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Letter: Have the Leading Parties At GBC Forgotten Their Pledges to Represent the Whole Borough?

Published on: 20 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 20 Jun, 2020

From Sue Wyeth-Price

member of AGRA (Ash Green Residents Association) 

In response to: Financial Pressures Force Council to Cut Back on Some Projects Amid Pandemic

We learn yet again the residents of Ash, Ash Green and Tongham are being abandoned by the council, officers and councillors alike. It would be great to be proved wrong.

Next Tuesday’s Executive meeting will consider cancelling two major road improvement schemes (among other cuts). These are the A31/A331 junction (where the Hog’s Back meets the BVR, including the Christmas Pie cycle route) and the A323/A324 junction (the Pirbright Road junction).

This isn’t another beautification project, these junctions were local traffic hotspots long before the developments arrived, with two air-quality directives since 2017. Plans and funding were agreed between GBC and SCC more than two years ago. Now we find that the Executive (made up of councillors from the town centre or the East of the borough) want to pull the plug on these.

In the past three to four years, Ash has suffered more than 1,000 houses being built, mostly in one ward. There are many more come. Each of these has an associated S106 agreement, which combined have a commitment for highway improvements of more than £1.6 million (excluding the “tax” of £10,000 per house for the white elephant that is Ash Station Bridge).

These are legal agreements in place to make the applications acceptable in planning terms. Without these commitments, and the changes they deliver, the developments would be unacceptable.

I ask the following:

  • Is GBC going to rip up the planning approvals now that they will no longer be acceptable on planning terms?
  • What is the plan for these contributions? Allow the developers to keep the money? Or, more likely, spend it elsewhere?
  • How many houses have been approved outside Ash/Tongham in the past few years? They are all in the pipeline, so perhaps Ash & Tongham will get their contributions?
  • Where is the justification from Surrey on why they are not funding it, especially as they have taken the contributions?
  • Has the LEP [Local Enterprise Parnership] reneged on its promise of funding, or was Guildford just too slow in spending it?
  • These improvements include cycle paths. How will canning those fit with the new ecologically sound approach?
  • How is failing to improve congestion at these two junctions going to prevent another directive next year?

Have we really gone back to a political slanging match over who decided what and when without taking a holistic view on the devastation in the west of the borough?

Has it really taken only a year for both leading parties to forget the promises made to represent the entire borough?

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