Fringe Box



Town Pavements Look ‘Unloved, Abandoned and Neglected’ But SCC Says ‘Major Repairs’ Planned

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

By Hugh Coakley

Pedestrian pavements in parts of the town centre look “unloved, abandoned and neglected” says a Guildford resident.

“Unloved, abandoned and neglected” said one resident describing the patchwork of stone paving, cracked slabs and tarmac infills in this busy area at the bottom of North Street.

Surrey County Council (SCC), the authority responsible for the maintenance of the roads including the paving in the town, responded saying it will be “carrying out a major repair of Guildford High Street soon, as well as Swan Lane later this year”.

When asked for a programme for the works, an SCC spokesperson said: “No exact dates but we know Swan Lane will be this year.”

Results of a Dragon survey in North Street and the High Street on March 22 revealed new paving slabs cracking within months of being laid and mortar repairs to existing cracked slabs breaking up, showing the repairs to be temporary at best.

Stone paving slabs in High Street replaced around four months ago with distinctively different, light grey concrete slabs. But already, one of the seven new slabs is cracked. Who is supervising the contractor?

SCC says the contractor checks his own work. An SCC spokesperson said: “All repairs are carried out, managed and supervised by our contractor and if the works do not meet required standards, the contractor is liable to rectify this at their own cost.”

The Dragon survey, and previous Dragon articles, casts doubt on whether this approach of self-certification is working.

A new contractor, Ringway, took over the highways maintenance contract from the previous contractor, Kier, at the begining of April 2022.

A relatively new paving slab outside of Olivio’s in Quarry Street is cracked, casting doubt on either the materials used or the workmanship. “I wouldn’t accept this on my patio, never mind in the public realm” said one resident.

Stone slabs (thought to be York stone) in the High Street have been replaced in areas with infill tarmac and, more recently outside the Ted Baker shop, with light grey concrete slabs.

If this approach to pavement maintenance continues, the iconic street with the recently relaid granite setts, could start to look as patchwork as parts of North Street.

A recent mortar repair to a cracked paving slab in the High Street is already unravelling. How long will this repair last?

There were also 26 areas where the survey measured steps in the pavements greater than the 20mm. This is the maximum considered safe before a repair is required under SCC policies.

There are some locations where pavements have been cracked for years by heavy vehicles such as outside The Friary. Solutions may include installing bollards to prevent lorries over-running the kerbs and would allow the area to be repaired and tidied up.

It is likely these cracked pavements outside The Friary have been damaged by heavy vehicles but they have been in this state for years. SCC appear to have accepted this mess in Guildford’s town centre instead of finding a solution.

An Italian national, resident in Guildford for seven years, said: “It’s unkempt. The pavement kind of matches the state of the town. It looks unloved, abandoned and neglected. There seems to be no passion to make it better”.

A retired resident said he worried about using light shoes in Guildford “in case you turn your heel over”.

The pavement is extensively cracked outside the Guildford Museum in Quarry Street.

Looking at the pavement outside of Guildford Museum in Quarry Street, he criticised the workmanship saying: “It’s a cheap jack sort of job, short-termism rather than just doing the job properly. If they did this on my patio, never mind in the public realm, I wouldn’t accept it”.

Husband and wife visitors from Crawley said: “We come here for the historic town and the shops. It’s OK in parts but some areas look bad”.

Four new slabs in North Street / Market Street were installed in 2019. Now three are cracked and one replaced with tarmac. SCC says the contractor is checking his own work. Why should this be accepted?

A spokesperson for Surrey County Council said: “We understand that residents and business want pavements and public spaces to be as attractive and safe as possible, and we share that desire.

“That is why we will be carrying out a major repair of Guildford High Street soon, as well as Swan Lane later this year. We recognise the prestigious nature of Guildford High Street and the pavements just off it, and we carry out more frequent monthly inspections on these areas.

New paving slabs in North Street at the new elevated crossing are extensively cracked. Is it heavy vehicles or workmanship? Either way, the potential solutions including bollards or better supervision do not appear to be used.

“For example during the April inspection, 13 safety defects were identified along the High Street pavements and these were repaired within required response times.

“It’s also important to note that it is sometimes necessary to carry out urgent safety repairs in Tarmac, with follow up repairs reinstating original materials carried out later through planned works, like those mentioned above.

An unsightly mess at the top of North Street. Is this the standard of public realm pavements we have come to accept in the rich town of Guildford?

“It is also possible to report defects online, which will be investigated ad hoc, in addition to routine inspections.”

It is likely these cracked pavements outside The Friary have been damaged by heavy vehicles but they have been in this state for years.

We asked SCC councillors Angela Goodwin (Lib Dem, Guildford South-West and GBC Friary & St Nicolas) and Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South-East) and GBC councillors John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) and Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) for a comment.

In stark contrast to the state of pavements in Guildford, the pavements in the market town of Brecon in Powys, Wales, seen on a recent holiday, looked well laid, uniform, uncracked and attractive.

See Dangerous And Scary Pavements In Guildford Draw Widespread Criticism

Share This Post

Responses to Town Pavements Look ‘Unloved, Abandoned and Neglected’ But SCC Says ‘Major Repairs’ Planned

  1. Wayne Smith Reply

    April 24, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    The pavements in the upper High Street have been in a terrible state for years and I seem to recall a previous Dragon article on this pre-pandemic. More empty promises from SCC?

  2. Marilyn Strange Reply

    April 25, 2022 at 7:12 am

    It is clearly a sign of very poor workmanship, the “bodgit and scarper” brigade. The county council will wait until accidents and they are sued, costing thousands.

    Get a decent contractor and pay for a decent job. Not only unsightly but highly dangerous in places by the way my husband has had a building company for many years (retired now), has often said it is cheap and shoddy workmanship.

  3. Barry Williams Reply

    April 25, 2022 at 8:42 am

    Not only paving slabs, the stone setts at the bottom of Mill Lane have an area of tarmac infill, now over five-months-old.

    SCC says the contractor has six months to rectify from the time of original works. Time’s almost up.

  4. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    April 26, 2022 at 10:40 am

    It has been decided to classify Guildford Park Avenue as “town centre”.

    Some areas of pavement are in a very poor state. After a complaint from the Guide Dogs Association, some very uneven parts were roughly filled in with tarmac which appears to be sinking.

    The pavement from Ridgemount to the Co-op is positively dangerous, and my blind neighbour has been advised by her trainer to not attempt to use that route unless accompanied.

    The pharmacy is always very busy, with many elderly customers. The whole area is an accident waiting to happen. Cllr Furniss seems very keen to tarmac areas for cycle “super-highways” whilst allowing pavements to disintegrate.

  5. Martin Elliott Reply

    April 26, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    Whilst it is useful to understand the extent of the issue, whether the issue is the timing of the repairs or their quality, the latter I hope is of most concern to Cllr Matt Furniss, the SCC Cabinet member for Transport (although not mentioned).

    Despite with the change of long term contractor, the self regulation and approval of works will continue.
    So much of the above complaint is that the works are inadequate, but we’re approved by the contractor to allow payment.

    How much monitoring or auditing of completion certificates is done by SCC? It would seem the present system, that continues with a new contractor, is not fit for purpose.

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 *