Fringe Box



R4GV and GGG Hope to Avoid GBC Election Contests While Member Crosses Floor

Published on: 16 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 16 Mar, 2023

By Martin Giles

The Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) party intends to field “at least” 40 candidates at the forthcoming borough council elections to be held on May 4th.

The party was only formed in early 2019 and shocked many, including themselves, with their success, winning all but two of the seats they contested, ending up with 15, second only to the Lib Dems’ 17.

GBC Election 2019 result – showing number and percentage share of the seats.

And yesterday, as it was announced by the leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) that they had formed an election alliance with R4GV, so the two parties can avoid, where possible, competing for the same non-national party votes, one GGG councillor disclosed that she was crossing the floor to stand for R4GV.

Cllr Catherine Young (Clandon & Horsley) said in a statement that R4GV has: “…achieved significant change at GBC, despite being hamstrung by their coalition with the Lib Dems.

“Unlike the national parties, R4GV exists only to achieve the best for Guildford. Now they need a council majority to stop national politics blocking local progress.”

She was she said: “…taking the logical step of joining R4GV as one of their three candidates for Clandon & Horsley.”

Although unconfirmed, it is anticipated that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will field candidates in all wards while Labour is hoping to nominate about 30.

Given R4GV’s claim it seems that GGG which is known to have found it challenging to recruit candidates is likely to limit its efforts to its core east of the borough seats including Send and Shalford the seat of the party leader Ramsey Nagaty.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

He said: “GGG has agreed to work in alliance with R4GV at the next election. Each group will retain its own party integrity.

“Our alliance with R4GV will mean we work together during the election. We seek control of GBC jointly with R4GV. Both parties are concerned with local residents’ needs and issues, and not driven by national party agendas.”

The leader of R4GV responded: “I am pleased GGG want to work in alliance with us, it was a mutually successful strategy last election.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

“However, there is no formal agreement, except that we are supporting Ramsey and Nigel Keane’s campaign in Shalford in our second leaflet that will be going out across the borough next week. We will not be standing R4GV candidates in Shalford against GGG”

But most observers agree that the election is wide open. Any expected bounce back by the normally dominant Conservatives is likely to be constrained by the party’s unpopularity, nationally, according to all opinion polls.

The big question is whether the Lib Dems will benefit and extend their control of the council or whether the independents can maintain or even extend their share of the seats and retain at least some control.

24 seats are the minimum needed for any party to take overall control of the 48-seat borough council as the mayor normally abstains.

Cllr Angela Gunning

Whatever the outcome, some familiar characters will be leaving the council scene. Although not confirmed, Cllrs Paul Spooner and Graham Eyre, who represent Ash South and Tongham as Conservatives are reported to have decided not to stand there, although it is rumoured that Cllr Spooner might stand in Westborough and that Matt Furniss hopes to return to the borough council by standing in the newly defined Pilgrims ward incorporating Tongham.

The veteran councillor Angela Gunning (Labour, Stoke) will retire. She was first elected in 1995. By retiring she will be able to take up, once again, her title as Hon Alderman.

Cllr Susan Parker

Founder of GGG, Susan Parker (Send) and Guildford’s sole Green councillor Diane Jones in Tillingbourne are standing down as are, it is believed, R4GV councillors Chris Barrass and Tim Anderson (both  Clandon & Horsley), Chris Blow (Shalford), Anne McShee (Worplesdon), Colin Cross (Lovelace) and GGG’s Guida Esteve (Send).

Speaking about the GGG/R4GV electoral pact, Cllr Nagaty said: “GGG believes that our strong adherence to our core beliefs and our moral integrity is fundamental. Going forward, we plan to work in alliance with R4GV to ensure the Climate Change and Environmental agenda is at the forefront of everything Guildford Borough Council does.

“Election of GGG councillors will ensure a robust review of the Local Plan. We want to deliver the right type of houses, in the right places, to meet local need, ensure GBC is managed in an open and transparent manner, and act to resolve long-standing problems that blight Guildford.”

Full statement from Catherine Young, borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley:

Cllr Catherine Young

Over the past four years, I have been proud to represent Clandon & Horsley as your local
Borough Councillor for the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), working hard to resolve issues
for residents, especially in relation to planning and enforcement.

I have enjoyed tackling a wide range of Council matters in line with GGG’s strong values and priorities.

As a member of various council working groups, I have helped shape policies to reduce the
disastrous impact of the Local Plan, which the Conservatives foisted on the borough just
before losing the local elections in 2019.

On the Council’s Climate Change Board, I have also contributed to the production of the Climate Change Action Plan which aims to achieve net zero by 2030.

Like GGG, Residents for Guildford & Villages (R4GV) is a local party for the residents of Guildford, both town and country. They have achieved significant change at GBC, despite being hamstrung by their coalition with the Lib Dems.

Unlike the national parties, R4GV exists only to achieve the best for Guildford. Now they need a council majority to stop national politics blocking local progress.

Fighting the last few years of over-development in The Horsley’s has been difficult as the sole GGG local opposition councillor. I am therefore taking the logical step of joining R4GV as one of their three candidates for Clandon & Horsley in the borough elections this May.

If local residents’ groups can defeat the national political parties, there will be no more excuse to delay a meaningful Local Plan review. Everyone now accepts that the plan’s population projections are overstated, its housing targets are exaggerated, and the infrastructure promised by the Tories has not materialised.

Constraints on Guildford’s development also needs greater recognition, including our precious green belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I want to make the strongest possible contribution to this task. With the support of R4GV and local residents, I am determined to do just that!


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