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Letter: Guildford – It’s Hard To Let Go

Published on: 11 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 11 Aug, 2013

Waitroselet1From Ollie Clokie

It’s exactly a year since we thought we’d said goodbye to Guildford for good, but for several reasons we haven’t really said goodbye at all. Guildford is a hard place to let go of, especially when you end up accidentally not selling your house there.

But there’s more to it than that. We miss the people, the buzz from living in a university town and the sense of community, especially around the town centre. We miss the balmy summer days, strolling along the Wey or through Stoke Park or some of the nearby countryside. We even miss the Spectrum despite reports of poor cleanliness (apparently this is much better these days).

We’ve had a few visitors from Guildford though, and the old facebook group I set up (G4 Residents and Bellerby Theatre neighbours) is fairly active, and along with news from The Dragon we manage to stay fairly up to date.

We’ve had a blast up here. The air felt strange to begin with, lacking in the sulphur dioxide, unburnt hydrocarbons and carbon particles that we used to inhale on a daily basis. It’s quieter here too: right now I can hear a chicken gently chirping and some leaves rustling very slightly in the breeze, along with the distant sound of my children fighting. Besides all this, it doesn’t rain half as much here as everyone said.

But I still love Guildford. We still have a house there and part of me wouldn’t mind moving back one day. This is why it’s so disappointing that, a year since we left, a group of unelected individuals are forcing locals, amongst them many of our friends, to live with an eyesore and the problems caused by people hanging around a shop that can legally and openly sell so called ‘legal highs’. Okay, sadly this shop won’t close as part of the development but at least their customers might take their legal highs home to imbibe or trade them rather than doing so in broad daylight.

Lord Howell “of Guildford” doesn’t need to look to the North East for derelict wastelands, there is one right on Guildford’s doorstep. Could fracking make it any worse? Yes, okay, probably.

I often used to moan about a lack of democratic accountability in Guildford. I was, not that most of you will remember, the first person ever to be given permission to film council proceedings and I wanted to do it because I shouldn’t even need to ask permission. “It’s our town, and they’re spending our money,” was what I said at the time.

I believe that there is still a long way to go before Guildford is actually run for the people who live there, in a clear and transparent manner and in a way that residents understand. But this “Guildford Vision Group”, whatever their intentions, doesn’t look like the answer to me. They’re still spending your money (in legal fees) and they are blighting your town, yet nobody has ever voted for any of them to do what they are doing.

I don’t think that everything about the proposed supermarket is perfect. I’d prefer the idea of an indoor market, or something community based. In fact, being completely honest, I’d love to live in a world where we can be free from money and all the misery it causes, where creative dance is used as a form of currency and where everyone is able to fulfill their dreams.

But none of that matters. We live in a real world where compromise and prudence are the order of the day, and to my mind these expensive attempts to delay the Waitrose application are arrogant, misguided and selfishly blighting the lives of those living in the area.

I wish you all well and hope that things will be better by the time we’re celebrating our second goodbye-versary.

Ollie Clokie is a former Lib Dem candidate for the Borough Council.

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