Fringe Box



Letter: Some of the Comments on Guildford Museum Are Inaccurate

Published on: 22 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2015

Guildford Museum 02From Geoff Davis

Conservative borough councillor for Holy Trinity and lead councillor for economic development, tourism and heritage.

I am very conscious that some of the comments [published in The Guildford Dragon on the subject of the future of Guildford Museum] are inaccurate, as the full facts are not yet known.

There are reasons that necessitated serving a notice to quit on Surrey Archaeological Society (SAS) under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

One main reason is that SAS have been holding over for some seven years, after the expiry of their 1953 lease.

In fact, GBC served a break notice [to terminate the lease in accordance with a break clause] on SAS on 14 April 2003.  The 9 May 1953 agreement was terminated by Guildford Borough Council in a notice given on 14 April 2008.

Surprisingly, SAS have run for the last seven years with nothing sorted, which does not sound a good base for an enterprise.

The Landlord and Tenant Act notice just served, expiring late January 2016, finally regularises the position on only the few office rooms occupied by SAS.

No discussion has been had yet on the collections, but a meeting is scheduled for Thursday [July 23].

SAS have a balance sheet of over £2.3million and have been offered 48 Quarry Street as a freehold opportunity.

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Responses to Letter: Some of the Comments on Guildford Museum Are Inaccurate

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    What inaccuracies? Opinions have been given based on the information that was available.

    All Cllr Davis has now done is to release a history of the SAS lease which he could have done before. The history indicates that before Cllr Davis took over the portfolio others at GBC had made complete mess of the lease management.

    Even now, by seeking to “sort it out” he has issued a notice to quit while there is no indication of a regularised new lease.

    Is it really Cllr Davis’ intention to throw SAS out on the streets while considering the options and why is it necessary to publish the finances of SAS and how the society is managed?

  2. George Dokimakis Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    The more I read about this and the councillor’s approach the more baffled I get. How is it relevant what the balance sheet is or what was the previous history? GBC must cater for the people of Guildford across a spectrum of areas, including culture.

    This is yet another instance where people and businesses are being pushed off in the name of profit making opportunities. GBC has a responsibility to work with the institution to achieve a mutually agreeable solution. What we get instead are unilateral decisions with no bearing on what the impact may be.

    We have yet to hear what the GBC’s alternative plans are for the location. Instead we have received generalities of looking into it. Cllr Davis’ letter shows that they had asked since 2003. This lack of strategic planning seems endemic in today’s GBC leadership.

    I would ask:

    – What plans have there been for the use of this space for the last 12 years?
    – What alternatives to eviction have been considered?
    – What alternative offering to the people of Guildford justifies such action?
    – Why is it thought that a unilateral course of action is appropriate instead of working with the SAS to achieve a mutually agreeable solution?
    – What should other businesses and cultural organisations expect of the GBC in future if this is how one of the oldest institutions is treated?

  3. Gavin Morgan Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I would like to thank Councillor Davis for clarifying the situation over the Surrey Archaeological Society.

    I hope an amicable arrangement can be reached that does not force the society out of Guildford Museum. After all it is the best thing about Guildford Museum and if we are subsidising it then I consider my Council Tax well spent.

    I am more interested in the plans for Guildford Museum itself. I notice that the Council’s budget for 2015-16 included an item for the “Refurbishment and upgrade of Guildford Castle and Museum” Can we have an update on this please?

  4. Frank Phillipson Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Whilst explaining that there is a question over the lease, notices etc, Cllr Davis’ letter still does not specifically answer why GBC want SAS out of the museum.

    Why can’t there be a new lease and the partnership continue?

    Could it be that GBC want total control of their property (actually our property) with little regard to the consequences?

    There seems to be some undisclosed reason for the ejection of the SAS that we are not being told about. Why can’t we know the actual facts?

    Why and for what reason was the break notice served in 2003 and the termination of agreement in 2008?

    Cllr. Davis says the main reason that SAS have been served with notice to quit is that they haven’t addressed, in seven years, the issues raised by the above two notices. While leaving things for that long isn’t good, surely that doesn’t have to mean that they need to leave their current location?

    Can the SAS tell us why they haven’t dealt with this matter for so long and also if they can shed light on the reasons behind GBC ejecting them?

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