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Opposition Objectors Fail to Win Delay on Local  Plan

Published on: 11 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2019

The Mayor, Cllr Mike Parsons, reads out the result of the vote on a motion to defer the council’s decision on the Local Plan until after the forthcoming election. It was lost by 14 to 25 votes.

By Rebecca Curley local democracy reporter and Martin Giles

A political fallout over the adoption of Guildford’s Local Plan escalated in the council chamber this week with opposition councillors claiming the decision is being rushed through.

The plan has been seven years in development and an extraordinary meeting is scheduled for April 25 to allow the council to vote on adoption.

But opposition councillors hit out at the timing of the meeting, just a week before local elections on May 2 when there could be new members elected to the council.

At the full council meeting on Tuesday, April 9, councillors from The Independent Alliance tabled a motion to defer the April 25 meeting until after the local elections. They also asked for it to be moved to a bigger venue with more time for members of the public to speak.

An amendment to the motion was also put forward by the Liberal Democrats who wanted an alternative plan to still be considered in the suggested extra time, but that was rejected.

The Local Plan sets out planning policies and identifies how land is used within a local authority area and what will be built. Guildford’s has gone through four formal public consultations and two rounds of inquiry hearings. A report by a planning inspector was published on March 28 concluding the plan is “sound” and “capable of adoption”.

Councillors have to formally adopt the plan and although there is no set time frame for a decision to be made, guidance suggests it must be done quickly, according to GBC’s legal adviser.

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Tony Rooth, of The Independent Alliance said on Tuesday: “We have to get this right as much as we possibly can and that takes time and some consideration.” Such a “major decision” should not be “forced through”, he said.

Backing the deferral motion, Cllr Susan Parker (GGG, Send) questioned whether it was normal to “agree something that is politically sensitive one week before an election when the composition of the council may change”.

Cllr David Reeve

Her party colleague Cllr David Reeve (Clandon & Horsley) argued that the council should not take a decision that would be foisted on the new council in May.

Quoting the local government advice on purdah he said: “Ultimately you must always be guided by the principal of fairness. It is crucial that any decision you take be seen as fair and reasonable by the public and those standing for office. Our public need to be comfortable with the decision we take and I don’t know about every other councillor but certainly the public whom I represent are not happy at all with this decision being rushed through.

Cllr David Goodwin

Cllr David Goodwin (Lib Dem, Onslow) claimed that the Local Plan had become a political issue and for that reason should not be decided in a purdah period. He cited an example of a recent council meeting where a food poverty task group report discussion was delayed until June because it was ‘politically sensitive’.

But Cllr Michael Illman (Con, Shalford) disagreed. Attending council for only the third time since last May, he ignored a stage whispered comment of “nice of you to turn up” from Cllr Goodwin, and said that the council needed to “man up” and make a decision.

He said: “We should actually get on with things that are important to our residents because believe it or not, though it is important to the 48 members here and a few hundred people in Guildford, the Local Plan is not keeping people up at night and on the scale of things is not overly important to their lives.”

Councillors are to have training on April 18 on the decision they need to make on the 25th. The council’s managing director, James Whiteman, said “from a planning perspective” there was “no reason to delay” considering or adopting the Local Plan and that there were “good planning reasons” to support its adoption “as quickly as possible”.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Council leader Paul Spooner, backing the decision to decide the Local Plan at the extraordinary meeting on April 25, said over the years they had listened to all the “messages” and feedback from residents and groups. “There are many messages and that’s why it’s a complicated and difficult issue,” he said. “This one is not easy, but we have been through this process.

“We have people who agree and people who disagree but we are the people who have lived and breathed this over previous years and that’s why I think we are the appropriate people to make this decision.”

All three parts of the motion, to defer the April 25 meeting, to hold it in a bigger venue to allow more of the public to attend and to give more time for public speaking were rejected.

See also: Last-Minute Ban on Lib Dem Bid to Bar Local Plan’s Excess Green Belt Sites, Lib Dems Will Be Supporting an Amended Motion to Defer Local Plan Adoption – Reactions and Delay Adopting Local Plan Until After the Election, Say Opposition Councillors

 

 

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test One Response to Opposition Objectors Fail to Win Delay on Local  Plan

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 11, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Cllr Illman said: “We should actually get on with things that are important to our residents because believe it or not, though it is important to the 48 members here and a few hundred people in Guildford, the Local Plan is not keeping people up at night and on the scale of things is not overly important to their lives.”

    What utter arrogance to suggest few residents are interested, and that the plan “is not overly important”.

    What about the 80,000 objections to this ruinous plan?

    I can tell Cllr Illman there is nothing more important to me. I am passionate about the conservation of our villages and countryside for all Guildfordians, and will not stand by and let him and his ilk ruin them.

    The Tories at GBC could not be more detached from the deeply held feelings of residents.

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