80 Year Old voices concerns at Council Leader and six Comments
Reported in Guildford Dragon
An 80-year-old senior citizen from Worplesdon has challenged the council leader to explain why her “hard working” councillor had been removed from the Local Committee, a joint Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council (GBC) group.
An uncomfortable looking Stephen Mansbridge, the council leader, took over from the chairman of the meeting, held in the council chamber at Millmead on September 24, to explain his team change to the questioner, Sandra Morgan, a former magistrate, who lives at Fairlands. He ended his response with a curt: “And that’s the end of the matter.”
Mrs Morgan, unruffled, responded: “Well it may be for you but it certainly isn’t for me.”
The Local Committee in Guildford is one of 11 established by Surrey County Council in April 2002 to bring its decision-making and its services closer to the communities it serves. The committee meets regularly in a variety of venues around the borough of Guildford.
The committee comprises of 10 county councillors, representing each of the divisions in their borough, and 10 borough councillors. They discuss issues such as education, social care, young people, highways and transport.
Members are selected to represent, between, them all areas of the borough and reflect, approximately, the political profile of the councils: out of the 10 county councillors there are three Lib Dems plus one UKIP member and three Lib Dems among the 10 borough councillors.
Borough Cllr Bob McShee (Con, Worplesdon) was one of the members until early September. When Sandra Morgan noticed his name missing from an agenda she contacted Cllr McShee, as one of his constituents. He told her that he had not wished to stand down but had been removed to make way for another councillor.
Unhappy, Mrs Morgan decided to exercise her right to ask a question at the next Local Committee meeting, where as sound as she was given her chance to speak said: “Worplesdon feels under threat at the moment.
“Why has our borough councillor, Bob McShee, been removed from this committee? I say removed because I understand that he wished to continue. I notice that there are no other changes in the borough councillors.”
The chairman, County Cllr Mark Brett-Warburton (Con, Guildford South East) responded to explain that the move had been made to allow Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch) as the new lead councillor on infrastructure at GBC, to take a seat on the committee.
Mrs Morgan remained unconvinced and said: “Chairman – he wasn’t asked to step down, he was removed. He was told he couldn’t do it any longer. I am sorry but I don’t find that satisfactory.
“He is the most hard-working councillor that I have come across. I am totally apolitical so I don’t care what anyone’s politics are if a person works hard for the area. That has now left Worplesdon, Pirbright and Normandy, a large chunk with no particular person. There are two members of this committee from Ash.”
A further explanation from the chairman in which he said that Worplesdon was still represented by County Cllr Keith Witham and that the change was not meant to reflect on Cllr McShee’s ability. He said he felt that Mrs Morgan was reading too much into the change.
“No I don’t think I am actually,” responded Mrs Morgan, “Why couldn’t you take off one of the one’s from Ash? Why did the chairman here, the two in front of me, Stephen Mansford (sic) why did he decide?”
At this point Cllr Mansbridge appeared to decide that he needed to speak for himself: “I will be extremely clear about it. Councillor McShee was taken off this committee because the infrastructure issues that face this borough and Cllr Palmer [Con, Shalford] had been in charge of the infrastructure portfolio and for reasons of his work had had to stand down but for reasons of continuity it was very important that he remained on this committee.
“The new member, Cllr Furniss [Con, Christchurch], has taken over his portfolio. It is right that he obviously comes on to this committee and it is right that he also goes on to the transport sub-committee and we want to keep a level of continuity between the two and unfortunately Cllr McShee – and it is in my gift as the leader of the Conservative group to make decisions as to who sits on what committee – and it was my decision for him not to be on this committee. And that’s the end of the matter.”
Sandra Morgan responded: “Well it may be for you but it is certainly not for me.”
Yesterday (September 29) Mrs Morgan said that she was pursuing the matter by writing to the local press and to MP Anne Milton.
She said: “Politics mean nothing to me… But with Bob if you ring him up and say there’s a problem here he deals with it.
“I hope that a lot more people write to complain because Bob is popular. I have seen a lot of different councillors and Bob is one of the most hard working. I want to know why he has been removed. It seems that his independent stance has upset the council leader… There is something wrong and it worries me.”
The current membership of the Guildford Local Committee is:
Surrey County Council Appointed Members
Mr W D Barker OBE (C), Horsleys; Mr Mark Brett-Warburton (C), Guildford South East (Chairman); Mr Graham Ellwood (C), Guildford East; Mr David Goodwin (LD), Guildford South West; Mr George Johnson (UKIP), Shalford; Mrs Marsha Moseley(C), Ash; Mrs Pauline Searle (LD), Guildford North; Mr Keith Taylor (C), Shere; Mrs Fiona White (LD), Guildford West; Mr Keith Witham (C), Worplesdon
Borough Council Appointed Members
Cllr Zoe Franklin (LD), Stoke; Cllr Matt Furniss (C), Christchurch; Cllr Monika Juneja (C), Burpham; Cllr Nigel Manning (C), Ash Vale (Vice-Chairman); Cllr Stephen Mansbridge (C), Ash South & Tongham; Cllr Julia McShane (LD), Westborough; Cllr James Palmer (C), Shalford; Cllr Tony Phillips (LD), Onslow; Cllr Tony Rooth (C), Pilgrims; Cllr David Wright (C), Tillingbourne.