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Leader Statement - Our High Street Springs Back to Life After Lockdown

As we reach the end of a milestone week with restrictions easing and our non-essential retail shops opening their doors for the first time in three months - I'd like to thank you all again for your continued support and for playing you part by following the government guidance.

Castle Grounds Flower Beds. Credit Dan Hannington

Castle Grounds Summer bedding. Credit Dan Hannington
Since the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak began I've been overwhelmed with the community spirit and kindness you've shown across our borough. We simply wouldn't be where we are now without such positive and heart-warming efforts.

It was wonderful to see some of you back in our town centre this week and thank you for your patience while you queue, follow social distancing and our new signs and routes around the town. We are doing as much as we can with our Business Improvement District, Experience Guildford to ensure safety measures are place and we can make it the best possible experience for everyone. It is so important we all support our businesses to play our part to get our local economy moving again, and they have been delighted to welcome you back.

Please visit their website experienceguildford.com for useful new maps and lists of businesses that are open again. Public toilets are all open and may I remind you all one of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus is to keep washing your hands.

Castle grounds illustrator. Credit Dan Hannington
If you want to take a break from shopping, our award winning Castle Grounds are less than a minute from the High Street and this year's summer bedding pays tribute to VE Day and 100 years since the birth of Victorian illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, who illustrated for fellow Guildfordian Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

We are very proud of our position as the holder of the most Green Flags in the South-East (we have 10 and they are like Blue Flag for beaches), for the quality of our parks and countryside. Now we are able to be outside as much as we like - as long as we keep two metres apart from others - and the warm weather looks set to return, please remember BBQs are not permitted and make sure you take litter home if bins are full so we can keep our green spaces enjoyable for all.

Tomorrow we are delighted to be able to open up the River Wey at Millmead as phase one repairs are complete after the installation of a temporary weir. This makes the river fully navigable from Weybridge to Godalming, and we look forward to seeing narrow boat enthusiasts and canoeists enjoying the water once more.

Thank you for your patience whilst we have undertaken this difficult work together with The National Trust and the Environment Agency, following the weir's collapse this winter. Although it hasn't been possible to replace the pedestrian bridge in this phase, we look forward to having the rest of the navigations back to full use so we can all enjoy the unique combination of natural beauty and industrial heritage we are all so passionate about.

As we do move slowly towards recovering at a borough and more widely at a national level, we continue to support our vulnerable communities as there are many people in our borough who are still in need. If you or anyone you know needs food or support, please call us on 01483 44 44 00.

Keep safe and take care

Cllr Caroline Reeves, Leader of Guildford Borough Council

Published on Friday 19 June. 

Photographs credit: Dan Hannington.