Fringe Box



Prince Edward Visits Shops and Is Lobbied On Planning Restrictions, Rates and Retail

Published on: 26 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 29 Sep, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, visited shops in Guildford on Tuesday, September 22, as part of an arranged tour of the town (see also Prince Edward Visits The Yvonne Arnaud). He was lobbied by retailers and retailer representative, Experience Guildford, on shopping locally, reform of business rates and relaxations to planning laws.

Prince Edward meeting Mike Leslie of Partisan Cheesemonger and Deli.

Partisan Cheesemongers & Deli in Chapel Street was one of the shops called on by the prince. Mike Leslie, owner of Partisan, said: “It was great to see the Earl of Wessex taking such a keen interest in our town. I was impressed at how knowledgeable he was of both Guildford and also the current challenges facing high street retailers.

“We discussed how important it is for consumers to buy local products through local producers, ensuring money spent in Guildford benefits all in the local economy.”

He also visited Koko Hair Salon in Tunsgate, Loake the shoe maker in the High Street and Barbour, also in the High Street.

Prince Edward at the Koko Hair Salon in Tunsgate.

He was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux; the chairman of Experience Guildford, Kevin Lorimer, and Experience Guildford’s town safety and venue liaison manager, Pete Lambert.

Prince Edward visits Barbour, the waxed cotton clothing specialist in the High Street.

The visit started in the County Club on the High Street. The CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters, took the opportunity to update the prince on issues and activities in the town.

She said: “Guildford’s recent count of vacant units currently stands as 12.4%, and that number could potentially increase. But now is the time to evaluate our core offering in town centres to create areas that meet the new shift in priority seen amongst communities and individuals.

“More mixed-use development is needed so our towns become less reliant of retail and thrive as areas to live, work and play. We need a nationwide relaxation of planning laws and a shift to a more local level to facilitate ‘change of use’ restrictions and encourage a wider range of businesses from a variety of sectors to invest in our towns.”

He was also told about the need for reform of the rates system across the UK to help support businesses and keep our high streets alive.

Prince Edward visits Loake, the shoemakers.

Pete Lambert said: “Seeing The Earl of Wessex take an interest in the businesses operating in our town was a real boost to morale for all he visited.

“We are grateful for the time and supportive ear he offered them, as he listed to the individual issues and obstacles that they have met during this turbulent period and heard stories of their resourcefulness to survive.

“Our local and independent businesses are incredibly important to the economic prosperity of this town, and it was great to offer them this high profile platform to be listened to and to be heard.”

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