Fringe Box



Opinion: The High Street – The Local Committee Has A (Not So) Cunning Plan

Published on: 22 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2013
Bodged tarmac repair to the iconic setts as pointed out by Aldermen Bridger and Parke

Bodged tarmac repair to the iconic setts, as pointed out by Aldermen Bridger and Parke

by Martin Giles

I was wrong! I apologise.

In March, when I commented on the Local Committee’s decision to take three months to come up with a strategy to repair the High Street setts, I was critical. I said what we needed was action not more paper.

I imagined that the new strategy would be an unnecessary and weighty tome. After all they said they were going to: complete a full condition survey to establish failed/failing areas and residual life; identify the optimum repair technique which closest matches existing (likely to involve trial areas in the High Street itself); identify funding streams (to include SCC centre maintenance budgets, commitments by the local committee, development contributions (environmental) and possibly private contributions;  and review methods of delivery.

Opinion Logo 2So imagine my surprise when on Wednesday evening (June 19), at the Local Committee’s most recent gig in Effingham I found that the new strategy comprised just six sides of A4!

I wondered if they had decided that they should simply follow The Dragon (not chase it mind, I am advised that is something quite different).  My suggested strategy, offered freely, had been to:

‘Start at the bottom and work your way up, relaying the setts properly.’

I even had a section on funding. ‘Money should come from the SCC funds. After all, the need for repair should not be that much of a surprise. The setts were laid in 1868.’ (See photo below – not the 1840s, Cllr Mansbridge and Surrey Advertiser – please take note.)

So as I started to read… “i) the setts [they had called them cobbles last time] should be re-laid in their entirety, rather than repairing damaged sections only as has been the case in the past, … [had they been looking over my shoulder?] with work commencing in 2014/15… [er… no they hadn’t, apparently].

Paragraph ii confirmed that Sir Humphrey had indeed got involved: “The Area Highways Manager, in consultation with the Chairman of The Local Committee and the Guildford Borough Council Lead Councillor for Town Centre Planning and Infrastructure will establish a Steering Group…”

Oh no, ‘a steering group’ and a possible wait of another two years before a single sett is relaid.

But there was more, and this is the killer… “No SCC funding has been committed to the High Street in 2013/14 and the earliest that SCC funds could be allocated is 2014/15”. No funding, none, zilch, zippo. The setts fairy was expected to take care of things, evidently.

In fact, very few of the objectives for the strategy document, listed above, had been met Instead the ‘strategy’ seems to come from the Monty Python book of stating the b……. obvious, repeated several times for the hard of understanding.

One such gem: “The High Street will continue to deteriorate in various areas, and so require ongoing repair.” Good job we’ve got experts on the job eh? Because I thought, under fairy management, we might see a gradual spontaneous improvement.

Three whole months to wait for this!

Allow me to summarise the six page ‘strategy’:

1.    It is agreed that the High Street needs to be relaid from top to bottom ©The Guildford Dragon;
2.    A steering group is to be formed ©Sir Humphrey;
3.    There is no funding ©Chancellor of the Exchequer.

A plan for success? I don’t think so.

Here is my alternative and comprehensive strategy:

  1. Make the High Street a private road owned by GBC (or perhaps the High Street freeholders?)
  2. Throw a farewell party for SCC Highways and its contractor May Gurney (PFI funding). Politely say thank you, goodbye, mind the potholes!
  3. GBC to recruit one or two Europeans with the necessary skills* and one or two locally recruited apprentices to acquire their skills.
  4. Buy some setts, mortar ingredients and some tools.
  5. Elf and safety.
  6. Start work.

You think I have forgotten funding don’t you? It’s okay, the borough council got over a million quid when it flogged off Constitutional Hall. That should do nicely. After all, some good should come from that short-sighted decision.

Oh and er, I was wrong again. I don’t apologise. I think someone else should.

The High Street Setts being laid in 1868

The High Street Setts being laid in 1868, overseen by the then borough surveyor Henry Peak.

*This bit was someone else’s idea.

See also: High Street To Be Relaid But No Funds Allocated


Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *