Monthly Archives: October 2013
Several residents have contacted me to complain about inconsiderate parking on the grass verges along Oriental Road. This has prevented the grass from growing back fully after the roadworks earlier in the summer. Residents have asked whether it would be possible for bollards to be installed along Oriental Road to prevent people from parking their cars on the verges.
I have raised this matter with both Woking Borough Council parking enforcement and with Surrey County Council, who are the responsible highways authority. The council has asked civil enforcement officers to step up patrols and issue warning notices to any cars parked on the grass verges. Normal enforcement action and patrols along Oriental Road will continue during the 8:30am to 6pm controlled period.
In terms of a longer term solution, the County Council is reluctant to agree to the installation of bollards or wooden posts at this stage as they are concerned that this could move problems with inconsiderate parking further down the street towards the Lion Retail Park. I have therefore agreed that the matter should be kept under review and that we see whether the increased patrols make any difference. Should further action be required, it is possible for our county councillor to take a request for bollards or another form of verge protection to the Local Committee, or alternatively to fund such a measure out of her local allocation allowance.
Following a complaint from residents opposite the Lion Retail Park, I also asked the council’s parking enforcement officers to make representations to Surrey County Council about their vehicles parking in Little Riding during the recent night works on Maybury Hill. I have received assurances that this was a one-off and should not happen again.
A meeting of Woking Borough Council’s Licensing Committee last week decided against introducing an additional charge on licensed premises in the borough which serve alcohol after midnight.
Under powers granted to local authorities under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, councils have the right to impose a charge, known as a late night levy, on pubs and nightclubs that operate into the early hours of the morning, with any money collected being split with the police and used to cover the costs associated with late night drinking.
The council also has the power to issue an Early Morning Restriction Order, which would apply retrospectively to all licensed premises and prohibit alcohol sales after a chosen hour.
The Licensing Committee has voted to recommend to the Executive that neither a late night levy nor an Early Morning Restriction Order are introduced in Woking at present. This is because of the relatively small number of establishments likely to be affected, and the fact that the sums raised would be small. Any money collected needs to be split with 70% going to Surrey Police and only 30% going to the council. Most councillors agreed that the imposition of a late night levy would be an extra tax on the pub trade at a time when it is already struggling in the current economic climate. Concerns were also raised that declaring an Early Morning Restriction Order would be arbitrary, suggest there is a problem with out of control binge drinking and anti-social behaviour in Woking, and drive patrons to neighbouring boroughs such as Guildford.
Out of more than three hundred councils in the country, only ten are considering a late night levy so it was agreed no action would be taken at present, and that it would be best to monitor the situation in the town centre and learn from the experience of other councils before revisiting the use of these powers in the future.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance has published an article I have written for their blog on how Woking Borough Council has taken steps to reduce waste and expenditure by cutting the cost of administration and embracing outsourcing and partnership working to provide more efficient public services and better value for money.
Although there is still much to be done, I believe the council can be proud of our achievements over the past few years in terms of rejuvenating Woking town centre and delivering major redevelopment projects such as the Hoe Valley scheme, while also reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and freezing council tax in three out of the last four years.
Last night Woking Borough Council’s Licensing Committee considered a report prepared by the Taxi Trade Working Group on the council’s emission standards and vehicle replacement policy for licensed taxis. The Licensing Committee appointed myself, Cllr Anne Murray and Cllr Ken Howard to the Task Group in June to investigate concerns raised by the taxi trade about the introduction of the Euro 5 emission standards and NCAP 5 safety rating for all licensed taxis from 6th January 2014.
The Task Group held a public consultation throughout September and met earlier this month to consider the representations it received, as well as a petition submitted to the council by Cllr Muzzafar Ali which requested a two year delay before the new requirements were introduced.
After a lengthy discussion and having looked at all the evidence, the Task Group has recommended that the decision to bring in Euro 5 in January 2014 should stay in force, but said drivers who do need to change vehicles before the deadline should beneift from that purchase for longer. The Task Group has therefore suggested that the introduction of more stringent Euro 6 standards, originally scheduled for 2018, be pushed back to January 2022. The Task Group will also be recommending that the mandatory CO2 charge that drivers need to pay to fund green projects in the borough be scrapped and replaced with a voluntary levy.
The report received strong support from the Licensing Committee and from the Conservative portfolio holder and Liberal Democrat shadow portfolio holder. The committee approved the Task Group’s recommendation by eight votes, with two abstentions. Our report will now go to the Executive for final approval in November.