Fringe Box



Opinion: Residents and Councillors Want to Engage on London Road Project – Does SCC?

Published on: 4 Dec, 2022
Updated on: 4 Dec, 2022

Cllr Fiona Davidson

By Fiona Davidson

R4GV county councillor for Guildford South East

Like many residents, I am very concerned at the impact that the closure of the northbound lane of London Road for five months will mean.

I am equally concerned that the county council appears unwilling to properly engage with residents and the local county councillors (Cllr George Potter [Lib Dem, Burpham] and myself) who represent residents.

See also: Timespan of Criticised County Council Cycle Lane Scheme Reduced

Surrey County Council’s handling of the scheme so far has been poor, and despite the implications for Guildford, the council seems determined to carry on like a cartoon character with its hands over its ears, humming “la-la-la”.

Residents have not been properly communicated with or consulted. We local councillors, raising residents’ concerns, have been ignored since initial representations resulted in the reduction of the duration of the scheme, and the leafletting of all the houses along and in roads leading onto London Road. These were very positive and welcome changes, but following these concessions the drawbridge seems to have been raised.

London Road

London Road will be closed to northbound traffic between the Boxgrove Roundabout and New Inn Lane for five months. Annotated Apple map.

The implications of closing one lane of a main arterial route into what is already a highly congested town do not appear to have been assessed or understood. The risk of gridlock across a wide area in the east of Guildford through to the town centre has been dismissed. The impact on residents, schools and businesses, and the potential economic damage to Guildford’s economy is apparently not considered relevant.

This is perplexing behaviour from a county council which advertises a strategic focus on community and resident engagement. Particularly when, to underpin the importance the council attaches to engagement, it has – since April this year – recruited 11 community link officers, in a period of strained resources, to engage directly with residents.

Like most residents, I know very little about what the London Road scheme will actually deliver. However, I share the aim of making our roads safer for children, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as reducing pollution and our carbon footprint. My concerns are less with the outcomes at this stage than with how the project is being delivered.

SCC artist impression of how the completed scheme will look.

There are also questions about the consultation for this scheme. A participant described it to me as a “market research study”. The questions asked were about the principles of active travel, using London Road as an example – not what it would mean in Guildford, and there was no discussion of implementation.

See also: Highways Repair Bulletin December 5 – 11

I understand that a significant percentage of those who participated in the exercise neither live nor run a business in Guildford. While this consultation may have been statistically valid and within the letter of the statutory requirement, it is hardly in the spirit of consultation – or what would be expected from a local authority committed to resident engagement.

The consultations for phase 2 and phase 3 of the London Road scheme – Boxgrove Roundabout and the section of London Road between Boxgrove Roundabout and York Road respectively (which I have seen) – appear to have followed the same approach. I have already raised several concerns, and I hope SCC will continue to support the stakeholder group that I have set up for phase 2.

There is still time to retrieve the situation on phase 1. Residents and councillors want to find a constructive way forward. Does Surrey County Council?

See also: Opinion: Our Views on Proposed Changes Should Count

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Responses to Opinion: Residents and Councillors Want to Engage on London Road Project – Does SCC?

  1. John Lomas Reply

    December 4, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    If this closure goes ahead as described, it would seem that an ambulance will have to travel four miles to get from the ambulance station to premises on The Gables which is the road to the immediate rear of the station.

    That particular diversion also has a 14ft headroom bridge so that could affect vehicles delivering to Burpham etc from the south.

    The Clay Lane alternative has a 7.5T weight restriction according to Google maps.

    The next possibility for large vehicles from the south to access the London Road North of Burpham in order to travel southwards seems to be through West Clandon. I haven’t attempted to put a distance to that diversion, not to mention the distance required if larger vehicles have to go all the way up the A3 to Jct 10 to reverse direction.

    I apologise if I have missed some obvious alternative but I am writing as a former resident but one with a keen interest in the geography of roads, I could still tell you my 1959 driving test route from the Portsmouth Road Test Centre.

    • Fiona Davidson Reply

      December 6, 2022 at 6:19 pm

      I’m intrigued by John Lomas’ analysis. I’m afraid I don’t have the geographic knowledge to say whether this is still the case. I will certainly try to find out – but if any other Dragon reader has a view I would definitely be interested.

      Fiona Davidson is the R4GV county councillor for Guildford South East

      • Peter Regan Reply

        December 8, 2022 at 10:02 am

        I completely agree with Cllr Fiona Davidson and think this whole scheme is a disaster both financially and practically.

        I emailed Surrey County Council to voice my multiple concerns and have just received a generic response which doesn’t address a single point that I raised. So much for democracy and genuine public consultation.

        I live just off the London Road so will be massively impacted.

