In response to the announcement of this year’s budget, Labour Cllr James Walsh said: “This is a very insipid budget which has no narrative and no vision for Guildford.
The budget meeting itself showed that there are serious divisions within the coalition and this is reflected in the stasis we’ve all seen during the past few years – from the Liberal Democrat councillors voting against developing North Street in direct opposition to their R4GV partners to their failure to move forward with the Guildford Park development, and almost complete inaction on climate change. And that’s not to mention the 3,000 council houses promised in the Liberal Democrats’ election campaign in 2019 and nowhere near being delivered.
Sadly, this budget is at best functional. We are not pleased that rents and the council tax have had to be increased to help maintain services, but understand that all councils have had to make similar decisions because of the decade of cuts imposed by a slew of Conservative governments.
The only light in this dark tunnel is the £20m earmarked from the Housing Revenue Account for repairs and refurbishment of our housing stock; however, we would like to see a more radical approach taken to our housing, including a full audit of our stock to identify where we can replace some of our old, not-fit-for-purpose housing with vibrant and sustainable homes fit for our tenants and residents and the 21st century.
Guildford deserves a lot better than what it has been getting for the last four years and we need more than functional to turn the borough around and provide the jobs, homes and leisure facilities that will revitalise our town and villages. Most of all, we want it to happen in a way that protects the environment and enhances the way we all live, work and play – and we just don’t see it happening under the current administration.”