Fringe Box



Claire’s Column – Speak Up: It’s Your Town Too

Published on: 16 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2015

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee calls for the local business community to air its views on the town’s plans for 2015.

Claire Dee

Claire Dee

January: notoriously known as the month for grey skies and doom and gloom.

Not so for Guildford however. As well as still beaming from its recent accolade as top town in the latest Lambert Smith Hampton UK Vitality Index, business is good and further growth is predicted for 2015.

This week I attended Guildford Borough Council’s (GBC) annual economic breakfast briefing, which gives an overview of the council and town’s economic health and what is expected in the year ahead.

Opening remarks from GBC leader Cllr Stephen Mansbridge set the tone: “The council’s budget is in good shape as is Guildford’s prosperity – a mini silicon valley making it unique in the UK.”

Sentiments echoed by Claire Morris, GBC’s head of financial services: “Our financial positon remains healthy and we have retained our AA credit rating.”

But – and there’s always the ubiquitous but – both caveated their comments with “tough times and significant challenges ahead”.

To be fair, the GBC purse is relatively full and the local business community looks set to benefit. With a general fund of £140 million, of which £88 million is being invested in a capital programme to include the regeneration of North Street, a proposed Clay Lane link road to the Slyfield Industrial Estate, and a number of other transport schemes to ease congestion and reduce pollution.

Interestingly, while Guildford took the top slot in the Vitality Index for ‘most highly educated’ and ‘most affluent’, its position of 45 in the ‘greenest’ category proves there is much room for improvement here. And no doubt the daily tailbacks on the town’s gyratory roads and A3 are not helping…

So, there’s lots happening and (potentially) lots to look forward to for Guildford’s businesses, but only if they contribute to the debate and air their views.

Says Stephen Mansbridge: “The business community is not expressing its voice. Make yourself heard; we need to hear from you.”

Time to speak up then as it’s very much your town too.

Claire Dee runs her own communications consultancy near Guildford, and is an active member of the local business community including sitting on the Surrey Chambers of Commerce Council and the Institute of Directors Surrey Committee. To learn more visit

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Responses to Claire’s Column – Speak Up: It’s Your Town Too

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    January 16, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I hope the £140 million will be spread around the borough and not just in the town.

    Claire only talks about the town. I assume she is keen to hear from the whole borough?

    • Claire Dee Reply

      January 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks Adrian. All local comments welcome.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    January 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Sadly, while the businesses are claiming to look prosperous, there seems little consideration to the damage they will do it if a balanced approach to expansion is not taken.

    For example, putting in a new road when the old can be sorted (across green belt and flood plain) to solve the problem at the Slyfield Industrial Estate entrance. By not doing the logical things first is only going to put the borough into debt for £6 million for no good reason.

    The infrastructure document attached to the new CIL process is out of date and irrational. If businesses want to comment on any ‘new’ local plan (and they should ) then they should look in the round and not in isolation at the problems.

    They should also look at the tendrils of anything they desire, for access to their Shangri-La is a prime reason for their success.

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