Fringe Box



High Street To Be Re-laid But No Funds Allocated

Published on: 22 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2013
One granite sett on Guildford High Street so loose it can be lifted.

One granite sett on Guildford High Street so loose it can be lifted.

Councillors have agreed that the High Street setts need to be re-laid, all of them. But no funds to do the work have been identified and work might not commence until 2015.

A ‘strategy’ that Surrey County Council’s highways department was directed to prepare, three months ago, agreed with the opinion of many in Guildford that further piecemeal repairs were not the best option.

In the ensuing debate during a meeting of the Guildford Local Committee, formed by councillors from Surrey County Council (SCC) and Guildford Borough Council (GBC), and held in Effingham on Wednesday (June 19), councillors agreed the work was essential.

First to speak was Cllr James Palmer (GBC, Con, Shalford), lead councillor for the town centre and infrastructure. He said: “The case for having a comprehensive restoration rather than a continuing patchwork of repairs is overwhelming. I liken the High Street to the borough’s front room. It is a meeting place, there are a lot of events there, people identify it as the definitive view of Guildford. We have to look at what message it gives to visitors if we can’t even look after the main street of the town properly.

“With regard to contributions from the borough council my finance colleague [Cllr Manning] tells me there are no funds in the Section 106* pot but there may be funds from another [GBC] source.

“We really do need to tackle the utilities that come and dig up the High Street. I am not aware of any enforcement action by SCC against these utilities… to recover the costs of poor repairs to the setts they leave.”

Cllr Caroline Reeves (GBC, Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) commented: “I think there will be some councillors in shock that this work is actually going to be done.”

Cllr David Wright (Con, Tillingbourne) said: “We have to keep a very close eye on the piece-meal nature of the repairs and the utilities. If there is to be a certain system  [for laying the setts] then that has to be written down and they should have to use exactly that system, each time.

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge (GBC, Con, Ash South & Tongham), said: “We have a very powerful tourism agenda so this is very important to Guildford. I would like to see the plan include ways of ensuring that repairs are carried out of sufficient quality, I would like to see reference to 106 funds omitted, and we should have a long-term contract in place to deal with utility repairs.

Cllr David Goodwin (GBC & SCC Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas and Guildford SW) said that the idea of one man and his dog being employed exclusively to relay and maintain the setts should not be forgotten.

Cllr Marsha Moseley (GBC & SCC Con, Ash Vale and Ash) said: “I think we should send a message to the SCC Cabinet. They need to be reminded that Guildford is the county town of Surrey and the most important town of Surrey. If they can’t find some money to actually repair the setts well shame on them.”

Cllr George Johnson (SCC, UKIP, Shalford), in his first Local Committee meeting, suggested that High Street businesses be approached regarding funding.

SCC Highways estimate the total cost to be in the region of £1.5 million with the proviso that “actual costs could vary significantly”. Although a speedy, intensive project might be the most cost efficient the strategy suggests that the work is carried out over several years, to spread the financial burden.

Even so, no funds have been identified and there is no money, at all, in current budgets for the High Street.

The investigation of possible funding sources was one of the tasks expected of the strategy but it simply contained a reiteration of a list of possibilities: SCC; GBC; 106 funds; Local Committee: private sources.

*Money paid by developers to offset the cost of social and physical infrastructure to support and facilitate a development.

See also:


The High Street – The Local Committee Has A (Not So) Cunning Plan

Opinion: High Street Setts, Let’s Have Some Action – Not More Paper

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