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Letter: Walnut Bridge – Forget the Price, the Functionality is Flawed

Published on: 18 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 18 Jun, 2020

From Colin Cross

Colin Cross is the R4GV borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham)

We should forget the ins and outs of the ever-increasing price for a new Walnut Bridge, albeit too high in the first place, and ignore the LEP [Local Enterprise Partnership] grant that could have been renegotiated, given the will.

The bottom line is we now have a rubbishy design that solves nothing and will be destined to become an attraction for anti-social activities for decades to come.

Its functionality is totally flawed as it neither works for pedestrians or cyclists as both will have to vie for the right of way on shared walkways.

Two 90 degree turns and one 180 degree turn is more than enough to make anyone dizzy, let alone a cyclist, and then add to that sharing that same riding space with pedestrians who don’t like you there in the first place. Just ask the local
cyclists’ pressure group who opposed this “bridge too far”. Then add the fact that this entire monumental concrete construction will have no safety railings whatsoever.

Sadly, GBC had another agenda and the opposition was ignored. We are now the not-so-proud owners of a modern-day “Maginot Line” that will morph into a low life hangout.

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test 8 Responses to Letter: Walnut Bridge – Forget the Price, the Functionality is Flawed

  1. George Potter Reply

    June 18, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I hate to disagree with Colin Cross but unfortunately, there are two key points in his letter where he was factually incorrect.

    The first is that the LEP was asked twice whether an extension was possible (the second time at the specific urging of R4GV councillors) and on both occasions, the answer was a clear “No”.

    The second is that local cycling campaigners GBUG have actually expressed support for the bridge rather than opposing it as Cllr Cross claims.

    I’d also add that, as someone who spent many happy hours as a child on the Hastings promenade, I can safely say that there is at least one precedent for a wide walkway shared between cyclists and pedestrians without it causing any issues.

    Further, while I’m sure local residents will appreciate the concern that having a nicer bridge will automatically turn it into a “lowlife hangout”, that concern rather misses the point; that’s exactly what Bedford plaza already turns into at night and this project to put in a new bridge and spruce up the area is far more likely to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area than to exacerbate it.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

  2. Dave Middleton Reply

    June 19, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Interesting choice of words from Cllr Cross, “Low life”.

    I suspect he is referring to people with drug or alcohol problems, or people who are homeless.

    I’m sure that if any other public servant, a police officer, a NHS, or GBC salaried employee for instance, publicly referred to any section of the community in such a way, there would be uproar, they’d be castigated for it and certainly disciplined.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      June 19, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Perhaps Mr Middleton could use one phrase to cover this section of the community – for it seems no phrase is suitable unless it directs the world into tiny categories only worthy of mention by that particular group’s supporters.

      • David Middleton Reply

        June 19, 2020 at 10:13 pm

        By all means, I can use one phrase. A phrase that encompasses all of us, “human beings’.

        • Jim Allen Reply

          June 20, 2020 at 11:04 am

          “Human beings” is so very broad, it’s gone too far the other way. It includes criminals with the law-abiding.

          How about accepting age-old descriptions which we all understand and recognize like: vandal, mugger, criminal, this is what most, I believe, mean when they say “low life”, those who behave in a manner which is not of the standard expected of decent human beings?

  3. Colin Cross Reply

    June 19, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Cllr Potter accuses me of being “factually incorrect”.

    Firstly, I did not say that there were no attempts made by the incoming groups to try and rescue the situation last year, but that they were doomed to fail as it was too late. The time to have renegotiated and included some “get out” options was prior to signing the LEP deal in the first place. Caveat emptor.

    Secondly, G-BUG absolutely did no such thing as support GBC on the bridge design, I sat on the Planning Committee in 2018 when they spoke at great length regarding their misgivings and alternative proposals and further, in a letter to GBC’s Planning Director on July 17 2018, their chairman, Doug Clare, responded to the planning application, I quote:

    “We support the concept of a replacement bridge.

    “We have the following comments about the proposed design of the bridge, which we lodge as objections:

    (Extracts as follows)
    “The design of the bridge will be inconvenient for cyclists and at worst present safety hazards…the lower ramp down to Bedford Wharf Plaza is open along its whole length to the steps coming up …there is a risk that cyclists …may slip off onto these steps then suffer a serious fall.

    “Cyclists and pedestrians and the open steps onto the ramp will lead to pedestrians cutting across cyclists.
    Placing some sort of safety barrier (railings?)…is the obvious solution.

    “The proposed ramp involves three turns, 2x 90 degrees and 1x 180 degrees. This will be difficult for them to negotiate with a risk of “stalling and falling”.

    “The design needs to be modified to reduce and preferably remove the need for sharp turns.

    “We urge there should be segregation to reduce the risk of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians.

    “We understand the steps down to the towpath will now be steep and difficult and dangerous for cyclists carrying bikes.”

    These are just extracts from two full pages of criticisms and comments, hardly the ringing endorsement Cllr Potter would have us believe?

    Colin Cross is the R4GV borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham).

  4. Paul Spooner Reply

    June 20, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Perhaps Cllr Cross could explain what he means by “low life” hangout?

    While I welcome the decision to complete this project I do look forward to an O&S [Overview & Scrutiny Committee] project review on completion.

    Key for me is the delivery of attractive new public realm between the bridge and Onslow Street, but given the cancellation of other public realm projects, long talked about prior to Covid-19, I am not confident. I hope the GBC Executive will prove me wrong.

    Paul Spooner is the Conservative borough councillor of Ash South & Tongham

  5. S Callanan Reply

    June 20, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Cllr Spooner wants an “attractive new public realm between the bridge and Onslow Street”.

    I don’t see how that’s possible. There’s a space between the bridge and Bedford Road but how that’s to be extended to Onslow Street, I’m not clear.

    The space available (as far as I can see) will have the Odeon Cinema building on one side, Bedford Road on another, Weller’s Auctions on a third and (unusually for Guildford) a car park and garages with a view of the river controlled by the borough council.

    Central within this “public realm” will be the fairly complicated access to the new bridge.

    I don’t see how anything “attractive” can be made of this.

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