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Updated: Paul Spooner Quits as GBC’s Conservative Group Leader

Published on: 10 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 12 Jun, 2020

Paul Spooner

The leader of the eight-member Conservative group at Guildford Borough Council has announced by Twitter that he is quitting as group leader this evening (7pm, June 10). His resignation will take effect on Saturday.

One well-placed source confirmed that his stepping down was voluntary and had not been forced by other group members as some were speculating.

Many were surprised that Mr Spooner continued as group leader in the wake of the worst election defeat ever for Guildford Borough Conservatives and tensions within the group have been widely reported. Cllr Gordon Jackson left the group in September 2019 but primarily, he said, because of the Conservative Party’s position on Europe.

Update: It is understood that a group meeting is due to be held on Saturday (June 13). Deputy group leader Nigel Manning is expected to take over until a leadership election is held. Only the eight group members will be entitled to vote.

Insiders say that Nigel Manning and David Bilbe are the most likely candidates but it is uncertain whether either of them wants the leadership role. It is reported that the relationship between Nigel Manning and Paul Spooner is strained. Until his recent resignation, Paul Spooner served on Ash Parish Council with Nigel Manning and four other Conservative borough councillors: Graham Eyre, Marsha Moseley, Andrew Gomm, and Jo Randall.

The GBC Conservative Group in June 2020 – Image GBC

Cllr Spooner took over the leadership of the GBC Conservative Party group and GBC itself in November 2015, after the resignation of former council leader Stephen Mansbridge

Mansbridge had been shown to have met with the University of Surrey’s Student Union committee to arrange support for a campaign to force a local referendum on having an elected mayor in Guildford, a campaign partly sponsored by entrepreneur Michel Harper. But Mr Mansbridge, the Ash South & Tongham ward colleague of Cllr Spooner, insisted he resigned because he did not like proposed changes to the GBC governance model.

Paul Spooner was deputy leader at the time of the resignation and faced little competition in the subsequent leadership election. His only contender was Dennis Paul, a member for Holy Trinity at the time, who had not been an Executive member and who appeared to be almost a token candidate. Once appointed Tory Group leader Spooner’s election as council leader was a formality and he appointed Matt Furniss as his deputy.

In the wake of the catastrophic Conservative borough council election result and in response to a Guildford Dragon NEWS opinion piece, Out of Touch, Out of Reach, Out on Their Ear, Paul Spooner cut off communications with The  Dragon but has submitted various comments since.

Cllr Spooner has been invited to comment.

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test 3 Responses to Updated: Paul Spooner Quits as GBC’s Conservative Group Leader

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 10, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Well, all I can say is good riddance, as this chap was responsible for the biggest defeat in Guildford’s political history. He will not be missed. Not much of a group left to lead really, having reduced their representation from 34 to a minority of eight.

    “Open and transparent”? I don’t think so. While this chap led the council there was total obfuscation regarding the motives behind the Local Plan.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    June 10, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    Considering this man’s destructive trajectory and his arrogance when it came to the Local Plan I am not sorry. He seemed to be more concerned with Guildford in Bloom than the risk of thousands of homes in Burpham and Merrow without adequate sewerage for 33 days in 2017. I imagine readers can imagine my reaction to this news.

  3. Mike Murphy Reply

    June 12, 2020 at 2:23 am

    Now he has driven a coach and horses through the green belt and totally ruined many areas of Guildford Borough he finally decides to go.

    I hope the voters in his Ash Ward will also get rid of him and consign him to the sad history of the once-proud GBC.

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