110422 Guildford Philharmonic

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir

I understand that the programme for the first season at G Live will be published in mid-May (coincidentally a few days AFTER the election on May 5th).  I genuinely hope residents will be excited by the contents (we will certainly have paid a considerable amount towards them!) and that the diversity of entertainments, and the venue itself, will be enjoyed across the spectrum of residents and visitors alike.

It is my understanding that, for fans of orchestral concerts, this will include the London Symphony Orchestra on 24th September as previously reported; it will also include a sprinkling of Central and Eastern European orchestras performing before Guildford’s excellent Philharmonic Orchestra even gets a look in.

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110417 Local Democracy

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir

I and my fellow correspondents have been accused by one of your letter-writers (Surrey Ad 15th April) of only raising the issue of the contract for running the new hall because there is an election coming up.  This is about as much nonsense as would be any suggestion that the new Tourist Information Centre has just opened in Guildford House – just before the election – or that the new hall is approaching completion, and that these two events were timed to provide tangible evidence of the achievements of our Council.

Furthermore, I did not venture to suggest, last time around, that the fortuitous timing of the erection of hoarding around the old Civic Hall – a couple of months before the last election in 2007 in the ward fought by Councillor Hodges, the then Council Leader – was electioneering, in the face of heated criticism of a lack of progress by his Council in the redevelopment of the hall.

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110408 Councillor Powell

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir

I read Councillor Jen Powell’s letter with interest.  Cllr Powell is one of the great advocates for the Arts and she is often to be seen at concerts and plays supporting the local groups.   I have absolutely no issue with her and I genuinely hope she gets re-elected on May 5th.

Councillor Powell’s letter, however, does not provide the details that would get us to the bottom of these questions.   I have trawled through reams of meeting minutes looking for the information that would allow me (as a Council Tax Payer) to understand exactly what decisions have been made and what their bearing is on future expenditure.   I suspect there are just so many things Councillor Powell has simply not been told by the Leader and Chief Executive.

So, a message for Councillor Powell, if I may.  Please get back in and demand that the process of government be clearer and so much more accountable.

110401 Local Democracy

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir

I have read back several weeks of correspondence in the Surrey Ad – some of them in response to my own letters.  I have also looked back over the discussions of the location of the new hall and the offer of Surrey University to build a hall for the town on its campus.

What we have is a hall for which we have paid £26m, which Gordon Bridger noted would be expected to yield 5% per year (£1.3m); we are to pay a subsidy of £328,000 per year to HQ Theatres (and we are still responsible for external repairs and maintenance of the new building – we are even paying to fit out kitchens for restaurants that HQ will be running to generate operating income and profit); we are holding a fund (that does not seem to appear on the formal budgets approved by the Executive) to subsidise local groups to use the hall; we are paying out for a London Orchestra to open the hall when it should have been our own excellent Philharmonic.  And none of these ongoing costs appear to have been recorded in Executive minutes.

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