Three former Godalming Mayors wiped out any prospect of Christmas spirit permeating the Full Council meeting last night.
It didn’t look a lot like Christmas; more like Ding, Dong Merrily on High; there was so much mucky brown stuff flying around the council chamber.
Here’s the Motion put forward by the Tory Group – which followed a petition from a Godalming resident that he claimed was signed by 4,000 Godalming residents and shoppers.
This claim was challenged by Deputy Mayor Penny Rivers, who argued that it wasn’t supported by the remaining 16,000 + Godalming residents and shoppers.
Allegations, recriminations, and personal attacks rattled around the rafters of the council chamber – some councillors saying they have never experienced a more acrimonious, unpleasant and unedifying debate in Waverley’s history.
Despite Mayor John Ward’s appeal earlier for councillors to show Christmas spirit, the mood was grim.
“I don’t want to witness -un-Christmassy emotions here tonight. he said.”
That appeal fell on deaf ears, and battle commenced as he raised the chequered flag for the debate to begin.
Cllr Peter Martin accused the Rainbow Administration – Lib Dems, Farnham Residents’, Greens, Labour & Independents of…
Stealing the assets of Godalming residents in their bid to build homes on the Crown Court Car Park and a multi storey car park on The Burys.
All of which the Administration claimed was a Consultation – and not a done deal. A deal that from the outset the Opposition had distanced itself.
The Tories wanted the scheme thrown out – lock stock and smoking barrel – the remainder of the council wanted to compromise – work with the Opposition and not use the Regeneration of Godalming as a political football. The Tory group had repeatedly been asked to join the working groups considering the scheme – but had consistently Refused but had offered no alternative.
Tory Cllr Steve Cosser accused the Administration of riding rough-shod over the views of the Chamber of Trade, saying “after all, their very livelihoods are at stake here.Removing car parking spaces will not help them. There is a lot at stake here – show the political courage to abandon this scheme now.”
There were some uncomfortable moments when Cllr Simon Dear referred to the affordable homes proposed on Crown Ct CP as “a council house ghetto.” Leader Follows, looking as though he had just received a court summons, said he was proud of once being one of those council house tenants but took great exception to have his home referred to as a ghetto.
There was little doubt that the Tories wanted the whole issue dumped into the PENDING tray – which is what it did during the years it led Waverley Council. However, it was roundly criticised for the “white elephant” it had made of the Brightwells redevelopment in Farnham town centre. Cllr Paul Follows laid out the reasons why the Godalming redevelopment was needed.
Before presenting his amendment to the Motion put forward, Council Leader Paul Follows said:
The amendment, which appears above, was carried by 25 votes, 13 against and 2 Abstentions.
To be continued…