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Recommendation for Guildford to Consider Congestion Charging

Published on: 24 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 25 Sep, 2022

GBC’s proposed town square as part of plans to open up the riverside. Image GBC.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

A congestion charge could be coming to Guildford as the council looks at ways to reduce traffic and raise money to support sustainable travel.

As part of wide-ranging plans for the town centre, including more than 2,000 new homes, opening up the area around the river and overhauling the one-way system, officers are also starting to look at the options for some form of charge to drive into the town.

See also: £3m Allocated for Next Stage of ‘Shaping Guildford’s Future’ Masterplan

A meeting of the borough council’s Executive on Thursday (September 22) approved £3 million to be moved into the relevant budget for the next stage of planning to begin.

The meeting heard that more had to be done to encourage businesses to set up and stay in the town, and more measures needed to be taken to protect from flooding.

Council leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), in his final meeting as leader, introduced the range of consultants at the meeting as “a number of very expensive people” who would talk through the plans as they currently stand.

All works will go through the usual planning stages at the borough council.

Andreas Markides, from independent consultancy Markides Associates, told the meeting a lot of work had been done to gather data on how people were travelling to the town and where from, using car parks, traffic surveys and mobile phone data.

He said many elements would be considered including improved cycling and walking in the town, a better park and ride service and the consideration of “some form of congestion charging”.

See also: The Dragon Says – Congestion Charging Should Not Be Ignored

Mr Markides added: “I don’t know at this stage what form that will take, there are dozens and dozens of different forms.

“But I think that would be a very good way of not only deterring car traffic to come into the town, but also to get money that we can put towards more sustainable measures.”

He said the next step was to work on traffic modelling plans with Surrey County Council and looking at the whole town.

The basics objectives of the plans were as follows according to Mr Markides:

  • Getting rid of the one-way system because two-way roads slows traffic allowing more attention to be paid to pedestrians;
  • Opening up the riverside to the town centre, “cutting out” a lot of existing roads “so that the town centre can roll down to the river as required by the master plan”;
  • Removing some traffic lanes to give priority to cyclists, pedestrians and buses;
  • Maintaining access to all key destinations in the town such as the bus station, train station and car parks.

We intend to report further on the Shaping Guildford’s Future presentation given at GBC’s Executive meeting. Please check back.

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test 15 Responses to Recommendation for Guildford to Consider Congestion Charging

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    Why is this man Andreas Markides being listened to? His plans go against all rational thought. He has had more destructive input to Guildford’s transport problems than anyone else.

    This includes maximising parking when the logic is to minimise it and expecting 1,500 people to catch the bus from a site which has planned one bus every 20 minutes.

    He wants to slow down traffic which is already below 5mph, expects people to use a car club to travel to work, and believes everyone can ride a bike. But he fails to realise that Guildford is a gap town. Charging to cross the town means people from the villages will stop entering Guildford and use rat runs to access the A3 thus loading country lanes.

    In short, Mr Markides is promoting the World Economic Forums Great reset you will own nothing and be happy

    This is the wrong man to be advising on Guildford’s transport problems.

  2. Harry Elson Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    If there is a congestion charge it will be goodbye Guildford and hello Woking, Dorking, Godalming and Farnham for my wife and I when we go shopping.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    This is madness. Do we want Guildford to be like London?

    As Hutber’s law states “improvement equals deterioration”.

    Let our town remain a country town for as long as possible.

    Every change in the past, and suggested for the future, has worsened it.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      September 25, 2022 at 8:35 am

      Whoever put my comment above into The Dragon has clearly not heard of the late great Patrick Hutber. It has been “corrected” to read Hunter instead of Hutber.

      Please correct.

      Editor’s response: Apologies. Comment corrected.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Before the pundits start messing around with the one-way system, it is importance to note the advantage of one-way system and that is that the capacity of a road is double that of a two-way road for the same width of road.

    In order to make the town centre pedestrian and cycle friendly, instead of making life difficult for the motorists, ways have to be found to cater for both motorised and non-motorised traffic.

    It is the balance that makes for a successful town with its businesses and other attractions. Giving too much priority to the non-motorised traffic at the expense of motorised traffic is likely to kill off business in the town centre.

    The approach has to be to build infrastructure to divert traffic away from the congested areas and thus free up space for pedestrians and cyclists.

    To deliberately create restricted movements by replacing one-way system by two-way roads and discouraging traffic is a negative approach as is the congestion charge idea. There are no viable alternative routes avoiding the town centre that traffic can take except for a few rat-runs. These must not become clogged with traffic creating more pollution and noise.

