Mount Hermon East
As readers of this blog will know, I have been pressing Surrey County Council to take better care of the grass verges along Oriental Road. Residents have been complaining for some time about the state of the grass, which was dug up during roadworks back in 2013. While the grass was re-planted once the work was complete, it has not been able to grow back due to a small minority of motorists parking illegally and inconsiderately across the verges.
In response to these complaints, Surrey County Council planted trees at the top end of Oriental Road at the beginning of the year and also recently agreed to place two bollards on one particularly troublesome patch of grass to prevent it from being used to park vehicles.
I have now been told that both bollards were dug up and stolen over the weekend, less than a day after being installed. While I appreciate that some drivers will have become used to leaving their vehicles on the grass and paid little attention to reminders that this is public land which should not be used to park cars, I find it astonishing that someone would go to the trouble of digging up and removing council owned bollards. This shows a serious disregard for other people and public property. It is also a financial loss to the taxpayer as the bollards will need to be replaced and further work carried out to secure them and ensure they can’t be removed.
I am liaising with Surrey Highways to see what can be done and in the meantime I would encourage anyone who has information about the removal of the bollards to contact Surrey County Council directly.
During the meeting of Full Council earlier this week I asked what estimate the council has made of the success of the various outdoor music and entertainment events that were held in Woking Park this summer. While most of the events that took place over the last few months have been small concerts involving local schools and community groups, positive feedback has been received about two larger events, Party in the Park and the Big Gig.
Party in the Park was run by council officers and had over 15,000 visitors throughout the course of the day, double the number of visitors in previous years. Satisfaction surveys were completed by visitors and the average score received for the event was 9 out of 10. The Big Gig was organised by the Phoenix Cultural Centre and they too had a great day with very enthusiastic feedback.
As a supplementary I also asked what steps the council takes to let residents in areas adjacent to the park know when such events are happening and what measures are put in place to ensure they are not overly disruptive. I was told the council does appreciate the high impact these events have on neighbouring residents and they try to use early notification and advertising so people know when they will be taking place.
The council tries to encourage the use of public transport for people getting events in the park as this helps to minimise disruption from traffic. For some events the council has people on site to monitor noise levels to ensure that they are not creating a nuisance.
Apart from the fireworks in November, most of the events hosted in the park take place during the day in the summer months, and such concerts are relatively rare, so I feel the right balance has been struck between getting the most out of this important amenity and public space and also making such that residents in Mount Hermon, who benefit from the park all year round, are not excessively disrupted.
I’ve been informed that there will be further diversions around Onslow Crescent, Shaftsbury Road and Pembroke Road for two weeks from Tuesday 11th August, so the County Council can take forward highway maintenance and resurfacing. The work will take place between the hours of 8:30am and 5:30pm and is not expected to take longer than two weeks.
As with the repairs on White Rose Lane, access will be maintained for residents and emergency services although any other vehicle found to be obstructing the highway will be moved to a suitable location after all reasonable efforts have been made to contact the owners.
While I appreciate this will cause some inconvenience, I am told that the work is necessary and residents will of course benefit from the resurfacing of parts of these roads, which is long overdue.
I’ve just received notice from Surrey County Council that White Rose Lane will be temporarily closed to traffic between the junction with Ashwood Road and Cleardown for five days, starting from this Wednesday 22nd July. The purpose of the closure is to enable the highways authority to carry out urgent repair works.
The restrictions will only operate when traffic signs are displayed, and access will be maintained for pedestrians, business and emergency vehicles and those living in the area. Access will instead be diverted via Ashwood Road, Heathfield Road, and through the Hockering, and so residents in these areas may notice more traffic than usual.
Should residents have any complaints about these works, they can contact Surrey Highways on 01483 517514.
I have today written to Woking Borough Council to express my opposition to the inclusion of the Oriental Road car park in the council’s Development Plan Document (DPD). This document, which can be read here, sets out how the council intends to meet its target of building another 4,964 homes in Woking between now and 2027. The council has suggested that the car park could be used to build a high density tower block with aroud 220 new flats to help meet Woking’s housing needs.
While I agree that, with the demand we have for new homes in Woking, we need to look at whether we can meet our needs through brownfield land and sites which are already developed, and I accept that the bulk of new houses and flats in the borough will be built in the town centre, I believe Oriental Road is not a suitable location for the kind of high rise flats which we have seen elsewhere on Guildford Road and around the station. The houses along Oriental Road are small and suburban in character and a big flatted development would be totally out of keeping with the surroundings. Should the council decide that the car park is fit for a large scale housing development, it would go against a previous promise that Oriental Road should retain its distinct and peaceful character with one or two storey family homes rather than high density buildings.
I am also concerned that removing capacity at Oriental Road car park and replacing it with further housing could exacerbate problems with traffic and parking around the station. Woking station is extremely busy and can be gridlocked in the mornings and afternoons. Removing the car park without first putting in alternative provision would be a recipe for chaos.
