Highway Maintenance

Pot HoleThe British government produced a new fund for pothole repair recently.  Surrey last year received a grant of £16,714,000 to maintain Surrey’s roads.  The amount for this year was cut by £1,391,000 to £15,323,000.  To this the national government has added the “extra money for potholes” of £1,033,000 – a net cut of £358,000 for the year.

To add salt to the wound the national government is “giving” local government part of the business rates from 2020. Not declaring that these taxes were originally raised by and for local government in the first place.

On average each county fixed 12,000 potholes last year.  At this rate it would take 14 years to clear the repair backlog in England.  Surrey’s position is worse and it would take longer.

At current rates of repair it would take 65 years to resurface our entire road network and Surrey would take longer.

We have to remind ourselves that Surrey has the wealth to repair all of our highways.  In my view it is the duty of Surrey to give priority to maintain those aspects of life that cannot be undertaken by individuals for themselves: such as highways, environment and security.

Parking Review

Double-yellow-lines-on-a-road-and-pavement-curb-2101582The timetable for reviewing parking in Weybridge as decided by Surrey is as follows:  January and February – collection of views. April and May – Surrey’s assessment, development and informal consultation.   June –  Surrey’s committee authorisation to advertise proposals.  July and August – advertisement of proposals. September and October – consideration of proposals and final decision. November and December – detailed design.  April and May 2017 – implimentation.

Heath Path

Heath Road

Another step on the way to safe travel for pedestrians and cyclists between the town and the station along Heath Road.

Surrey has never pushed for a path here because it was always considered too difficult to get permission from the owners for a path on the common.  Despite the general reluctance to make the move, I pressed for approaches to be made to the owners of the land. Officers from Surrey have now approached the owners who have given their approval in principle.

There are many more steps ahead. However, gaining this permission in principle is probably the most important.  We are now moving ahead on seeking sources of funding.  There are currently more financial pots available than there were previously. Two examples are the Community Infrastructure Levy- CIL – and the M3 Growth Fund.

More trains to London

Southern CrossrailWeybridge could have twice as many trains running up to London with this new inexpensive change to London Waterloo station look at the video.

For my day job I run a national environmental transport charity, based here in Weybridge, which through its campaigning has changed many ways in which we see the world.

Our latest campaign is for a quick and simple alteration to London Waterloo station which will double its capacity and dramatically improve the daily commute for millions. Watch our video and find out more about this exciting campaign.

Cashless Parking

Elmbridge parking metersPaying for parking has been has always been a pain.  Does the machine work?  Have I got the correct coins?  Paying electronically with a card seemed a benefit but the transaction charge can be an extra 100% if your stay is short – 20p for a short stay and another twenty pence for the payment itself.

When Elmbridge withdrew the remote payment service over Christmas the problem got worse.  Everyone had to pay by cash and the machines filled up very quickly and stopped working.   Apparently, people were even fined for parking when the parking meters were full.  The online service was reinstated recently with another provider but it is still unacceptably expensive.

I called on the borough to use cashless payment when I first became a councillor and, not before time, Elmbridge is about to begin trials.  I understand that this new system will be semi contactless (proximate swiping) using ordinary credit and debit cards and there will be no charge to the user.  It is due to begin in the station car parks first and, if successful, it will move to the town car parks and on to the various other car parks in the borough.

I also suggested a more effective charging regime to maximise the usefulness of our car parking resources to promote the dynamism of our town centres and the borough transport infrastructure generally but that might require regime change at Elmbridge.

Cycle Storage Grant

According to the applicant there are currently 164 cycle storage spaces at Heathside School, currently at least 190 students cycle to school representing 15% of students. Based on this when the school expands a minimum of 214 cycle storage spaces will be required – an extra 60 places.

As far as I can see, this expenditure is discretionary in that there is no legal requirement to provide these facilities.  However, on gaining planning permission for the expansion of the school conditions were laid down that required a school travel plan to be agreed prior to the additional student intake starting at Heathside School.  It is likely that the school plan will require extra facilities for cyclists and therefore this proposal could be considered a legal requirement.  On such a basis this grant could be considered to be replacing mandatory funding from elsewhere.

