Delivering our promises for Guildford Borough

February 12, 2020 9:31 AM

Guildford Liberal Democrats have hailed Guildford Borough Council's new budget as a 'good start' on delivering the promises to the residents of the borough.

Although no party won an overall majority at the Guildford Borough Council elections in May 2019, the council has achieved a great deal in this first year by working cross-party. With Lib Dem councillor Caroline Reeves as Council Leader, the current ten-member Executive includes eight Lib Dems and two members from R4GV (Residents for Guildford and the Villages).

The council's budget for 2020-2021 was agreed unanimously at last Wednesday's Council meeting (05/02/2020).

The budget maintains council services and provides funding towards some key projects, including Weyside Urban Village, the Town Centre Master Plan, the Guildford Museum redevelopment, council housing developments and sustainable transport initiatives.

Lib Dem Council Leader Caroline Reeves commented:

"I'm particularly pleased that we can set this budget with a minimal 3% increase in the Borough's council tax, making our council tax rate the second lowest in Surrey. This is in spite of the Conservatives having halved central government funding for Guildford over the last seven years, including a massive cut this year of £4.1 million compared to 2013/14."

In its first ten months, the new council has already:

  • Declared a Climate Emergency and started working with partners towards achieving the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The council has already pledged £1.25 million of investment over the next three years to achieve climate change goals.
  • Transformed the council's structure, by delivering the Future Guildford programme. This has generated £2.5 million savings for 2020/21, with additional savings of £3 million over the next three years.
  • Begun working to get the best for Guildford out of the adopted Local Plan, starting the process to produce formal planning guidance to ensure good design, high environmental standards with Climate Change priorities, and the provision of roads, schools and health services.
  • Started the process of preparing a Town Centre Master Plan to make best use of urban land whilst protecting our environment and making the most of our beautiful historic town.
  • Agreed funding to unlock the infrastructure phase of the Weyside Urban Village project, to provide 1,500 new homes with community facilities and employment space, on council-owned brownfield land at Slyfield.

Lib Dem Council Leader Caroline Reeves added:

"By working cross-party, the Lib Dems have made a good start on delivering the promises we made to residents in our election manifesto. The council budget for 2020-21 gives the council a strong financial foundation to continue delivering our ambitious programme for Guildford."