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Labour Says Tory Showed ‘Scant Regard’ for Others When He Asked for His Own Road to be Repaired

Published on: 16 Dec, 2018
Updated on: 16 Dec, 2018

Cllr Graham Ellwood

Surrey Councillor Graham Ellwood is under fire for having his home cul-de-sac,  resurfaced while nearby, more heavily used roads are in worse state.

Two months before the £17,500 repair a year ago, Cllr Ellwood (Con, Merrow) was told officially that his cul-de-sac was not damaged enough to justify resurfacing. Apparently, an unexpected government infusion of £800,000 specifically for Surrey’s badly potholed roads allowed Cllr Ellwood’s repair.

He had cited transportation difficulties a disabled neighbour was having, although the neighbour could use his walker on the pavement.

A resident in the cul-de-sac, Kingswood Close, Merrow, said yesterday (December 15, 2018) corroborated the councillor’s account saying: “The road was in a dreadful state, although others in the area are at least as bad. A man in the close had a heart attack and his mobility was affected. He found the poor surface of the road difficult to negotiate with his walking frame.

“I don’t know why he couldn’t have used the pavement, which is in better condition, but he approached Graham Ellwood to see if anything could be done.”

The resurfaced Kingswood Close in Merrow

Cllr Ellwood, an also-ran in the recent Surrey County Council leadership election, has been targeted by Guildford Labour politicians. They say that files obtained through Freedom of Information show Cllr Ellwood offered “funds from his allowance” to repair his own road, which SCC transport experts had already decided “does not meet safety inspection intervention levels according to our highway safety inspection policy”.

These funds are not his for his own personal use, nor are they his remuneration, Labour said. This is a fund for community projects to deliver activities that benefit local people in their neighbourhoods.

Mr Ellwood was re-elected as a Guildford Borough Councillor for Merrow in May 2015 and re-elected as a county councillor for Guildford East in May 2017.

He told the Surrey Advertiser he had asked for the road to be put on the Project Horizon list for resurfacing several years previously as one of his neighbours had mobility problems and the deteriorating surface was making it difficult for them to get around.

Cllr Ellwood said: “Highways had enough money to do a small job and given one of my neighbour’s physical condition I thought they would be delighted. I was offered the chance to have it done and I had it done, in the same way that this year I have allocated my £7,500 members local highway fund to Bushy Hill Drive because the buses are causing trouble.

“I would love to have got Bushy Hill Drive resurfaced, but the money they had was only enough to do a short stretch of road.”

The documents show that inspections in October 2016 and October 2017 found “no defect” in Kingswood Close, which, along with neighbouring Burwood Close, has just 27 houses.

After the 2017 inspection, highways officer Vincent Lovegrove wrote: “Although admittedly the road surface does not look particularly good, there are no defects in the road and footpath which meet Surrey’s policy for intervention work.

“We will add this road to our list of works to be planned when funding becomes available.”

A resident says the road was in a dreadful state before it was resurfaced.

The department had at that point allocated all of its budget for the year, and Cllr Ellwood suggested using his member’s allocation to pay for the work. But the member’s allocation cannot be used to fund roadworks.

Shortly afterwards the Department for Transport gave SCC £800,000 for road repairs. This enabled work to be done on Kingswood Close and Burwood Close, although neighbouring Bushy Hill Road was not repaired.

Criteria for the new money appear to have been less stringent than the county’s usual policy, requiring potholes to be 10mm shallower than normal.

The Burpham resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Cllr Ellwood has seemingly chosen to push for his own road to be resurfaced at public expense when he was repeatedly told the defects did not meet Surrey County Council intervention levels and no funding was available.

“Nearby Bushy Hill Drive is so potholed and cracked that houses shake, yet SCC claims they don’t have the money for these repairs.

“Burpham and Merrow need a councillor who will represent us all and not just their own interests.”

Richard Mithen, chair of the Guildford Labour Party, also criticised Cllr Ellwood for showing “scant regard for the community [he] serves”.

“There are large defects on Bushy Hill Drive [vital 36/37 bus route] that have been ignored.  Local residents of Bushy Hill Drive have asked for my support regarding the shaking they experience in their homes when buses drive over these defects outside their houses.