    Basically, the councils need to stop tinkering with unworkable ideas and to concentrate on how best to improve the road network for all users. Yes, it will cost money but if the benefits outweigh costs, these would be worthwhile projects.

    Please note: in the website Millbrook should be A281 not A282

  5. M Smith Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    London has the North and South Circulars and the M25 to take traffic around rather than through the city. Guildford will need something similar otherwise congestion will simply be moved from the town centre to the outskirts.

  6. D Williams Reply

    September 24, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    Congestion charging is a good idea. Guildford is congested because there are too many cars occupied by just one person. Hardly anyone in Guildford cycles or uses a bus.

    However, I doubt that congestion charging will happen. People in Guildford love their cars so much and any politician who messed with them would be voted out.

    • Paul Reading Reply

      September 26, 2022 at 12:57 am

      How are we supposed to get from Cranleigh/Bramley to the A3?

  7. John Cooke Reply

    September 25, 2022 at 9:07 am

    M Smith’s point is valid but that isn’t my interpretation: the intention is to stop people driving into Guildford to park a car.

    I live in Farnham, if I need to get to Horsham by car my best route, unfortunately, is through Guildford and out on the A281. Currently, there’s no charge for that. If there was I could choose a different route.

    If I want to visit Guildford I have lots of decent alternatives: train, bus from Aldershot, Park & Ride, bicycle on the Christmas Pie Trail. I do use the latter for work but it’s not ideal in the evening. Either way, if I choose to drive in and park there should be a penalty.

    We have to get out of our cars whenever we can and that requires a change of mindset. It’s probably going to take a couple of generations but we have to start somewhere. Be assured, I face resistance at home!

  8. M C Authreau Reply

    September 25, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    This is how council mentality actually works:

    How to support local shops etc – discourage people to visit
    How to reduce pollution – deliberately create traffic congestion
    How to reduce congestion – close some roads
    How to not affect nearby roads – force traffic onto them
    How to attract new business – raise costs + journey times to travel to work

    Assume everyone can cycle including: tradesmen, the elderly, mums with three young kids, lorry drivers, the disabled, anyone with very bulky shopping, etc.

    Why do some council employees enjoy making other people’s lives more difficult or more expensive?

    • R Rees Reply

      September 26, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      I completely agree.

      One assumes either these councillors have forgotten that they are there to represent the electorate, or they have some vested interest in wrecking Guildford.

      My entire family walk to town, but sometimes we need to use a car. I am not carrying a weekly shop anywhere.

      If congestion charging comes in, we will consider moving to somewhere less stupidly mismanaged.

  9. Chris Early Reply

    September 26, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Good to see serious focus on reducing car use.

    The other comments on this post are predictably saying nothing can be done but underpin it. Fundamental change is required, for health and the environment. This will entail annoying some people, but ardent car users will only be satisfied by making things worse.

    As a regular visitor to Guildford and the town centre, I am happy to do my bit.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      September 26, 2022 at 8:28 pm

      If only it were serious. The problem is more difficult to solve than GBC suggests:

      1) According to the RAC 77 per cent of households in the UK own a car; 81 per cent of the population have access to a car.
      https://www.racfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/car-ownership-in-great-britain-leibling-171008-report.pdf

      2) Getting rid of the one-way traffic system in the centre of Guildford, which has taken 50 years to develop, is not a serious suggestion in the short or even medium term. And what has it got to do with a congestion charge?

      3) of course car use should be reduced. So why does the Local Plan promote building 50 per cent of the new houses on sites that are dependent on car use? Why does the North Street redevelopment require an underground car park for every or most flats? Access to Three Farms Meadow in Ockham is 100 per cent car-dependent.

      4) By all means annoy some people. Lib Dems (does that include Liz Truss?) think they are martyrs if they are unpopular. But if they want to change all the engines on the Airbus A380 in mid-flight do not be surprised if it crashes and burns.

      5) By all means lobby SCC to introduce a congestion charge. But don’t kid everyone that GBC can do it by itself. That’s a bit like the UK saving Ukraine by itself.

  10. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    September 27, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    The masterplan must look at means of improving the road network by building infrastructure outside of the town centre to reduce traffic in the gyratory. Opening up the riverside is not possible without substantially removing the gyratory.

    The funding is most likely to come from the developers who would fund the road improvements that would free up spaces for pedestrians and cyclists and they would build apartments en route to generate the funds necessary.

    I have suggested ideas in the document outlining possible schemes. Please visit the website by clicking on my name.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      September 28, 2022 at 8:09 am

      This is obvious to anyone with any common sense.

      Everyone apart from the council can see that it makes no sense to pedestrianise the gyratory (or tax the traffic using it) if there is nowhere else for the traffic to go.

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