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No Money, No Deal, GBC Tells County Council on Highways Maintenance

Published on: 28 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 29 Apr, 2022

Agenda front sheet from the Guildford Joint Committee Meeting of March 16

By Martin Giles

Guildford Borough Council is refusing to sign an agreement with Surrey County Council to take on responsibility for “certain aspects” of highways maintenance. SCC is currently responsible for the upkeep of highways, including pavements.

See also: Town Pavements Look ‘Unloved, Abandoned and Neglected’ But SCC Says ‘Major Repairs’ Planned

The subject has become an issue within the working of the SCC/GBC Guildford Joint Committee which deals with work requiring cross-council cooperation.

County Cllr Matt Furniss

Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford) the SCC cabinet member for Transport and Infrastructure was expecting GBC to sign a Town Centre Highway Management Agreement under which the borough council would take on some responsibility for the maintenance of highways within the town centre.

But GBC councillors are refusing to do so without an allocation of funds currently collected by SCC. GBC members of the joint committee are pointing to an example of an agreement between SCC and Woking Borough Council which, they say, gives WBC “40% of the surplus from on-street parking”.

When this was pointed out to Cllr Furniss by fellow members of the joint committee he responded: “Disappointing but not surprising that this administration [ie GBC] has walked back from yet another council commitment.

“It will be highly unlikely that we will do anything at risk in good faith from GBC anymore as it is clear partnership for GBC is one way. There will be no revised offer.”

Some Guildford councillors suspect his decision has been affected by the political profile of GBC. Since the 2019 election, in which Cllr Furniss lost his GBC seat, there has been a Lib Dem/R4GV administration.

The Guildford Dragon asked Cllr Furniss:

  1. What commitment did GBC give to the proposed agreement and when?
  2. What other commitments have GBC “walked back from”?
  3. Why should GBC be treated differently to Woking Borough Council?
  4. Isn’t your refusal to compromise also going to affect your own constituents in Shalford Division when they visit Guildford?

but he has failed to respond.

What is unclear from recent emails seen by The Dragon is whether the previous Conservative administration had agreed to take on responsibility for highways maintenance in Guildford, with or without any additional funding, before they lost the election.

In 2016, GBC contributed a third of the funds for the relaying of the granite setts in the High Street, after years of inaction. Another third came from SCC and the final third from the joint committee. The project cost was about £1 million.


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Responses to No Money, No Deal, GBC Tells County Council on Highways Maintenance

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    April 28, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Why should GBC take on additional responsibility from SCC without guarantees of funding given they currently get less than 10 per cent of council tax?

    There is a fundamental issue locally that the county and borough councils are so disjointed and instead of one accountable body there are multiple which blame each other for failure to deliver for residents.

    I believe the only answer is for a unitary authority probably covering Guildford and Waverley to properly hold local politicians to account.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 30, 2022 at 7:49 am

      There is no need for a new unitary authority. Simply scrap Surrey County Council and all the parish councils and devolve all responsibilities to the boroughs.

      I realise this might mean lines in the road at borough boundaries, but that already happens at county level.

  2. Graham Hibbert Reply

    April 28, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    “GBC councillors are refusing to do so without an allocation of funds currently collected by SCC.” Sounds very sensible to me. Why is SCC treating Guildford different to Woking?

  3. Dave Fielding Reply

    April 29, 2022 at 8:46 am

    Presumably, GBC is refusing to clear up the toys that have been thrown out of Cllr Furniss’s pram. Why does he expect GBC to take on the responsibility for free?

    Good on GBC.

  4. Mike Forster Reply

    April 29, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    In these very difficult times how can Surrey CC expect GBC to take on such onerous commitments without adequate funding? The roads and footpaths in our area are a disgrace and urgently need a concerted effort to make some drastic improvements to alleviate health and safety issues.

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