Fringe Box



‘Cowboy’ Cobbles Sett All Wrong in the High Street by Thames Water

Published on: 18 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 18 Feb, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

Work by Thames Water to an area of granite setts in the High Street will have to be redone says Surrey County Council.

The reinstatement of the cobbles, laid in 2016 at a total cost of £1 million, has left cracked joints and loose granite bricks or “setts”. Off-cuts and other irregular stones were used to make up the surface.

The mortar is breaking up and off cuts and irregular shaped stones have been used in the High Street pavement reinstatement by Thames Water.

A Guildford resident looking at the repairs to the pavement near the House of Fraser in the prestigious High Street said: “It’s a bit of a cowboy job. It must be put back as it was found.”

Two fourth year vet students from the university said: “It looks cheap and rushed. It should be done again. Who is responsible for checking it is done correctly?”

The end of the 1m wide and 5m long repair looks to have been cut with an angle grinder. No attempt has been made to blend in the reinstated setts with the existing.

The Dragon contacted Surrey County Council, who have responsibility for highways, for details of the work and how the remedial work was supervised.

A spokesperson for  SCC said: “The Streetworks Team have confirmed that the works were carried out by Thames Water. They are liaising with Thames Water to ensure that remedial works are carried out to return the section to the correct standard.”

The spokesperson did not respond to our question of who supervises the contractor or whether the contractor will be sanctioned.

See also: Work On Setts Is Completed With A Ban On Digging Them Up Until 2021

In 2016 when the sets were repair SCC said: “Any work will need to pass stringent quality checks to ensure the granite stones have been replaced properly.”

Some repairs to the granite sett pavement are not colour matched but at least they appear structuarally sound. It is likely they will blend in in time.

Surrey County Councillor, Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South East) said: “Utility companies have six months to make good a sub-standard or interim repair to a road or pavement (unless it’s unsafe) before they can be pursued by Surrey County Council.

Cllr Fiona Davidson

“After six months SCC can penalise the utility for failure to reinstate. This is a very useful power.

“In the past year I’ve managed to ensure that all the tarmac repairs on Market Street have been replaced with paving, that broken cobbles on the High Street have been replaced, and that a number of temporary manhole covers have been permanently replaced.

“I would encourage all residents to report pavement and road issues on the SCC website here:

“The latest information I have is that SCC is planning to refurbish the pavements on the High Street in the next financial year, although this is to be confirmed. From my members’ highways allowance I have allocated funding to refurbish the pavement in Upper High Street this year, and to repave Swan Lane in the next financial year”.

Cllr John Redpath

Ward councillor John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said “They have used off cuts and foreign objects in the pavement presumably dug up during the excavation. It looks like a dog’s dinner. The cobbles are actually moving. This repair’s not right. Thames Water will have to be made to put it back properly.”

Asked about supervision of the contractor, Redpath said: “If the work had been inspected by Thames Water, they haven’t done it properly or thay have come to the wrong conclusion. The Thames Water repair to the cobbles near Tunsgate looks fine so we know they can do it. SCC have a huge store of these setts so it should always be possible to supply replacements when necessary.

“It’s hard to keep up with these repairs but we have to keep on top of it or it will end up looking as it did 10 years ago when you could pick out setts with your fingers.

“It was hugely expensive at the time and the costs were met by SCC and GBC so both councils have a responsibility to look after it.”

The Dragon has asked Thames Water to comment on the botched reinstatement and the supervision of the works.

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Responses to ‘Cowboy’ Cobbles Sett All Wrong in the High Street by Thames Water

  1. Paul Spooner Reply

    February 19, 2023 at 8:22 am

    I thank The Dragon for highlighting the issues of the High Street granite setts. When they were re-laid in 2016 both SCC and GBC made a commitment to maintain the very high standards over the coming decades and I am grateful to local SCC and GBC councillors that the commitment is being kept.

    I hope that remedial works in the short term and do not result in protracted negotiations with the utility company.

    Paul Spooner is the leader of the Conservative group at GBC and was the council leader in 2016.

  2. Barry Williams Reply

    February 19, 2023 at 10:54 am

    Could Thames Water also address the issue of replacing the setts at the bottom of Mill Lane (where it nears Millbrook ) that have now been awaiting replacement for over two years and the removal of the “interim ” tarmac repairs.

    I have raised the issue three times during 2022 with Surrey County Council’s Compliance Department who as recently as November have asked TW to get on with the work – but to no avail and with no penalty charge having been made by SCC.

    Perhaps our local councillors can have more success?

  3. Mark Stamp Reply

    February 20, 2023 at 1:16 am

    I wonder if the money it will cost Thames Water to remediate this will come from the pot allocated for updating the water networks in the area or from the amount they pay their shareholders in dividends?

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