PRESS RELEASE: Guildford Borough Council vote down Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Motion meeting on 5th April 2022. 

April 7, 2022 11:30 AM

Guildford Liberal Democrats
Contact: Guildford Lib Dem Office
EMBARGO: Immediate

At Tuesday night's meeting of Guildford Borough Council, the Liberal Democrats presented a motion calling for the Council, Surrey Police and other stakeholders to work together to end violence against women and girls by taking practical actions across Guildford Borough.

The motion set out a series of actions that the Council will undertake in order to do all they can to end violence against women and girls, a problem that is unfortunately endemic in our society.

Deputy Council Leader Julia McShane said:

"This motion was put to Council because all women and girls who have experienced, are experiencing or sadly may yet experience abuse need to know that we see them. We hear them. We stand with them."

She continued:

"Some people questioned the reasons behind this motion, stating it was a political move. That is untrue; yes it is in line with a national policy but it was a motion put forward for the people of Guildford Borough, it was a statement of intent and a promise to the residents we represent. Any party with representatives on the council had time to put forward amendments if they thought changes were needed but they chose not to. I was truly saddened that the motion was not passed by full council, but I thank my colleagues who worked hard on this and also those who supported the motion last night."

The motion was proposed by Councillor George Potter and seconded by Councillor Pauline Searle. Despite the motion being defeated, Councillor Potter said

"I hope that the executive will still wish to become a supporter organisation of the White Ribbon Campaign, an organisation that works to end violence against women and girls, and that they will consider becoming an accredited organisation in the future. This is not just symbolic, this is something that we should be doing as an employer of women. I hope that we can work with our cross-party colleagues in the future to bring a motion to End Violence Against Women and Girls to the council that they can fully endorse."

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson Zöe Franklin added:

"This is a motion that should transcend party politics. The sad fact is that violence against women and girls is a serious problem in our society and that simply cannot continue. It was upsetting to see that people would rather vote against this motion because it was presented by a particular political party rather than want to make a real difference to the residents of Guildford Borough. This was not a time for tribal divisions and point-scoring.

"This motion and the promises made within it would have made a difference to women, men and children across Guildford all of whom are deeply affected by this issue. I will be working with my colleagues at the council to do all we can to turn words into real action, despite the disappointing result at Tuesday's meeting."

Also brought to the meeting was a Conservative motion calling for the Council to condemn a Surrey Police and Crime Panel sub-committee decision to uphold a complaint made against the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in relation to comments she had made on social media, which were not considered appropriate to be published on an official account of an elected official. The motion made numerous false and misleading claims, including the claim that a mostly male committee was policing the language of women. Liberal Democrats disagreed with the motion and opposed it.

Cllr Fiona White said "I have read the recommendations from the meeting this motion referred to and I think that it was a distortion of those recommendations."

Cllr White Continued:

"The Committee took the view that the PCC is entitled to express her beliefs but when she is acting in her capacity as PCC, the obligation regarding dignity and respect applies. The Twitter account she had used identified her as the Police & Crime Commissioner for Surrey and in that capacity, some of the wording in her tweet, notably "We will not accept gaslighting from men who keep telling us they are women or those who enable it" was not dignified or respectful."