Fringe Box



Letter: A Demonstration of Democracy

Published on: 19 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 20 Oct, 2013

GuilFest LetterFrom Keith Childs
Hon Alderman

I comment on the same Guildford Borough Council meeting that Hon Alderman Bernard Parke attended although I reached an entirely different conclusion.

In recent years I have tended to fall out of the habit of attending council meetings.  I believe it is commonly accepted that since the adoption of the “cabinet system” was forced upon the council by the Labour Government at the time, meetings of the full council have become largely non-events and proceedings may fairly be described as turgid.

However there was a magnificent transformation on Thursday 10 October. The chamber was filled to overflowing with proceedings transmitted by CCTV to another large full room.

More than 150 members of the public were there to make a plea to the council to co-operate in the re-instatement of Guilfest on Stoke Park in 2014, this year’s having had to be cancelled after a loss was incurred by the organizer after an unfortunate combination of circumstances in 2012.

The council very sensibly waived standing orders to allow fourteen members of the public to address the council.

Their contributions were excellent, all the speakers being very eloquent and pertinent, each covering different perspectives of the event but all emphasizing the family friendly nature of the event and the enormous social and economic benefits to the community arising from it having been held annually for twenty one years.

They made an overwhelming, irresistible case to the council for it to make Stoke Park available in 2014.  They also made it the best council meeting I have attended.

The experience of hearing so many passionate, enthusiastic speeches, spoken from the heart, was really uplifting.  Over the years attempts by the council to make the public more involved have generally failed but this occasion revealed how exciting it can be.

It was a true example of grass roots democracy at work.  If only all Council meetings could be like this there would be queues at the doors.

I have a strong feeling that the reaction of members of the Council was similar to mine and I fervently hope they will listen to the voice of the electorate and do all in their power to  facilitate and support Tony Scott in running Guilfest next year, subject of course to the necessary safeguards, which have been in place throughout the twenty one years that the event has been held very successfully on Stoke Park.

Finally, I just about qualify as an old person and I assure Paul Bridgland that we are not all whingers.

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Responses to Letter: A Demonstration of Democracy

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Of course, my colleague lives in the charming green belt village of Shere far away from congestion of the town centre.

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