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Letter: SCC Awarded £848,000 to Increase Cycling and Walking But Little’s Being Done

Published on: 24 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 24 Jul, 2020

From: Max Jamieson

Guildford Bike User Group (G-BUG)

In May, Surrey County Council was awarded £848,000 for reallocating road space for cycling and walking. Central government gave the money to local councils to increase both and support social distancing, in response to Covid-19.

This included widening pavements, introducing cycle lanes and closing side streets to motor traffic. Central government also amended some rules to make it easier for councils to make use of the emergency funds as quickly as possible.

For us in Guildford and the surrounding villages, this was a welcome gesture because we are poorly served by the present cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Creating safe spaces for cycling and walking needs to be a central part of Guildford’s Covid-19 recovery response and will also support efforts to tackle climate change and air pollution.

But nothing has happened, except for the deployment of a few temporary plastic barriers for a small section of the High Street. While this is welcome it is woefully inadequate.

Guildford Bike User Group has sought to engage closely with SCC and provided a prioritised list of suggested interventions.

With a second tranche of funding potentially available, we urge SCC and Guildford Borough Council to be more ambitious, and speedy, in the use of the emergency funds.

We can also seize the opportunity to create a more vibrant, healthy and greener Guildford, as more of us chose to cycle and walk.

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test 7 Responses to Letter: SCC Awarded £848,000 to Increase Cycling and Walking But Little’s Being Done

  1. George Potter Reply

    July 24, 2020 at 11:23 am

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Mr Jamieson. I, and other councillors, sent SCC (via Cllr Matt Furniss) a number of proposals for simple projects which the money could be used to fund in Guildford and it was very disappointing to see that none of the money appears to have been used in Guildford.

    Instead, all the funding seems to have gone to Reigate and Farnham. I don’t begrudge those towns benefiting from the funding but it really is a shame that, in a town like Guildford which suffers from poor quality cycle infrastructure, we aren’t seeing any benefit from the funding SCC has been given by the government.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 24, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    I believe the Reigate scheme, was immediately criticised by ‘keyboard’ warriors with over 300 comments on Matt Furniss’ Facebook post announcing the modifications (yes, some did get a bit over personal).

    It was reviewed and removed within days.

    There is a bit of confusion between temporary measures to improve cycle and pedestrian movement while vehicle traffic is low during lockdown and permanent schemes, like those in the GBC Guildford Cycle Route Assessments May 2020.

    That report highlights a disconnect between GBC and SCC and the current appalling state and signage of cycle routes.

  3. Nigel Burke Reply

    July 25, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Also, SCC has stated they will match the £848k to give a total of £1.7 million. Surely, the Farnham and Reigate projects cannot have used all of that? Like Max, I am a member of G-BUG.

  4. Catherine Fowler Reply

    July 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    I’m dismayed to hear this. We urgently need some cycling infrastructure in Guildford. If you cycle to the High Street it is very hard to find anywhere to park your bike. The cycle lanes, such as they are, are not fit for purpose.

  5. Julia Shaw Reply

    July 25, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    It does seem that £1.7 million can’t have been spent yet and so there has been missed opportunities for some beneficial and much needed projects. Is SCC likely to get the second wave of funding if they haven’t used the first?

  6. Anna Deadman Reply

    July 26, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    I am really disappointed about the lack of local changes other than a few barriers here and there in the town centre. I have had no response from SCC when I wrote asking what else was planned.

    My daughter (aged eight) received a response as she had wanted to write too: the reply she received said, basically, improving cycling provision in Guildford is “very hard”.

    I also asked how they are planning to increase space around schools to allow social distancing from September given many pavements are too narrow eg Queen Eleanor’s and Sandfield Schools. I had no response on that either.

    Given the council’s negative response about a car-free day it seems this just isn’t high on their agenda. It absolutely must be.

  7. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 31, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    I see Cllr Matt Furniss has announced the next batch of 12-week (minimum) temporary changes to encourage cycling and walking.
    Guildford seems to get widen pavements and cycle lanes in High Street and North Street.

    Even as a temporary measure, I like to have the logic explained. What improvement does that make, and can it be quantified at all.

    The problem is surely, as noted in the report referred to above, a disconnect between GBC and SCC and the current appalling state and signage of cycle routes in Guildford Town Centre and the outer lying Guildford Town.

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