Fringe Box



Guildford’s Floral Displays Might Have To Be Cut to Save Money

Published on: 13 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 15 Sep, 2023

Residents have become used to seeing the floral displays in the town centre such as these outside the Debenhams building.

By Martin Giles

Floral decorations in Guildford might be scrapped for two years by Guildford Borough Council as part of its expected cost-cutting programme, necessary to close its budget deficit gap which was last reported at £2.6 million for this financial year.

Prolific baskets line the High Street

According to emails seen by The Guildford Dragon NEWS the proposal will be considered by the “Joint Executive Head: Environment Services”, understood to be a council officer. Other sources suggest it is a “done deal”.

GBC’s parks department, which installs and maintains the displays, is often praised for its management of parks and gardens throughout the borough, including the Castle Grounds.

See also: Council Says Floral Display Decision Still To Be Taken

Residents and visitors are used to hanging baskets and planters adding to the attractiveness of Guildford streets. The town won national Britain in Bloom awards in 1990 and 2003.

One North Street shopper from Chilworth said the council should keep the displays and find savings elsewhere.

Another shopper, Louise Prynne, thought it would be a great shame if the displays were lost and suggested local businesses be approached to help. Please listen to her short interview here…

The displays cost the council £40,000 annually, with most of the cost going on watering. Experience Guildford, the team that represents businesses’ interests, funds an additional 40 baskets.

The email sent to councillors alerting them to the issue.

Joss Bigmore, leader of Residents for Guildford and Villages, commented: “It’s hard to assess this decision as councillors have received no information except an ‘issue notice’ notifying us of the upcoming decision.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

“Service cuts are inevitable given the financial constraints GBC is operating under, but the necessity of this particular cut is impossible to judge given there is no context of the other cuts the administration is considering.

“I questioned whether approaches had been made to partners in the town centre, such as Experience Guildford, and direct to Local Businesses or those looking to invest in our town.

“I was assured by the Lead Member responsible that this had happened, although I have only his word for that, and his word has proven fallible in the past.”

Amanda Masters

The CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters, said: “This is not unexpected as we understand the difficult position GBC is in currently, but what a shame it will be to see the baskets go. They help to create the lovely environment which we have become so used to over the summer months

“As a BID [Business Improvement District], Experience Guildford cannot replace services we can add to and enhance. We do buy 40 additional baskets each year for businesses on the smaller streets off the High Street and North Street that don’t have the GBC displays outside their business.”

GBC and other local political party leaders have been invited to comment.

A basket and a container in North Street.



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Responses to Guildford’s Floral Displays Might Have To Be Cut to Save Money

  1. Grant Roberts Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 12:31 pm

    The floral displays are a delight and should be retained. Why not get the endless coffee shops and fast food outlets to contribute to the cost of keeping what is a most attractive feature for Guildford?

    I have just read on Surrey Live that yet another burger bar is opening in North Street.

  2. Barry Williams Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 2:29 pm

    Meantime, how about we get rid of the cheap and tatty artifical flower displays that are strung over the High Street.

    Also, could Experience Guildford explain what benefit is derived in having their posters displayed on the windows of empty shops and in flying “Celebrate Guildford” banners from semi-derelict buildings. Could do better.

  3. Adam Johnson Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 3:59 pm

    For what is merely a cosmetic spending, a shame as it is, expenditures like this should be the first thing to go.

    Also, is it possible for Cllr Bigmore to make any form of comment without having a pop at someone? That quote was shocking.

    • Dee Harwich Reply

      September 24, 2023 at 1:54 pm

      Credit where it’s due, he’d done so much to steer Guildford into the excellent position in which it finds itself. The fish, as they say, rots from the head.

  4. Mr Keith Francis Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Another shameful act by GBC as here in Great Bookham village the flowers including in hanging baskets are largely provided by funds the Bookham Residents’ Association obtains from but not exclusively the very modest annual subscription plus, what the Association can obtain from MDVC. Although one couple have just retired from business they and other village traders assisted with the watering. This Christmas’ lights are under discussion.
    This Association is not to be confused with the Bookham Community Association whose asset is the Old Barn Hall on Church Road in which many organisations hold their regular events plus it has an Annual Village Day Fair on the fields behind it to also help generate funds for the halls maintenance and cost of the caretaker.

  5. M Durant Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    The flower displays are lovely I do also like the artificial flowers banners.

    They could just reduce the flower displays and still keep them on the high street instead of eliminating them all together.

    The real problem is central government obsession with low taxes and not investing on public infrastructure, and the cuts of funding to the councils and bad investments.

  6. Jan Messinger Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 9:17 pm

    I hardly think the cost of the floral displays and the low salaries for the Parks Department, that do an amazing job looking after them, will make the savings required by Guildford Borough Council.

    Also if you take them away it will make Guildford look even worse. Surely the town’s businesses that already pay huge rates to the council are not expected to give even more to make the town look good.

    I would say get rid of one of the high salary council employees who got us into the mess we are in today and keep the Parks Department workers. I think we would all agree that they actually are trying do something for the borough. They are trying to make it look good.

    Anyone who visits the castle grounds knows that. Well done to those workers, I say.

  7. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 14, 2023 at 12:26 am

    Last month a team, yes a team, of finance department jobsworths, attended court for an alleged non-payment of a BID Levy totalling all of £170.

    How much did that little jolly for the morning cost?

    If this an example of how our useless jobsworths squander taxpayers’ money when trying to cut costs. I hate to think how much they waste when they are not trying, especially when out of sight of public gaze.

  8. Jim Allen Reply

    September 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Perhaps the Guildford allotment society could take them over!

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      September 16, 2023 at 8:00 am

      I fear lack of Council Health & Safety training will stop that happening

  9. Helen McCormick Reply

    September 16, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    Let’s consider the well being of of people to our town. Removing these beautiful blooms will only add to its neglected look.

    The area behind the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and along the Wey Navigation is all overgrown and full of weeds. The bank along the A281 Shalford Road, where daffodils grow in the spring, is full of brambles and weeds growing along the kerbs.

    Rewilding is an excuse for neglecting our lovely green spaces.

  10. Dave Middleton Reply

    September 16, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    If it’s not already available, and I can’t seem to find it, it would be interesting to see an easy to read and complete list, of the recipients of the council’s “Discretionary Fund” and the individual amounts given to them.

    I’m sure that would make interesting reading, given the large sums of taxpayers money apparently involved, for example over £700,000 in total set to be gifted to the Yvonne Arnaud over last year and the coming two years.

    I seem to recall that GBC was also subsidising ticket prices at the Electric Theatre at one time. I wonder if that still goes on?

    All well and good chucking cash around when times are good, but after over a decade of tough times, should this be happening?

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