Fringe Box



Dragon Interview: Bill Stokoe On Why GVG Does Not Put Up Candidates For Election

Published on: 16 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 18 Feb, 2017

Dave Middleton, a regular Dragon reader and correspondent, asked in a letter why the Guildford Vision Group did not put up its own candidates for election at borough council elections. We thought it might be a question in the minds of others too, so Martin Giles asked Bill Stokoe, a director of GVG. This is what he said:

Bill Stokoe, Guildford Vision Group

One Dragon reader, Dave Middleton, has asked why doesn’t the Guildford Vision Group put up candidates to become councillors. Why don’t you?

We have debated the subject of standing as councillors on a number of occasions over the past five years but we continue to conclude that, on balance, we achieve more outside the tent.

But wouldn’t it be the best way of getting the proposals you are putting forward into effect?

Our proposal is about a very big issue; in many ways the biggest the town has faced for years. But nevertheless we are a “one issue” group, and that issue is, of course, the regeneration of the town centre. Councillors have responsibilities across a whole range of activities and services.

But will your lobbying and presentations really do any good?

Whisper it gently but we do think our recent presentation has set some councillors thinking. But again we recognise that as insiders they have to contend with established positions adopted by inflexible party machinery.

But surely with some representation within the council you could be more effective?

We don’t think so. We believe that, if one or two of us were inside the tent, we would not have been able to produce such an ambitious, comprehensive plan as we have.

Compare our GVG Plan and “flythrough”* with the council’s recently released Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, described as “aspirational” and “not formal planning policy” – which will be, almost certainly, safely ignored by developers and others.

So how would you sum up your plan’s objective?

Our plan is about putting Guildford back on the map, a plan to make us attractive and sustainable for the decades ahead. It is a big challenge, massive in fact, but the Victorians built thousands of bridges and tunnels without hesitation.

They recognised the potential of good infrastructure to transform. All of Britain still relies daily on the results of their clear thinking and foresight 150 years ago.

But where is the drive today to make a real difference to our congested, polluted traffic corridor dominating our town centre and riverside?


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