Weybridge highways improvements

Weybridge Transport Strategy: £5 million for Weybridge’s streets

A public consultation took place early last year on plans to improve the streets in Weybridge town centre to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists and to improve traffic flow at some junctions. The total cost of these improvements comes to £5 million with money coming from SCC and EBC’s Strategic CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) fund. As a result of the consultations, the proposals to close Elgin Road and Old Wharf Way to traffic were removed.

Due to the M25 junction 10 programme, which should finish by the end of this year, the programme has been divided into two phases. Phase 1 works will be less interfering to traffic and will be co-ordinated with National Highways to limit the effect of any J10 restrictions or closures. Phase 2 works will have a more significant effect on traffic flow and will be scheduled for early next year.  

We understand that Phase 1 works will include: 

  • Pavement and cycle lane improvements on the High Street between Elmgrove Road and Baker Street; 25/04/24, 1 day;
  • Improvements to Monument Hill/Baker Street priority junction; 23/04/24, 2 days;
  • Work on the Bridge Road/Old Wharf Way junction; 12/02/24, 20 days;
  • Installing a Manby Lodge School crossing (scheduled during the August school holidays). 

Phase 2 plans include improvements to the A317 Balfour Road/Church Street mini-roundabout, to the Monument Hill and Monument Green junctions, the Balfour Road/Portmore Park roundabout and the Church Street/Minorca Road junction.

New Crossing on Oatlands Drive

Two years ago your local councillor team were pleased to see the work they had proposed to widen, resurface and install better lighting on the ‘green lane’ that connects Oatlands Drive to Grotto Road to make it a better shared walking and wheeling path. We then pressed SCC to install a crossing on Oatlands Drive to make it safer, particularly for children and parents going to and from St James Primary and St George’s Junior Schools. Good to see that this installation is now nearing completion.

Weybridge Business Park

In March this year, Runnymede Borough Council rejected plans for a 20,000 square metre warehouse on the now derelict site of Weybridge Business Park because it would be overbearing and have a damaging environmental impact.

The developers returned with revised plans for a number of smaller industrial units rather than the one large warehouse and this came before the RBC Planning Committee at the end of October. The council seemed to consider that the was an improved design due to its reduction in size and some additional landscaping. Along with the Weybridge Society, local councillors asked EBC to comment on the adverse effect the development would have on traffic through Weybridge, but unfortunately there was no objection raised from either the Local Highway Authority (SCC) or National Highways. Indeed, RBC determined that a reason for refusal on highway grounds could not be substantiated.

But conditions were imposed to restrict the hours of operations from 7am to 9pm and to limit the amount of floor space that could be occupied by one occupier so that units couldn’t be joined together to effectively provide one large warehouse.

However, the developers, Bridge Industrial, are appealing the decision to refuse their first application in March. The Weybridge Society is working hard, along with members of the Poets Corner Residents Group (PCRG) who live near the site, to prevent the appeal being heard in February from overturning the decision.

Petition for HGV weight limit

With Brooklands becoming a distribution centre for more and more companies, including Amazon, there are now more HGVs travelling through Weybridge and using the Balfour Road mini roundabout to turn into and out of Church Street. This is causing traffic jams, damage to barriers and pavements, and is dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians when the lorries mount the pavements to turn.

Neither Church Street nor the mini roundabout have been designed for this type of traffic and there have been 2 incidents with fatalities in the last 5 years on Balfour Road.

A petition to Surrey County Council was submitted in autumn 2022 to try to stop HGVs coming through Weybridge on the A317, received 270 signatures but was rejected on the grounds that it is a Surrey Priority One network with the comment that there “are no plans at this time to introduce a weight restriction.”

However, undeterred and seeing the escalation of the problem, we have joined with our St George’s ward councillor colleagues to promote a petition to introduce an 18 ton HGV weight limit on Brooklands Road. This is a B road and, if implemented, would achieve the aim of banning HGVs over 18 tonnes from using Heath Road to and from the town centre. There is still time to support the petition through this link or use the QR code below:  https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=541 

The petition is due to close on the 29th December.

Be aware of oak processionary moth (OPM)

A warning message from Elmbridge Borough Council:

Oak processionary moth (OPM) was accidentally introduced into England in 2005. Today, OPM poses a threat to Britain’s oak trees and is hazardous to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals who come into contact with it. OPM is present in the South East of England and in Elmbridge.

Elmbridge Borough Council follows Forestry Commission guidelines in dealing with OPM on its land. Our role is to protect our oak trees and their associated wildlife by managing the spread of OPM, minimising its impact on oak trees and protecting the public.

