Fringe Box



Opinion: Participant Involvement Not Welcomed at the London Road Scheme ‘Workshop’

Published on: 19 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 20 Nov, 2023

By Terry Newman

chair of the London Road Action Group (LRAG)

based on his members’ update

There were several disappointments about the London Road Active Travel workshop held on November 14. First, that it should have, but didn’t, take place before the start of the public engagement period.

As a policeman might state in a witness box, “from notes that I made at the time”, LRAG, too, has notes made at the meeting, organised by Surrey County Council who are promoting the scheme, on July 26. A statement was made by SCC that “detailed workshops on the design and implementation would take place at the end of August”.

Image of London Road with its existing bike lanes, taken in August 2022. Google Street View

Second, of the invitees to this workshop, the following were absent: Guildford Borough Council, George Abbot School, Guildford High School, Surrey Climate Commission, Surrey Chamber of Commerce, Surrey Coalition of Disabled People, Stagecoach Bus company, Clock House Retirement Home, and Surrey Youth Parliament.

See also: The Purpose of the London Road Stakeholder Meetings is to Design the Consultation Process

There has never been any attendance from any of the emergency services, because SCC has steadfastly refused to enable any interaction. They have preferred to report their views second-hand, which of course cannot be corroborated.

All-in-all it seems that few now take an interest in the outcome, as if they have accepted, as a fait accompli, that the scheme was inevitable. Present were a SCC councillor, LRAG, the Guildford Residents Association (GRA), the Burpham Community Association (BCA), the Boxgrove Park Residents’ Association (BPRA, also representing Kingpost businesses), and two from G-BUG (Guildford – Bike User Group).

If all of the foregoing was not sufficiently frustrating, the SCC team proceeded to perform a type of filibuster, using up more than half of the time allotted, by making an unnecessary set of presentations about the designs. Given the known pre-existing knowledge of those who were in attendance, this was a total waste of time. No new information was forthcoming.

Stakeholders had been asked to provide questions in advance, some of which had received written answers, but many had not and were on topics that needed discussion by all participants. For example:

  • why was there, in the letter to residents, a statement that “the road will remain the same width as it is currently”?
  • how does the required Road Safety Audit assess many of the questionable design options, (enforced because of the limited space available)?
  • does the scheme comprehensively create a more coherent, direct, safe and comfortable route for cyclists and pedestrians alike?

There was no time made for any contemplation of the daytime constraints necessary during construction, whilst protecting incomplete overnight work.

As with the guillotining of reviews of the survey questionnaire prior to publication (many stakeholders were totally dissatisfied with the content and positive bias inherent), this very short workshop was also ineffectual.

Any subsequent suggestion that stakeholders had participated in such, and had been allowed to raise matters of concern and clarification, should be immediately dismissed – they have not.

It is this ongoing behaviour of the SCC presentation team that caused a group of former London Road Action Group members to decide that parallel action was necessary.

The circulation of a flyer and its reference to an alternative survey London Road Active Travel Survey, acknowledged as biased in the opposite sense but no more so than the official SCC one, merely reflects the disquiet that many members of the community sensed.

The missing fundamental issue in all of the “official” engagement packages, based on The Dragon editor’s interview (see above – third minute) with the leader of SCC immediately after the hostile public meeting on  January 5, was: should the scheme go ahead in the light of massive public opposition?

This question is nowhere to be found in the county council’s survey, and has disenchanted many, especially when, at the final reckoning SCC will act as judge and jury.

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Responses to Opinion: Participant Involvement Not Welcomed at the London Road Scheme ‘Workshop’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 19, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    The honesty of the above text cannot be challenged.

    The SCC script during this five-year reads like a long Brian Rix farce. It is a pathetic rewrite of Yes Minister and The Navy Lark, with a touch of Hancock’s Half Hour and a Norman Wisdom version of Noises Off.

    You really could not make it up!

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