Report on Council Meeting which approved the draft Local Plan

The email below is from the Clandon Residents Association.

It gives a good account of what happened at the Council meeting on 19 June at which the draft Local Plan was approved for consultation.

Worth reading.

Gives references to the webcast – so you can see how your councillor(s) performed.

Dear all

Last night we lost the vote to get the draft Guildford Plan delayed for a review before it went to public consultation by 27 to 14 with 1 abstention.

One councillor who could not be there because of ill health had a statement read out that said he would have voted against the plan, four others simply gave ‘apologies for absence’.

While this is a setback, we should not underestimate the enormity of what we have achieved.

Only two weeks ago it looked as though this would go through with some dissent, but pretty much a walkover on voting as far as the ruling party, Cllr Mansbridge (Leader of the council), Cllr Juneja (leading the Plan), the council’s Executive Committee and the planning officers were concerned – all of whom have been pushing the current draft Plan forward.

It was quite clear that Cllr Mansbridge and his team had done a great deal of work behind the scenes to intimidate councillors.

At the same time they used appalling scare tactics about the dire consequences of delaying getting the Plan out to consultation – claiming there would be wholesale and uncontrolled building all over the Green Belt which nobody could stop.

Mansbridge was quoted in the Surrey Advertiser saying we could have 20,000 houses built on the Green Belt if the Plan was even delayed!

Yet last night virtually all councillors from all political parties expressed real concerns about flaws in the Plan – some thanking residents and groups like ours for information and facts received they had not been aware of before.

Even most of those who voted for the Plan to go to public consultation expressed grave reservations.

ACHIEVEMENT

To have half of those voting saying ‘No’ to the council’s Juggernaut (in the most literal sense) is, we believe, an extraordinary achievement – bloodying the council’s nose and putting a hefty shot across the bows of those advocating the current Plan.

Eventually those advocates had to take the tactic of conceding that the Plan has faults and that these now need to be addressed in the consultation process.

So, although we may not have got the vote last night, we, together with the other local groups formed to achieve a sensible and sustainable Plan for Guildford, have managed to make some major inroads in showing that the draft as it stands is unacceptable and will need to be changed – and public acknowledgement from its advocates that this should happen.

In addition MPs and even MEPs have got involved and messages spread both up and down the political party lines.

THANKS

For this our huge thanks go out to all of you for your enormous efforts in getting your emails created and sent to all councillors, MPs, MEPs and the planning office, and printing off copies of your letters for distribution to councillors.

We are in discussions with the Surrey Advertiser about this and will report back with what we can achieve there in the immediate and longer term future as we seek to get our concerns publicised.

OUR COUNCILLORS

We would like to take this opportunity to applaud three of our councillors who stood up against their own party, and the enormous pressures put on them, and voted against the current draft Plan going to consultation in its present format.

 Cllrs Jennifer Powell, Jenny Wicks and Andrew French each made powerful cases about the proposed school in Clandon, the destruction of the Green Belt and the need to review the current Plan.

 They were each prepared to state that they would vote against it going to consultation, and had the enormous courage to stand up in public and vote against their party’s instructions.

 Andrew French stated that it was the first time he had taken this step in 20 years of being a councillor, and Jenny Wicks counteracted Cllr Juneja very forcefully (and out of order according to the Mayor, but not as far as the public were concerned!) when the latter made claims about the former which were patently untrue.

 Cllr Terence Patrick spoke against the proposed school in a question to a speaker from the public, and used his speaking slot to question why the request by the Scrutiny Committee (which he chairs) for a review of the housing numbers required (652 per year) had been ignored.

 However, when it came to the vote Terence Patrick voted for the draft Plan in its current state to go to consultation.

 You can see our councillors in action by tuning in to the podcast of the meeting at:

http://www.guildford.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/139101 

 Although the speakers are listed on the right hand side these seem to be out of sync with the actual video, so we suggest you simply move the progress bar at the bottom of the video to the times we have tested out below to view our councillors’ contributions.

 Jennifer Powell, followed by Andrew French, followed by Jenny Wicks can be seen at: 03.19.30

 Terence Patrick can be seen at: 02.18.50 and his question raising the school at: 01.50.28

 Cllr Liz Hogger (Lib Dem for Effingham) spoke extremely well against the proposed school in Clandon based on Effingham’s experience and can be seen at: 03.03.13

 Keith Taylor, who is Surrey County Councillor for Shere, Guildford Councillor for Send and the man who pushed for two schools to be included in the Plan at the last minute, gives a flavour of the main Conservative team and can be seen at: 03.39.27

 Susan Parker (Guildford Green Belt Group) can be seen at: 00.14.40

Note how she is attacked in questions one after another by Conservative councillors.

 However, to see the real shame of Cllr Mansbridge’s cabal watch the treatment of young Catherine Sambrook, a student who spoke passionately about preserving Guildford at: 01.16.42

 Mrs Linda Fox, who speaks about being homeless and living sustainably, does not declare that she is actually PA to Dr Malcolm Parry, Director Research Park & University Planning Officer at Surrey University – responsible for the university’s expansion plans, which are a fundamental part of the present Plan, and who reports directly to Greg Melly, university Vice-President who also happened to speak at the meeting in support of the University’s development plans.

 We spotted Mrs Fox driving away immediately after speaking in a shiny new car(!) she can be seen at: 01.09.26

 The meeting went on for four and a half hours last night and, as you can see, despite the best attempts by the Mayor, those of us in the public gallery played our part in showing how residents feel about the issues at every opportunity :o)

 GOING FORWARD

There is much to be considered from the meeting. In the coming days we will be putting together our thoughts for the way forward, and in what areas we will need your help in seeking to remove the proposals for the school and Gosden Hill Farm.

 Last night was an education about the pressures political parties bring to bear on the people who, ostensibly, are there to represent us, their residents, and how those who want to see the Plan enacted in its current form are prepared to use misinformation and intimidation to get their way.

 Our campaign will need to be intelligent, sustained and consistent, and we will need total involvement by everyone who does not wish to see the Clandons and our Green Belt destroyed.

 We have all achieved much we can be proud of, but we should be in no doubt about the fight ahead.

 Thank you again for all your efforts and support now and as we go forward.

 Protect Clandon, part of the Clandon Society, the residents’ association of East and West Clandon

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