Fringe Box



GBC’s Bid for City Status Submitted With Labour Party Support But GGG Reservations

Published on: 17 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 18 Dec, 2021

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s R4GV/Lib Dem council has submitted its application for city status and it is the only town in Surrey to enter.

GBC’s #BackOurBid campaign has been run across social media channels and, according to a council press release, has received wide support from politicians, the University of Surrey, Guildford Cathedral, Surrey County Council, the Business Improvement District, other major institutions, residents, local businesses, local dignitaries and faith groups.

Council Leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), said: “We were overwhelmed to see the incredible support for our campaign, which we launched in the summer.

“Thank you to everyone who sent us a letter or message of support and those who worked on the document, it is a fascinating story of our borough’s past, present and future.

“With the heritage, the arts and culture, the world-class education, the cutting-edge research and dynamic innovation, Guildford’s offer is truly unique.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

“Our submission is a real celebration of Guildford and I’m excited to share that with everyone.”

“The submission required us to highlight why Guildford deserves city status including reference to our borough’s distinct identity, civic pride, cultural infrastructure, and record of innovation. We also submitted a profile of Guildford, 50 iconic photographs and a detailed map of our green spaces, tourist attractions, entertainment, leisure and sport in the borough.”

Ramsey Nagaty leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group at GBC said: “GGG were initially supportive of a City status bid on the basis minimal cost and indicated advantages.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

“Some members were sceptical and are increasingly so as Tim Oliver Conservative leader of SCC has intimated that by doing so Guildford wants growth, so rather than build, say in Tandridge, they can allocate more housing to Guildford.  This is not on.

“We see Tandridge seeking extension of AONB status under the Boundary Review and Guildford limiting areas of search, so we are increasingly concerned.”

But a spokesperson for the Guildford Labour Party said: “We are delighted to support the council’s application for Guildford to become a city.

“Guildford has been a regional capital for centuries, has Surrey’s only Cathedral and is an ancient market town; indeed, many residents mistakenly think it is already a city!

“For Guildford Labour, city status would allow the town to really blossom into the centre we have always wanted to see, with first-class pubic transport links, vastly improved cultural and heritage sites.

“As a city, we would like to see Guildford open up more green spaces across the urban area, not just in the historic old town, and develop a thriving night-time economy for all residents, regardless of age or where they live in Guildford.

“This is a great opportunity to bring Guildford’s facilities up to a far higher standard and we think the council should make a start on enhancing the town centre and its offer to residents now. We don’t have to have city status for that.”

Mark Bray-Parry

Mark Bray-Parry speaking on behalf of The Green Party said: “The awarding of city status has often been associated with increased economic activity. However, Guildford already received significant inward investment as a university town with close links to London and airports so the advantage of a bid is not clear.

“As a result, making the bid is not something we believed to be a good use of council resources. However, having now made the bid, we would like to see the bid successful.”

Alastair Smith, chair of the Guildford Society said: “Society members have a range of views on this application so we have left to individuals to comment via their councillors.  We have no society position on the issue.”

The Conservative Party were also invited to comment.

To see the council’s full bid please click here.

See also: Council Leader Says City Status Bid is Nearly Complete

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Responses to GBC’s Bid for City Status Submitted With Labour Party Support But GGG Reservations

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    December 17, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Vanity project, time and money, could be better spent else where.

  2. Terry Duhig Reply

    December 18, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Guildford should be a city and there should be no debate about this.

    When I did Geography at school many years ago I was taught that the definition of a city was, a settlement that was a financial centre or had a cathedral.

    Guildford currently meets one of those requirements. Historically Guildford has always had a cathedral but was also a financial centre, the evidence of this can be seen on a number of the older buildings in the centre of Guildford.

    I sincerely hope that this time Guildford will be officially granted “city status”. This won’t only be good for the town of Guildford but also for the whole of the Borough of Guildford, the surrounding areas such as Waverley Borough and the rest of Surrey.

    Editor’s note: Historically, settlements with (diocesan) cathedrals were deemed to be cities and by the 16th-century city status was in the gift of the monarch who granted “letters patent”, an official document, still required, to those officially approved.

    The diocese of Guildford was only created in 1927. Construction of the cathedral began in 1936 and it was consecrated in 1961. According to Wikipedia, there are over 20 “cathedral towns” in the UK including: Brecon, Bury St Edmonds, Northampton and Oban, and 18 cities without cathedrals including: Bath, Cambridge, Leeds and Nottingham.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    December 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Once again I ask Cllr Bigmore to publish the, apparently “Top Secret”, figures relating to public support within the borough for this bid?

    Just how many letters, or other messages of support, have been received from the approximately 150,000 strong populace of the borough?

    I suspect the figure will represent a very small percentage of that population. Certainly, the bulk of comments to feature on the matter, published in The Guildford Dragon NEWS, seem to be against it, or at best indifferent.

  4. M Smith Reply

    December 18, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    I’m still at a loss to understand what the advantages would be for me to live in a city rather than a borough. Perhaps Councillors might like to explain their policies to the voters before going ahead with them?

  5. Roshan Bailey Reply

    December 19, 2021 at 12:06 am

    I wonder if a confusion of aspirations has crept in?

    I believe there is a concept of “county town” and wonder if this is the recognition many people might prefer to see for Guildford?

    City status might well sit comfortably with those who applaud the huge developments currently taking place, for example around Walnut Tree Close, but others certainly baulk at the scale and speed of transformation of Guildford’s character along, and close to, our beautiful river.

    Personally, I find it hard to understand how the money spent on bidding for city status actually benefits residents, but I do think Guildford should be recognised as the county town for many reasons cited in support of city status – a vigorous market and trading town, with a cathedral, situated in a strategically important position with key road, rail and river links.

    Editor’s comment:

    The council leader has said that the bid will be sponsored and costs will not come from the public purse.

    Despite common reference, there is no official title or status of “county town”. It is already widely (but not universally) accepted that Guildford is the de facto county town (ie most important) of Surrey especially since the only realistic alternative, Kingston-upon-Thames, not even in the county having become part of Greater London in 1965, is no longer the home of Surrey County Council.

  6. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 20, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Can someone please tell me the advantages and disadvantages of being a city? I have always wondered what difference it would make.

  7. Anthony Mallard Reply

    December 20, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    I suggest Mr Jenkinson writes to Cllr Bigmore, who it seems has the answers to the question and, as a matter of public interest, that he invites the council leader to publish his response and enlighten the rest of us.

  8. Jules Cranwell Reply

    December 23, 2021 at 7:09 am

    This is a complete waste of council resources. There are many pressing issues the council needs to focus on, particularly the long-awaited review of the Local Plan.

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