A new chapter has opened with the local borough elections. The recent Borough Council elections on 2nd May 2019 saw a transfer of power from the Conservatives to a hung Council dominated by the Liberal Democrats (17 councillors) and R4GV (15 councillors), made up of independent residents. The Conservatives were reduced from 35 councillors to just 9, with Guildford Greenbelt Group (3), Labour 2 and one Green Party Councillor.
The indications are that this will be good news for heritage and a whole load of other issues in the town. Both the Liberals and R4GV have spoken about being much more inclusive and the hope is that they will be much easier to work with than the previous Council
Areas of Concern under previous Council
The previous Council was dominated by a few people who were not exactly friends to heritage and we have opposed Council’s actions in the following areas.
- Guildford Museum, threatened with closure in 2015 but reversed thanks to pressure from Councillors, public and supporters across the country. Museum development project is now well underway
- Eviction of the Surrey Archaeological Society library as part of the plan to close the museum – SyAS library has moved to Abinger where the SyAS is investing and improving its facilities.
- Attempt to sell and allow partial demolition of West Lodge, part of the Gunpowder Mills Scheduled Monument
- Discussions over the disposal (sale or lease) of Wanborough Barn, one of the finest medieval barns in the country dating to 14th century
- Closure and private letting of Burchatt’s Farm – an 18th c farmhouse and barn operating as community facility in Stoke Park. Converted for hire in 1990s, its prices were dramatically increased under last Council to “prove” it was not financially viable. Attempts to lease it to a private company, however, fell foul of planning guidelines. Its future is still uncertain.
- Chantries Campsite – community facility in the historic Chantries woodland -decision to close it was postponed until after the election in the face of public protest.
Whilst the issues around Guildford Museum have settled down there is still lack of clarity over several other sites and we hope this will improve.