Fringe Box



Letter: Some Of The Recent High Street Sett Laying Is Not Up To Standard

Published on: 19 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2016

From Anna-Marie Davies

I wrote to the council in January regarding the relaying of the setts in Guildford High Street and they kindly sent me an information letter on the works.

It stated that the contract is being carried out by a “specialist contractor” and that Surrey County Council are accordingly “confident that the work will be carried out to a high standard”.<

Up until now I have been pleased with the work that has been completed, although I thought that the grouting had been laid a little high, not giving the impression of a cobbled road, but other than that, it was satisfactory.

"Stone mason" with angle grinder poised to roughen the edges of newly laid granite setts.

“Stone mason” with angle grinder poised to roughen the edges of newly laid granite setts.

Imagine my disappointment on walking up the high street this morning (July 19) to see a contractor angle grinding the edges off the setts.

The worker informed me that this was because there was no grip for the cars, and although I am not an engineer, I presume this is because rather than driving on setts, the cars are driving on the Steintech mortar, which, whilst a suitable grouting material, is not actually a suitable road material.  Fortunately, as stated in the council’s information sheet, this can be removed from the setts without damaging them.

This being the case, I was horrified to see a supposedly master stonemason purposefully damaging the setts to provide grip on a whole section when they had been laid too low.  He told me they “needed to be like the ones over there”. This is not the standard of work that we were promised, or that we as tax payers have paid for.

Close up of setts that have had edges roughened.

Close up of setts that have had edges roughened.

If these setts have been laid at the wrong level, then they need to be taken up and laid again, not damaged. This is absolutely ruining the work that has been completed and paid for and I have urged the council to send someone to go and inspect the works at their earliest convenience, before the whole street looks like this.

[Footnote: reader Alastair Knowles contacted The Guildford Dragon NEWS last week after he had noticed patches of yellow paint on some of the re-laid setts. He said people he spoke to in local shops were aghast at this. They are, of course, setts which had previously had yellow parking lines painted on them, and have now been re-laid in different positions. It is understood that once the work is complete the setts will receive a thorough jet wash and the paint will be gone.]

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Responses to Letter: Some Of The Recent High Street Sett Laying Is Not Up To Standard

  1. Paul Bishop Reply

    July 19, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about it. A few months of weathering and the ground edges will no longer be visible.

    Anne-Marie Davies is right that the mortar isn’t up to highway standards, but then neither are cobbles. As we saw with the old cobbles, they need to withstand a lot more abuse than they would have needed to in the days they were first laid.

    It looks to me that the contractors are doing their best to ensure the finished job is as hard wearing and user friendly as possible. You should never expect them all to be height perfect, mainly because the stones aren’t even flat themselves!

    • Anna-Marie Davis Reply

      July 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

      My main concern stems from the fact that one section of setts has been relaid to a standard, and possibly height, lower than the other side. This was expensive work supposedly being undertaken by master stonemasons. Of course the setts will vary in height between them, that is only natural, but I think it is fair to expect the whole road to be laid to the same standard.

  2. Chris Ogle Reply

    July 20, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    When the job is complete it should look very good. But it does seem to have been going on interminably.

    As far as I know, the original schedule for completing this work has been exceeded. How late is it now going to be and what is the expected cost compared to what was budgeted?

    I wonder how the shops feel about this compared to the loss of footfall in the town?

    • Anna-Marie Davis Reply

      July 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      The work was scheduled to be completed at the end of July/beginning of August. It has not overrun.

      • Chris Ogle Reply

        July 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

        This was from Dragon News in February this year, when the work started:

        “Costing about £1 million, Surrey County Council has contracted building firm Keir to undertake the work that is scheduled to finish on June 30.”

        That looks like an overrun to me.

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