Archive for the ‘Guildford’ Category

Experience Guildford Customer Service Awards

June 12, 2022
  • silence critics
  • collect customer data
  • pretend to be doing something

The BID Levy is a high price to enter a lottery to win a worthless award.

Customers have to nominate a local business for a CSA. Those with the most nominations are placed on a short list. The winner entirely at the whim of Experience Guildford. Somehow I cannot see a business that has been blocked from their Instagram page, called for them to be wound up, getting onto the short list, let alone receiving an award.

Businesses are enabling collection of data on their customers. To nominate a local business are required to send a text with a code. How is this data used? Or use an on-line form providing:

  • name
  • telephone number
  • business nominated

Two pieces of information linked to your name, your phone number and where you shop.

It is another example of Experience Guildford trying to justify their existence.

Never participate in competitions where hand over personal information.

On Facebook never

  • quiz
  • survey
  • game
  • apps

Where does the information go, what is it used for?

There are now so many awards they have become meaningless.

The next time you see ‘award winning’ ask for details. There is high possibility worthless Great Taste Award. These are the little black stickers seen on too many products. The companies pay for the award. It goes on crap. That is not to say the product is not high quality, but a high chance it is not.

A few years ago Coffee Bobbins won an award from Good Taste Lincolnshire as the best tea or coffee shop in Lincolnshire. Strange as was not the best in Lincoln, let alone Lincolnshire, and served disgusting undrinkable coffee. The award was sponsored by Lincoln Tea and Coffee, who also advertised in the magazine that handed out the awards. Coffee Bobbins just happened to source their black, oily, over roasted cheap crap catering supply coffee from, yes, you have guessed correctly, Lincoln Tea and Coffee.

If wish to support local businesses, support their services. Post a review on Google maps to share your experience with others. But don’t hand your contact details to Experience Guilford. Explain why to local businesses.

Here are a few excellent local businesses in Guildford, by no means an exhaustive list, but recommended by this writer, thus worth paying a visit.

  • Ben’s Records – music – Tunsgate
  • Krema – coffee shop – Tunsgate
  • Food For Thought – grocery store – Haydon Place
  • French cheese stall – North Street market Friday and Saturday
  • fruit and veg stall – North Street market Friday and Saturday
  • Hanki – Korean restaurant – Jeffries Passage
  • Atto – Korean restaurant – Swan Lane
  • Partisan Cheesemonger and Deli – Chapel Street
  • La Casita – Spanish restaurant – Chapel Street

There are many excellent indie businesses in Guildford. Please support them.

It goes without saying, avoid corporate chains.

Experience Guildford exposes its own failings

June 8, 2022

If the measure of success of a BID is a thriving town centre, then the number of empty retail shops in the centre of Guildford is a measure of the failure of Experience Guildford.

Posting on Instagram, Experience Guildford graphically illustrated its own failings. Note the empty shops in one short street. From my own survey end of last year, there are many more empty shops in this one short street. And it is not atypical. Every street I surveyed, including the High Street, row after row of empty shops.

We have a domino effect. Every shop that closes its doors, less reason to visit Guildford, fewer people will visit, fewer people shopping, eating out, drinking coffee. There are always 10% of businesses that are marginal. Lower footfall, they go under, even less reason to visit Guildford, further pressure on those that remain.

Remember the good old days of the Soviet Union when a leader would be elected with 98% of the vote?

Experience Guildford carried out a survey of local business.

Over 95% find stated that they find our marketing, promotion and events programme (such as Street Festivals, Markets, Seasonal Events and Trails, Healthy Guildford Day) are important to their business.

Really, over 95% happy with the performance of Experience Guildford?

It was not an independent survey, it was carried out by Experience Guildford, thus worthless. The respondents were self-selecting, which again renders the survey worthless.

We do not know what the questions were. It is all too easy to get the result you wish for with carefully crafted questions.

What then is the truth on the ground? From my own random sample, wandering around talking to a range of different local businesses, 100% opposition to Experience Guildford. Not a single business wishes to see them continue.

Of the businesses I have spoken to, I have yet to find any who support Experience Guildford, and there is now talk of refusal to pay the BID Levy. Businesses object to an enforced levy, little more than an extortion racket, for which they see no benefit.

Across the country, and it is growing, a refusal to pay the BID Levy. Enough is enough.

Carmarthen 57 refuseniks refused to pay the BID Levy. Summons issued. Case successfully defended in Court. They won. The Court ruled they do not have to pay. The local council has indicated it will not try to recover the monies not paid. The lawyer who took the case will now on their behalf, file in the High Court for the BID to be wound up.

Markets?

