Fringe Box



Roads Are Better in Rural India ‘Than in Many Parts of Surrey’

Published on: 8 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 10 Feb, 2023

Cllr Robert Evans paused his trip in rural India to take photos of roads, and claims they’re better than many in Surrey Photo: Robert Evans

By Emily Coady-Stemp

A councillor who visited rural India paused his tour to take photos of the roads because they were “in better condition than Surrey’s”.

Cllr Robert Evans

The Labour group leader on Surrey County Council said he visited the state of Karnataka last month and on a visit to a village school, stopped to take a photo of the road.

Cllr Robert Evans (Stanwell and Stanwell Moor) told a meeting of the council on Tuesday (February 7) that his host had asked him what was wrong with the roads there.

He told the meeting he had replied: “Nothing, to the contrary. I just wanted photographic evidence that the road surfaces here in rural India are better than in many parts of Surrey.”

Cllr Evans also said his Stanwell residents asked him why roads in what he called the “forgotten part of Surrey” were worse than in other parts of the county.

Smooth tarmac Photo: Robert Evans

He told the meeting: “I actually tell them they’re not, they are pretty bad everywhere.”

In the meeting, councillors voted through the authority’s budget for 2023/24, though without the support of the opposition.

The county council’s share of council tax will increase by 2.99 per cent from April, which means an increase of 94p per week, or £48.69 per year on the average band D property.

This is less than the 4.99 per cent which the government says councils can increase council tax by without a referendum, though Slough, Thurrock and Croydon councils were this week given permission to raise council tax by 10 and 15 per cent to help pay off huge borrowing costs.

The district and borough councils in Surrey, as well as the Police and Crime Commissioner, will also add their shares to the bills that will be paid by residents.

Surrey’s £1.1 billion budget, which includes spending of more than £400 million on adult social care and £249 million on children, families and lifelong learning was described as a “good and fair” budget by the council’s leader.

Cllr Tim Oliver

Cllr Oliver (Con, Weybridge) pointed to the council’s “ambitious” capital programme which included highways maintenance as well as low emission buses, flood alleviation measures, independent living facilities for the elderly and more accommodation in the county for looked after children.

A cabinet meeting last week heard that more government funding was needed in Surrey for repairs on the county’s 3,000 miles of roads.

The Liberal Democrat group leader called on the council to spend money the council had in reserves rather than “cutting spending on roads and services for vulnerable people”.

Cllr Will Forster

Cllr Will Forster (Woking South) said Surrey’s roads were “completely falling apart”.

He pointed to a highways budget that he claimed would be less than £30 million by 2024/25, compared to nearly £70 million in the 2023/24 budget.

He said: “That is not acceptable. Our residents would find that appalling.”

But another councillor said it would be “bonkers” to spend the council’s savings on road repairs or other projects.

Cllr Edward Hawkins (Conservative, Heatherside and Parkside) said he supported the budget and looking to the situation in the Ukraine, Turkey and Syria, that it was important not to spend money that had been put aside.

He told the meeting: “It’s bonkers to spend the money that you put aside for a rainy day, when we really don’t know what’s coming around the corner.”

The meeting opened with a minute’s silence for the dog walker who was killed in Caterham in January, the Epsom College head and her family who were found dead on Sunday (February 5) as well as those affected by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

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Responses to Roads Are Better in Rural India ‘Than in Many Parts of Surrey’

  1. Graham Cole Reply

    February 8, 2023 at 3:43 pm

    Cllr Evans’ use of this particular photo is a “very creative” use of photographic evidence for his argument.

    If this is the best type of evidence he has for this specific point, maybe he just about has the competence to be of use to the GBC Planning Committee?

  2. David Roberts Reply

    February 8, 2023 at 9:19 pm

    Is it true that central government subsidises councils’ road maintenance budgets according to how many miles of A and B roads they have, rather than according to how much traffic uses them?

    If so, it would explain why roads in North Wales, with a much more extreme climate, are so smooth and pothole-free compared with Surrey.

  3. Peta Malthouse Reply

    February 9, 2023 at 6:40 am

    I am frankly surprised by Mr Coles’ comments. Travel anywhere and you will find roads better maintained than those in Surrey. I am not sure why the county council have refused to put up their council tax take to the full sum allowed.

    No one wants or can afford increases in the cost of living but they can’t afford the impact of reduced services either. The state of our roads is beyond a joke and harmful to travellers. And cuts in social care and child protection cannot be justified.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 10, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    How about Cllr Evans comparing the roads in a similar-sized Indian urban town to Guildford as a comparison?

    Photos of a rural road in India that hasn’t been dug up umpteen times and left with bodged reinstatements by various utility contractors are hardly a genuine comparison.

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