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Stoughton Planters Falling Apart, ‘Shoddy Work Wouldn’t Be Accepted in Merrow’

Published on: 16 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 17 Jun, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

Wooden planters on Woodbridge Hill, provided by Guildford Borough Council only four years ago according to residents, are falling apart and not being properly maintained.

The wooden planters in Woodbridge Hill outside the Wooden Bridge pub look great other than they are falling apart.

Resident Tony Ferris, said: “They are not robust enough, it’s got to be fit for purpose for its busy location. This shoddy work wouldn’t have been accepted in Merrow.”

Some have been hit by vehicles using the road. But the smashed planters only show they weren’t designed properly, says Mr Ferris, and now reveal the wood is rotten.

Resident Tony Ferris says the wood is rotten in the four-year-old planters which were not designed for the busy location.

Three of the 11 planters are tended by residents.

Two outside the Wooden Bridge pub are looked after by the landlord’s wife, Wendy Reeves. They look great, other than falling apart from a car impact.

How much longer will the wooden planters last?

Mr Ferris said they are only maintained when residents complain. He said: “The weeds were chest high at one point and after pressure from residents, the council came out and weeded them. There is no planting in most of them with the exception of those done by local residents.

“Why has this not been picked up by the council?”

Another resident said: “We spent all that money and after five years, they are falling apart.”

For one of the planters tended by a resident, the design doesn’t appear to be robust enough for the busy location.

Guildford Borough Councillor Pauline Searle (Lib Dem, Stoughton) disagreed on the installation date saying said the planters were installed with S106 funding around five to six years ago.

Cllr Pauline Searle

She said: “Unfortunately the funding was for capital [spending] only. There is no specific funding available for maintenance or replacement programme. Some money was allocated for watering, but that funding ran out last year.

“In March this year Guildford Borough Council repaired two planters that were damaged by vehicles and another six planters that had broken screws and rotten timber.

“We are aware of the need for further work to be carried out and we are in the process of assessing options for the future. At the moment there is no maintenance or planting plan.

“The plans were drawn up by council engineers at the time, so no concerns about the design.

The wooden planters in Woodbridge Hill are no longer the attractive features they were intended to be.

“We generally expect this type of timber installation to last up to seven years before major work or replacement is needed. They appeared to have lasted reasonable well. Sadly there are not many planters that would survive being hit by a vehicle.

“I will be pushing for a plan to cover future maintenance and upkeep of these planters.”

Cllr Searle later emailed The Dragon saying: “Just to let you know, ward councillors are visiting Woodbridge Hill tomorrow afternoon (Friday, June 17), to look at the situation and see how we can plan for the future.”

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test 6 Responses to Stoughton Planters Falling Apart, ‘Shoddy Work Wouldn’t Be Accepted in Merrow’

  1. Diana Roberts Reply

    June 17, 2022 at 9:18 am

    Why don’t the residents take over the maintenance and plant them up? Then they could enter Guildford in Bloom’s Best Neighbourhood Project next year.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    June 17, 2022 at 10:16 am

    So utterly predictable. Untreated timber in soil rots, it’s a function of nature! Three replacement choices concrete, recycled plastic, or treat the timber with wood preservative.

    When will those involved learn that all their proposals are one-sided and technically bad.

    Had this been treated timber it would have lasted 10 plus years so the sourcing and removal factors would be halved. Time the GBC allowed technical reality to take control.

  3. Frank Emery Reply

    June 17, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    I’m afraid the planners failed on a number of counts, one that really stands out is the lack of drainage ways between the parking bays and the pavement.

    I guess we should not be surprised at the failings of GBC, it’s not a new thing.

  4. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    June 17, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    It would appear that council engineers had no idea that untreated wood rots!

    Why were council engineers even involved with basic knowledge? Another waste of our money.

  5. Roland Dunster Reply

    June 17, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    Even if not actually the case, it certainly can look and feel like some Guildford wards are favoured over others.

    In Stoke Ward, I have for years voluntarily attempted to tackle, litter/littering (a task GBC now appears to have almost entirely outsourced to residents and volunteers in the area), graffiti, criminal and local infrastructure damage and antisocial behaviour.

    Of the three main political parties in England, the only one that has ever materially assisted me in these efforts, was not that which holds the ward [Labour], or that which holds joint control of the borough council with R4GV [Liberal Democrats].

    As with its litter “strategy” (aka expensive vicious cycle) of, allowing littering; cursory cleaning, allowing littering, the poor choice of materials used for these planters is another example of GBC’s practical and financial short-sightedness.

  6. Martin Elliott Reply

    June 18, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    “The plans were drawn up by council engineers at the time, so no concerns about the design.”

    Sadly, this is a common and badly outdated cultural attitude that applies though many government departments and local authorities.

    Whilst, obviously, a “SQEP” (Suitably Qualified & Experienced Person) will work to procedures and design codes, it is best that they are regularly reviewed and revised, preferably before accidents and losses occur.

    We are well aware of the dreadful Customer Services, not just phone answering times (if lucky enough to be answered), but are the promised improvements going to meet the 10-year-old standard or is that being reviewed in line with modern technology?

    GBC has to modify the attitude, especially for financial issues of council tax, business rates, and benefits, that claiming procedures were followed is an adequate response to complaints of errors.

    Planters are just the tip of a very large “iceberg”.

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