Fringe Box



Letter: Repave Chapel Street: Why Not A Statue To Bernard Parke Instead?

Published on: 5 Feb, 2020
Updated on: 5 Feb, 2020

From Alderman Gordon Bridger

(see also ‘Unease over GBC’s £1.6m pedestrian plan for repaving in historic town centre‘)

John Perkins is right that this is a Lib Dem Council responsible for the project and Peter Knight is right it was a Conservative idea, which in my view has in danger of getting out of hand.

Painting of Chapel Street (circa 1880) by Louise Rayner. From an article in the Dudley Mall.

The ‘obliteration’ of Chapel St, Guildford’s last historical street, came to public attention thanks Bernard Parke and The Guildford Dragon News. It was picked up by the Holy Trinity Amenity Group whose protests led to public meeting chaired by Cllr Furniss with all local politicians and senior officers and he agreed that Chapel Street was of historic importance and that its traditional setts should remain.

Significantly, he said that what was “required was TLC of the setts to restore them to High Street quality”.

Radical changes resulted to the three streets with a saving of £200k on Swan Lane using traditional setts and £240k on Chapel St (retaining setts but raising the whole street to pavement level). Meanwhile SCC went and resurfaced Castle street saving maybe another £200k.

This a huge amount, between £500k and £600k, which I have suggested could either be saved or used for other neglected SCC responsibilities such as pavement repair.

Not a bit – suddenly it was discovered that there was a ‘lost historic square’ which could be replicated at the bottom of Tunsgate costing some £625k, plus bollards all over the High Street and huge consultants fees of £225 which neatly came to the original budget figure £1.3m.

The discovery of a long forgotten square is a great surprise as it is not shown on any maps I know, and the description of it as a square is totally misleading. It is a pavement extension with a planter and trees.

Since I live next to this newly discovered ‘square’ and walk through it most days of the year, this massive expenditure seems to me a complete waste of money.

What it really is, is an incompetent attempt at speeding up traffic flows, which is what SCC would like. Narrowing part of Castle Street at the end of Chapel Street to one lane would cause traffic congestion as people and delivery lorries lorries stop on it. At the other end, Sydenham Rd and South Hill traffic would be speeded up as the two pedestrian islands would be removed and endanger lives.

Many local residents do not like it at all. If SCC wishes to fund it, that’s fine but why GBC?.

Although I have crossed safety onto Tunsgate for 18 years and have no knowledge of any accidents, the least wasteful investment would be a pavement crossing table costing say £50k.

Please leave Chapel Street alone. It is our last historic street and a sort open air museum. Any major disruption to trade would lead to legitimate demands by traders for compensation as is being offered in Quarry Street.

There is to be a full public Consultation shortly and I would urge councillors to listen to comments as there are many good suggestions but many which are not and public funds could be better used else where.

Spare funds ? How about a statue to Bernard ?

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