Guildford Lib Dems E-Focus - July 2020

July 17, 2020 4:37 PM

Covid-19 and the Council

Our councillors have been working harder than ever to assist Guildford's shops, museums and institutions facing financial strain during this Covid-crisis. Both Guildford and Surrey County councils have been meeting costs far bigger than the Conservative Government grants received so far, leading to shortfalls of £9.6 million in Guildford Borough and £20.6 million for Surrey County.

By ignoring both councils' loss of income in parking fees and investment, the Government has forced our councils to look hard at future spending, which will impact our community. Much of our councillors' time has been spent assessing how new regulations and policies will impact their residents. Chaos on a national level has forced us to translate the mixed messages of the Government so as to actually materialise deliverable policy and action.

Coalition with R4GV

When the dust settled on the 2019 Guildford Borough Council Elections, it became clear that the Conservatives had been wholly rejected by Guildford voters. Due to the near-equal number of Liberal Democrat and Residents for Guildford (R4GV) councillors, we immediately began arranging an informal agreement concerning Council Executive seats. The success of this first agreement has led to a more formal coalition whereby each party holds four seats on the executive, and the Council leader's position is planned to alternate between the two groups. This coalition will be finalised in the coming weeks, enabling each party to fulfil their manifesto promises.

Lib Dem Councillor Caroline Reeves, present Leader of Guildford Borough Council says:

"This has been a steep learning curve for all of us, firstly understanding the responsibilities of being on the Council Executive and indeed leading the Council, plus working in a joined-up, cross-party way. As we are all elected to do the best for the borough and our residents it is the right thing to do, especially now in these challenging pandemic times"

Climate Cuppa Virtual Cuppa & Climate Discussion July 2020

Tackling the climate crisis is a key priority for the Lib Dem team at Guildford Borough Council and Lib Dem Exec member and Merrow councillor Jan Harwood leads on this. He will be hosting (remotely) two climate cuppa and discussion events alongside local Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson Zöe Franklin at 10am on Saturday 25th July and again at 5pm on Tuesday 28th July. These will be an opportunity to share your views, concerns and suggestions on the topic of climate change, and are part of an ongoing series of events we will run on the urgent issue of the environment and accelerating climate change. If you would like to join us for one of these events please send an email indicating which session you wish to attend to office@guildfordlibdems.org.uk.

Major Projects

When the Liberal Democrats won the Guildford Borough Council elections in May 2019, the most visible problem we encountered was the over-ambitious 'Major Projects Scheme' left behind by the Conservatives. Due to the extortionate level of borrowing and capital financing proposed, it has taken months of work by both Liberal and R4GV councillors to work out more financially viable plans.

Cllr Angela Goodwin out litter pickingPandemic Litter Picking

Many of our councillors have fiercely faced down the rise in Guildford's stray litter during the Covid pandemic, though none more admirably than Angela Goodwin, Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas. Angela has been personally travelling to litter hot-spots to help, explaining:

"During lockdown my daughter and I started using our daily walks to do something useful in our community. Using litter pickers and social distancing practices we have focussed on a small local area - Guildford Park, Upperton, Ludlow, Denzil, Testard & Wherwell Roads, Wodeland Avenue and Guildford Park Avenue."

Angela plans on continuing this work through the pandemic.

Chitty's Common

Cllr Pauline Searle at Chitty's Common

Following years of negligence from Conservative-controlled Surrey County Council, Sue Day and Lib Dem Councillor Pauline Searle have achieved great success in preserving Guildford's well-loved wetland since founding the Chitty's Common Friends Group two years ago.

Since its formation, the group has attracted over 40 regular volunteers who have worked tirelessly to renew the boardwalk, clear three overgrown ponds, channel water to previously dry ponds to re-energise natural life and of course spent hours tirelessly clearing litter on the Common. Such hard work has led to an award from Guildford in Bloom and funds from the Guildford Environmental Forum to support their continued efforts. More recently, satisfaction has been brought by an influx of families visiting. As Councillor Searle says, "we have seen a massive increase in people especially families using Chitty's Common and enjoying the peace of this gem of an open space and its hidden ponds."

And finally...

We hope that in these difficult times you remain healthy. The whole Guildford Lib Dem team (and particularly Zöe Franklin, our Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford, Cranleigh and Our Villages) are always in listening mode and if we can advise, help or point you in the right direction we will always do our best.

If you want to get in touch you can do so via email or Facebook. ZF & GBC Councillors

Best wishes

Z Franklin signature

Zöe Franklin and the Guildford Liberal Democrat Councillor Team