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‘Bat Welfare Is Taking Priority Over Pedestrian Safety’ Claims County Councillor

Published on: 27 May, 2014
Updated on: 27 May, 2014

A county councillor is frustrated that a pedestrian road safety scheme is being delayed while the saga of a bat survey drags on.

Cllr Keith Witham (Con) has written to the chief executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust, that will be undertaking the survey, to find out exactly when it will be done, and is saying that pedestrian safety should take priority over bat welfare.

Satlbox Road, Worplesdon.

Satlbox Road, Worplesdon.

£20,000 funding has been approved for a pedestrian safe crossing point on the busy Saltbox Road near the railway bridge close to its junction with Woking Road and Jacobs Well. The common land on either side of the road is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust on behalf of Surrey County Council.

In his letter Mr Witham noted that the proposed scheme has been delayed because of a lack of response from Surrey Wildlife Trust. Because of the ecology there a survey is required to determine the welfare of bats. This survey will also involve input from Natural England.

A pedestrian waits to cross Saltbox Road.

A pedestrian waits to cross Saltbox Road.

Mr Witham said: “The scheme will provide a means to enable pedestrians to cross about 50 yards away from the railway bridge so that there are clear ‘sight lines’ for both pedestrians and drivers, to avoid further road accidents and personal injuries.

“The design work for this was done a year ago by the county council’s design team, but the delays have been caused by a six- month lack of response by Surrey Wildlife Trust.”

Common land borders the road on both sides here.

Common land borders the road on both sides here.

In his letter Mr Witham pleads: “Can you please take action to ensure that whatever needs to be done by SWT is done, urgently, in conjunction with SCC and Natural England to enable this road safety scheme to go ahead as soon as possible without any further delays.”

A spokesperson for Surrey Wildlife Trust said: “Surrey Wildlife Trust supports a safe crossing at this location and is assisting the land owner, Surrey County Council, meet the legal requirements associated with implementing the scheme. As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and registered common land a number of consents have to be gained before works can proceed at this location on Whitmoor Common.”

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Responses to ‘Bat Welfare Is Taking Priority Over Pedestrian Safety’ Claims County Councillor

  1. Bibhas neogi Reply

    May 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Of course bats need a ‘sustainable’ corridor for their flights across Saltbox Road. They must be able to fly from branch to branch unhindered on a dedicated fast track. The ‘sustainable’ solution is to close Saltbox Road to all motorised traffic in order to make the area safe for pedestrians. So if you live in that area and drive through Saltbox Road, consider buying a helicopter or walking and cycling long distances instead, that will also as a bonus, keep you healthy.

    Digging up the tarmac could create a public open space and the area handed over to Surrey Wildlife Trust. A Newlands Corner type cafe could be set up so that regular school trips could be arranged for visiting the area and for children to track the flight pattern of bats and study wild flowers, flora and fauna to be planted by SWT on these freed up areas now so cruelly imprisoned under tarmac.

    All in all a ‘sustainable’ solution going even beyond 2050! Maybe Cllr Keith Witham should consider asking Guildford Borough Council to close Saltbox Road to traffic in the same way as Walnut Tree Close. GBC could copy the idea for the whole of town centre, couldn’t they? Or are they already thinking about that? I wonder if it is time to explore shopping malls in nearby towns.

  2. J. Gysin Reply

    May 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I have been in contact with Surrey County Council and Mr Witham, on several occasions over the past two years without getting much response from SCC.

    I share the frustration of Mr Witham about Surrey Wildlife Trust’s sluggish response to the job they have to do. Does it really have to take this long for them and Natural England to progress this matter, i.e. get on with it?

    I am a resident of Salt Box Road and cross the road by the railway bridge almost daily; the worst part of it is the return across the road because I cannot see the cars travelling westwards and the motorists cannot see me or all the other pedestrians who need to cross the road because of the bend in the road and the railway bridge walls.

    Please speed up your work, Surrey Wildlife Trust!

  3. jim Allen Reply

    May 29, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Bats – I thought this was the site for the new school! Or is a collection of bats known as a “school of bats”, and the planners have got it wrong again, and again.

    As for picking a safe place to cross, judging by the crossing placed on New Inn Lane, Burpham, you will probably be safer picking your own crossing point than relying on Surrey highways to make it safe for you.

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