Posts Tagged ‘Experience Guildford’

Calls for CEO of Guildford BID to resign

September 19, 2022

Calls have been made for Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, to resign.

Let’s look at her -succes’ stories.

A couple of years ago sand was dumped in the centre of Guildford to create a beach replete with beach huts alongside the River Wey.

End of last year, empty shops had their windows flyposted to er highlight they were empty.

This summer a series of events. It would be an understemdnt to day thsr were not well attended.

Two weeks ago, an awards ceremony for the rigged Consumer Service Awards. Two hundred or more attended, drinks flowed like water all night. One attendee said they had never in their life seen so much Prosecco.

How much this cost ? That was what one local business wished to know who had decided enough was enough.

He asked Amanda Masters CEO Experience Guildford.

Her response, not only a point blank refusal to provide the information, but to claim she had been advised not to.

This begs the question, who had advised , or was she lying.

A second request not only for the information but also who is avising her to I struct free quests for information?

There is now a call for her to resign. If she is not accountsbks to businesses within the defined BID biundary rgen to whi is she accountable?

If Amanda Masters refuses to resign she should be fired. If the board refuses to fire her, the board should be removed.

Amanda Masters highlights why we need an inquiry into BIDs and a regulator.

Guildford has a BID Ballot in October. Local Businesses should Vote No. 👗

Experience Guildford Consumer Service Awards revisited

September 10, 2022

Monday evening saw Yvonne Arnaud Theatre host the worthless Experience Guildford Consumer Service Awards.

Invite only. Finalists from each category five tickets so that’s around 200 people or more, plus hangers on.

Winners received a tacky plastic trophy and a bespoke window sticker to display on their window.

Looking through the shortlist, board members, tenants of a board member, a promoter of the award.

Free drinks all night, one attendee said he’d never seen so much Prosecco in all his life.

Costa won an award. Owned by Coca-Cola, disgusting coffee, appalling service, but win a Consumer Service Award. I once asked an employee of Costa, why was the service so bad, the staff so miserable? She said if you worked for Costa you would understand.

M&S won an award. Their service is appalling.

Star Inn won an award. Services rendered, pushing for a Yes Vote in the local media.

Bear Garden won an award. I thought they had closed down. Limited opening hours, trade on-line. They win every year (bar one). Bear Garden sit on the board.

Host of the award, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, a board member.

How much did all this cost? One business asked.

The reply from Amanda Masters, Experience Guildford CEO, a point blank refusal to disclose the costs, even claimed she had been advised not to discuss with third parties outside of the board and her team.

Accountability, transparency? This is contempt for businesses in Guildford.

The response is not acceptable. This is a matter of public interest. Experience Guildford is accountable to local businesses, at least in theory. In practice, a secretive parasitical body that is killing local businesses with the BID Levy extortion racket.

Local businesses should Vote No in the October BID Ballot.

Experience Guildford rigged Consumer Service Awards

September 5, 2022

Who was covering the costs of the Experience Guildford rigged Consumer Service Awards held this evening?

Was this a ticketed event? Could anyone attend? If there was no ticket price, who was paying? Another abuse of the BID Levy extorted from local business?

The British would trade with foreign lands, but the natives with a few brightly coloured baubles.

Experience Guildford buys with worthless Consumer Service Awards and an invite where everyone pats everyone on the back and they get the opportunity to dress up in their finery and made to feel important.

If we look at the shortlist we find

– board members (at least two)

– tenants of a board member (at least two)

– promoter of the award

– award hosted by board member

Those shortlisted are with many examples not the best businesses in Guildford, not businesses would wish to showcase as an example of standards for others to strive to.

It is the norm with any award

– not associated with the award

– not promoting the award

If applied to these worthless Consumer Service Awards many would be automatically disqualified from the shortlist.

Big Business ‘bribed’ to secure a BID Yes Vote

August 23, 2022

This is corruption writ large.

Large corporate chains, to secure a YES Vote, get a substantial discount on the BID Levy they pay.

The same chains who quite likely are giving donations to the Tory Party.

