From Tony Edwards of Ockham
While our Tory-led coalition government avoids any serious legislative decision-making and concentrates on its party ambitions to become re-elected in the May election, many will ponder the unavoidable conclusion that, for the next four months, we shall be paying them to do nothing more than serve their own party political ends.
But, of course, there are similar goings-on closer to home following Guildford Borough Council’s decision to postpone submission of the Local Plan for approval until after next May’s election – a delay of nearly eight months during which time the council will have“more time to take a full and proper account” of some 6,000 representations already made by 2,873 residents and stake holders.
The clear and, no doubt, intended implication is that Cllr Mansbridge and associates are in the process of re-assessing their previously suggested assault on the borough’s green belt and that intentions to strip more than a dozen Guildford villages of their green belt status will evaporate in a mist of social goodwill scheduled to descend on the borough between now and the May election.
Indeed, Cllr Mansbridge was applauded for his welcome green belt U-turn on his previous statement – that “some parts of the green belt are not great and should be used for building” – shortly before Christmas, raising hopes that such planned acts of wanton green belt vandalism as creating a ‘new town’ at‘Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, will be deleted from the draft Local Plan.
But then the council seemed to raise its expectations for housing numbers by publishing a report, produced by G L Hearn, which actually upped the proposed housing numbers published last May. It was a report that had apparently been in the council’s possession since September yet was released immediately before Christmas.
Cynical old PR people, like myself, tend to view such timing as, at best, unfortunate as it could so easily be misinterpreted as an attempt to bury bad news in the pre-Christmas rush, when people are less inclined to pay attention to the goings-on at city hall.
I suspect, however, that most Guildford residents are, by now, wise to the antics of both national and local government and will view, with due caution, the promises and platitudes of politicians in the lead up to the May elections. I sincerely hope so.
Happy new year.