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In this the second of what, it is hoped, will be regular contributions from a range of our borough councillors, Caroline Reeves, LibDem Councillor for The Friary and St Nicolas Ward, considers how we can all help make Guildford a tourist Mecca.
Be Prepared To Sing Guildford’s Praises
by Caroline Reeves
Are you one of those who complain that, with so many national chains of stores and restaurants in the High Street, Guildford is becoming a clone town?
One way to counter this would be to promote Guildford much more widely as a tourist destination. This would bring more visitors in who want to do more than just shop here.
We have got lots to offer. We all know of our Lewis Carroll and George Abbot connections, we have a wonderful, iconic High Street with its listed buildings, the Norman castle in beautiful grounds, all the interesting side streets, the River Wey and historic National Trust properties, so shouldn’t we make more of this and get many more visitors to the town?
We have just seen the Council Executive agree to support the first stage of a bid to the Lottery Heritage Fund for improvements to our Museum, which would play a big part in promoting Guildford to tourists. Combined with Guildford House, this could be a great attraction for visitors.
We already have a fantastic team of well informed town guides, and the only Tourist Information Centre in the whole of the county. And we have had many other celebrated residents, Alan Turing, E H Shepard, John Russell, P G Wodehouse and Kazuo Ishiguro as well as all the other musicians, actors and artists who have connections with the town. Perhaps we should promote Guildford as a Lewis Carroll town?
What else would we need? Better signage for the Park and Rides is supposed to be in the pipeline, but they don’t operate on Sunday. Surely this is something easily changed? Our parking provision is being studied as part of the town centre master plan to ensure we have enough spaces for the next twenty years, the bus station debacle should give us better provision for buses (wherever it ends up!), but we still need better services on Sundays and in the evenings.
The whole traffic system is also being studied as part of the town centre master plan and because of the impact of the various planning applications due in the town centre in the next 18 month. It is of utmost importance that we sort the traffic congestion out so that we can cope with more vehicles from, hopefully, more tourist visitors.
If we are to rise seriously to the tourism challenge we will have to put in a lot of work and of course money. Some will ask whether, in the current climate, we should we be doing this? I say yes. It would be good for the whole town, benefitting local businesses and help keep the town a busy thriving centre not just for shopping but for culture and entertainment too.
The proposals for the expansion and improvement of the Museum will be a starting point – so be prepared for fund raising and singing the praises of Guildford town!