Fringe Box



Letter: Be Wise To The Antics Of National And Local Government?

Published on: 5 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 5 Jan, 2015

From Tony Edwards of Ockham

While our Tory-led coalition government avoids any serious legislative decision-making and concentrates on its party ambitions to become re-elected in the May election, many will ponder the unavoidable conclusion that, for the next four months, we shall be paying them to do nothing more than serve their own party political ends.

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But, of course, there are similar goings-on closer to home following Guildford Borough Council’s decision to postpone submission of the Local Plan for approval until after next May’s election – a delay of nearly eight months during which time the council will havemore time to take a full and proper account of some 6,000 representations already made by 2,873 residents and stake holders.

The clear and, no doubt, intended implication is that Cllr Mansbridge and associates are in the process of re-assessing their previously suggested assault on the borough’s green belt and that intentions to strip more than a dozen Guildford villages of their green belt status will evaporate in a mist of social goodwill scheduled to descend on the borough between now and the May election.

Indeed, Cllr Mansbridge was applauded for his welcome green belt U-turn on his previous statement – that “some parts of the green belt are not great and should be used for building”shortly before Christmas, raising hopes that such planned acts of wanton green belt vandalism as creating a ‘new town’ at Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, will be deleted from the draft Local Plan.

But then the council seemed to raise its expectations for housing numbers by publishing a report, produced by G L Hearn, which actually upped the proposed housing numbers published last May. It was a report that had apparently been in the council’s possession since September yet was released immediately before Christmas.

Cynical old PR people, like myself, tend to view such timing as, at best, unfortunate as it could so easily be misinterpreted as an attempt to bury bad news in the pre-Christmas rush, when people are less inclined to pay attention to the goings-on at city hall.

I suspect, however, that most Guildford residents are, by now, wise to the antics of both national and local government and will view, with due caution, the promises and platitudes of politicians in the lead up to the May elections. I sincerely hope so.

Happy new year.

Tony Edwards


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Responses to Letter: Be Wise To The Antics Of National And Local Government?

  1. Michael Walker Reply

    January 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    The only sure thing this year is that if the GGG win enough seats to derail the local plan process then Guildford Borough will end up in the same mess as Waverley with planning decisions being decided by planning inspectors. Vote for the GGG but then don’t blame anyone else for the chaos that will surely follow.

    • Ray Briggs Reply

      January 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      In reply to Michael Walker’s comment, that may be a risk but it assumes that the people who might stand for GGG will be less competent than those that already hold these offices.

      That may or may not be true, but it is not a good argument for avoiding a democratic solution to this looming problem.

      All existing councillors need to do to ensure they get the votes on this issue is clearly and unequivocally state, in writing, that they are opposed to building on land currently designated as green belt.

      I have suggested this in the past but have sadly seen no statements to this effect (yet) from any of our councillors.

      I will vote for GGG candidates who stand on this issue in opposition to candidates who are not clearly protective of green belt land. And I will be critical of them if by incompetence they cause chaos. One thing at a time.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      January 7, 2015 at 10:14 am

      In reply to Michael Walker’s comment, you may be right in your assumptions, but if so, what does it tell us about so called democracy in our country?

      As I have mentioned before, this country seems to be run now as a pretend democracy – rather like the corrupt EU.

      All of the problem of more and more housing is driven by immigration. When were we given a vote on that issue for instance? Mind you if we were and we voted to stop it I would have no confidence that the Westminster classes would take any notice!

  2. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    January 6, 2015 at 8:57 am

    In response to Mr Walker’s comment from what I have observed throughout the last year all the GGG have been trying to do is ensure the Local Plan is sound, based upon accurate and up to date evidence base, taking the NPPF as a whole and in line with current case law. The previous draft plan would have failed the planning inspectors on many grounds. For me the last 18 months have already been chaotic. If the Council as a whole had really listened back in early 2014 or indeed in May we would be in a much better place rather than ploughing on with a self chosen “Trajectory” regardless.

    The GGG is not for no development or no Local plan. If what you mean by derailing the local plan process is getting it right then shouldn’t they be applauded?

  3. Tony Edwards Reply

    January 8, 2015 at 10:20 am

    The undeniable fact in the sorry saga of Guildford Borough Council’s proposals to remove green belt status from a dozen or so villages and to parachute in a new town at Wisley is that the Conservatives promised to protect the green belt and then very publicly reneged.

    The Guildford Greenbelt Group is dedicated to the conservation of our green belt which is why it has attracted so much support from the borough.

    It’s not about derailing the Local Plan but ensuring that we have a plan which doesn’t destroy the borough.

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