Category Archives: Community
Regular readers will be aware of the threat to The Boileroom, Guildford’s independent music and arts venue. It has been subjected to a review of its licence by (possibly) 2 nearby residents. After carefully researching the venue and the claims made against it, I decided to support the venue and write to Guildford Borough Council’s Licensing Team with my personal evidence.
You can read my submission here: Submission to Licensing sub-committee
If you would like to add your opinions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, along with community activist Alex Wilks, I had the chance to look round The Boileroom, a small independent music venue in Guildford which is threatened with closure. The owner, Dominique Frazer, introduced us to the dedicated staff and showed us how they try to live in harmony with their neighbours.
There are no other venues in Guildford, and very few in the South East, which provide opportunities for local aspiring independent musicians to develop their talent and play alongside more established acts. The Boileroom pays local bands to perform and is credited by the Musicians’ Union as being a vital part of the live music industry. The Boileroom is hosting the launch event for the Guildford Fringe next week. They put on events for schools, train future music industry staff and succeed despite their more commercial rivals receiving public money as subsidies. They have even won an award from the Noise Abatement Society!
Unfortunately, new neighbours arrived in the next-door house about 18 months ago and they are having a speculative attempt at closing the venue down.
One of the reasons given is that they are disturbed by noise from the venue. We had a demonstration of the sound-proofing yesterday. Inside, some very loud music was played on the speakers. We went outside, through heavy double-doors and it was almost inaudible right outside the door. In fact, the traffic on York Road is far louder and sometimes we had to wait for it to die down to be heard when talking. These doors do not allow enough sound through to be a nuisance. There is a locking system which prevents one door opening until the other one is closed, therefore it is impossible for both double-doors to be open at the same time. It was suggested to me that perhaps windows might be opened if it was too hot inside. However, none of the windows in the noise-protected part of the building open and there is powerful air conditioning so that is not necessary.
The list of alleged breaches of the licence seems to comprise smears and unprovable anecdotes. The suggestions of harm to children are totally made up. The complainants claim that there have been “allegations” that the venue was overcapacity when running an event for schoolchildren. There were no such allegations. Also, the claim that parents have difficulty crossing the road is untrue and the local school confirm this.
Unfortunately, the people who have made the complaint against The Boileroom may have committed an offence by knowingly supplying false information. The Licensing Act allows for high fines to be levied on complainants if they are not honest.
The Boileroom is a valued community hub. I spoke to a passing neighbour when we were outside on the pavement. He confirmed that Dominique and her team do everything possible to live in harmony with nearby residents. The huge number of signatures collected on their petition already shows what a strong following they have. It is a shame that the local LibDem councillor has not taken up the invitation, like we did, to look round the venue and see what a fantastic asset it is to the community.
It is very disappointing that selfish neighbours can launch this speculative application to review the licence and cause so much heart-ache to so many people. Regular readers of this blog will be reminded of the fight to gain planning permission for the Terry Jayne School of Dance in Lightwater. The Taleban try to stamp out singing and music, let’s stand up against their equivalent in Guildford!
Confusion surrounds the current legal position of Bagshot’s small village library. Surrey County Council forced through its so-called Community Partnered Library policy against all public opinion. This means relying on groups of local volunteers to run the library after all paid staff are made redundant. The policy stated that if ‘volunteers’ could not be found then the library would close, so the new recruits would be forced to work for free to replace paid staff or face losing their village library. SCC admitted that this policy does not save any money, therefore it was clearly an ideological policy aimed at sacking public servants and then closing libraries.
There was a group of volunteers ready to take over the library. The Friends of Bagshot Library had been volunteering alongside the paid staff for years. Unfortunately, in 2011 and 2012 the then county councillor stopped all communication with the Friends. He also stopped attending council meetings after he lost his driving licence for an aggravated drink-driving offence.
In 2013 another Conservative was elected as the local county councillor. Instead of engaging with the Friends, he proceeded to undermine and sideline them. Local people were led to believe that Windlesham Parish Council was taking over as the so-called volunteer group. This turned out to be false. The new county councillor, Mike Goodman, is also chairman of Conservative-dominated Windlesham Parish Council and appears to have used their facilities for his personal project.
Surrey County Council cannot confirm the name of the new group of ‘volunteers’ which will be taking over the library from 7 December 2013. They also do not know the names of the directors or beneficiaries or their contact details. There is no official record of any decision being made to turn over the library to this group of persons unknown. There is now great concern that Bagshot Library is being appropriated by local Conservative councillors, acting outside the authority of the parish council and duping people into working for free for their own private enterprise. The councillors themselves are not thought to be library users.
Local resident and library campaigner Richard Wilson, who was the Labour candidate for Surrey County Council in May 2013 said, “It is now clear that the transition to a so-called Community Partnered Library must be halted until this legal uncertainty is resolved. At the election I pledged, if elected, to save Bagshot Library. I call on Cllr Goodman to tell SCC to remove Bagshot Library from its hitlist of libraries set to lose their librarians. Even at this late stage it is not too late to abandon this awful policy and save our library.”
Surrey County Council has already lost one judicial review due to this dire policy. They seem set to make further legal errors and risk losing a public asset which is more than valued, it is loved, by the people of Bagshot.