Monthly Archives: March 2011

110329 Local Democracy

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir,

In the spirit of the transparency called for in the Local Government Reforms proposed by the Coalition (that’s both our largest local parties), would each Councillor please let their voters know what they would do about selecting the Leader of the Council after the Local Elections on 5th May.

From a personal perspective, if any Conservative Councillor expects my support, I will not vote for any candidate who does not pledge to vote against the current leader.  I abhor the lack of transparency that seems to start at the top of the Council and stays there like a ring of cloud masking the peak of a mountain on an otherwise fine day. The latest debacle over the contract to run the new hall is but one example of what seems to be an undemocratic habit.

If this is not enough reason to take this seriously, think hard:  in the Localism Bill the (Coalition) Government is providing for some Council Leaders to act as “shadow” mayors with executive powers! I will, therefore, also ask any candidate who wants my vote what steps they will take to ensure the transparency and democracy of the leadership.

110312 G-Live

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir,

Further to my letter (Surrey Ad 11th March) I have made enquiries of London and National Orchestras as to whether they have any plans to come to Guildford now the opening of the new Hall is imminent.  I have discovered from their diary that the London Symphony Orchestra has already been booked to ‘christen’ the hall  with a celebrity conductor, Valery Gergiev, for 24th September (presumably, a dress rehearsal of their Barbican concert for the following night).

I gather from my further enquiries that:  a) booking the orchestra, conductor and soloist would typically cost in the region of £50,000;  b) the concert has been commissioned by Guildford Borough Council.  Based on the 1,000 seat capacity and the booking fees for the hall – and taking account of HQ’s commission on tickets (usually around 15% including VAT) which would previously have come back into the Council’s coffers through  the Tourist Information Centre or Electric Theatre, this would suggest ticket prices would need to be £60 each with no concessions just to break even!

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110305 G-Live

Letter to Surrey Advertiser

Sir

Question:  What do you get for £28m of our capital and a substantial annual subsidy from our Council Tax?

Answer:  An entertainment venue that no local groups can afford to use (£4,000 booking fee for amateur groups, £4 per ticket for a sell-out event just to pay for the hall before all the other costs of putting on a concert… do the maths!)…

…and our Councillors expect to be re-elected in a couple of months?

Let’s have the full information for public scrutiny and then exercise our democratic right!

Post Note – I have been asked by Guildford Borough Council to point out that the actual construction cost was £25m