Fringe Box



Letter: Guildford Second Only to Cambridge in Supporting Growth

Published on: 27 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 27 Dec, 2013

Economic Growth LetterFrom Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman

Your readers will be interested to know the results of a survey carried  by a consulting firm, Lambert, Smith Hampton, which  they define as a ” UK Vitality Index”, of main regional towns  in the UK, which  “are best placed to support future economic growth”.

Guildford comes out quite extraordinarily well, being second in this national list, narrowly beaten by Cambridge by only 5 points (151 – 156). Both of these towns have done well as science and technology hubs.

These are the Guildford results in the five categories: Most Affluent – 1st; Best Educated  – 2nd; Most entrepreneurial – 8th; Most productive – 8th; Fastest Growing  – 9th; and Greenest  – unplaced.

What is most remarkable is the rating for “best educated”  ahead of the major academic towns. Edinburgh came first.

Finishing as the wealthiest town will surprise only those who  believed we could not afford to subsidise our own orchestra and could downgrade us to the meanest  town in Britain if we stop funding  the Yvonne Arnaud theatre.

We do not do quite as well as  the most entrepreneurial, or the fastest growing, and the most productive, but they are still highly commendable ratings.

We do not figure at all as being greenest, no doubt due to CO2 emissions as a result of traffic congestion, and maybe they were aware of the state of our High Street setts.

What is important is that the survey confirms the importance of Guildford as a professional centre of science and technology. This is substantiated  by additional data which I have recently obtained about Gross Value Added by employment categories. This shows that the average GVA of jobs generated by the university/hospital is £73, 000 per annum, compared with only £23,000 for jobs created by the retail sector.

This glaring difference has been ignored by  planners who have been very badly advised by consultants who have trying to turn the town centre into the largest and most congested retail centre in the south- east of England.

However, these impressive index figures should not lead to complacency as  major companies are now no longer targeting Guildford as a growth centre due to the cost and scarcity of housing and traffic congestion.

A new masterplan will, I hope, concentrate of creating opportunities for economic growth, minimising traffic congestion and prioritising housing for the skilled professionals who we need in future.

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Responses to Letter: Guildford Second Only to Cambridge in Supporting Growth

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    December 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Again we see that our council is totally obsessed with growth for growth’s sake, even if it means the sacrifice of the green belt. We did not vote for growth at the expense of the green belt, as evidenced by recent petitions.

    For information: Honorary Alderman do not represent the council in any way. They are former councillors who have been given the honorary title in recognition for past service. Ed.

  2. Susan Parker Reply

    December 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Personally I do not think this is a matter for congratulation. Cambridge has destroyed much of its countryside, which is very sad; and local people are furious. But Cambridge is not largely surrounded by AONB.

    We should be ashamed, not proud, of this listing. We are unplaced in the ‘Green’ category. The floods which affect our area demonstrate that we neglect and ignore nature at our peril, and the human consequences of such neglect are not trivial.

    Mr Bridger does not seem to realise that the reason that Guildford is classified as most affluent is because we are a) very close to London and b) a pleasant but unexceptional town is set in extraordinarily beautiful countryside. This is what makes living here desirable; and high salaries from London employment mean that the area is actually affordable.

    Compared to London prices, all accommodation in Guildford is very affordable (just look at the price of the same type of home in Guildford or say in Richmond – Primelocation or Rightmove will do the sums for you very quickly).

    It is striking that all members of the council, and retired members, seem to think that we live in some peculiar bubble where employment, housing and infrastructure are a purely local matter. Guildford is not a closed system. I would argue that we don’t actually need to “grow”. I didn’t vote for this – did you?

    Growth is of course the wrong word here. What the politicians, including Mr Bridger, mean is build houses, roads and factories everywhere, destroying the green belt in the process. This isn’t necessarily even of economic benefit because it would be instead of growing crops and supporting the agriculture and tourism that depend on the countryside.

    There are towns and cities which I suspect, without knowing the local issues, like Sheffield, Corby, Teeside, where economic growth is perhaps necessary and desirable, because it can lead to urban regeneration and renewal. But it isn’t necessary here.

    Personally I am sure that it is not particularly desirable. I would prefer to protect our countryside rather than embrace building. And actually I think that will be what keeps our town affluent. Turn it into an outer London suburb and you will kill the prosperity. We may go up the league tables in the fastest growing category but will fall in terms of affluence.

    We need a proper debate on whether the people of Guildford want growth. This is not a matter for councillors, council employees or aldermen to decide without reference to the people of Guildford. It is time that councillors, and council employees, realised that they are our representatives not our masters.

    As has been previously noted, the protection of the green belt is there until such time as a new local plan is in place. (See the St Albans decision which stated as a matter of law that unmet housing need alone is not enough to set aside the protection of the green belt where most land is subject to protection). So we need to decide first if we want growth. If we do want growth, how much growth we want? Only then should we, the people of Guildford, decide how to implement that decision in the context of the Local Plan.

