Reaction: Former GBC leader, Cllr Paul Spooner on the new lockdown

After last nights announcement by Boris Johnson, we wanted to get the reaction on a local level. We spoke to Ash South & Tongham Ward Councillor, and former leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Paul Spooner about his reaction to the news and what help Guildford Borough Council will be providing for residents and businesses:

Cllr Paul Spooner

Do you think it’s right that schools and universities will remain open?

Cllr Spooner: Yes I support the ongoing provision of education at schools, colleges and universities. Having witnessed first hand the excellent leadership at Ash Manor School enabling provision for children of essential workers earlier this year and the efforts at the University of Surrey over recent weeks I am confident that we can continue to provide a sense of normality for the youngest in our community and allow for our older students to focus on their future through further education. There is the issue of resource, particularly where teachers and lecturers have to self-isolate and that may impact on the level of provision. We should be very proud of our education providers!

Do you believe we should have locked down sooner?

Cllr Spooner: This is a very difficult question to answer objectively. As I write this we have seen the announcement of further national restrictions, but we await the full details of the scope and parliamentary vote next week to confirm exact arrangements. I don’t consider this to be a full lockdown as we saw earlier in the year, and I am on record of supporting the decision to manage the crisis at a local and/or regional level, BUT the statistics speak for themselves, and we cannot risk over-capacity within our healthcare system and therefore the decision is understandable. I do wish the strategy and options are presented well in advance so that the public can understand the options and the chosen path made by Politicians. I’m not convinced that central Government are clear on their strategy and the reasons for decision-making until the 11th hour, and from a planning perspective that is very unhelpful.

What will Guildford Borough Council be doing to help local businesses who are already struggling?

Cllr Spooner: We await full details of the support program from the Chancellor and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government although the extension to the Furlough scheme has already been announced. Guildford BC has reached out to business throughout the pandemic and used discretionary funds to support business and I will continue to support all and every way to protect jobs and SMEs in our area. As I am no longer Leader of the Council or appointed to the Executive but do Chair Overview and Scrutiny Committee at GBC I will, along with back-bench colleagues from all parties, continue to hold the Executive to account whilst supporting the Council at this very difficult time.

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