Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: This Must Be A Fresh Start For A Better Guildford

Published on: 20 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 20 Sep, 2012

The sudden resignation of Council Leader Tony Rooth has not come as a complete surprise to those who have been watching the council over the past few months. The final act might have been sudden but there have been noticeable undercurrents of concern even within his own Conservative Party for some time.

Some councillors felt left out from major decision-making. The attempt to exclude them from the decision on key but controversial planning documents, now in legal limbo, revealed a truly undemocratic mind-set.

But whether the issue was the future of the Guildford Philharmonic; the siting of a Gypsy and Traveller site in Shalford; Guildford “should be run as a business”; moving the bus station; insulting an Honorary Alderman; or reports of poor morale, many had been affected and too many had lost confidence.

It was not just the rights and wrongs of each issue; it was the way they were being handled. The criticisms had reached a tipping-point and the GVG challenge was the final weight to make the scales swing.

But, despite any shortcomings as leader, it is absolutely right that Cllr Rooth’s contribution and effort is recognised. He has worked far harder for Guildford while leader, for scant reward, than many work in full-time jobs. The Guildford Dragon NEWS has not agreed with everything he has done, nor the style of governance he, together with the Chief Executive David Hill, created, but that does not mean he does not deserve our thanks for his public service.

Now there is the opportunity for a fresh start. There are major challenges, especially in these cash-strapped times, but there are also opportunities to maintain Guildford as a good place to live and make important improvements. We will need strong leadership but a leadership that never forgets that the root of its power relies on the votes of the electors. In the end, it is their view that is most important and their judgement final.

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