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Local Councillors Express Concerns Over SCC’s Approach to Further London Road Consultation

Published on: 23 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 24 Jan, 2023

Image of London Road taken in August 2022 with existing cycle lanes clearly visible. Google Street View.

By Martin Giles

“Disappointed” is one local councillor’s response to a Surrey County Council update on the proposed cycle lane work on the A3100 London Road in Burpham.

A county council statement summarises the action they have taken since local feelings were powerfully expressed at a public meeting on January 5.

See: ‘Madness’ for London Road Scheme to Go Ahead Against ‘Huge Opposition’, Says SCC Leader

In the statement, published on the SCC website, a spokesperson said: “Further to the public meeting on January 5 where we had the opportunity to listen and understand the concerns of those in attendance, as well as those that spoke in favour of the scheme, we have reflected on the points raised as well as committed to further engagement and wish to set out clearly our proposed next steps.”

The packed public meeting listens to the leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver. Not all those wishing to attend could fit into the hall at George Abbot School.

Officers at SCC are said to be working with the Consultation Institute to provide some independent reassurance in the process to confirm a plan for further engagement, which they want to be “not just adequate but really robust and a model for how we can do this in future”.

The spokesperson continued: “In the meantime, we are starting to build a stakeholder board/group list with which we can engage on the principles of the scheme, including why, as well as to help us to shape the consultation and help us to consider options in a more hands-on way.

“We will include representation from the London Road Action Group, residents associations and other community groups as well as groups supportive of the scheme – getting as much of a balance as possible. We will also include the local county councillors and engage with Guildford Borough Council.”

See also: We Would Like to Help SCC Be Frank, Open and Honest

Cllr Fiona Davidson

But one of those local county councillors, Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South East) who arranged the public meeting, said she was: “…disappointed that the London Road Action Group, who helped to organise the public meeting, were not accorded the courtesy of an email advising them of SCC’s plans. Instead, a statement was posted on the website. If SCC wants to develop trust with the community they will have to significantly change their behaviour.

George Potter the Lib Dem county councillor for the adjoining division of Guildford East also had reservations. “The actions of SCC since the public meeting have been a step in the right direction but fall short of what they promised. Some actions are late, and some are incomplete.

“The most important issue is the formation of a stakeholder group to ensure that the next public consultation is genuine. Unfortunately, SCC appears to be keen to relegate the London Road Action Group to a bit part despite my advice that the group has been formed specifically to be a neutral forum to bring together all key stakeholders to work with the county council to ensure that real public engagement actually happens.”

According to the SCC statement, a team is preparing to share materials they agreed to publish – including the rationale for the scheme, the data on accidents and casualties in the area; safety assessment; traffic modelling; the consultation results.

Additionally, the council will publish material that it says, “will help better outline the history and benefits of the scheme and the aspiration around the full transport corridor”. Publication commenced on Friday (January 20).

But Cllr Davidson said: “I am very disappointed with Surrey County Council’s response so far. The information uploaded to the website to date does not live up to the expectations set at the public meeting, and I hope the very generic responses to Frequently Answered Questions will be replaced with the much more specific information promised.”

Cllr George Potter

And Cllr Potter added: “My concern is that the SCC approach may represent a ‘divide and conquer’ mentality. The county council needs to stop trying to manage the community and start actually working with it.

“None of us want a one-sided consultation, but that is exactly what might happen if SCC tries to pit, for instance, community groups against cyclist groups, instead of recognising, as LRAG does, that both should be working together to get the best outcome possible.”

SCC says that it intends to hold the first stakeholder group by the end of February followed by “…broader engagement with the community around March / April. We will also be holding a number of drop-in sessions to allow people to come and learn more about the scheme.”

The county council is also offering to provide regular updates on progress with interested parties being able to sign up to receive alerts when new information is available.

Their website will allow residents and businesses to sign up for updates to help ensure they can keep informed.

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Responses to Local Councillors Express Concerns Over SCC’s Approach to Further London Road Consultation

  1. Anthony Mallard Reply

    January 24, 2023 at 9:40 am

    I am disappointed but not in any way surprised by the actions of Surrey County Council.

    Schemes publicised on local websites at Reigate and Burgess Hill have all struck similar problems. The difference, Burpham found out about the London Road plan before it was too late to stop the commencement of the work.

    A similar scheme in Redhill in 2013, costing over £4 million, was removed. A lack of consultation with the local community and increased congestion and thus pollution were two significant reasons for the failure of these schemes. The common factor in all of them was Surrey County Council.

    I regret that my earlier prediction of it going ahead no matter what the cost to Burpham and greater Guildford is still the most likely outcome, my only caveat being, it will happen after the forthcoming elections so as not to damage certain candidates’ chances of re-election.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 24, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    I suspect the scheme was designed before the Highway Code changes giving cyclists enhanced rights ie the new rules on the clearance motorists should give when passing cyclists and giving way to cyclists at junctions.

    London Road’s existing cycle lanes should be adequate and safer provided the speed is reduced to 20 mph. It could be a variable speed limit allowing 30 mph outside of peak hours. This would require Variable Message Signs and speed cameras to enforce 20 mph during peak periods.

    As for the conversion of the Boxgrove Roundabout into a Dutch-style one, my view is that it would be dangerous with the volume of traffic in Guildford and that it could cause accidents and congestion.

    SCC needs to think through and review the scheme so that it is appropriate for the conditions. It should obviously not carry out unnecessary work nor subject traffic to follow diversions causing undue delay.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 24, 2023 at 9:19 pm

      What’s this constant interest in 20mph more pollution more revenues decreased road capacity on already over crowded arterial road .. all that is needed is level the road drains resurface remark white lines job done

      • Bibhas Neogi Reply

        January 25, 2023 at 1:51 pm

        Lower traffic speed creates a safer shared road space for the cyclists. Faster cyclists could actually ride on the road lane that is now permissible according to recent advice in the Highway Code.

        Good maintenance is of course desirable. Lower speeds actually increase road capacity. Speed cameras are for ensuring compliance and hence help attain safety. They are not used for raising revenue.

        Roads near schools could be made safer with reduced speed limits of 20 mph. For most motor cars there would be marginal difference in exhaust pollution when traveling the short distance of London Road here at 20 mph rather than at 30 mph during peak periods.

        Speeds are probably already low during these periods and implementing such a limit would make it mandatory and a legal requirement.

  3. John Price Reply

    January 26, 2023 at 2:43 pm

    Why oh why, can’t SCC just do what they said they would do at the public meeting.

    They said they would provide information in a few days.

    Now SCC say it will be progressive from January 20th.

    It looks like they had not done the hard yards when they should have and are now back-fitting the exercise.

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