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Former Guildford Council leader resigns from Conservative Group

3 minute read
Former Guildford Council leader resigns from Conservative Group

Published at 5:52am 24th May 2018. (Updated at 2:44pm 24th May 2018)

Former Guildford Borough Council leader Tony Rooth has resigned from the Conservative Group.

He says he has had a difference of opinion with the council's leadership on several decisions - such as the loss-making Pop Up Village, the partnership with Chinese city Dongying and projects such as the proposed Walnut Tree bridge and the Tunsgate setts.

Mr Rooth says party politics plays too large a role in local government, and he wants to be able to represent his views and support his constituents, as an Independent.

Mr Rooth has been an borough councillor for 15 years, representing Pilgrims ward.

During his time as a councillor he has held various appointments, including Leader of the Council, Lead Councillor for Housing and Social Welfare,  Lead Councillor for Finance, and recently, Housing Board chairman.

He has also been a member of the Planning Committee throughout his time as a councillor.

In a statement, he said: "It is with regret and sadness that I resign immediately both from the Conservative group on Guildford Borough Council and the Guildford Conservative Association."

He referred to his differing opinions with the council leadership, saying: "I regret that some may see the current leadership of Councillors Spooner and Furniss in  a different light and compare to a dictatorship," saying he had challenged their decisions on a number of projects.

Mr Rooth, who will now sit as an Independent until elections next May, said he would use his new stance "to investigate council policies and proposals across our borough thoroughly, independently and with integrity."

He said in particular projects that needed looking at include "the potential investment of £81 million in student accommodation, obviously intended for Surrey University, although not publicly acknowledged; the future of retail and high streets in general and Guildford in particular; town centre development including North Street; and the definite need for housing especially affordable built on brownfield sites." 

He thanked his colleagues in the Conservative group "for their support in different forms over many years. I may not necessarily agree with all the views of my fellow councillors, including those of different political persuasions, but no group or individual councillor ( including myself!) has a monopoly of ideas, good or not so good!"

Paul Spooner, Leader of the Council's Conservative Group, said: “I would like to thank Cllr Rooth for his many years of service to the Council and we wish him well in his new endeavours as an Independent.”

The political balance of the Council, which has 48 councillors, is now 33 Conservative, 9 Liberal Democrat, 3 Guildford Greenbelt Group, 2 Labour and 1 independent.




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