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GuilFest Supporters Steal The Show At Council Meeting – Festival Can Return

Published on: 11 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 11 Oct, 2013
Guilfest " A local, community event, say supporters

GuilFest: “a local, community event, for all ages say supporters” – Photo Mike Ellis.

Overwhelmed by GuilFest supporters, Guildford Borough Council asked festival organiser, Tony Scott, last night (October 10) to apply quickly for permission to mount a return festival in Stoke Park next year.

An e-petition, signed by nearly 1,000 supporters, calling on the council to bring back GuilFest, was presented to the full council meeting.  In response, a motion was proposed: “The council will provide all necessary assistance to any applicant who wishes to book any of its parks and open spaces to run a major event and will determine applications for such events in accordance with powers delegated to the head of parks and leisure services, in consultation with the relevant lead councillor, and subject to appropriate terms and conditions…”

GuilFest's Tony Scott.

GuilFest’ organiser Tony Scott.

Although the motion did not specify GuilFest, Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), lead councillor for the environment and proposer of the motion, encouraged Tony Scott to apply and said that no other applications had, so far, been received.

The debate among councillors took place in the presence of full public galleries. As for the well attended Ash planning debate, TV screens were rigged up to allow others who could not fit in the chamber to have pictures relayed to them.

Recognising the strength of feeling on the subject, and in a break from normal procedures, all 15 members of the public who had asked to speak were allowed to do so.

Michelle Franklin, manager at the Kings Head pub on Stoke Road, the closest pub to Stoke Park where GuilFest has been held, said: “Speaking on behalf of local businesses in the area … we saw a massive decline in trade this year [compared with previous years when GuilFest had taken place].”

One reason for this, she suspected, was the no re-entry policy adopted by the organisers which prevented those at the event from going out of the park, visiting local business perhaps to have a drink or something to eat before returning. Ms Franklin claimed that her takings had reduced by £10,000 as a result.

Peter Buckle introduced himself as an ‘ageing science professor’ who had worked at the University of Surrey for 25 years. He said: “I have travelled widely and met hundreds, probably thousands, of young people… Remarkably few knew much about the university but masses knew about GuilFest.

“A music festival can really put a place on the map for young people [and] it is ‘cool’ and even occasionally ‘awesome’. When he had visited the festival he was “astonished at the warmth, sense of community and contact on display there.”
Maz Hussein, speaking on behalf of students at the university said: “GuilFest is not just a festival it is a grassroots community event. Other councils up and down the land can only dream of having such an event that gives community cohesion, where students can rub shoulders with pensioners, families and neighbours alike.

“As a student union we have decided to wholeheartedly back the Bring Back GuilFest campaign.”


700 full body searches were carried during Guilfest 2012, one supporter claimed – Photo Mike Ellis

The final public speaker, Bronwen Salter-Murison, said: “I came here [to Guildford] almost 20 years ago and I absolutely love this town…. it has so much character and GuilFest is part of that.

“At the last GuilFest there were more police than ever for some reason. A freedom of information request revealed that they carried out 700 full body searches which led to only 30 arrests.”

“GuilFest is the only event that is supposed to make all its own money and is blamed if it doesn’t.”

Tony Scott, rather than speak himself, had obtained permission to show a video, a compilation of many more local people speaking forcefully in support of the festival.

It had a powerful effect and was met with loud, prolonged applause, as had several of the speaker contributions.

Cllr Graham Ellwood (Con, Merrow) said he had never heard better public speakers. He raised some concerns, as did some other councillors, about the financial risks but there seemed little appetite amongst the councillors to criticise GuilFest at all, or even represent the views of those in the town who are not fans. The £60,000 that had been left unpaid when Guilfest went into liquidation was not mentioned.

Cllrs Matt Furniss and Jen Powell (Con, Clandon and the Horsleys) were keen to remind the meeting that it was not the council who had decided Guilfest would not take place this year: no application for a GuilFest event had been received.

Cllr Anne Meredith (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), succeeded in getting an amendment to the resolution accepted by the proposer, Cllr Matt Furniss, before it was put to the vote.

The amendment, designed to give extra weight to derived local benefits, introduced three extra subjects for consideration when assessing applications, namely: contribution to the local economy; involvement of performers (amateur and professional) and; benefits to local residents.

Cllr Pauline Searle (Lib Dem, Stoughton) seconding the amendment said: “The first point I would like to make is my overwhelming pride and pleasure in seeing the video and hearing the speakers. It made me so proud of being a Guildfordian. I have always thought that GuilFest was something special and this has been shown very clearly tonight.

“There are so many local organisations that get involved in GuilFest in contrast with other providers. To me, it is not just a matter of going to the highest bidder who might bring big names but a proper festival run by local people for local people.

“This is our park, the residents’ of Guildford park and it is the localness that we are trying to capture in this amendment.”

The amended motion was passed by the councillors unanimously. Any application will need to be received by January 1.

What is your view? Are you pleased that GuilFest may return or not? Have your say. Use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below and don’t forget to vote in the Dragon Poll to the right, above…

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Responses to GuilFest Supporters Steal The Show At Council Meeting – Festival Can Return

  1. Pauline Surrey Reply

    October 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Oh that’s good. I don’t go myself, but read the shocking reviews of last year’s alternative festival, so am pleased things can go back to the Guilfest proper.

  2. Muriel Helen Quilter Reply

    October 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I was proud to be one of the speakers last night, expressing my hope that the council would support Tony Scott is staging Guilfest in 2014.

    After listening to all the speakers, and watching Tony’s video, I was touched by all the positive opinions being given, both about Guilfest and Guildford itself. I’m so glad this is my town and my festival.

  3. Colin Robert McCarthy Reply

    October 15, 2013 at 6:43 am

    I am glad to see, that the council was in favour for having GuilFest 2014. In July
    this year, I attended the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park. They were out of
    this world.

    Long live GuilFest.

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