GUILDFORD GREENBELT GROUP (GGG) LEADER SUSAN PARKER
CHOSEN TO STAND FOR GUILDFORD IN GENERAL ELECTION
Guildford Greenbelt Group is pleased to announce that it has selected Susan Parker to stand as its prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Guildford.
GGG stands for protection of our Greenbelt and the countryside, for respect for our environment, and for working in harmony with nature on a sustainable basis, while also being financially and economically realistic, socially responsible and fiscally conservative.
Susan has led GGG since its formation in 2013. GGG has raised issues and objections to the proposed local plan in Guildford, seeking to get a better and more workable local plan, for more than a year.
GGG has a local focus. Guildford Borough Council and Waverley Borough Council have been very enthusiastic proponents for the plans to build over the greenbelt and countryside within the boroughs. The local plan was introduced by the then lead councillor for planning who noted: “There are some areas of the green belt which are not very nice and maybe we could roll back the boundaries” .
Despite apparent consultation, and supposed reconsideration, in practice the plans for large-scale development are rolling on regardless. Developers have put forward proposals for Cranleigh, for Effingham, for Wisley and for the Hog’s Back. Brownfield areas have not been properly considered for development but are being allocated for commercial development instead, pushing housing into green fields. This will result in drastic or catastrophic change, and a huge increase in urban sprawl, which is hugely unsustainable. This is why GGG candidates will be standing for local councils. GGG is seeking to participate in local decision-making to reflect the views of local people. We represent genuine Localism.
However, it is also clear that the problems within the planning system are not just local. Part of the problem lies within the current coalition government, which is seeking to build its way out of recession on the countryside that we all value. There is no other genuine strategy for economic growth. What is disconcerting is that this view of the “need” to build on the countryside seems to be shared by most of the larger parties, without much foundation.
While housing is a national need, it is not at all clear that the only sane option for housing provision at an affordable level is erosion of our countryside. There are options such as brownfield development, targeting “buy to leave” housing to reduce the impact of this, and utilisation of empty homes. Experts have confirmed that the brownfield land available in our larger cities is a huge resource, which offers a better, more sustainable way of providing housing, leaving most countryside available for food provision, fresh air, carbon capture, leisure, flood defence and environmental protection. Current need for housing is not being properly provided by commercial development, and the mechanisms within the NPPF for ensuring provision of much needed housing are very limited and inadequate.
GGG feels that no other political party is prepared to stand up for the countryside and the environment, certainly no party with a fiscally conservative, economically responsible slant. It is interesting that candidates for most other political parties are now asserting their interest in protecting the Greenbelt – but all other political parties have been remarkably silent about this over the last eighteen months through the Local Plan process.
Most of the values that GGG cares about are traditional “conservative” values, but these seem to have been abandoned by the current administration, which does not seem to share any of our concerns. Conservative politicians, both local and national, are now claiming that they will protect the Greenbelt, but it is under their administration that our countryside is being threatened. Unless those in a position of power are reminded that the voters care about traditional Conservative values, the administration is unlikely to change its values or its policies. As a result, GGG has decided to express local concerns by putting forward a prospective parliamentary candidate.
Jules Cranwell, committee member of Guildford Greenbelt Group, commented:
“This strategy has been determined following a detailed analysis of the track record of incumbents with regard to the greenbelt. The policy of the incumbent of the national Guildford seat, Anne Milton, has been one of sitting firmly on the fence, with regard to greenbelt matters, apart from very recent pronouncements, in the build-up to the May election.
In terms of the borough strategy, we hope to contest all seats where support for the greenbelt has been lacking, where the incumbents have been too sympathetic to developers, and those where the incumbents have been found to have acted without integrity or probity.”
Michael Bruton of GGG and East Horsley comments:
“Last Saturday Mole Valley Conservatives delivered leaflets here in East Horsley proclaiming their passion for Green Belt protection. I recall that all three of the Horsley and Clandon Councillors voted for the initial ‘Issues and Options’ paper which proposed the rolling back of the Green Belt and the removal of most of GBC’s villages from the Green Belt ? They helped to give birth to this monstrous process. If my Councillors feel as strongly as they claim to do now, about Green Belt protection they could abandon the Conservative whip and sit as Independents for the remainder of their tenure ? After all, I understand that two of the Horsley and Clandon Councillors are standing down anyway.
Has the unpopularity of Tory-led Guildford Council on the matter combined with the approach of Elections in May, encouraged Mrs Milton’s and Conservative Councillors’ sudden passion for Green Belt protection?. Or has the formation of the Guildford Greenbelt Group and its decision to stand in these elections made other Parties suddenly discover the virtues of the Green Belt/Countryside and its protection? Voters will remember that in May 2011, Guildford Conservative Councillors campaigned and were elected on the basis of ‘Green Belt Protection’. They took me in in 2011 with that promise which turned out to be worthless. I will not be ‘taken in’ again in 2015.”
Susan Parker said:
“The planning system is broken. We need real localism, for local people, so that communities can choose the development that really meets their needs, and not suffer plans imposed centrally or by inspectors on behalf of government. Localism as it is offered at present is just so much spin.
“We have repeatedly challenged the Government to change its policy and to respect our concerns, but we have not been heard. We feel it is time that the Government – and the next Government, whoever that may be – start to listen. That is why I am standing as a parliamentary candidate. Until parliamentary seats are threatened, government policy (or that of the opposition) will not change. We are challenging an entrenched system that discriminates against local people. ”