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Council Gives Its 27 Votes to Support Continuance of Experience Guildford

Published on: 25 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 28 Sep, 2022

Two members of the Experience Guildford Team, which includes the Town Rangers, at their stand on Farmers’ Market day, earlier this month.

By Martin Giles

Experience Guildford was given an anticipated boost this week when Guildford Borough Council decided to vote in favour of endorsing the Guildford town centre Business Improvement District (BID) Business Plan for the next five-year term, 2023-28.

Notice of Ballot sent to Business Rate Payers

GBC, as business ratepayers for 27 properties, has 27 of the 555 votes due to be counted in late October.

The BID levy of one per cent of rateable value raises up to £600,000 per annum to cover the BID team’s running costs.

See also: Experience Guildford CEO ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ On Crucial Ballot But Members’ Opinions Polarised

Cllr John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) lead councillor for the Economy said: “Experience Guildford has looked after the town for the past five years; there’s little doubt that what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved has benefited many towns and businesses. Its response to the pandemic and its activities, getting the town centre moving again afterwards, benefited many businesses through those hard times.

Cllr John Redpath making his recommendation at Thursday’s Executive meeting.

“If the BID is successful and gains another term in office, I hope that they will continue to work closely with the council…”.

Then with obvious reference to tensions between Experience Guildford and the council which came to a head over the council’s decision not to hold a Christmas Lights switch-on this year, he continued: “…but at the same time understand better the restrictions that the council needs to operate under, especially where the safety of our residents is concerned.”

Cllr Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) was, at the time, reported to have resigned from the Experience Guildford Board over the issue.

See: Anger Over Christmas Lights Event Decision – For Reasons of Crowd Safety, Says GBC

Yesterday he told The Dragon: “I fully support Experience Guildford and the work it does in the town.  I endorse the Executive’s vote to support the next term of the BID.

Cllr Tom Hunt

“To be clear, I did not resign from the board because of a difference of opinion.  I absolutely respect the right of other board members to have an opinion different to mine.  I resigned because the press release issued in the name of the board in early August described the board’s view on the Christmas lights in a way that made my position untenable.

“I felt I had no option but to resign.  I have since had a very positive, virtual meeting with Amanda and Claire, and would be happy to rejoin the board, subject to the council’s nomination procedure.”

Over the five-year term, GBC will pay annual levies to Experience Guildford totalling £38,289 but Cllr Redpath said that he considered this to be good value.

He concluded, perhaps pointedly because of differences in opinion with traders’ views over car park pricing: “I look forward to Experience Guildford’s continued support for our council businesses, mainly car parks in the town centre, for a further five years.”

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford has also been invited to comment.

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