieces from the political parties and the Independent councillors who currently form Guildford Borough Council (GBC) in 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…

By Independent Cllrs Colin Cross (Lovelace), Bob McShee (Worplesdon) and Tony Rooth (The Pilgrims)

The “Independent Alliance” is a group of independent-minded residents, not a political party, with no party politics, no party line and no party whip. 



We are former Conservative and Lib Dem councillors and hold views on national politics. But we believe Guildford councillors should not be tied to or driven by party politics or personal ambition. Proper representation of the community and residents on local issues is far more important.

We all care passionately about the borough, our council services, the issues and challenges faced by the council and our residents. We three have more than 25 years of combined council experience to prove our commitment.

Cllrs Cross, Rooth & McShee – the new “Independent Alliance”

We will not necessarily share similar views on all local issues. But we do share a common approach to major issues such as the ongoing protection of Guildford’s green belt and villages. We also want to see better value for council taxpayers’ money and an end to expensive vanity projects such as

 the “Pop Up Village”, £1 million wasted on a wasteland, Walnut Bridge, £3.3 million cost including £1 million on consultancies already spent (and no construction yet) and the new, very expensive paving in Tunsgate (£800,000).

Many residents tell us they don’t know what is going on at the council. Nor do many councillors because decisions are often made behind closed doors.  Backbench councillors are often informed of an issue only at the last minute, for example, 24 hours’ notice by the Executive of their proposal to apply for funding for Wisley designated as a “Garden Village”.

We want to see more democracy on our council so the many have a real say rather than all power and influence concentrated in the hands of the few, or some would say “the two”. We say what we mean and mean what we say.

We three question and challenge council proposals and decisions, asking more questions than the remaining 45 put together. Our motion on October 6 asked the council to fully support the principles of democracy, transparency and accountability and requested an external independent review of the council’s compliance. That was defeated by the votes of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

We believe more Independent councillors would be a force for change and improvement and a genuine alternative to Guildford being a one-party state. Irrespective of your party preference, if you want more information, visit www.guildford.gov.uk /Council and Democracy/“Becoming a councillor”.

Some may think it a waste of time and money to stand as an Independent, with the Conservatives holding 32 out of 48 seats. Not so. At Tandridge in 2018, the Conservatives lost eight seats and now have a majority of only two over other groups led by Independents and Residents’ Association councillors. The losses were caused by residents’ concerns over their Local Plan, house-building targets and the green belt. Remind you of Guildford?

Cllr Paul Spooner, the council leader, has stated that “good ideas come from people and not parties”. The May 2019 elections are your chance.

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test One Response to Opinion: More Independents Would Be a Force for Change

  1. Alan Davies Reply

    December 2, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Hip hip, hooray! At last, some sense from sensible people about our council which is just a stage for Cllrs Spooner and Furniss. The audience is a load of bullied or supine Tories and ineffective Lib Dems who never question anything and seem the junior partners in a Tory-led coalition. Cllrs Spooner and Reeves are a rerun of Cameron and Clegg and look what a mess they got us into over Brexit

    Roll on May next year – Guildford really needs many more Independent spirits who will listen to the real audience – Guildford’s residents

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