There is no single solution to managing OPM. We adopt a local risk-based approach which is informed by our local oak tree population, its associated biodiversity and the severity of OPM infestation.

When risk assessing each site, we:

  • look at each nest according to its location, and the risk to residents and pay particular attention to densely populated areas and the proximity to vulnerable individuals, for example, children, infants and elderly
  • control high risk areas by spraying (Spring) or removing nests manually (Mid-June – August), where appropriate, and manage low risk areas through on-site information.

For more information, please see Oak processionary moth.

Surrey Police Crime Commissioner spends £3 Million while officer numbers are slashed

Through several Freedom of Information requests, the Liberal Democrat Party has discovered that Surrey’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PPC) has cost the taxpayer £3.2 million since 2019, paying out huge sums for social media and office costs as community police officers were removed from patrolling streets and dealing with crimes.

Since 2021, Surrey Commissioner Lisa Townsend has had three staff members to run her social media presence and has increased her office costs by £180,000 – the equivalent of seven community police officers (PCSOs). Yet since Townsend was elected, Surrey has slashed 39 community officers from the streets!

In April, Liberal Democrat Leader, Ed Davey, called on the Government to scrap commissioners amid falling community officer numbers. Since 2019, England and Wales have lost 1,284 community police officers, despite tens of millions spent on PCCs. The costs of the country’s PCCs could have funded an additional estimated 3,830 community officers on an average salary of £26,634. It is shocking to see a local Conservative politician waste so much money on social media and office costs whilst officer numbers are slashed.

According to discussions with the office of the PCC recently, the recruitment of PCSO’s by Surrey Police ground to a halt last year to hit savings targets. Whilst recruitment has now resumed, it will take some years to return to previous levels.

A balanced and sustainable budget for Elmbridge

We remain a financially strong and resilient Council

On 8 February, Elmbridge Cabinet, of which I am a member, will be asked to recommend the council’s revenue and capital budget and the level of council tax for 2023/24. We have been working hard to produce a balanced budget against a backdrop of high inflation, rising interest rates and increasing energy costs, all leading to increased costs for the council.

Our 2030 Vision will help us to focus on delivering the needs of the community. It is a vision that says despite the economic pressures, we will support and enable Elmbridge’s sustainable future, we will back our local businesses and we will enable our community to help us drive Elmbridge forward. To ensure our vision for Elmbridge is more than a strategy document, we have in place a transformation programme that puts us in a strong position to be financially sustainable in future years.

For 2023/24 we are setting a balanced and sustainable budget brought about through a determination to create savings within the council, without reducing service quality.

Our transformation programme is the means by which we shape Elmbridge for the future; it will enable our vision. This programme is already delivering savings which have contributed to the 2023/24 budget, including:

  • A new leisure services contract with Places Leisure which will start in April 2023 and has secured savings of £200k in year one, while further enhancing facilities at the Xcel Leisure Complex.
  • Through service efficiencies, our community support services will save £110k, while developing a connected community to help improve the lives of our most vulnerable residents.

Overall, for our 2023/24 budget, we have identified additional income and efficiency savings of £1.8 million, while using prudently held reserves to meet some of our spending pressures due to high inflation and the impact of operational changes; these include Surrey County Council’s recent decision to withdraw from our joint car parking enforcement contract, which will cost our Council an additional £400k a year.

Supporting our community as costs rise

We never forget that some of our residents are dealing with the cost-of-living crisis every day, and they need us now more than ever.

  • Our 2023/24 budget continues to support our voluntary sector partners by providing core funding of £450k and,
  • through our careful financial management, we can commit an additional £250k to the cost-of-living crisis fund,increasing it to £500k to help the most vulnerable in our borough. We are working with our voluntary and community group partners in Elmbridge to allocate this funding so that it reaches the people who need it most, as quickly as possible.

Investing in a sustainable and thriving Elmbridge

A sustainable and thriving Elmbridge, needs more than efficiencies and cost savings, it needs investment which is what we will be doing to support Elmbridge’s future.

  • We have an ambitious capital programme where we plan to spend £4.2 million over the next 3 years, of which £1.6 million helps us towards our carbon neutral commitment, demonstrating our determination to work towards a sustainable Elmbridge.
  • £1 million of this will be invested in decarbonising our fleet over the next 3 years, with £460K in 2023/24, as set out in the draft Green Fleet Strategy also coming to 8 February Cabinet. This investment is supported by Surrey County Council, as we continue to work in partnership towards a sustainable Elmbridge.

Protecting our community

Working with our partners at the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council, the Elmbridge Drowning Prevention Strategy, sets out to reduce the number of water incidents in the borough through training and improved awareness. Our 2023/24 budget commits £30k for 2023-2024 to deliver additional drowning prevention projects including free swimming lessons for 12- 18-year-old non swimmers during the summer delivered by Places Leisure.

