Fringe Box



Opinion: Only Labour Can Provide Real Change in Guildford

Published on: 21 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 23 Feb, 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…

Matthew Smith

By Matthew Smith

There has been a lot of discussions recently about the need for change in Guildford at May’s borough council elections, but a genuine difference will only come about if we elect more Labour Party councillors.

The Liberal Democrats have shown, locally and nationally, that they are happy to go along with the Conservatives, nodding through severe cuts to public services and failing to object to their vanity projects.

The new “Independents” group are just rebranded Tories and Lib Dems, clearly motivated by personal animosity towards the current council leader and his deputy, not focused on the day-to-day issues which matter to the people of Guildford.

Over the past few years, the number of Labour members and voters has increased by over 400% while Lib Dem’s support has plummeted. Labour is now the only viable alternative to the Tories. There is no doubt, if all those who support Labour values cast their votes for the party in May, Labour will have significantly more borough councillors. But tactical voting will only lead to more of the same.

Guildford Labour candidates are representative of our population as a whole. Our candidates include those who work for the University of Surrey, the NHS, in the charity sector and in our cultural and tech industries.

As a result, we understand the challenges facing most of the local population.  Too many of us struggle to make ends meet, even when working full-time. We need genuinely affordable housing to be at the heart of any future housing developments.

The next generation should not be forced to live in houses of multiple occupation, and those in their 20s and 30s should not be stuck at home with their parents because they cannot afford their own home.  Most seriously, we must address the rising number of people sleeping rough in Guildford.

Rather than frittering money on wasteful schemes such as “The Village” or the proposed extravagant replacement for the Walnut Bridge, Labour councillors would press for more investment in public transport.  It is Labour Party policy to grant free bus travel to under 25s; we would look to go further and tackle congestion and improve air quality.

We need radical action to reverse climate change and the people of Guildford need proper alternatives to using their cars. Voters say they want a refurbished bus station and more frequent and reliable services. We will aim to deliver these.

We have also been listening to voters on the future of the High Street. No-one can have failed to notice the ever-increasing number of empty shops. We must be realistic about the future of retail and develop imaginative and radical ideas to enhance the appeal of the town centre.

Our current Guildford Labour councillors Angela Gunning and James Walsh have shown what our progressive agenda can bring to the town, but we can do more. Vote for change, vote for Labour in May.


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Responses to Opinion: Only Labour Can Provide Real Change in Guildford

  1. Colin Cross Reply

    February 22, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Only half the story appears in Mr Smith’s piece predictably – but sadly.

    We only read of “the future of the High Street” and “the appeal of the town centre” in this comment, but nothing, not a word, about our villages, our green belt and countryside.

    Why, because his party cares little or nothing for rural Guildford, albeit half the borough’s population lives there. They want to concrete over our green fields to get a quick fix to our underlying housing needs, ironically they have taken that idea from local Tories.

    There is another, fairer, more proportional way to solve our problems, maintain harmony between our urban and rural communities and stop these myopic ideologies.

    The belated arrival of Independent councillors in Guildford is the precursor to something much bigger about to come to town – resident candidates who will stand to represent both the town and the villages of our borough – at last! Protecting and promoting both these assets evenhandedly is long overdue in Guildford. We will solve nothing by taking sides but a holistic approach has so much to offer us all.

    Colin Cross is the Independent borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham).

  2. Keith Witham Reply

    February 22, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    The reason that nine Labour MPs (at the time of writing) have left the Labour Party led by the anti-Zionist, a man totally unfit to ever be Prime Minister of this country, and it was only two years ago that Labour MPs overwhelmingly voted “No Confidence” in him, but the Marxist-Leninist-Trots who now control the grassroots of the Labour Party then re-elected him! No wonder their MPs they can’t take it any more.

    I am a Conservative, so you can say “he would have those views,” but my late father-in-law was a life-long Labour man. He was a Labour council candidate and secretary of his constituency branch. He would turn in his grave if he could see today’s Labour Party under Corbyn. He would be horrified and ashamed of his party today.

    Keith Witham is the Conservative county councillor for Worplesdon.

  3. Brian Creese Reply

    February 25, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Cllr Colin Cross is right that Guildford Labour Party wants to provide genuinely affordable homes for young people and families in Guildford. But I am not sure where he gets the idea that we want to “concrete over the villages”.

    However, do recognise that parents would like somewhere for their children to live without having to leave their area and that even in the villages people need nurses and care workers and teachers.

    We do want to see modest housing developments in rural areas, particularly if they can be focused on local people or key workers. The real danger for our rural areas is death by stagnation. If there is nowhere for young people to live and absolutely no expansion, then a village will simply die a slow, inevitable death. Is this really what Cllr Cross wants?

    Brian Creese is a spokesperson for the Guildford Labour Party

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