Fringe Box



Letter: We Tried to Stop the New Walnut Bridge

Published on: 12 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 12 Oct, 2018

From Colin Cross

Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Ockham and Wisley)

A cross-party group of councillors on the planning committee tried and failed to stop the unnecessary commitment to a new footbridge at Walnut Tree Close.

Cllrs Nils Christiansen (Con), Angela Gunning (Lab, Stoke) and Susan Parker (GGG, Send) and myself were outvoted 9-4 on the night, primarily, it seems, by a vainglorious group of Tories who were trophy hunting for something to put before the electorate come next May.

The fact that the bridge design is ugly, dangerous, offers little more than the current one and is premature, considering we do not yet know the detail of Solum station design, all pale into insignificance when one looks at the related costs.

GBC have now announced the, doubtless, multi-million-pound leasehold purchase of Bedford Wharf just ahead of the meeting, which now facilitates the bridge’s construction. Add to that the building budget for the bridge of £3.3 million or so, you have to ask what’s the rush?

Various objections were raised by amenity groups etc including the Guildford Society, Holy Trinity Amenity Group, Guildford Vision Group and the Guildford Cycling Campaign Group who raised many cogent points that largely, and sadly, went unanswered.

Roll on next May and let’s see just how popular all this unnecessary spending is. Personally, I have a long list of more important things to spend the public money on.

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Responses to Letter: We Tried to Stop the New Walnut Bridge

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    October 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    18 years in the planning. Nearly £1 million of a loan already spent.

    Apparently one of the reasons to proceed is money would have to be found to pay that back if the council doesn’t proceed.

    The bridge was meant to be a “contemporary” modern design. Instead, we get a wider beam, same as present.

    By the way, as an engineer, not an architect, the boast it meets Highways England’s standards is another specious misleading statement of quality. It’s the minimum they can get away with to standards at least five years out of date (the time lag for all such standards).

    Why not, for example, a bridge that segregates pedestrians and cyclists, as several requested.

  2. Alix Tatlow Reply

    October 12, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    It seems that few councillors think beyond the town of Guildford when they are supposed to represent the whole borough. Assets and time spent on planning considerations should be shared more widely for the benefit of voters from Seale to Effingham and Wisley to Peaslake.

    Guildford town is not the centre of the universe.

  3. David Smith Reply

    October 12, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    I almost wonder if Cllr Colin Cross was even at the Planning Committee meeting? If he was, he would have heard all of the arguments for the bridge and the extensive conversation that took place around safety. There was also a mention of how the bridge was being funded in part by a large grant.

    Roll on May indeed – I think you will find people vote those in that drive change and make improvements, not those who sit on the sidelines criticising all the time.

  4. Colin Cross Reply

    October 12, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Please read my response again. I and three others on the GBC Planning Committee all voted against this motion, tricky to do if you are not actually there.

    I am glad you brought up the grant as it was used to coerce the committee to go along with the approval. The implication was we would lose this cash if we did not approve the plan.

    I believe that if we explained to our benefactors why we needed to have a dialogue with Solum over their plans and ask for more time, that we would get it, given that things are in a state of flux. So no grant money, in reality, needed to be lost.

    I would like to point out that the group of Tories that I referred to are not necessarily those on the Planning Committee itself, which is supposed to be apolitical, but the Tory Executive, which represents “the power behind the throne”.

    As a postscript, I add that 32 individual objections were lodged and a range of other interested parties was against, but, strangely, not one body offered outright support.

    A bridge too far for many of us it seems.

    Colin Cross is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham)

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 6, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    The replacement bridge need not cater for cyclists who could use Bridge Street and Bedford Road to access The Bedford Wharf area. Switching the gyratory off would require the traffic to go elsewhere.

    I have suggested putting the A281 underground and Guildford Vision Group has proposed to take all traffic to the west of the track on new bridges and a flyover to reconnect with Woodbridge Road.

    When either is done, a pedestrian-friendly town centre would be achieved. However, there is an interim solution that reduces Bridge Street to two lanes of traffic and the freed up lane would allow a wider north footway plus a cycle lane.

    Therefore there is no need to provide an elaborate set of ramps for the cyclists, pushchairs, buggies etc. side by side. A simpler and a narrower set of ramps would be adequate and not take up all the room from the Wharf site.

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