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Tory Leader Makes Bid for North Street Plan to Go Before the Full Borough Council

Published on: 4 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 4 Jan, 2023

A model of the North Street Friary Quarter proposals.

By Martin Giles

A motion demanding that the North Street application goes before the full borough council is to be proposed at this evening’s 7pm Planning Committee meeting at Guildford Borough Council.

Such a procedure requires two members of the planning committee, a proposer and seconder, to put a motion forward for consideration by the committee which will decide by voting.

Cllr Paul Spooner

The motion is being proposed by the leader of the Conservative group at GBC, Paul Spooner, (South Ash & Tongham) and seconded by his Conservative colleague Marsha Moseley (Ash Vale), a former Planning Committee chair.

Yesterday, Richard Mills, chair of the Guildford town centre Conservatives, wrote to The Dragon saying: The Real Question Is Does Guildford Really Want to Be a Predominantly High-rise Town?

The planning committee comprises 5 Liberal Democrats; 5 Residents for Guildford & Villages; 3 Conservative; 1 Guildford Greenbelt Group member and 1 Labour.

Cllr John Rigg

Although planning committee decisions are required to be non-political it is almost certain that the five R4GV members will oppose the motion and support their party colleague John Rigg, lead councillor for Regeneration, who has backed the North Street scheme.

So if, as expected, the three Conservatives support the motion to defer to full council, the way the Lib Dems vote will be crucial. And even the votes of the singleton members from GGG and Labour could prove decisive, as they did on the knife-edge decision on Debenhams when all but one of the Lib Dems voted against while Cllr Spooner abstained and the two other Conservative members failed to show up or appoint substitutes.

See: Single Vote Decides Debenhams Plan Following Wide-ranging Debate

Cllr Rigg was said to be very disappointed with the lack of support from the Lib Dems for the Debenhams proposal.

The Lib Dems are coalition partners with R4GV at GBC. There are conflicting reports as to whether the motion’s proposer, Cllr Spooner, will be present this evening. But seconder Cllr Moseley will not be attending and has sent apologies.

The North Street deferral motion as listed on the “Late Sheet” for tonight’s meeting.

Chris Blow (R4GV, Shalford) the father of Robin Horsley who has started a campaign against the North Street scheme, is said, as a result, to have recused himself from the January 11 Planning Committee meeting at which the decision on North Street had been expected. It remains to be seen if he will also recuse himself this evening.

Robin Horsley

Robin Horsley said this afternoon: “I do support the motion. I think it’s very timely and Cllr Spooner did email me last night to let me know. I have not spoken to him before to my knowledge but I read that email today and noted that unfortunately the proposer and seconder of the motion are not available at such short notice for the council meeting today.

See: Councillor’s Son Starts Campaign for More Consultation on North Street Plan and There Has Not Been a More Comprehensive Consultation in the History of the Borough

“I hope the council will not betray the public and try and avoid voting for this perfectly justified deferral. Until the council, rather than the developer, has launched a full public consultation with everyone it affects, this scheme has no democratic legitimacy to be given final consideration.”
See also: Debenhams Plan – the Whole Character of Our Town is at Stake
Cllr Paul Spooner refuses to communicate with The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

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