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Letter: The London Road Scheme Needs a Complete Rethink

Published on: 21 Dec, 2022
Updated on: 21 Dec, 2022

Image of London Road taken in August 2022. Google Street View.

From: A retired SCC Highway Engineer and Burpham Resident (name and address supplied)

See: County Council Climbs Down Over London Road Works – Further ‘Engagement’ Period Announced

It seems that there has at least been a pause to the London Road Cycle Lane scheme for now with the announcement by SCC Leader Tim Oliver that he has “agreed to delay the implementation pending further discussion with residents and their representative groups”.

He goes on to say that there had been consultation with “the local councillors” which plainly did not occur until after the scheme was announced and that there was consultation with only “a representative sample” of the local community, which is unacceptable.

It is appalling that such a scheme should be imposed by a seemingly back-door method. Possibly they were relying, to some degree, that opposition would be minimal because the issue was a “politically correct” environmental one.

There needs to be a more subtle scheme where the needs of pedestrians and cyclists are improved but without narrowing the road so substantially that it results in increased congestion and pollution. The works for any proposal need to be carried out whilst maintaining two-way traffic along London Road.

I note that SCC’s executive director of Environment, Transport and Infrastructure, Katie Stewart, according to her LinkedIn entry, has qualifications in Economics and Political Science at various universities but seems to have no background in highway engineering.

At SCC she says she is responsible amongst other things for “shaping Surrey’s long-term climate strategy and commitment to a greener future, translating stretching environmental ambitions into reality”.

She has been a speaker at some climate change meetings where she has said:  “behavioural change” is at the centre of tackling climate change.

Although the target has been set for Surrey to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050, the challenge lies in how to attain this. Whilst Surrey County Council is responsible for creating conditions for emissions to be reduced, it is the duty at an individual level to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle”.

The first official diversion route via Merrow, that included two low bridges, is indicative of a woeful lack of highway knowledge within that section of SCC dealing with this project. Has any analysis of vehicle figures and flow along London Road been carried out or has SCC dispensed with such practice and independently gone ahead and planned to put this cycle scheme in, come what may?

Instead of going ahead with the London Road scheme, where cycle lanes already exist, would it not be more beneficial to add cycle lanes at locations that currently do not have them at all?

There has also been no mention of the alternative cycle route between the Stoke Park area and Burpham via the cycle route (National Cycle Route No.223) through Riverside Park. If that were signed and promoted more it would form a safer route than via London Road.

However, I don’t doubt that SCC will seek to reintroduce the scheme as per their original plan and continue to arrogantly act in the “we know best” role.

The sooner we can have four or five local unitary authorities in Surrey and do away with SCC the better.

It would eliminate the present two-tier system, where it is unclear which council is responsible for what, and being more local, would hopefully lead to better consultation on matters such as this.

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test One Response to Letter: The London Road Scheme Needs a Complete Rethink

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    December 22, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    I do not see any justification in attacking the executive director of a large department at the county council for not having practical experience of part of their portfolio.

    This happens a lot in business and politics, leaders should enable those in their teams with knowledge to apply it. I don’t think we are fully aware of what went wrong with this process but I doubt that the lack of highway engineering knowledge of one person in the council is to blame.

    I do wholeheartedly agree with the former highways engineer author’s point about the two-tier council system though, there are many examples to show how it is not working and I hope that Guildford Borough Council’s partnership with Waverley marks the start of the change.

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