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GuilFest To Return This Summer – But Only If Conditions Can Be Met

Published on: 16 Jan, 2014
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2014

Guilfest in 2012

In a surprise announcement by Guildford Borough Council yesterday (January 15) local media were called in to be told that GuilFest’s bid to mount a music festival in Stoke Park this coming summer has been provisionally approved.

A second bidder, rumoured to have been Live Nation who organised last year’s event, asked to have its bid placed on hold as according to the council it felt “unable to provide the detail required until the headline acts had been confirmed”.

It is believed that its no re-entry policy, which drew much criticism last year, and their plans for staging local acts might also have been sticking points.

The delay request acted as a catalyst to the selection decision as a cross party panel at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) was effectively left with only the GuilFest bid to review.

But GuilFest, now trading as Trowfest Ltd, will only be allowed to put on the festival if certain conditions are met. These are:

  • the payment of a financial bond to cover any damage or reinstatement costs must be paid in full by the end of April 2014;
  • the sale of tickets is solely the responsibility of Trowfest Ltd;
  • the payment of the fee for the hire of Stoke Park must be made, in agreed payments, in February, March and May 2014;
  • the proposals and Event Management Plan produced by Trowfest Ltd must meet the requirements of the Safety Advisory Group (Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue, NHS, the Council’s Licensing and Building Control teams and the event organiser) and Licensing conditions.

The council refused to say how large the bond will be or give the amounts due in the staged payments for venue hire.

The press conference was held in the council chamber at Millmead.

The press conference was held in the council chamber at Millmead.

Cllr Matt Furniss, lead councillor for environment, said: “We recognise that GuilFest is a popular family event. It supports local musicians and attracts thousands of visitors to the town. We are pleased to accept the proposal for GuilFest 2014 and continue our support for live music in the borough.

“Before we could make a decision on the application, we took steps to protect local council tax payers and public assets from potential event costs or damage. We put conditions in place for GuilFest 2014 following the previous financial difficulties experienced by the event operators. If Trowfest Ltd does not meet these conditions, the event will not go ahead.”

Tony Scott, GuilFest organiser.

Tony Scott, GuilFest organiser.

Up to 2012 GuilFest, run by Tony Scott, had been the town’s biggest music event each summer at Stoke Park. After the 2012 event the organiser of GuilFest, Scotty Events, set up in 2001 and managed/owned by Tony Scott, went into liquidation.

His previous company, Guildford Fusion Festival Ltd, which ran GuilFest from 1998 to 2001, went into liquidation in October 2001.

The 2012 liquidation of Scotty Events left a debt of approximately £60,000 owing to GBC. This has yet to be recovered. It is understood that an even larger amount is still owed to Surrey Police.

Live Nation stepped in last year to provide the Magic Summer Live event, as the main music festival, in the wake of the liquidation of Scotty Events.

In September 2013, the borough council received an e-petition asking for the reinstatement of GuilFest. This was considered in October and Tony Scott was encouraged to submit an application.

A council spokesperson said: “It was clear that there is considerable public support for the event to return. However, we cannot ignore the financial background.”

Cllr Matt Furniss making the announcement yesterday.

Cllr Matt Furniss making the announcement yesterday.

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), Cllr Paul Spooner (Con, Ash South & Tongham) and Cllr Mark Chapman (Lib Dem, Westborogh) approved the application with support from James Whiteman, executive head of environment, Phil Newcombe, head of parks and leisure services and Claire Morris, head of financial services.

At the press conference Cllr Furniss said: “I want to be clear that throughout this commercial process we have been as clear, transparent and open as possible.

“Guildford Borough Council has had a long history of supporting the Arts and Culture in the Borough. We currently commit to around £2 million supporting a spread of cultural activities, including our theatres such as G Live , the Yvonne Arnaud, the Electric Theatre, and the Mill Studio.

“In addition there are a number of groups and supporting grants which demonstrate the importance of art, music and culture to Guildford Borough Council.

“The combined impact of these activities contribute significantly to the £211 million generated annually by cultural and tourism related to the Guildford’s economy.

“The council’s support for a music event at Stoke Park is another important contributor to the cultural and economic diversity in the borough. We have had a music event that was locally born for some 21 years in Guildford. Emerging out of a community event of a few hundred people becoming one of thousands.

“This has put Guildford on the map for a music festival destination and that is why we must now consider other interested parties in their wish to host events in Guildford.

“Music events are a risky undertaking and we respect anyone wanting to undertake such a task. However it has always been the decision of this council not to operate one ourselves. Not only do we wish to minimise the financial and safety risks associated with the event, a local authority cannot, without specialist skilled help be able to operate a viable event.

“This is why Guildford Borough Council has always allowed an event operator to use the park under licence and offered support to them, whether they are a charity like the Surrey County Show or the Lions firework night, or in previous years GuilFest.”

Stoke Park, the event venue, has still to fully recover from damage caused in the wet summer of 2012, despite considerable repair work. The council had to work desperately to effect repairs after GuilFest in order to allow the Olympic Torch Relay gathering to take place shortly afterwards.

The provisional deal offered to GuilFest is for one year’s duration only.

See also: GuilFest Supporters Steal The Show At Council Meeting – Festival Can Return and The Dragon Says: Good Luck to GuilFest But Let’s Keep It Real

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Responses to GuilFest To Return This Summer – But Only If Conditions Can Be Met

  1. M. Sleigh Reply

    January 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Due to the decision by GBC to approve GuilFest with a ‘provisional’ date of July 18-20, this has caused Guildford Model Engineering Society (GMES) to have to change the dates for its annual Model Steam Rally & Exhibition in Stoke Park.

    The dates of 19th & 20th July were agreed with GBC Parks Dept last year and confirmed by the council but this information was not communicated to those negotiating with Tony Scott.

    GMES are now trying to set a new date in July and having the job of advising all the exhibitors and traders of the change of date plus having to reprint all the publicity material.

  2. Brian Miller Reply

    January 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Apart from the conditions having to be met by this year’s proposed Guilfest, how about the first £60,000 of any surplus being returned to GBC on behalf us local taxpapers which are still owed from previous organisers who’ve gone into liquidation?

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