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GuilFest Return Supported By Independents Alliance Group

Published on: 18 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2019

Guildford’s Independents have unanimously agreed to support the return of GuilFest, the annual music festival formerly held in Stoke Park.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Guildford Borough Council’s Independent councillors and prospective candidates on Monday, February 11 (2019).

The crowd at Guilfest in 2012. Photo by Mike Ellis.

John Redpath, who is planning to stand in the May council elections and was at the meeting, said: “GuilFest attracted 20,000 visitors to Guildford. It will generate income for the town and our suffering retail sector.”

Referring to the demise of GuilFest seven years ago, John said: “One doesn’t kill off something that benefits you; you support it.”

Tony Scott

John said that any support would not be at ratepayers’ expense. Support would include selling tickets at the Tourist Information Centre and help with marketing. Any payment for the use of Stoke Park would be on the basis that the cost for any necessary restoration of the park after the festival would be covered.

Tony Scott, who ran the companies that organised GuilFest, said: “Brilliant. Whoever would give GuilFest a hand would be great.”

GuilFest ran from 1992 to 2014. It attracted huge crowds and major bands from Van Morrison and Joan Armatrading, in 2000, to the Boomtown Rats and The Human League in 2014.

It went bankrupt in 2012 and came to an end after the 2014 event with debts of £300,000 after Guildford Borough Council had given conditional approval for its return.

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Responses to GuilFest Return Supported By Independents Alliance Group

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 11:16 am

    How short and selective is memory. Didn’t Guilfest actually go bust twice?

    Any creditors suffered, and these tended to be local businesses. So those debts of £300,000 came out of local business.

    GBC could see the problem, for once, and demanded a cash bond to cover costs of repair to Stoke Park so they didn’t lose out in the last years.

    As we’ve seen with other festivals, there have been changes in the market, with those who haven’t adapted still crashing.

    Yes, a resurrection of a Guilfest sounds good, but please ensure it is organised for the current market, is properly bonded and insured for all who want to participate, from services to the paying public enjoying the event.

  2. John Redpath Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    In reply to Martin Elliott’s comment.

    Tony Scott has gone “bust” at least twice (out of 25 or more GuilFests) but that’s no reason to fail to support a music festival in Guildford run either by him or someone else. We should make it easier not, as has been the case to date, more difficult, to restart the event.

    The charge for Stoke Park, as with Burchatts Barn, the Guildhall and many council venues, was excessive. We would propose a fair rent to reflect the cost of tidying the park after the event. GuilFest always litter picked the park the week after the festival so there was little for the council to do.

    And support does not mean fund. In this case, it means work with and promote an event to make it successful rather than try and get a greedy pound of flesh up front as has been the case under the current Conservative-led council. For instance, the council could get a very good return if they sold the pre-event tickets through one of their existing booking desks and retained say 10%, this has been done successfully in the past.

    Your last paragraph reflects sound advice but any bond must be fair and refundable.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Tony Scott’s companies have gone bust at least twice, always leading to significant creditors.

    I never said don’t support Guilfest, perhaps I was being too subtle.

    Any company looking to long-term existence should be building its asset base and organising robustness financially, especially given the high-risk level, to cover “bad” years.

    Instead, GuilFest seems to have run on a year to year basis, either reinvesting profits in growth or dividends, but not building any reserve.

    As I said, GBC recognised this problem in asking for a cash bond, maybe they should have been a bit more obvious and refused permission in order to protect other businesses.

    I never commented on the costs of rental and services from GBC, but observe that another company did not express any concern at the levels.

  4. Michel harper Reply

    February 19, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Tony did a great job with the festival and should be totally supported. Guilfest, the best of Modern culture for all ages! Guildford Borough should in fact sponsor Tony or at least help. Well done the Independents for starting to help local enterprise. Well done.

  5. Alan Cooper Reply

    February 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Not sure how Tony Scott did a good job when he left the council, police and others owed thousands. Ultimately, if repeated, local businesses or residents will have to help balance the books.

    Employ him as an advisor but not as an entrepreneur.

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