Fringe Box



Opinion: Why I am Optimistic for Guildford

Published on: 13 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2015

OptimismBy Zoe Franklin

Zoe Franklin is the retiring Lib Dem borough councillor for Stoke ward. Following Martin Giles’ pessimistic view of Guildford’s future, Zoe explains why she remains an optimist.

From the age of eight I lived in Farnham, Hale to be precise, and had a very happy childhood there. When I got to my teenage years the town rather lost its appeal as there was virtually nowhere to go out, if you were a teen or young adult, save the local pubs and sports centre.

Instead everyone went to Aldershot or Guildford. It was to my delight that I was accepted to study at the University of Surrey and I quickly moved here to enjoy all that university and Guildford had to offer.

I loved Guildford then and I continue to love Guildford now. And I am optimistic for her future.

Opinion Logo 2Guildford is not the same town I arrived in 16 years ago and rightly so. Call it what you will, change, progress, growth is essential. Without this forward movement any living thing, including a town, will die and I want Guildford to maintain and grow its vibrant culture and community

I value how Guildford brings together the old and the new. The beautiful historic High Street, castle and town centre with the stunning late-1930s Cathedral that no doubt would have shocked and appalled many with its design when first built.

Guildford is more than its traffic flows, town centre and building plans.

Guildford is its community. I particularly value the growing cultural diversity of people living here highlighted, I think, by the fact that in my son’s school there are over 20 languages spoken by its pupils.

Guildford is its social responsibility. I’ve seen what I can only describe as an explosion in social responsibility over the last five to six years; people starting groups and projects to respond to the need they see in their community.

Guildford is opportunity. We have incredible schools and both further and higher education facilities. These give the young, and the not so young, opportunities to reach their full potential through an education option that is right for them.

Guildford is innovation. The Research Park, UniS Satellite Centre, Dennis Coachworks and a multitude of other small, medium and larger businesses are providing jobs, developing new technology and ideas and putting us on the map.

All these things excite me and make me optimistic for Guildford’s future in the widest possible sense.

However, as with many things there is a caveat. I am anxious about what will happen on May 7th. Guildford is a tale of two cities – incredible affluence but also deep need.

The direction that national government and particularly the borough council takes after the election will profoundly influence the future of Guildford. It is my hope that Guildford will not choose a route that tries to freeze time and keep Guildford how it is right now.

Instead I hope it embraces a route that facilitates continued positive progress in community, social responsibility, opportunity and innovation for every adult and child living here now and in years to come.

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