‘Paul Follows speechless’. Not a headline we ever thought we would write! However, the Lib Dem Leader of Godalming Town Council was (briefly) reduced to silence by Conservative councillors failing to approve continued support for Godalming’s volunteer-run Community Store.
Two Tories refused to vote for a proposal that the town council should maintain its backing for at least two months after government ends the furlough scheme, which it currently intends to do in April.
The councillors were told that the store is now supporting 63 families, totalling around 100 people, which is a sharp rise even in recent days. But that was not enough to win over the Conservatives.
Adam Duce, Lib Dem councillor for Godalming Central & Ockford, commented:
"I am truly shocked that the Conservatives felt they couldn't back the town council's continued support of this fantastic community resource which has proved to be a real lifeline for so many locally."
Fortunately, the Tories are no longer in control of the town council and so their failure to vote to continue backing the store did not prevent the council deciding to do so.
As a result, this much-needed community resource is safe for now. However, it is still in need of vital individual donations. If you would like to offer financial support, please visit the store's JustGiving fundraising page.
And details of how to give food and other essential items can be found on the town council's website here.
Paul Follows recovered his voice soon after the vote and commented:
"If everyone had abstained as the Conservatives did, the store wouldn’t have any of the support from Godalming Town Council that it needs to exist at the scale it operates at.
"It is needed now more than ever. Thank you to all the volunteers who work in the store and those who donate."