“The roads are in a chronic state of poor repair and these problems have not had due attention over many years due to deliberate Tory under-funding at government level.

“What has to be seriously questioned at the highest level of Surrey County Council, is evidence uncovered that Councillor Ellwood felt it was appropriate to offer “funds from his allowance” to repair his own road, which had already been deemed “does not meet safety inspection intervention levels according to our highway safety inspection policy.”

Dragon NEWS invited Cllr Ellwood to comment further and has asked Tim Oliver, newly elected SCC leader and his transport lead, GBC deputy leader Matt Furniss, a close ally of Graham Ellwood, whether the re-surfacing decision will be reviewed.

See also: Infirm Couple ‘Imprisoned’ In Tunsgate for Three Hours Before Council Permits Barrier To Be Unlocked

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Responses to Labour Says Tory Showed ‘Scant Regard’ for Others When He Asked for His Own Road to be Repaired

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    December 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    This is disgusting, even by the standards we have come to expect from the GBC leadership.

    This guy does not deserve the honour of representing us and should be sacked.

    He won’t be, of course. Nor will he receive any censure, as the Conservative leadership looks after its own.

    This is a clear abuse of his position, and he should be thoroughly ashamed.

    I don’t for a moment believe his lame excuse that he did it for the good of neighbour. What about all the other residents with mobility challenges, who have to put up with much worse conditions?

  2. Russell Morris Reply

    December 16, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    The member for Kingswood Close should be congratulated for achieving repair on any road that isn’t used by the annual cycle race.

  3. Martin Elliott Reply

    December 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    As you say this is all “research” by a concerned resident/Labour Party.

    You don’t say if you asked Cllr Ellwood to put his point of view on helping a resident preferentially because of mobility issues. [Yes we did invite further comment from Cllr Ellwood and the article as been updated accordingly. Thank you for pointing out our omission. Ed]

    I’m assuming SCC Highways Dept are not allowed to comment.

    Also, as SCC complaints procedure prohibits complaints against county councillors, does the monitoring officer have to have a complaint made to him/her by a resident (publically) or can either of the two you have approached ask for a Monitoring Officer investigation for breach of the Code of Conduct?

    I don’t know about SCC, but GBC monitoring officer(s) don’t have a good record of investigation/penalties following complaints about GBC councillors.

  4. John Perkins Reply

    December 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    We shouldn’t expect too much of councillors elected under such a rotten system as first-past-the-post with multi-member wards. It’s probably the least democratic of all and massively favours established parties even if they have only the slimmest of margins.

    In Merrow, in 2015, each Conservative candidate received more than 2,000 votes and all three were elected, while the next best candidate received less than 800. It looks like and is usually described as a huge majority. But each voter was allowed up to three votes, so those 2,000+ probably voted 3 times (actually 2.75 times on average). Each Conservative is likely to have had only about 700 individual supporters.

    Using “single non-transferable voting” (a strange concept based on one-man-one-vote), the Conservatives would have struggled to get all three candidates elected and a bit of tactical voting might have seen them wiped out.

    Until that happens they can’t be expected to take much notice of what others think.

  5. Alan Davies Reply

    December 16, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    What self-centred action. Cllr Ellwood has used the mobility of a resident to justify spending county council money to resurface his own road. Even his neighbour says he doesn’t know why the disabled person couldn’t have used the pavement which was in better condition than the road.

    Many more important roads in Guildford desperately need resurfacing, not cul-de-sacs with big houses like this road where Cllr Ellwood lives. Our borough council also needs resurfacing!

  6. John Powell Reply

    December 17, 2018 at 10:17 am

    This councillor is not acting in the interests of residents. I think we need more local independent people to stand for election who will act with intercity, honesty and genuine openness.

  7. Brian Holt Reply

    December 19, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Cllr Ellwood should come over to the other side of the borough and see the state of the roads here.

    Northway, Fentum Road, Aldershot Road by The Cricketers Pub.

    See the state of the pavements in Shepherds Hill, where there are elderly tenants in their 70s and 80s having to walk on them. These have never been done and I have lived there since 1952.

    He has the cheek to get his own done. It’s a disgrace.

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