The new Executive at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) selected by the re-elected council leader Stephen Mansbridge has been announced
Cllr Stephen Mansbridge
Cllr Stephen Mansbridge (Ash South & Tongham) Leader of Guildford Borough Council.
Former Coldstream Guards officer who led the rebellion to unseat Cllr Tony Rooth as council leader in September 2012. This followed a legal challenge from the Guildford Vision Group to the Draft Local Plan which caused it to be withdrawn, at that stage. His close friendship and business association with disgraced former councillor Monica Juneja, who he promoted onto the Executive to be lead councillor for planning, has led some to question his judgement. Minutes before he announced his new Executive he had to survive a council leadership challenge in which two of his own group abstained.
Cllr Nigel Manning
Cllr Nigel Manning (Ash Vale) – Deputy Leader, Lead Councillor Finance and Asset Management
A loyal lieutenant to Stephen Mansbridge whose seat at Ash Vale is a little north of Mansbridge’s own. Both lie outside the Guildford Parliamentary constituency and so come under a different Conservative Association responsible, among other things, for candidate selection. The area of Ash, together with Guildford town, forms almost all of the 20% non-green-belt-land in the borough. Nigel’s wife is Cllr Marsha Moseley who also represents Ash Vale. Both work for HMRC. It is generally acknowledged that the council’s finances have, unlike some councils, remained in a healthy state during Cllr Manning’s stewardship.
Cllr Paul Spooner
Cllr Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham) –Lead Councillor, Planning
Since he was elected unopposed in a 2013 by-election, Paul Spooner has become another of Stephen Mansbridge’s right hand men. In September 2014, he came to attention when was seen hugging Lib Dem leader Councillor Reeves at the Lovelace by-election count when green belt activist, and Conservative candidate, Ben Paton was beaten by the Lib Dem candidate Colin Cross. Ben Paton had made his antipathy for Stephen Mansbridge’s leadership well known. Planning is probably the trickiest and most challenging of all the Executive portfolios. Stephen Mansbridge took it on himself after Monika Juneja was asked to step down, following criminal charges, last August. Part of Spooner’s role is likely to be bridge building between the Tory and Lib Dem Groups.
Cllr Matt Furniss
Cllr Matt Furniss (Christchurch) – Lead Councillor, Infrastructure and Environment
A local boy, Matt Furniss attended George Abbot school where he was taught by one of his fellow councillors, Jenny Jordan. Believed by some to have political ambitions, Matt stood unsuccessfully for the chairmanship of the Guildford Conservative Association in 2013 but is thought to have the ear of Guildford MP Anne Milton. Cllr Furniss is also the spokesman of the Tory Group. Listing his employer as Roots & Wings Organic, Furniss certainly puts the hours in as a councillor. Infrastructure, like planning, is a tricky portfolio. Infrastructural improvements will be a key component of any Local Plan.
Cllr Geoff Davis
Cllr Geoff Davis (Holy Trinity) – Lead Councillor, Economic Development
Geoff Davis has been promoted straight onto the Executive within days of becoming a councillor. With his employment interest listed as Nevis Land Ltd, a company that buys and sells real estate, The Guildford Dragon has heard that he intends to make the council’s considerable property assets sweat. If true, it will be interesting to see the tactics.
Cllr Davies has himself five properties within the borough listed in the council’s register of interests. Their rate of perspiration is not known.
Cllr Tony Rooth
Cllr Tony Rooth (Pilgrims) – Lead Councillor, Housing and Social Welfare
Former shipping lawyer and former council leader until 2012 Cllr Rooth has served on the council since 2003. He lives in Guildford town and represents Pilgrim’s ward, a safe, mainly rural, Conservative seat in the south west of the borough.
Observers will be keen to see how efficient the council is at carrying out their policy of building more social housing. He takes over from Sarah Creedy one of the former Executive’s safest pair of hands who surprisingly stepped down at the election.
Cllr Murray Grubb
Cllr Murray Grubb Jnr (Ash Wharf) – Lead Councillor, Transformation and Customer Focus
One of the small number of councillors under 40, Murray is a Scot from Fife and was a trade-union member while working as an apprentice in Rosyth dockyard. He was quickly promoted to the Executive after he won his Ash Wharf seat in a by-election in May 2013. He is the fourth Ash area member of the ten-person Executive. Cllr Grubb was given the transformation and customer focus brief presumably because, in his own words: “I have a very specialised set of skills in technology transformations.”
Cllr Richard Billington
Cllr Richard Billington (Tillingbourne) –Lead Councillor, Rural Economy, Countryside, Parks and Leisure
The only Executive member to come from the eastern half of the borough, Cllr Billington lives in Gomshall and has, it is believed, two dogs, so has the perfect excuse to don a Barbour and some Hunter wellies and inspect his new domain – the 80% of the borough that is still rural, agricultural and still green belt. At least Parks and Leisure should prove an easy brief: admired by residents and visitors alike they are some of the jewels in the council’s crown. His frequent witticisms might help when Executive meetings get tense.
Cllr Graham Ellwood
Cllr Graham Ellwood (Merrow) – Lead Councillor, Community Safety and Licensing
Surrey County Councillor for Guildford East. Cllr Ellwood is a bit of a mystery. According to the register of interests, under the employment and land within the borough sections, it states: “The Council’s Monitoring Officer considers that the nature of Councillor Ellwood’s interest under this paragraph is such that disclosure of the details of the interest could lead to the councillor being subject to violence or intimidation. The details of the interest have therefore been withheld under the provisions of paragraph 19 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.”
Cllr Iseult Roche
Cllr Iseult Roche (Worplesdon) – Lead Councillor, Community Health and Sport
The only female Executive member, Cllr Roche is a doctor at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.
Nothing is known of her sporting pedigree but the council’s register of interests shows that she is a member of Guildford Action for Community Care, the Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau and Jacobs Well Residents Association.