Struggling local businesses are hit with a double whammy. Not only are they hit with a BID Levy, which they cannot afford, they are subsidising corporate chains, thus paying a higher levy than need be. But it’s even worse, had they not been offered a discount for a YES Vote, there would be No BID, no BID Levy.

It is not only chains, shopping centres too pay a reduced BID Levy.

Let’s take a look at Guildford.

The head of the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre sits on the board of Experience Guildford. Not only sits on the board, is the chair. What can be the contribution of a failing shopping centre? But then could ask the same of the chair of Bury St Edmunds BID, what has to offer with at least two failed businesses?

The rigged Experince Guildford Consumer Service Awards, at least two of the tenants of Tunsgate Quarter shortlisted.

White Lion Walk and The Friary Guildford, two more shopping centres, shortlisted for an award.

Guildford Institute, that happens to be a board member, shortlisted for an award.

The award ceremony to be held at Ivonne Arnaud Theatre. You’ve guessed it, another board member. And for good measure, also shortlisted for an award.

Last year the AGM held at Harbour Hotel. Surprise surprise, another board member.

This though is not the only way BID Ballots are rigged

Casting of multiple votes: Car parks, public toilets given a vote.

Gerrymandering: BID area redrawn to exclude those who may vote No.

Counting of Votes: Businesses not aware of a ballot, not receiving ballot papers, count held in secrecy behind closed doors.

Misuse of BID Levy: BID Levy used to secure a Yes Vote.

Guildford Christmas lights switch on

August 20, 2022

Guildford Borough Council has decided not to pay for a Christmas lights switch on. A sensible decision by the Council. Not a cost effective use of public money.

I once had the misfortune of being in Guildford during Christmas lights switch on, it was a nightmare.

An expensive crowd control nightmare, money wasted on a C-list celebrity.

One town asked a local homeless guy to switch on the lights. Lincoln asked two local veterans of WWII Bomber Command.

Once again, Amanda Masters CEO Experience Guildford shows she is clueless. And that she should be fired and Experience Guildford wound up.

Even though by her own admission she does not know what is going on, she is only too happy to squander money extorted from struggling local businesses that an analysis by the Council has shown not to be viable or good value for public money.

Showing contempt for local businesses. Is the BID Ballot rigged? If not, why offer financial support for an event late November when Experience Guildford may not exist beyond October?

Why does Guildford Borough Council require two seats on the board of the BID?

Neither Experience Guildford nor Amanda Masters speaks for or represents local businesses in Guildford.

Whether or not people visit Guildford and spend money, depends on whether they have money to spend and something to spend money on. It has nothing to do with the pointless activities of Experience Guildford.

The BID Levy is killing struggling local businesses. If wish to help them, wind up parasitical Experience Guildford.

Experience Guildford rigged Consumer Service Awards

August 10, 2022

A nice little shindig, pat each other on the back, hand out worthless Consumer Service Awards, all paid for by struggling local businesses through the BID Levy.

Rigged Customer Service Awards.

Stitch up.

No corporate chain should be shortlisted.

Waitrose and M&S obscene use of over-packaging and plastic packaging. The service in M&S Food Hall is appalling.

Pho, fake Vietnamese street food, service terrible, food terrible, short listed.

Pho is located opposite Ben’s Records, part of the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre. Zero footfall. Only time see anyone when used as a shortcut during inclement weather. Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre sits on the board.

Ben’s Records promotes the Consumer Service Awards on behalf of Experience Guildford, shortlisted.

Ben’s Records does provide excellent service, but by promoting this award is pissing off other businesses who see Experience Guildford as a waste of money and wish to see wound up.

Bear Garden sits on the board, shortlisted.

I rarely see this shop in Jeffries Passage open I thought they had closed. They win the award every year bar one

In Jeffries Passage, excellent skateboard shop, excellent Korean Restaurant. A couple of streets down, another excellent Korean restaurant, with excellent service.

Loaf, not as the name would suggest a bakery, shortlisted. Loaf located in the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre. Tunsgate Quarter sit on the board.

Award shindig to be hosted by Yvonne Arnaud, sit on the board.

