Another Council Executive Member Goes – This Time Due To Pressure Of Work

Guildford Dragon reports

Cllr James Palmer

James Palmer (Con, Shalford) the deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council’s  (GBC) Executive is resigning his position because of “pressure of increased work commitments outside the council”.

The unexpected announcement came this afternoon in the wake of Cllr Monika Juneja’s departure from the Executive after seven charges had been made against her by the police.

Surprisingly no replacement for either Executive member has been announced; instead their duties have been taken on by existing Executive lead councillors and the Executive shrinks in size to just eight members, four of the from, including the leader and new deputy from Ash wards, on the western edge of the borough.

Cllr Nigel Manning the new deputy leader on the GBC Executive

In a press release a GBC spokesperson wrote: “Due to the pressure of increased work commitments outside the council, Cllr James Palmer will step down as deputy leader of the council and lead member for infrastructure onSunday 31 August.

“Cllr Nigel Manning [Con, Ash Vale], lead member for finance and asset management will become deputy leader of the council.

“Cllr Matt Furniss  [Con, Christchurch] will take on an expanded portfolio and become lead member for transport, infrastructure and environment.”

Cllr Palmer works full-time as a solicitor and his difficulty in balancing career and council work has previously been apparent. His previous resignation from the Executive was part of the chain of events that led to Cllr Mansbridge’s takeover as leader from Cllr Tony Rooth in September 2012.

The planned moves within the council’s Executive will be made later this month.

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South and Tongham), leader of the council, said: “I would like to thank Cllr Palmer for his time on the Executive, initially working on the town centre and latterly on infrastructure solutions for the borough. Cllr Furniss will take on this important area of work alongside his existing portfolio, and Cllr Manning will move into the Deputy Leader role.”

“We continue to develop a new Local Plan for the borough – we have appointed a highly experienced interim head of planning who will start work on Wednesday 3 September. A new planning policy manager is working with our team and is proceeding with a thorough two-month take over from the interim post holder.

Cllr Mansbridge added: “Our work on the Local Plan continues to be supported by a team of experienced and knowledgeable planning professionals. The changes to the Executive and our planning team will ensure the process and many other aspects of council work are managed and overseen in the best and strongest possible way.”

4 Responses to Another Council Executive Member Goes – This Time Due To Pressure Of Work

  1. Mary BedforthReply

    August 27, 2014 at 8:15 am

    The silence of our Conservative MP for Guildford, Anne Milton, over the Summer on these local planning issues and on the disintegration of GBC, is deafening. Does she not have any opinions she would like to share with her constituents?

  2. C StevensReply

    August 27, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    This is a bit of a pickle, isn’t it?

    If you have ten lead councillors forming the Executive, presumably that’s because that’s the number needed. If you can get by with eight, why appoint ten?

    Infrastructure can’t have been that onerous a responsibility if Cllr Furniss can take it on in addition to transport and environment.

    Does Cllr Manning really have the time to act as deputy leader in addition to looking after the finance and asset management portfolio, which must be a huge responsibility in this borough? As we know from Rotherham yesterday, a leader of a council can be there in the morning and gone by tea-time leaving the deputy with a great deal to think about.

    Those who don’t like this Conservative administration must be quietly cheering: you wait ages for an Executive member to go, then two depart within a week. Anyone looking for a third? Or maybe like an Agatha Christie novel, the “Ten Little Lead Councillors” will fall by the wayside, one after another.

    More seriously, Guildford Borough Council does seem to have been terribly unlucky with people moving on recently. We’ve had the departures of one of the strategic directors; the head of HR; the chief executive; the head of planning and now the lead councillors for planning and for infrastructure. Funny old world, eh?

  3. Jules CranwellReply

    August 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

    It seems to me that this is an ideal opportunity to disband the executive, and return to the previous, successful committee system, rather than wait for the inevitable referendum.

  4. Adrian AtkinsonReply

    August 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Irrespective of where people forming the Executive are from (it would have been nice to have a more balanced geographic spread from across the borough), surely it is only sensible and reasonable to have all the bases locked, loaded and replace the recent departures with a full committee rather than farm out key roles to members of the existing cohort?

    After all, the borough is only facing the most important period in recent history.

    Shame. It seems, there aren’t any other councillors, elected by the people of the borough, fit for any of the jobs? I would be keen to understand their perspective on what is happening.