  2. M Callan Reply

    December 5, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Here we go again – the county council wanting to make people’s lives more difficult/expensive again. The scheme will make it far more difficult to get out of Guildford, generating far more congestion and more pollution, which will be of no benefit to anyone.

    • Chris Holmes Reply

      December 5, 2022 at 5:36 pm

      This is really a chicken-and-egg scenario. The only way to alleviate congestion in Guildford is to get people out of cars for the smaller journeys.

      Unless the road network is changed to favour alternative transport modes I can’t see this happening. But to change the road network of course means disruption for a period. But what is the alternative?

      The only part I’m not convinced with is the need for two cycle lanes. Why not have a two-way lane on one side of the road only? This is often used in continental Europe when space is limited with great success.

  3. Paul Robinson Reply

    December 6, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    Did I read that right, SCC have leafletted homes on roads leading on to London Road? I live in Weylea Farm and I haven’t seen a leaflet.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 7, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    The question I would ask SCC is this: is it necessary to carry out this scheme after the changes in Highway Code that give cyclists more rights and requires motorists to allow 1.5m clearance when passing a cyclist?

    The scheme as planned would require diversionary routes for the northbound traffic but these are impractical and unacceptable.

    The safety of existing cycle lanes could be improved by introducing a 20 mph speed limit during peak periods. The measures could be implemented using VMS [Variable Message Signs], like on the M25, and cameras enforcing compliance.

    If this alternative were found to be acceptable, SCC would save a lot of money and the users of London Road would not suffer prolonged delays and disruptions.

  5. M Callan Reply

    December 8, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Another example of councils wasting money on schemes that the majority of people do not want – just to comply with current PC correctness for the “benefit” for cyclists who probably will not use them – preferring pavements or the lanes meant for car/bus/HGV use.

    Why do councils squander ratepayers money, while cutting frontline services – then whinge that they do not have enough resources and put up rates again?

  6. Martin Elliott Reply

    December 9, 2022 at 4:00 am

    By the way, the Guildford Joint Committee which use to cover issues like this, ceased operation 6 December 2022.

    This mess demonstrates some liaison is needed

  7. N Rockliff Reply

    December 9, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Although it would not make a difference to through traffic, if the northbound work were to be done in two halves (Boxgrove roundabout to Woodruff Avenue, then Woodruff Avenue to New Inn Lane), it would spare local residents on each half quite so many months of inconvenience.

    Has any thought been given to this?

  8. Jane Hepburn Reply

    December 10, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    My husband and I as everyday Guildford cyclists cannot for the life of us understand why this particular road has been chosen for cycling improvements. It is wide, the cycle lanes are well-painted and appropriately moved onto a wide pavement when necessary.

    There are many other roads leading out of the town centre more worthy of attention. The Guildford to Woking A320 has a rough and bumpy track beside it that would be perfect for turning into a cycle lane – no road closures needed. The A3100 Portsmouth Road from Guildford to Godalming is another lethal bit of road that needs a cycle lane.

    Trodds Lane towards Newlands Corner from Merrow is the most dangerous road for cyclists, but also the most used, why not widen the grass verge there? The Farnham Road from the YMCA out of town is lethal for cyclists. Stoke Road going into Guildford, after the Nightingale Road turn off… after being a lovely bit of cyclist/pedestrian cooperation from Stoke Church, suddenly peters out into an extremely lethal piece of track leading into town where only the brave fear to pedal.

    London Road has absolutely none of the difficulties mentioned above, and is in fact quite a pleasant piece of road to cycle on. Why oh why has it been singled out for special treatment at maximum inconvenience and spend, when funds should go where they are actually needed/

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 13, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    I reiterate my suggestion and that is to implement a 20-mph speed limit. Most cyclists on a straight run ride at 15-20 mph and so a 20 mph limit on motorised traffic should be acceptable considering recent changes to Highway Code regarding cyclists’ rights. Motorists need to give 1.5m clearance when passing a cyclist. However, cyclists in practice then could ride in the middle of the lane should they choose.

    To maintain compliance with the 20 mph speed limit outside of peak hours would be difficult. I suggested that VMS signs could be used to control the restrictions during peak hours. On quieter periods when traffic is lighter, motorists would have the opportunity to give cyclists 1.5m clearance when passing by crossing over the centre line to the right.

    Proposed 3.0m lanes both ways and separate but adjacent cycle lanes still would not give the necessary feeling of safety for the cyclists when traffic whizzes past at 30 mph without giving them 1.5m clearance. Hence the speed limit during peak periods is necessary for safety.

    I think the 20 mph limit plus the VMS and speed cameras should provide a satisfactory solution. At the same time, SCC would save money and no major works requiring diversions for the road users. It is a win-win solution.

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