It is the norm, a body granting the award, agency promoting the award, not eligible for the award.

There are many excellent local businesses in Guildford, all are struggling to pay the BID Levy. Thank them, give them a 5-star review on Google maps.

A worthless Consumer Service Award, is no guarantee of good service, especially when the award is rigged.

Let us look a little closer at a few of the other shortlisted entries.

Coffee shops: Fresco Deli Kafessen, Caffe Nero.

Fresco Deli Kafessen, not a coffee shop, serves disgusting catering supply coffee, outside sit Greek students smoking, an embarrassment for Greek food.

Caffe Nero, corporate chain serving disgusting undrinkable coffee.

Krema, excellent coffee and cakes, staff passionate about coffee, always friendly and helpful. Not shortlisted.

Takeaways: Meat the Greek, Taco Bell.

Meat the Greek, takeaway an embarrassment for Greek Food.

Taco Bell, a rubbish chain.

Two excellent Korean restaurants in Guildford also takeaway, Hanki and Atto, excellent food, excellent service, staff go out of their way to be helpful. Not shortlisted.

There is a pattern here. Experience Guildford Customer Service Awards doing a great disservice to the many excellent local businesses in Guildford. Maybe I will produce an Alternative Customer Service Awards. Nominations welcome in the comments.

We are in the midst of a Cost of Living Crisis, and it will get worse. People are cutting their spending to bare essentials. The BID Levy must end. There is a vote in October to determine if Experience Guildford may continue. Local businesses should follow the example of other BIDs, Vote No for Experience Guildford to continue extorting money from struggling local businesses.


Jeffries Passage

July 19, 2022

Experience Guildford invites us to take a stroll down Jeffries Passage, with a cringeworthy video and dreadful music. Another example of how Experience Guildford squanders money extorted from local small businesses to give the impression of doing something.

Jeffries Passage, a narrow alley that connects the top of North Street with the High Street.

A Save the Children charity shop, opens on a whim, rarely found open.

There used to be an excellent Thai restaurant, destroyed by the ignorant rude staff. It is now an overpriced Indian restaurant. Always empty when I pass by.

There used to be an excellent Chinese restaurant. Now sitting empty. Forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic when the greedy landlord doubled the rent.

There used to be a coffee shop. No surprise closed as always empty. Their coffee was terrible, never saw the same staff twice. For a brief period sublet (the lease does not permit subletting).

Hanki, a little Korean restaurant is excellent.

The bear shop I thought had closed, as never found open.

What is noteworthy of this cringeworthy video, it fails to mention a skateboard shop, very popular with skateboarders. Why no mention? Could it be, the owner has been a vocal critic of Experience Guildford, has demanded transparency and accountability, refused to pay the BID Levy?

I am blocked from their Instagram account therefore cannot comment, but several have, highly critical that no mention of the popular skateboard shop.

This is how childish and petty Experience Guildford, yet more reasons why local businesses should vote No in the ballot in October for Experience Guildford to continue their extortion racket for a further five years.

It gets even more interesting when look at the featured bear shop. On the board of Experience Guildford, win year on year one of their worthless consumer awards. Strange for a shop never find open, wins a customer service award, being on the board that hands out the awards a mere coincidence.

Update: Cringeworthy video deleted. Once again Experience Guildford are running scared of criticism. They are paranoid. By deleting the video, following critical comments, they have drawn attention to their guilt. They have been caught.

Update: Did Experience Guildford really think they would get away with it? A cringeworthy video of Jeffries Passage that does not feature the skateboard shop, then when widely criticised, delete the video.

Vote No in October to rid Guildford of this parasitical self-serving entity. 

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.


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.


Guildford High Street empty shops

November 23, 2021

Walking up the High Street, I did not count, but shocked by the number of empty shops.

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 Quarry Street to Jeffries Passage. Had I wandered further up the High Street where I rarely venture, I would have found many more empty shops.

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

Sightings of Town Rangers are very rare, if spot one please take a photo 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?

Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre rarely a soul to be seen, useful short cut during inclement weather.

Maybe next visit, North Street.

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