  3. Gary Card Reply

    December 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I second the comments left by Susan Parker and Jules Cranwell. I’m all for maintaining and supporting “growth”, but absolutely not to the extent that it destroys our natural environment (i.e. our unspoilt green countryside and greenfield sites).

    Across the nation, and not just in Guildford borough, Surrey county and the South East, beautiful British countryside is being destroyed for the sake of “growth”. Unbeknown to some, our countryside supports a very biodiverse range of wildlife; many British animal and plant species are becoming increasingly rare due to habitat loss.

    We hear government and council officials claim that we have a “housing crisis”, but I disagree. What we do have is an overpopulation crisis, which can be blamed on the open immigration policies of successive pro-EU Labour and Conservative regimes.

    If we are to protect what remains of our British countryside against aggressive development, we must close the door to all further immigration into our overpopulated and overcrowded island nation.

    The British National Party (BNP) promises to get us out of the undemocratic EU, which will allow us to control our borders. The BNP, which is the only party that recognises the cause-effect relationship between mass immigration, the high birth rate among the immigrant population, overpopulation, overcrowding and destruction of our countryside(environmental degradation), says no to further immigration. The BNP states in its Environment/Green manifesto that it will prioritise brownfield (i.e. previously developed) land for housing development and protect what remains of our dwindling British countryside.

    The so-called ‘Green’ party, claims to support open immigration and environmental protection. This is downright contradictory, since mass immigration into our small nation, coupled with the high immigrant birth rate, is the main driver behind population growth and increased demand for housing and supporting infrastructure (roads, news schools, shops, etc).

    Mass immigration is not compatible with environmental and ecological protection.

    The BNP rejects the “man-made(anthropogenic)climate change/global warming” scam, whilst supporting genuine green issues, such as the destruction of our countryside.

    UKIP claim that they will get us out of the EU, but the fact is that they will not stop non-European immigration. In any case, UKIP call for a temporary five year halt to immigration, whereas the BNP, along with independent (non-government affiliated) environmental organisations, recognises that our nation has already surpassed its environmentally sustainable carrying capacity. Vote for politically correct UKIP (an establishment ‘safety valve’ designed to water-down the true Nationalist vote) and you’ll be bitterly disappointed.

  4. Susan Parker Reply

    December 29, 2013 at 10:19 am

    In response to Mr Card’s comment. I do not want the support of the BNP. The GGG [Guildford Green belt Guardians] does not want that support either.

    We do not consider that immigration is the root cause of the problem. The problem is poor planning, and a failure to recognise that building is better in towns.

    GGG is a single issue campaigning body with an interest in protecting the green belt. The green belt is for everyone (including immigrants). GGG considers that land has value other than building land. It does not have a position on immigration policies, or on the EU. Personally I am in favour of the EU, and consider that global warming is not a scam but a serious crisis, for which maintenance of woodland is a vital response.

    Under no circumstances would I consider that any kind of immigration is a cause of the planning problems affecting this area. The problem is the addiction to localised growth rather than seeing the country, and our continent, as a whole. I would say that Mr Card’s view has more in common with that of Gordon Bridger than my own.

    Both are interested in Guildford as a petty locality, which they both wish to ring fence (one in order to build, the other to keep people out) rather than seeing the issues that confront us as cross border issues, and our own area as a playground for London, a key component of the metropolitan green belt.

  5. Gary Card Reply

    December 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    In response to Susan Parker.

    I was looking at the bigger picture. The proposed greenbelt developments in Guildford and Surrey are a microcosm of the countryside destruction taking place across England and Britain. You may or may not be aware that countryside and greenfields across Britain, not just in Guildford, Surrey, are being destroyed in order to make way for new housing.

    Whilst I agree that poor government planning policy is partly to blame, the main driver behind this increased demand for new infrastructure, such as housing, is an unsustainable population, whose primary driver is open immigration, combined with the high birth rate among the immigrant population. Prior to 1997 (when Blair’s Labour government opened up our borders), our population was stabilising nicely.

    Logic and common sense dictates that if you flood a small nation (such as ours) with immigrants (thanks to the open or liberal immigration policies of successive Labour and Conservative governments), there will be an increased demand for more infrastructure, such as housing, roads, and so on. There is a limited supply of brownfield sites available for development; once the brownfield has been used up, where do you house the immigrants and their offspring? On non-land?

    A political solution to the issue concerning overpopulation and its detrimental impact on our natural environment and biodiversity would be to support an anti-immigration, anti-EU party, such as the British National Party.

    Independent (in other word, non-government affiliated) environmental organisations insist that Britain has already surpassed its environmentally sustainable carrying capacity. If we are to preserve what remains of our beautiful green British countryside and biodiversity for future generations, we must adopt a sensible and environmentally sustainable immigration policy.

    You might like to read an excellent thought-provoking article titled Why an open immigration policy is incompatible with environmental protection.

    Gary Card is a member of the British National Party.

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