Below inflation increase in council tax

For Elmbridge council tax in 2023/24 we are proposing a below inflation increase of 2.98%, which is an increase of £7.05 a year or 14p a week for a band D property.

We will continue to support residents struggling to pay their council tax.

The future

The increased cost of living, global financial uncertainty and government policy changes means we will continue to face challenges to our financial position in the coming years. However, we have a strong track record of financial management, and we are confident that through our vision for the borough, backed up by the transformation programme, we will deliver a sustainable and thriving Elmbridge for our residents and businesses.

Cllr Ashley Tilling

Water safety in Elmbridge

Elmbridge Borough Council agrees £30k of additional water safety measures

Being situated within close proximity to rivers and open water has many advantages for Elmbridge but of course it brings responsibilities and consequences. While many of our residents and visitors safely enjoy the river both in terms of hospitality and water activities, the dangers of open water should never be underestimated; cold water shock, currents, and the risk of being caught in submerged debris is ever present.

In the absence of a single body responsible for water safety in Elmbridge, and in recognition for the important role that the rivers and other water courses have in the borough, Elmbridge Borough Council is leading the way in Surrey with a ‘Respect the Water: Drowning Prevention Plan’, which was agreed by Elmbridge Cabinet on 11 January.

The plan sets out to reduce the number of water incidents in the borough through training and improved awareness and commits £30k for 2023-2024 to deliver additional drowning prevention projects including:

  1. Free swimming lessons for 12- 18-year-old non swimmers during the summer delivered by Places Leisure at the Xcel Leisure Centre.
  2. Subsidising lifeguard courses run by the internationally recognised Royal Life Saving Society.
  3. Additional throw line boards: Six throw line boards have already been installed at Hurst Park Open Space, Thamesmead Recreation Ground, Waterside Drive, Albany Reach x 2 and Cowey Sale. Additional throw lines will be installed at other high-risk areas, including Desborough Island.

Leading community safety

The Elmbridge Community Safety Partnership has been leading the way in Surrey for a number of years with its multi-agency Drowning Prevention Strategy. Working with our partners at Surrey Fire and Rescue, Surrey Police, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the partnership educates and informs about the dangers of open water and acts to keep the open water safe in the borough.

The Partnership also consults with ROSPA about safety equipment such as throw lines.

Educating and informing

This education takes the shape of regular sites visits to our more popular river locations, schools’ promotion, the annual Junior Citizen programme, where in 2022 over 1,550 year 6s from around Elmbridge participated in an interactive session on water safety run by RNLI.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, working with Elmbridge and other partners, have also held a number of water safety events in recent months, demonstrating throw line use and highlighting the dangers open water.

River Safety

The British winter doesn’t stop rowers and kayakers on our stretch of the Thames from venturing out when the temperature drops!

In the last few months, your local Councillors have worked with the Environment Agency (EA), other water-sport clubs and the River Users Group to try to make our stretch of the Thames a safer place for the enjoyment of river activities. Fallen trees, many partially submerged along the bank, have been a constant reminder of the ruthless chainsaw felling earlier in the year and the aftermath of some powerful storms. The obstructions they cause can easily cause a capsize of an unwary visitor in any small boat which, in freezing temperatures, can be dangerous.

Cllr Ashley Tilling & Eva Ferlez winning their event at Walton SBH

We are pleased to report that many of the broken trees and overhanging branches were cut back and removed just in time for the Walton Small Boats Head race on the 11th December.

We continue to try to identify places where we could plant new trees to help to combat climate change and to make our green spaces more attractive (see article here). We will also keep working with EBC to persuade the EA to take their responsibilities seriously and remove the unsightly and polluting illegally moored boats that continue to proliferate on our Elmbridge stretches of the Thames.

Town Path Local Inquiry

You will have noticed that the upgrading of the paths around Churchfields was completed in May. Not only were these busy paths widened to 3 metres wherever possible to make them safer for all users but the proposals put forward by Cllr Ashley Tilling (for lighting to be installed on the path between the playground and the allotments, to move the fences to provide a much safer s-bend next to the skate park, and for the route into town through the car park to be made good) were all agreed and implemented.

However, a Local Inquiry is to be held at 1000 on the 7th September (venue to be decided) to determine whether the paths should be shared for both cyclists and pedestrians. Written representations should be made by 10th August to Sarah.tudor@planninginspectorate.gov.uk, using the same address to register intentions to attend the inquiry.

To download the details of the Inquiry click on this link: Pre Inquiry noteDPIQ36302110 PIM Note 21 07 21