Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: We Must Have No Double Standards in Guildford

Published on: 10 Sep, 2014
Updated on: 11 Sep, 2014

Dragon Roar Still 470The Mayor of Guildford has acknowledged his mistake in allowing a councillor to overrun his speaking time limit while, in the same debate, cutting off some public speakers mid sentence.

The incident occurred during the last full council meeting on July 8 when a member of the public, Ben Paton*, speaking at the meeting was cut off by Cllr David Elms (Con, Worplesdon), who as the Mayor was chairing the meeting. (See: Speaker, Cut Off Mid Sentence At Meeting, Accuses The Council of Unfair Treatment.)

In a letter to the editor of The Guildford Dragon NEWS the mayor admits that this may have given the impression of double standards.

Here is the letter from the mayor in full:

Cllr David Elms - Mayor of Guildford

Cllr David Elms – Mayor of Guildford

Dear Mr Giles,

I refer to your email dated 22 July regarding adherence to time limits for speakers at the last [Guildford Borough] Council meeting on 8 July. First of all may I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

I acknowledge that I allowed Councillor Jackson an additional 10 seconds, or so, to complete his speech as I thought it important to allow an elected councillor a very short additional period of time in which to finish

However, I do accept that public speakers were limited strictly to their three minutes and realise that this may have given the appearance of double standards. Please be assured that I shall, at future meetings, ensure that councillors keep within their allotted time when they speak.

Thank you for drawing this to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor David Elms

Mayor of Guildford

Opinion Logo 2The mayor is, we believe, a good and honourable man who has served Surrey and Guildford well during his service as a firefighter. We can all make mistakes and, at last, he has acknowledged his.

It might seem a trivial matter but councillors must demonstrate, without reluctance, that we are all subject to the same rules and laws. Strict adherence must be applied equally. If any discretion should be given at council meetings one could argue it should be exercised more in favour of members of public who are normally less practised than the councillors.

Anyway, the views of public speakers are often just as important as those of the councillors who have an extra two minutes to express them.

In this case, the mayor was put in a difficult position by a councillor, Gordon Jackson (Con, Pirbright), who had not sufficiently prepared his speech to ensure it could be delivered within the given time.

Chairing council meetings is perhaps the most important role of the mayor of the borough. If council meetings are to be conducted well the mayor must ensure that everyone, from whichever political opinion, whether a councillor or a nervous member of the public, feels they are heard properly, allowed to contribute fairly, and treated equally within the stated rules.

This, it should be said, is the normal standard at Guildford Borough Council. This mayor and those that follow, supported by the rest of the council must ensure it is always maintained.

* Ben Paton is now the Conservative candidate in the Lovelace Ward by-election.

A list of all the candidates standing in the Lovelace by-election, which will take place on Thursday, September 25, can be found in the article: It’s Officially a Four-horse Race For the Lovelace By-election.

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Responses to The Dragon Says: We Must Have No Double Standards in Guildford

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    September 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Just on a point of information, Guildford has only a Borough Mayor. Unfortunately we do not have either a Town Mayor or a Town Council as neighbouring towns have.

    We do not have true control over the policy which effects residents of central Guildford.

    Thank you for pointing out our error I have corrected the article accordingly. Ed.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Is this the only example of double standards at GBC?

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