In Guildford there are two regular markets. North Street market, a very popular weekly market every Friday and Saturday, cheese, fruit and vegetables, fish, cakes. A monthly farmers market in the High Street, the first Tuesday of the month, with occasional extra markets, seafood, paella, cheese, coffee, meat, fruit and vegetables, cakes, bread, wine, gin, chutney, jam. An occasional craft market. These markets are run by the local council.

A well run market is an asset to any town , it brings folk into town, everyone benefits. In London successful markets have been established by individuals and volunteers, not bloated parasitical entities. These new markets have revitalised dying town centres.

Experience Guildford are even claiming credit for the Guildford Book Festival. A book festival long before Experience Guildford existed and I am sure will be there long after Experience Guildford has gone.

If local businesses wish to sponsor events in the town, either individual or collectively, that is for them to decide. It does not require an enforced levy.

Unlicenced unregulated private security roam the streets, no consultation, rarely seen. Very camera shy.

One of their roles is to deliver an Experience Guildford propaganda sheet to local businesses. On receipt it goes straight into the bin. An obscene waste of trees. How much to print, publish and distribute? What is its carbon footprint?

At the weekend I learnt a local business had been blocked from accessing the Experience Guildford Instagram page.

I checked, to find I too was blocked.

Accountability, transparency?

The level of corruption within these organisations needs to be investigated.

One BID held their AGM on-line. Only the board were present and re-elected themselves. This may not be an isolated example.

Struggling local businesses in todays harsh economic reality, cannot afford the luxury of a BID Levy, especially when they see no tangible benefit. The BID Levy can mean the difference between employing a staff member or not, between remaining in businesses or not.

Guildford has a ballot in October.

Experience Guildford this month are holding a series of workshops to obtain a YES vote to remain in business. That is they are using money extorted from local businesses to secure a YES vote to continue extorting money from local businesses.


https://www.instagram.com/p/CeOZnwsotNI/

#BID#ExperienceGuildford#fail#AgainstBID#Guildford

Market Street Guildford many empty shops

December 8, 2021

Repeat of North Street, High Street, upper High Street, photograph empty shops in Market Street.

Market Street links North Street to the High Street.

The level of empty shops in Guildford not at the level of Aldershot, but no other town centre I have visited has this number of empty shops.

Market Street, not far short of half the shops empty. The national average 14.5%

High rents are a factor across the country, greedy landlords and property developers not recognising retail reality, rents should be going down, instead they are being hiked.

Waterstone’s prime location in the High Street were faced with a massive hike in rent. They walked across the street.

Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage occupied what had been a shop sitting empty for years. Greedy landlord doubled their rent during lockdown. An excellent Chinses restaurant, everything cooked fresh. closed thanks to a greedy landlord. Shop sits empty.

Loakes in Lincoln, just of the High Street, lease about to end, rent doubled, expected to sign a five year lease. No one in today’s economic climate is willing to sign a five year lease. The store closed.

But what makes Guildford worse than elsewhere Experience Guildford and only serves to highlight the failure of Experience Guildford and why it must be wound up.

What can only be described as perverse, Experience Guildford fly post many of the shop windows of the empty shops to highlight the scale of retail devastation.

Experience Guildford and Town Rangers hide behind a faded red door in Tunsgate.

Town Rangers are very rarely seen, if spot one, please take a photo of a rare sighting and post on social media.

If Experience Guildford is not wound up, which is the preferred scenario, then there must be reform, board removed, senior management fired, town rangers fired, and one vote one business.

Are the local community aware Experience Guildford place a levy on every local business in the town centre, a levy in today’s harsh retail environment which local businesses can ill afford, a levy for which they see no return? Are the local community aware of how votes are distributed based on rateable value, corporate chains have more votes even though they have no interest in Guildford other than the wealth they suck out of the town centre? This is like a rigged election in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, fair elections are held, only Putin decides who the candidates will be. Should HSBC have a seat on the board when they finance fossil fuel companies which is contrary to the declaration of Guildford as a green borough?


Windy afternoon in Guildford

December 8, 2021

Yesterday a storm, dark by three o’clock.

Today, remanants of the storm, very windy.

Lunch at atto. Early afternoon, quiet. I was going to have fried chicken, but decided on sweet and sour chicken. It was good, but lukewarm, not hot. I should have let them know. The rice is pink, due to the addition of black rice which turns white rice pink. I noticed pot and cup, compostable. They said their plastic utensils also compostable.

Survey of empty shops in Market street. Almost half the shops are empty. The average for UK, 14.5%.

Coffee at Krema.

I learn Canopy Coffee outside Waitrose has been sold. Good news if somewone who is a passionate about coffee. Previous owner pretensious ignornat prat.

