Why doesn’t Godalming Town Council have a planning committee?

 

GTC__CBA.jpgAll the major towns in ‘Your Waverley’ have a dedicated planning committee – including here in Farnham – Haslemere and Cranleigh. Even the small rural villages have either dedicated planning committees or public meetings where planning applications are considered – in public?

So why not in Godalming?

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Our interest in the planning function of Godalming Town Council was sparked off by the letter featured on the link above.

Funny, we thought, funny …   a major town, which hosts Waverley Towers and where there is a huge amount of development presently underway and even more proposed in the future? But no planning committee?

Even more puzzling? This paragraph from GTC’s new boy Councillor Paul Follows’ letter where he tells his fellow councillors of his, and residents concerns over the proposal to build on land at Milford Golf Course. A development that will have implications for Godalming’s overloaded road network and its infrastructure.

Cllr. Denis Leigh (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Bob Upton (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Gillian McCalden (Witley Parish Council, Chair)
Cllr. Tony Sollars (Witley Parish Council, Planning Committee Chair)

 

“My intent is to have this application reviewed by Godalming Town Council (GTC) to record a formal opinion before it goes to the Waverley Joint Planning Committee – and it is my hope that you might support that endeavour by writing to the Chairman of the Godalming Town Council Policy and Management Committee (Cllr Stefen Reynolds) to that end.

We, unfortunately, have no dedicated planning committee at GTC and as such, I am an opposition councillor asking the majority party chair for this to be added to the town council agenda – as you can imagine there is no guarantee that will happen and as such your support would be greatly appreciated!”

We have just learned that astoundingly the Tories abolished the Planning committee because quite simply they couldn’t be bothered. Their reason was that because so many of them are twin hatted – ie Waverley Councillors as well – then they would take the decisions and make the case at the meeting that mattered, rather than holding a trivial town council meeting, in front of the voting fodder, and duplicating their efforts.
They then said they would add significant planning items to other agendas, at the request of members. And an application in a neighbouring parish may not interest most of the council, hence Paul Follows lobbying for support with other Conservatives.

Surely, any self-respecting council -at the grassroots of local democracy – would want to hear its residents’ views on a planning application which affect their lives? Even a minor extension, can have a huge impact. So why don’t they review each and every planning application – allowing residents to have their say?

So Godalming Tories win the WW award for most “Can’t Be Arsed” Council this year.

Is a Godalming Tory jumping on the local residents’ bandwagon​?

Have the residents of Godalming bounced the Tory-dominated town council into objecting to a planning application it would have preferred to see approved? 

Is one of the Tories now smoothing the way for the Tory-dominated borough planners to give it the go-ahead? 

You will see from the letter below that Godalming Town Council has registered its objection to a development of 262 dwellings on land between New Way & Aarons Hill, Godalming.

No surprise there then after more than 70 people turned up and another 170 registered their objection to development in the GREEN BELT that would join Godalming to Guildford Godalming Town Council backs residents’ fight – plans just not good enough for green belt site.

Or bearing in mind the Waverley Web’s post yesterday – perhaps that would be just what the new Unitary Authority would want? Has Hambledon’s Holder become a bit bolder or is he just demob happy as he prepares to leave ‘Your Waverley?

Councillor Andrew Bolton reminds residents on Facebook that – it is Waverley Council that will determine the application, NOT the Town Council. No doubt, just in case residents dare to think their very vocal opposition is going to make one jot of difference at Waverley Towers. 

Please, Councillor Bolton, don’t treat the voting fodder like idiots! They know full well that it is the borough council’s function to refuse or permit planning applications. Residents aim of turning out in force was to register their opposition, to their town councillors, the people they elected to represent their views. Because like the residents in the East of the borough they know that if it doesn’t move, Waverley officers will recommend developing it, and unless councillors break the habit of a lifetime Tory councillors will follow their lead! Neither were residents asking you to predetermine an application. But just giving you a gentle reminder that it is your function as a Godalming Town Councillor to not only listen but HEAR and act on the concerns. You ignore the mood of Godalming people at your peril. 

To remind them of the lack of funds for Green Oaks and then mention that the developers’ twenty pieces of silver – or as you describe it as 106 monies for infrastructure, could provide “substantial support for Green Oaks School” and that it may not survive without it was not only disingenuous but a disgraceful veiled threat.  Dare we suggest you were more than a little put out that a motion to object came from the opposition? An opposition that is proving itself to be very effective?

