Fringe Box



Ash Bridge Proposal Overshadows Longest Council Executive Meeting for Years

Published on: 20 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2019

Local controversy over Ash Bridge dominated a busy and lengthy GBC Executive meeting last night (March 19, 2019).

With the borough council elections only weeks away, the meeting lasted nearly three and a half hours, the longest since The Guildford Dragon commenced publication in 2012.

Councillors also debated Guildford Museum Project, Innovation Strategy, Spectrum Leisure Centre Replacement, Guildford Sportsground (Woodbridge Road Cricket Ground) and sale of land to Guildford Rowing Club.

The proposed route of the new Ash flyover or bridge. Image GBC.

Ash Bridge. Five obviously well-informed public speakers spoke against progressing the project, mainly because they felt insufficient information had been provided by the council and that the public consultation had been inadequate. It was claimed many local residents were still unaware of the bridge proposal.

Council leader Paul Spooner, a ward councillor for South Ash & Tongham, seemed taken aback with the persuasiveness of the arguments resulting in hasty aside conversations with his deputy, Matt Furniss, a figurehead for the project, and managing director James Whiteman. But with claims that more information would become available as the proposal progressed to a planning application, the Executive voted through the decision to proceed.

Other business was less controversial.

ZMMA’s cutaway cross-section of how a new museum could look.

Guildford Museum. Any nay-sayers on the Guildford Museum project seemed to have been frightened off by the strong support demonstrated for the museum’s redevelopment project and following another professional presentation from consultant Julia Holberry no dissent was expressed as the Executive voted to allow £1.2 million to be spent on the next stage. A fundraising officer is also to be appointed to start managing what will be the major and essential fund-raising activity

See also: Opinion: Our Council Must Support Essential Museum Project

Innovation Strategy. The updated Innovation Strategy for 2019-20 was approved. The stated reasoning for the recommendation to approve was: “Unprecedented levels of change are affecting daily life, both at home and in the workplace. The changes and challenges are economic, environmental, legal, political, social or technological; all can be addressed through innovation.

“While innovation through technical advancement may often provide a solution, other forms of innovation are as important, addressing behavioural or cultural changes that might be needed to transform future society.

“The council’s Future Guildford transformation programme provides the means by which the objectives and actions covered by this Innovation Strategy can be developed and delivered, enabling the council to lead by example.”

GBC’s Innovation Strategy Board oversees the work of the Climate Change Task Group.

See also: Notice: Science And Art Come Alive At Innovate Guildford On March 23

The Spectrum Leisure Centre

Spectrum Leisure Centre. It was decided to explore further the options for a new facility to replace Guildford Spectrum. The council needs to decide whether to opt for a new build or a refurbishment. Deputy Leader Matt Furniss said, given the state of the building, (especially the roof) which had served Guildford and its visitors well, attracting over 42 million customers since its opening in 1993, he was minded to prefer a new-build option.

The Executive approved a recommendation “That the option to build a new facility and produce a full business case including public consultation, funding and delivery options, be progressed.”

See also: Replacement of Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre

The revamped pavilion at Woodbridge Road. Picture: Guildford Cricket Club.

Guildford Sportsground Management Company. A management company is to be set up to administer the sports ground in Woodbridge Road used mainly, if not exclusively, for cricket. GBC will lease the ground to the company with the support of the existing tenants, Surrey County Cricket Club and Guildford Cricket Club.

GBC will make a one-off contribution of £35,000 towards company set-up costs.

Guildford will host two four-day county games this coming season because of World Cup matches that have been scheduled for the county’s main ground, The Oval.

Richard Gould, SCCC

Richard Gould, chief executive of Surrey County Cricket Club, added that the county was thankful for the support given by GBC over the previous 70 years that first-class cricket has been played at Woodbridge Road. The new pavilion meant that the ground was now a full-fledged first-class facility which guarantees that first-class cricket will continue at Guildford. A SCCC groundsman is already overseeing improvement to the outfield.

David Pateman, non-executive director of Oval Events Limited, added that it was intended to have day and night events throughout the year, not all of them cricket.

Sale of Land to Guildford Rowing Club. Agreement to sell an area of land to Guildford Rowing Club for a reduced price of £8,000 was reached with little debate.

The sale which will necessitate the diversion of a footpath is required to allow the rowing club to enlarge its clubhouse.

See also: Guildford Rowing Club Seeks to Purchase Council Land for New Clubhouse

To see GBC webcast of the meeting please click here.

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