We need more a council that listens harder to the views of its residents, said Anne Rouse, representing the Labour Party at hustings organised by the Dragon newspaper. Anne said that she had been struck during canvassing by the degree of disillusion among residents, who feel that the council habitually puts aside the views they express in consultations. Anne advocated better channels of communication with residents, and less passing-the-parcel between borough and county councils. ‘After all’, said Anne, ‘many Conservative councillors sit on both.’
A later question probed a perceived ‘cosiness’ between the ruling party and developers, including an example of a letter written by a favoured developer but published under the name and flag of the council. Anne stepped aside from the blame game and said this illustrated a lack of transparency in the council, a remark that drew the biggest applause of the evening.
Much of the evening’s debate focused on housing in the Local Plan, with everyone agreeing that more affordable housing was needed. A member of the audience questioned the definition of ‘affordability’ as 80% proportion of prevailing prices. With prices so high, many families would still be excluded. Speaking afterwards, Anne said ‘When the Labour Party uses the term ‘affordable’, it means that most people in work can afford it. Ask the 2,750 people on the housing waiting list if they can afford it. They can’t. We need at least that number of council houses as well as so-called ‘affordable’ houses.’
Promoted by Sue Hackman on behalf of Guildford Labour Party both at 9b Martyr Rd Guildford GU1 4LF.