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Don’t forget the changes to the Guildford Local Plan for the other half of the field. Guildford’s consultation started on 11 September and will run until 23 October 2018. You can all comment on the proposed removal from the Green Belt here: https://www.guildford.gov.uk/newlocalplan/examination

 

Godalming Town Council backs residents’ fight – plans just not good enough for green belt site.

Residents, backed by Waverley Councillor Paul Follows ensured that everyone was made aware of the threat of expansion into their treasured green belt countryside at Aarons Hill. 

Last night after a packed meeting Godalming Town Council heard some well-researched concerns and objections from residents and councillors alike. And the townsfolk were rewarded for their efforts getting the backing they had hoped for!

WW can’t help wondering why so many town councillors, who are also borough councillors backed a Local Plan that rolled back Godalming’s green belt in the first place? Could it be because they are Tories – one of whom later gave his Lib Dem colleague an ear-bashing!

A  resident told us that Tory “Town and borough Councillor, Comrade  Stefan  ” I voted for the Labour Party’ Reynolds’  interrupted his Lib Dem colleague after Councillor Follows claimed he was the only Waverley councillor in the room who didn’t vote for Waverley’s  Local Plan which included removing this site from the greenbelt! Following, Follows –    Comrade Reynold retorted – ‘well I didn’t!’ after which   – Councillor Follows was forced to remind him –  that was only because he DIDNT SHOW UP AT THE MEETING TO VOTE AT ALL!’

It seemed the Town Councillors had little choice but to represent their community, with only one abstention coming from the grumpy Steve Cosser (Con Charterhouse). Three Councillors were absent, including County Councillor for Aaron’s Hill Peter Martin. No surprise there then?

The upshot:

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Thanks to the efforts of the people of Godalming round one of the battle to preserve the town from becoming part of greater Guildford has been won. But the war with Waverley planners is to follow.

Godalming town council supported Paul Follows’s proposal to object formally to the development on Aarons Hill. A  formal letter will  be released by the council today (Friday)

Here’s how the Waverley Web has covered the tumultuous events of the past few days.

Godalming residents show Waverley residents how objecting to development in the green belt should be done.

Godalming residents show Waverley residents how objecting to development in the green belt should be done.

 

Godawfulming’s Town Council forced into action by its residents.

Feelings are running so high over the threatened closure of Green Oak School, that the Town Council was forced into calling an EXTRAORDINARY TOWN MEETING – the first in its history.

But the Tory-controlled council – that has more than just a few skeletons in its council cupboards – was at pains to point out to its  Surrey County Council masters that pressure from residents forced into such an unprecedented step.

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Hark! Is that criticism of their fellow Tory colleagues that we hear… no surely not! 

In the second par – in Godalming Town Council’s letter, an extract of which appears above and the full text in the attachment below – it speaks of the electors’ frustration!

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http://godalming-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/SCC-Green-Oak-School-Consultation-Closure-of-Green-Oak-School-Letter-from-The-Council-13-April-2018-Web-Version.pdf

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Former Godalming Town Mayor​ charged with sex offences.

The former Mayor of Godalming and a Conservative Waverley Borough Councillor for the town has been charged with a number of criminal offences of,  ‘a sexual nature,’ and appeared before Guildford Magistrates today. 

Mr Thornton of Abraham Way, who is a Godalming butcher, faces 23 charges, including one count each of rape of a girl under the age of 13 years, voyeurism, assault of a girl under the age of 13 and paying a girl for sexual services.

He also faces two counts of making indecent photographs of a  child, 11 counts of engaging in penetrative sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 15 and six counts of taking an indecent image of a child.

The case has been referred to the Crown Court for a hearing fixed for May 8.

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Godalming Mayor Simon Thornton stepped down from the mayoral role, as well as relinquishing his roles as the Conservative Town and Waverley Borough councillor for Ockford & Eashing Ward in October 2017.

Mr Thornton, who became the town’s mayor in May 2017, cited personal reasons for his decision to resign. Both seats have now gone to Liberal Democrat Paul Follows following a by-election.

Mr Thornton was first elected to the town council in 2011 when he was also elected as a Waverley borough councillor.

As a Waverley councillor, he was a member of the powerful executive from 2014-2016 with portfolio responsibility for leisure, culture, parks and the countryside.

At an extraordinary meeting of Godalming Town Council shortly after Mr Thornton’s resignation members elected Holloway ward councillor Anne Bott as mayor for the rest of the year. Mrs Bott previously served as mayor in 2015. Her husband and fellow Holloway councillor, Steve Bott, will be her consort. Current deputy mayor Nick Williams will continue in his role.