See more information here.  Give your views on our giving £33,500 grant for this proposal here.  Information on the other grants here.

Dorchester Road

Dorchester RoadSurrey transport engineers tell me that Dorchester Road is on the provisional programme for a micro-asphalt surface treatment in the municipal year 2016/17. These schemes have not yet been programmed but the works are seasonal, so should be implemented during the Spring/Summer.

Micro asphalt is classed as a surface treatment, but is different to surface dressing in that the asphalt is laid as a liquid slurry in two coats (base coat and top coat) up to 20mm thick. Once the the slurry has cured/broken the road can be trafficked less than an hour after application. The micro asphalt process is used on residential streets that are structurally sound and will seal the road (stopping ingress of water) and improve texture (skid resistance).

There are two stages:
1. The street will be prepped with all defects (potholes) being patched/sealed.
2. At a later date micro asphalt will be applied.

Rat-run survey

Rat-runs might not concern you or they could be the bane of your life let us know your views.  At this point I’d better say what a rat-run is (someone asked me so I should not assume that the term is generally understood).  Indeed, when I was a child we called them duck-shoves – a street used by the irresponsible.

Thames Street Tight SmallA rat-run or duck-shove is a street, or series of streets, that people use to avoid travelling along a main road.  They become heavily trafficked at peak times because the main road is slow or blocked completely. Rut-runs used to be the preserve of locals but with modern dynamic satnavs outsiders can be guided done any streets that is available. Rat-runs will become more widespread and more trafficked as time passes.

If you want to give your views on rat-running click here.

The map below shows main roads in black, major rat-runs in red, minor rat-runs in orange ant no through streets in green.  Fortunately, most us live on green streets but consider those people who live or walk down those red and orange streets..

Station to Town Centre Cycle path

Heath RoadAs you may know, I have been campaigning for a range of safety measures including safe routes to school, cycleways and lower speeds and as part of this campaign I have been able to persuade Surrey set up a cycle task group for Elmbridge.  This group has agreed to focus on Weybridge’s needs first.  As part of that exercise, a proposal is being considered to build a a separate cycle path from the station via Heathside School to the town centre and eventually to the river.  Much of its route would be parallel to Heath Road.

At this stage we are only looking at a feasibility study but it is a welcome step in the right direction.

With this and other such proposal we could begin to make real improvement in our safety and well being.

A Vision for Weybridge

Town Square-01Many Weybridge residents have told me that they would like the town centre to have a focal point – what better than to pedestrianise the very centre of the town?  Give your comments.  it is just a very short strip between Baker Street and Churchfields Road but it would make a great difference to the look and feel of Baker Street, Church Street and the High Street. This would bring a whole series of benefits.

  • There would be a small piazza for people to relax in the quiet centre of town
  • Shopping throughout the town centre would be a more pleasant experience
  • Air pollution, which is current at or above legal limits, would be greatly reduced
  • More short-term parking would be available
  • Baker Street would no longer be a rat-run
  • Access to the town centre would be quicker as the through traffic would not be in the way
  • Buses would travel through the town centre unimpeded by cars.
  • The noise level would be so low that we could hear bird song rather than car engines.

It is likely that far more people could be sat across the new pavement between Cafe One and the Elmbridge Arms.  What a pleasant way to have a cup of tea or coffee in the sun.

This project would cost very little.   Many projects like this can takes years to put in place in England because of the way our governments are organised.  Responsibilities are spread between so many bodies that no-one takes the lead.

What about having a pilot first – just for next summer?  A temporary pilot would probably cost less than the consultation exercise required.  People would quickly experience the positive and negative aspects of the scheme.  Changes could be made as necessary through practical experience.  What is your view – take the survey.

Most people would consider that the biggest problem would be what happens to the traffic?  Clearly the through traffic will not be able to travel down the High Street.  Just like water, traffic always finds new ways through.  Surprisingly when changes like this are made a proportion of the traffic simply disappears but we would be wise to anticipate any problems and put in place appropriate mitigation measures.

This is simply a suggestion to set off your creative juices.  Another idea – much more expensive is here.