The Village Guildford closure: Councillors vote to withdraw funding of ‘very sad and depressing place’

December 7, 2017
By

The Village Guildford had become a “very sad and depressing place”, a councillor has said.

At a meeting in Millmead House on Tuesday (December 5) Guildford Borough Council agreed to withdraw funding for The Village Guildford project.

The council’s executive member for economic development and tourism, Cllr David Bilbe, has said the project did not receive enough “positive passion” from councillors.

The struggling pop-up shopping space has cost council taxpayers more than £1.2 million since it opened in December 2016.

Read More

The Village Guildford

Located in the heart of the town centre, it has offered shoppers a mix of food concessions, plus retail outlets, live music and a licensed bar.

The Village was first launched as Guildford Pop-up Village in December last year but Guildford Borough Council has since spent £90,000 in changing its name to The Village Guildford.

More than 5,000 people attended the reopening event in June, but after another six months of low footfall, the council has decided to pull the plug.

Speaking at the Tuesday night’s meeting, Cllr Tony Rooth, who has opposed The Village from its conception, said: “I bought food there and I met some of the stall holders.

“I regret to say The Village was a very sad and depressing place despite the sterling efforts of all our staff there who were putting in a tremendous amount of work and committment.

Cllr Tony Rooth
(Image: Surrey Advertiser)

“Unfortunately all the units had not been let as far as I could see by the end of November and four of them had actually closed at 5pm on a Friday when I think the site is due to close at 10pm.

“I’m very sorry actually for the stall holders who were standing around waiting for people to even visit the site let alone spent time and money there.

“The ice rink had become the only attraction in my view and frankly I am astonished to hear tonight that the ice rink has closed after a fortnight in operation. It did attract a number of young people and their families to the site and I really am astonished and very sorry indeed that it is no longer there.

“I hope the discussions with the third party operator produce a satisfactory outcome and indeed income to help pay off our expenditure on this site. If not we must have alternative uses ready and willing to go. Whichever, the exit must mean exit. The sooner the better.”

Cllr David Bilbe and Mayor Cllr Gordon Jackson cut the ribbon at the opening of Guildford Pop-Up Village
(Image: Darren Pepe)

Cllr David Bilbe, executive member for economic development and tourism, had initially said he had hoped the item would be shelved from the meeting altogether.

But in responding to other councillor’s comments, Cllr Bilbe said: “Everything in life is a learning experience but I have also learned through this last year those councillors I would wish to be in no man’s land with and those I would not wish to be in no man’s land with.

“Personally I think that if some of the negative passion had been positive passion then we might have been in a slightly different, not substantially different, but perhaps a slightly different place than we are now.

“But we are where we are, I think it is disappointing Mr Mayor, I think frankly we would have been here anyway I don’t this has been any reversal by the executive or anybody.

“Factors change, new pieces of information become available and we embrace those pieces of information in the same way we embrace the numbers when they were first put on the table in July 2016 and those numbers were proven to be wildly inaccurate.”

The Village Guildford will close for good on Christmas Eve.

Keep up to date with the latest news from around the county via the free Get Surrey app.

You can set up your app to see all the latest news and events from your area, plus receive push notifications for breaking news.

Available to download from the App Store or Google Play for Android .

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/village-guildford-closure-councillors-vote-14003718


Famous Words of Inspiration...

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *