Fringe Box



Letter: Boileroom – Taliban Analogy Was Deserved

Published on: 8 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 8 Jul, 2014

Boileroom LetterFrom Richard Wilson

I am grateful to Ashley Harrison for commenting on this story and for reading my blog. His letter highlights the need for mediation in this case. There are serious inconsistencies in the story being told by Cllr Reeves and the others who wish to close The Boileroom.

Mr Harrison and Cllr Reeves claim they do not want to close the venue. However, the complaint, now anonymously submitted, which they support, aims to do just that. Without a licence this business will end. The aim of this review is to remove the licence. It cannot be clearer than that.

The claim made by Mr Harrison and by Cllr Reeves, that police were involved after complainants were abused is highly disingenuous. Actually, the police said that there was nothing to investigate.

Every time I have received threatening communications Surrey Police have taken it very seriously, investigated every instance and dealt with my abusers appropriately. The reason they did nothing about these alleged problems is because there was no substance to them. By citing them Mr Harrison and Cllr Reeves could appear to be smearing their opponents.

In his letter, Mr Harrison appears to take offence from my analogy comparing the Taliban to the author(s) of the complaint against The Boileroom. I never wish to offend anyone, of course, but the tone of the complaint deserves this analogy.

The complaint allows for no common ground, nothing which could be used to find a way forward. There are no suggestions for how the alleged shortcomings of the venue could be remedied. The complaint even claims that the venue fails to protect children from harm. Now, this is a really offensive slur to make. Rather than insulting the venue like this, I would respect the complainant(s) more if they made constructive suggestions.

I do agree with Mr Harrison that residents should be able to expect all licensed premises to comply with their licence. I do not approve of any type of anti-social behaviour. However, just because it is “legal” to request a licence review, does not make it right.

I come to politics from a community campaigning background. One of the reasons I stood for selection to be a potential MP is to enable me to stand up for community enterprises more effectively. As a reader of my blog, Mr Harrison will know about previous examples of this. He will also be aware that I am often asked to speak on behalf of businesses. This case is a rare example of a business which is not run solely for the benefit of the owner and I am proud to stand up for them.

The Boileroom is unique in Guildford. If the campaign to close it succeeds it will send a message to young people, to independent music-lovers and to aspiring musicians that they are not valued and their needs are not important. I would like to see neighbourliness and people respecting each other in Guildford. The current complaint lodged against the venue is an unexpected and unwarranted declaration of war. Let’s give peace a chance instead.

Richard Wilson is the prospective Labour Party candidate for Guildford

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Responses to Letter: Boileroom – Taliban Analogy Was Deserved

  1. Fiona White Reply

    July 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    It does seem to me that the debate on this subject is generating more heat than light.

    There is often tension where licensed premises in a residential area play live music. If residents believe that the premises are not complying with the terms of their licence, the right procedure is to request a review. The council has no bias in the issue. Their role is to review the situation to see whether the licence conditions are being complied with and whether they do the job they are designed to do.

    I think for anyone who aspires to be a member of Parliament for Guildford to use the epithet ‘Taliban’ when talking about Guildford residents is only going to make the situation worse. I am sure everyone is aware that the Taliban are extremists who oppose the education of women and impose the death sentence on women who are accused of adultery. I am equally sure that Richard Wilson did not intend to equate the electorate of Guildford with such practices. He would show good leadership by accepting that he has made a mistake.

    My view is that the best thing the licensees of the Boileroom can do is to persuade their patrons to (a) show respect for their neighbours, (b) not to drink too much and (c) to leave the premises quietly at the end of the evening. If they do that then I am sure everyone will be satisfied.

    Fiona White is the Lib Dem Surrey County councillor for Guildford West.

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