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Reactions to ‘Councillor Denies Misleading Council’ Story

Published on: 14 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 16 Oct, 2015

More reaction to the Council Leader Denies Misleading Full Council Meeting story has been received today from two of the opposition parties at Guildford Borough Council (GBC).

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Leader of the opposition, Caroline Reeves said: “Cllr Mansbridge assures us that he, “did not want to be mayor of Guildford”. Perhaps that is the case but I find it extraordinary that he has covertly promoted a petition that would nullify many hours of work from numerous councillors and council officers in the “Task and Finish Group” on governance, a group set up by the full council.

“It was a cross-party working group and not as he put it: ‘…a sop to parties who win few seats.’

“Cllr Mansbridge keeps assuring us that in his opinion we have a clear and transparent decision making process but this was blatantly not the opinion of the majority who took part in our various stakeholder meetings on our current governance system.

“The message was loud and very clear that a broad spectrum of residents and other groups felt disengaged and did not understand the process, and back bench councillors across all parties, including Cllr Mansbridge’s much trumpeted Conservative majority, felt cut off from the decision making process.

“The current system has not worked well for a number of reasons, the hybrid system offers complete flexibility, unlike a decision at a referendum which once implemented does not allow changes for 10 years, and will strengthen scrutiny as well as allowing far greater engagement for backbenchers, and thereby greater access for residents through their ward councillors.

“It would seem that by the repeated reference to the need to recognise the devolution agenda, Cllr Mansbridge is manoeuvring himself precisely into the position of an elected mayor.”

Cllr Angela Gunning feature

Cllr Angela Gunning

Angela Gunning, the sole Labour councillor at GBC representing Stoke, whose question in a full council meeting in July started the story said: “Draft reports on progress of the governance working group, which had been meeting regularly to gather evidence since November 2014, have been on council agendas six times this year: namely a joint scrutiny committee 7 April, Executive committees on 9 April, 21 July and 29 September, and full council 28 July and 7 October.

“Full minutes are on the GBC website. There was plenty of opportunity for Cllr Mansbridge, and Cllr Juneja before May 2015, to contribute something to the examination of the issue.

“So why did he approach the students’ union in March? I believe it was disingenuous and contrary to the GBC code of conduct to imply at full council on 28 July that the directly elected mayor petition was something former Cllr Juneja had put together three days before the elections – knowing that he had approached the students’ union in March.”

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