On my way to Waitrose, a new coffee shop opposite Waitrose, previously a hair dresser. A patisserie. I walk in. As soon as I see their equipment, I know worth exploring further. I ask of the coffee. Square Mile. Even better.

I stay and try a coffee, an espresso. It is not good. It does not look good, a muddy dirty brown. I try a cappuccino. Same problem. What is wrong, I do not know. I wish I had played around with grind settings.

Waitrose. Shocked to find Deliveroo. Do Waitrose really wish to be assonated with a company whose businesses model is exploitation. Even Vulture Capitalists will not touch Deliveroo. Deliveroo serfs walking in, no mask crash helmet not removed. I raise with a member of staff. She is not happy, will raise. On leaving I see man handing over packages for delivery not wearing a mask. Not good.

I miss a train. Eight o’clock, everything at station closing. Costa already closed, then M&S closed.

I see my train already at platform.

Quiet coach, passenger no ticket, no mask, coughing. I raise with guard. Response from guard: I am not his mother.

— to be continued —

Cold and damp December afternoon in Guildford

December 3, 2021

Not as cold as Thursday, but still cold.

An hour and a half late to Guildford, Gatwick train packed.

Nearly two hours in a bank trying to resolve a problem the bank has caused.

On market, cheese stall has already closed. Stalls on a market should not close until the market closes. Guildford need to enforce this as a condition of a stall on the market.

Very late lunch at Hanki, Korean restaurant.

Constant flow of Deliveroo serfs into Hanki. They are a bloody nuisance and a deadly coronavirus disease vector. I have asked that a sign on the door, masks must be worn, helmets removed. Also that they are instructed to wait outside and food handed to them.

In Athens, delivery drivers wear masks, remove helmets, wait outside.

Make Krema before they close. Excellent espresso.

Over 50,000 new covid-19 cases today, Omicron variant in Surrey. In South Africa where first identified spreading like wildfire, vaccines may not be effective due to number of mutations, and are certainly not stopping the spread of Omicron. Tuesday, lax regulations introduced, mask wearing mandatory, but only in shops and on public transport, widely ignored. Where is the enforcement?

In Guildford, many retailers, staff not wearing masks, customers not wearing masks.

Too late for a train, wait for the next.

A man hanging around M&S, suspicious, turns out to be their security. He is not wearing a mask, dangling around his mouth.

Through the barrier at Guildford Station, strong British Transport Police presence enforcing wearing of masks. Problem is, passengers remove mask once on the train.

I catch a bus, it breaks down after one stop, next bus does not turn up.

Guildford upper High Street empty shops

November 30, 2021

A continuation of last week in the High Street, photograph the empty shops in the upper High Street.

This is not at the level of Aldershot, but no other town centre I have visited has this number of empty shops. It only serves to highlight the failure of Experience Guildford and why it must be wound up.

I only noted from Jeffries Passage upwards. The upper High Street where I rarely venture, I did not count, found as many empty shops as North Street.

What can only be described as perverse, Experience Guildford fly post many of the shop windows of the empty shops to highlight the scale of retail devastation.

Experience Guildford and Town Rangers hide behind a faded red door in Tunsgate.

What must be a very rare sighting, as Town Rangers are very rarely seen, a Town Ranger was spotted mid-afternoon in Tunsgate headed for the faded red door. If spot one, please take a photo of a rare sighting and post on social media.

If Experience Guildford is not wound up, which is the preferred scenario, then there must be reform, board removed, senior management fired, town rangers fired, and one vote one business.

Are the local community aware Experience Guildford place a levy on every local business in the town centre, a levy in today’s harsh retail environment which local businesses can ill afford, a levy for which they see no return? Are the local community aware of how votes are distributed based on rateable value, corporate chains have more votes even though they have no interest in Guildford other than the wealth they suck out of the town centre? This is like a rigged election in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, fair elections are held, only Putin decides who the candidates will be. Should HSBC have a seat on the board when they finance fossil fuel companies which is contrary to the declaration of Guildford as a green borough?

Not recorded last week, empty shops in Swan Lane.

Atto

November 30, 2021

Atto, a new Korean restaurant in Swan Lane where once Costa. Hanki in Jeffries Passage closed Tuesday lunchtime, give atto a try.

Lunchtime busy, but not too busy, about half full, a steady flow of customers taking their lunch out.

Staff pleasant and helpful, described all their dishes, food was good, reasonable portion size if not generous, I had to stop the girl piling more in my pot. I had sweet and sour chicken on a bed of rice. The juices from the sweet and sour, seeped down into the rice.

