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Letter: The Guildford Dragon Performs a Unique Social Service

Published on: 28 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 27 Jan, 2023

From Ben Paton

In response to: MPs’ Report Highlights the Guildford Dragon’s Fight for Survival

The truth is that The Guildford Dragon NEWS performs a unique social purpose. No other entity does what it does. The Surrey Advertiser is not equivalent.

The borough council, local political parties and borough councillors should be supporting publications that promote free expression and the dissemination of different opinions.

The borough council should make a contribution to the costs of sustaining publications like The Guildford Dragon.

It is a terrible irony that a vocal minority of borough councillors – Paul Spooner in particular comes to mind – have traduced The Dragon rather than supported it.

Like President Trump, they have denigrated entities that have dared to express a critical or evidence-based opinion.

Without publications like The Dragon we shall be left with incomplete and biased propaganda press releases from the council.

Council decisions and political statements – such as claims that the council can/will build 3,000 council houses (more than doubling its stock) – can only be examined and tested and debated in local media like The Dragon.

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Responses to Letter: The Guildford Dragon Performs a Unique Social Service

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 28, 2023 at 8:59 am

    I fail to see what President Trump has got to do with this but I am in total agreement with the rest of this letter and opinion.

  2. Paul Spooner Reply

    January 28, 2023 at 9:53 am

    Just to correct Mr Paton, Conservatives at GBC have not been responsible for GBC communications for almost four years. As to his idea that a privately owned media organisation should be funded by the council taxpayer, that is ridiculous, although that could open the floodgates to any number of new media seeking fair funding.

    My “Guildford Ironicals” web-based media might then become reality, but Mr Paton may struggle to get through its editorial controls. 🙂

    Paul Spooner is the leader of the Conservative group at GBC.

    Editor’s response: for clarity The Guildford Dragon NEWS has not asked the borough or county council for funding nor does it intend to. Currently though, local print media is given a monopoly on lucrative statutory advertising of mandatory announcements.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      January 29, 2023 at 10:14 am

      Mr Spooner writes to “correct” me.

      What for? He implies that I wrote that the Guildford Conservatives were responsible for the borough council’s communications and press releases.

      I have re-read my comment to check. It is clear that I did not write what Mr Spooner wishes to imply.

      Mr Spooner has set up a fake Aunt Sally only to enable him to knock it down and to make a spurious “correction”. That’s a bit like creating fake news.

      In any case, almost everyone in Guildford is aware that his party lost control of the borough council as a direct consequence of the disastrous Local Plan that he forced into law days before the last election.

      Most people recognise these sorts of fake “corrections” as Trumpian. It’s not the job of politicians to chastise voters. They are supposed to serve them.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 28, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    In your editor’s response you raise another issue, emphasised during the recent SCC planned work on London Road in Burpham.

    An excuse about the lack of communication and consultation with residents and even councillors, was that statutory requirements were followed, ie adverts placed in The Surrey Advertiser.

    Most residents would point out that with the internet and modern communications, using a printed newspaper or even a soggy notice on a lamp post is hardly adequate.

    There is no reason that local authorities cannot exceed statutory minimums. How about announcements on Twitter, Facebook, etc linked to adequate “news” or descriptions on their websites?

    But I suppose this minor council communications deficiency of over 20 years is only a relatively trivial irritation?

    • Mark Stamp Reply

      January 30, 2023 at 1:17 am

      This point is also relevant to those who recently said there was no consultation about the North Street plans (despite evidence to the contrary).

      I know Cllrs Rigg and Redpath are regular readers and contributors to The Dragon. Could they get their GBC officials to work with The Dragon to publish a weekly planning notice page here as well as in the printed press. Seems like a fairly easy win for all.

      Editor’s response: I have, some time ago suggested this to GBC, and more recently, on several occasions, that the council produces a summary list of all council meetings showing main ageda items and decisions taken. It should, of course, be available to all local media.

      Unfortunately, neither idea has been taken up and now, it seems, the government is to maintain the printed press’s monopoly on statutory advertising, including planning notices, despite clear evidence that most news is now read online.

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