Prominent local figures and press gathered at Guildford Cathedral yesterday to show their support and help us promote our #BackOurBid campaign. We are the only town in Surrey to be entering the competition for city status for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022.

Key supporters included Professor Max Lu, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Surrey, the Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Marsha Moseley and Lord Onslow. Thanks to the Dean of Guildford, The Very Reverend Dianna Gwilliams, who although not present herself, kindly allowed us to use the iconic cathedral which celebrates its 60th year this year as a back drop for photos.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore said:

‘Thank you to everyone who came yesterday to support our city status bid. It’s been overwhelming to receive such incredible pledges of support from so many groups and individuals across Guildford and beyond including politicians, the University of Surrey, Surrey County Council, our Business Improvement District, residents, local businesses, local dignitaries and faith groups. It is definitely something we all seem to agree on.

‘We have everything in Guildford; the heritage, the arts and culture, the world class education, the cutting-edge research and dynamic innovation. We have our unique community spirit and the awesome ‘People’s’ Cathedral which 200,000 local people and Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Prince Philip bought a brick for even though of course we all know there is no requirement to have one to be a city.

‘Some say it is difficult to quantify tangible benefits, but we believe it will create a buzz, inspire national and international tourism, civic pride and stimulate inward investment and new business opportunities which will drive much needed economic prosperity. Dr Steve Musson at Reading University actually found those towns that became cities outperformed their regional equivalents economically increasing investment and reducing unemployment.’

He added: ‘I know we’ve had some concerns that we’re spending tax payers money on this submission and I think a resident has started a petition against the bid. This is absolutely not the case. We’ve had so many offers of support from our commercial businesses and have a steering group made up of key supporters, councillors and officers. It is a low cost campaign mostly on social media and through word of mouth and this time unlike in previous years the government have specifically requested that the submission itself is a low-key document with photos.’

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Surrey said:

‘The University of Surrey is a stalwart support of Guildford and supports strongly the bid for city status for Guildford. The vibrancy of its culture and arts, and the presence of education and cultural institutions such as the University of Surrey, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, the Academy of Contemporary Music and our world-renowned Guildford School of Acting within the University, bring the community together and build a strong centre for learning and innovation, underpinning the social progress and economic development of the town.’

The Very Reverend Dianna Gwilliams, Dean of Guildford said:

‘We are very keen to be part of the Guildford City bid. We are one of only two Cathedral ‘towns’, 41 out of 43 cathedrals serve cities. The Cathedral sector contributes £100s million to the visitor economy of the UK, and we are available to all – a glowing symbol of an open and inclusive city community.’

Leader of Surrey County Council, Cllr Tim Oliver said:

‘The residents of our county have come together in extraordinary ways to support each other over the course of the pandemic. Making the coming year one of celebration and pride would be a just reward for such efforts.

‘Guildford is already a thriving cultural centre with a long history and fantastic civic centre. The library is the second biggest in the county with a wide catchment area whose redevelopment has had a positive impact on the borough. The town also has a reputation for great music, the Academy of Contemporary Music gaining university status is a testament to that. The University of Surrey is a centre of culture and innovation that draws bright young people to our county. Guildford’s economy is also vital to Surrey. The cultural offerings of the town bring in many visitors and with companies such as EA based in the town, Guildford is the heart of the country’s gaming industry.’

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, our Business Improvement District said:

‘We fully support Guildford being awarded city status, it would help to attract inward investment and further highlight us as a desirable destination for businesses, small and large, to set up shop and thrive.’

Chief Executive of Activate Learning, Sally Dicketts CBE, said:

‘I firmly believe that granting city status to Guildford will see even greater investment into the area, further driving developments and creating even more exciting opportunities for our students and the communities they are part of. I started looking at the history of the town and the wider county and I was staggered to discover that as a county, Surrey has no cities. As the county town for Surrey, I feel that it is time for Guildford to be properly recognised and given the prestige it deserves.’

Barry Underwood, MBE Club Secretary, Guildford City Football Club, said:

‘Guildford is the county town of Surrey and a cultural centre of high standing and is seen as such by the population over a wide area. Guildford is the home of the Spectrum Leisure Centre, the Surrey Sports Park and several sports clubs that compete on the national stage. With the decline of many local town centres, Guildford’s shopping experience stands like a beacon over a wide area, and consequently attracts many out-of-town visitors to visit the many large and independent retailers and eating places in what is a scenic town centre. To conclude everyone at Guildford City Football Club fully supports the civic bid for city status.’

Ms Chris Howard, Chairman of Visit Surrey said:

‘Visit Surrey has a strong working relationship with the University of Surrey’s Hospitality and Tourism Management School which is one of the top Tourism Schools in the world. I know how important the status of being a city is to Universities when they compete for valuable research grants and partnerships with other universities, who expect to be working with large prestigious city universities. City status definitely brings greater status and prestige on the national and international stage and can act as a catalyst for future success, including inward investment that drives the economic prosperity of the area. It does seem odd that such a successful County as Surrey does not have a city.’

Ray Abrahams Federation of Small Businesses Surrey, Development Manager, Surrey said:

‘We at the FSB are writing to you to endorse your submission to bid for City status for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022. Such status would provide pride and jubilation for our many FSB local business members in Guildford.’

Many residents have also got in touch via social media and our website to offer their support. Here are a few of their reasons why they are backing our city status bid.

‘It’s a fabulous place we’ve moved to from London in lockdown as it has as much to offer as the capital city really.’

‘I have lived in Guildford over 25 years and it would be great to recognise the growth the town has made.’

‘Very worthy of a City Status and I’m sure everyone will do it proud.’

‘It must be the most successful contributor to national GDP in the South East not to be a city. It’s time has come.’

‘Guildford has everything I could ask for on my doorstep. It is a beautiful, cultural, inspiring, forward-thinking place that I am proud our family call home.’

You can follow our campaign on social media @guildfordbc.