Unlike disgusting Pick A Bap in Farnborough, the food looked fresh. The girl said they empty after three hours, clean out the tin, bring out fresh food. Whilst I was there, chef added fresh food, stirred the tins.

Only too happy to give me a drink of water, filtered water.

Not sure what to do when finished. Are we meant to clear the tables? There was a box for cutlery. I did what others did, tidied up, left on the tray.

Covid biosecurity good: Tables clean, staff wearing masks, hand sanitiser. It could be improved still further by making Deliveroo wait outside and handed their delivery, if enter, wear mask and remove crash helmet.

Guildford cold damp last day of November

November 30, 2021

A cold damp day, 10C not as cold as a few days ago, but nevertheless felt cold.

First day mask wearing mandatory in shops and on public transport. Nowhere 100% compliance.

Shop displaying sign mask wearing personal choice. No, it is mandatory, £200 fine.

Illustrates yet another Experience Guildford fail. Could they not have gone round and advised all the small businesses mask wearing mandatory, £200 fine? Even better, run off posters, Mask Wearing Mandatory, £200 fine?

Lunch at atto, new Korean in Swan Lane, formerly Costa. Staff pleasant and helpful, described all their dishes, food was good, reasonable portion size, if not generous, I had to stop the girl piling more in my pot. I had sweet and sour chicken on a bed of rice. The juices from the sweet and sour, seeped down into the rice.

Unlike disgusting Pick A Bap in Farnborough, the food looked fresh. The girl said they empty after three hours, clean out the tin, bring out fresh food. Whilst I was there, chef added fresh food, stirred the tins.

Only too happy to give me a drink of water.

Not sure what to do when finished. Are we meant to clear the tables? There was a box for cutlery. I did what others did, tidied up, left on the tray.

I followed up last week, photographed the empty shops in the upper High Street.

On my way to Krema, a very rare sight, a Town Ranger. What are they for? No one knows.

Cappuccino at Krema. They now even have guest coffee.

Look in M&S.

Wait at Costa, before cross over to my train.

Yobs in my carriage, feet on seats, no masks.

— to be continued —

Zero

November 23, 2021

Zero, a community hub cum zero waste shop with focus on climate.

ReSpace in action, a large empty retail unit, recycled on behalf of the local community, run by volunteers, lots of little areas suitable for informal meetings, a small stage to host talks, a little eatery (but by no means a coffee shop), a zero waste area (but so far no stock), a seed bank, books, visual displays.

Very much work in progress, my thoughts should therefore bear that in mind.

Please no, the sweets, the only stock in the zero waste zone, focus on quality, loose nuts, cereals, grains, muesli, rice etc. In addition, washing up liquid, shampoo. Never loose coffee beans. They oxidise.

Olive oil and rapeseed oil is a possibility, but I have reservations. It very quickly goes rancid. I would rather see high qulity cold pressed, extra virgin, rapeseed oil and olive oil in bottles.

I buy green olive oil in Athens, it is the very first pressing, and it will have a provenance of where it came from.

A visit to Hisbe in Brighton to check out what they do, is a must.

Serious thought needs to be given to an in-house coffee shop. But not easy. Needs a crowd funder to buy or lease a decent espresso machine (cheap machines a waste of money). Then need a skilled barista or baristas. Would there be baristas in Guildford willing to put in a few volunteer hours? They in turn could show others how to, a valuable life skill. Next it would need planning consent for A3 use. Currently a bean -to-cup machine, a stop gap but by no means ideal.

ReSpace: We recycle materials, why do we not recycle people and buildings? A planning designation, owner pays no businesses rates, peppercorn rent, building brought back into productive use. For the owner, if the building in use, it does not deteriorate.

Cold November afternoon in Guildford

November 23, 2021

Either hard frost or heavy dew maybe both, very wet this morning. Ideal for raking up leaves. Wet leaves hard work but remain where raked and rot down.

Walking to station. Sunny. Front of my coat warm, back cold.


I check out Zero, a community hub, a climate action resource centre run by volunteers, an excellent example of ReSpace in action. I had hoped for lunch, they do not do lunch.


Late lunch Krema, later than I realise. Cappuccino, officially closed.

Walking down past Harris + Hoole I am handed a flyer for the new Korean in Swan Lane. I tell the guy wrong time of day, apart from too cold, people are focused on going home, catching a bus or train, hand out during the day.

I don’t think I will make my train. Stop and have a coffee at Harris + Hoole. Closed, they now close at five.

It is now very very cold. Whilst waiting for my train, sit in Costa at the Station.

Train not busy. Few commuting. Is this because people are working from home, or like many of the coffee shops, closing early?





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