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Shockwaves Rock Guildford Politics as Veteran Lib Dem Caroline Reeves Resigns

Published on: 5 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 6 Mar, 2021

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Local Lib Dem leader Caroline Reeves is resigning from the borough council and as a councillor to begin a new life.

The popular and well-respected member for Friary & St Nicolas and deputy council leader, leaves officially on March 12.

She said: “I am sure living through a pandemic has made many of us reassess where we are in our lives.

“A combination of turning 70 last year, coronavirus and the enjoyment I’ve found in my daughter, her partner and their newborn coming to live with me for a month as part of my ‘bubble’ has given me cause to think differently about my life.

“It has been a real honour to serve my local community and Guildford as a councillor for Friary & St Nicolas, and more recently leader and deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council.

“But it is time for a change and I am standing down from with immediate effect to pursue a new adventure, running a glamping business with my daughter and her partner in another, more remote, part of the country. The destination is not yet settled.

“I have loved living here in Guildford, being part of a very supportive community in a gorgeous part of the world.

“I thank everyone who has voted for me, supported me and worked with me in my role of councillor, especially the residents of Friary & St Nicolas. Our community is incredibly special and will remain close to my heart even as we move away.

“Obviously, a plan like this in the middle of a lockdown is not straightforward, but I seem to have a habit of doing things the hard way, and if I’m going to do something like this I should do it sooner rather than later.

“Thank you again to those of you who have supported me, especially in my ward.

“Our Facebook groups in the ward have been a great community success, and the response of the community to the pandemic has been heartwarming, a true reflection of the strong community spirit that we have here.”

The announcement sent shockwaves through local politics and the next questions are who will be the next leader of the Lib Dem group and how will this affect the balance of power at Millmead.

The Lib Dems are the biggest group with 17 councillors and formed a power-sharing coalition with R4GV’s 16 councillors. Each have four seats on the Executive of eight.

Cllr Jan Harwood

In October 2022, the Lib Dems due to re-assume leadership of the council.

As things stand, their deputy leader, Jan Harwood, former campaign manage for Zoe Franklin, the party’s unsuccessful candidate in the 2019 general election, will take over as acting leader until the group can vote for a permanent replacement after the May 6 county council election.

Ms Franklin said: “Cllr Reeves standing down is a sad day for Guildford and the Liberal Democrats.

Zoe Franklin

“She is a deeply committed and well-loved councillor who has gone above and beyond for her residents in Friary & St Nicolas and Guildford for 16 years.

“Beyond her ward, residents are more likely to know her from her time leading the council from 2019 to late last year.

“Caroline being leader of GBC during the first seven months of the pandemic was a perfect fit. Her compassion for people shone through her leadership, exactly what our communities needed at a time that has deeply challenged all of us as individuals, local charities and businesses.

“I first met Caroline when I was elected to the Borough in 2008 and she has become one of my closest friends in both politics and beyond.

“We have fought countless elections side-by-side, worked together on ideas and enjoyed tea and cake in nearly every cafe in Guildford town centre. I shall l miss her greatly.

“On behalf of everyone in Guildford Liberal Democrats, past and present, as well as the people of Guildford, I thank Caroline for her tireless service and wish her every success and much happiness in her new adventure.”

Cllr Paul Spooner

Former leader of GBC and political adversary Conservative Paul Spooner, tweeted: “I know Caroline Reeves hated me saying it but as leader I was happy to state that she was an exceptional opposition leader.

“The news that she is stepping down is a loss of a very strong focused community leader. I wish Cllr Reeves a great new adventure.”

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Responses to Shockwaves Rock Guildford Politics as Veteran Lib Dem Caroline Reeves Resigns

  1. Tom Hunt Reply

    March 5, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    I first met Caroline in 2016, and am privileged to call her a ward colleague, my group leader and most importantly a friend. I will certainly miss her and wish her well.

    Tom Hunt is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Friary & St Nicolas

  2. Sue Doughty Reply

    March 6, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Caroline has been an exceptional leader both of the Lib Dem group and of the council, always putting residents needs first and not shirking difficult decisions despite pressure from all sides. This was no easy task especially during the development of the Local Plan when so many beautiful areas were under threat and the risk that developers could ride roughshod.

    Having devoted her life to our town, it’s time to wish her all the very best with her family even if far from Guildford.

    Sue Doughty is a former Lib Deb MP for Guildford

  3. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    March 8, 2021 at 8:24 am

    I was sorry to hear that Caroline is stepping down as a councillor. As a resident of Friary & St Nicolas, Caroline was my councillor for many years and I have the utmost respect for her. It will be Guildford’s loss, but I wish Caroline well in her new adventure.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    March 8, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    “Shockwaves”? Seriously?

  5. Chris Ward Reply

    March 8, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    I remember the byelection at which Caroline was first elected, and was somewhat surprised to see that it had been that many years ago already.

    For those of us who served in the Lib Dem group on the council, Caroline was always someone that took a level-headed approach to every issue, no matter how emotive. Her commitment to her ward was exemplary and she always had time for people. Very glad she’s about to get some of that time back for herself now and wish her the very best!

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 10, 2021 at 6:30 am

    A leader who slavishly followed the Tory ‘trajectory’ on the Local Plan will not be missed.

  7. Pauline Surrey Reply

    March 10, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    I have always had the greatest respect for this most hardworking of councillors. When people moan on about politicians, both local and national, and I defend them, I always have Caroline in mind, who has worked her socks off for not only the people in her ward but for Guildford as a whole – always going the extra mile.

    She will be missed, but how lovely to be off to pastures new on a new adventure. Very exciting.

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