Although no planning application is expected to come forward for the site within the next 11 to 15 years, and the land is not currently available for residental development, it is important that residents in Oriental Road make their views known if we are to protect the character of the area in the future. I’d encourage everyone, not just in Oriental Road, but all over the borough, to engage with the consultation and have their say.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 5pm on Friday 31 July and residents can view the draft DPD at www.woking2027.info.
Last weekend I went to see residents in Park Road who had an unusual complaint. Foxes have been dragging bin bags into their garden from a neighbouring property, ripping them open and scattering the contents across their gardens. Unfortunately, in this instance, the rubbish bags contain not just household waste, but medical or clinical waste such as used catheters, soiled items of clothing and blood or urine soaked cotton wool. This is obviously quite distressing for residents who have to clean up such materials as well as being extremely unhygienic.
I’ve taken the issue up with the council’s environmental health department, who are aware of the problem. We have agreed that the best way forward is to send a letter to all the neighbouring properties, outlining the situation and asking them to ensure that their rubbish is properly secured and that any clinical waste or soiled clothingis is disposed of appropriately and not simply left out in a black sack. This letter has gone out to over 40 properties and hopefully once the person responsible realises the impact of their actions, they will take steps to stop foxes from disturbing their bin bags.
If the council receives further complaints then we will look at doing some site visits to try and establish where the waste has come from. From looking at the council’s records, there are several properties around Park Road which have clinical waste collections, but it may be that some residents receive their supplies from hospitals or have been putting their waste into normal rubbish collections. If you live in the immediate area and have a similar problem, please do let me know.
I’ve just been sent a report by Surrey County Council which gives a breakdown of all the funding agreed by the Joint Committee in our respective areas. Each borough in Surrey has an allocated budget for expenditure such as highway maintenance, while county councillors have an allocation which they can use to fund projects or work such as traffic calming measures or vehicle activated road signs in their ward.
The report includes some of the improvements that my colleagues and I have delivered for Mount Hermon. It highlights the trees which were planted at my instigation along Oriental Road and across from Heathside Crescent. It also mentions the new traffic calming measures on Pembroke Road and the resurfacing of Onslow Crescent.
Over the next few months I intend to raise further items for consideration including the need for new streetlights, for old road signs to be replaced, and for further traffic calming measures where appropriate. If you are aware of any local causes or projects which need financing in Mount Hermon, please do let me know and I would be happy to discuss it with my County Council colleagues or raise it at the Joint Committee.
Shortly before the election I held a meeting with people who live in the properties at the bottom end of White Rose Lane towards the junction with Old Woking Road. Residents have been campaigning for additional measures to reduce the speed of traffic coming into Woking from the east of the borough. Although White Rose Lane already has a number of speed reduction features built in, the numerous blind curves, the narrowness of the road and the lack of a proper footpath beyond the Jack & Jill steps makes it a particularly treacherous route for pedestrians.
Earlier in the year residents submitted a petition to Surrey County Council calling for the introduction of a 20mph speed limit. Unfortunately, that proposal was not accepted on the grounds that very few roads in Woking have such a low limit.
My County Council colleague Liz Bowes and I are currently working with officers to explore what could be done to install a footpath which would run from Toad Hall in White Rose Lane to the corner of Old Woking Road. There are, however, a number of obstacles which need to be looked at carefully. There are uncertain land ownership issues, with part of the highway and pavement being owned by Woking Borough Council, other parts being owned by Surrey County Council, and others being privately owned by residents. There is also the lack of a consensus in favour of a footpath, with some residents being strongly opposed. The fact that this part of White Rose Lane is so narrow also presents logistical difficulties, and, even if a solution can be found, there are a lot of demands on the highways budget and the project will need to compete with other areas which are also looking for funding.
As a first step, Councillor Bowes and I have arranged a meeting between White Rose Lane residents Surrey County Council officers Alan Milne and Keith Patching, to take place on Tuesday 16th June. The purpose of this meeting will be to identify ownership of the land running along White Rose Lane and to discuss ways in which we can either reduce speeding along the road or make pedestrian access safer. Separately to this, I have also contacted Serco and asked them to carry out remedial work on the shrubbery between Toad Hall and the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve so the road can be made easier to navigate for those walking along this route.
Once this meeting with highway officers has been held we will be able to decide the next best steps. I will continue to keep residents updated and ensure they are a part of the discussion.
Surrey County Council plans to introduce a series of traffic calming measures to improve safety and reduce vehicle speeds along Pembroke Road, Onslow Crescent and Shaftesbury Road. This follows an ongoing campaign by myself and County Councillor Liz Bowes for more effective restrictions on speeding through this part of Woking, as well as the diligent efforts of local SpeedWatch volunteers.
Among the proposed features are speed cushions outside Beechwood and Ferndale, and at the junction with Onslow Crescent. A road table will also run along Pembroke Road from Woodside and Ringers Oak.
A copy of the plans showing the location of each speed hump and the road table can be examined at the civic offices in Gloucester Square, or at Quadrant Court on Guildford Road. If you have any comments or wish to object to the proposals, you should send your representations to the Traffic Regulation Orders Team, Rowan House, Merrow Lane, Guildford, Surrey, GU4 7BQ no later than the end of the month.
A number of residents have complained that the footpath running from White Rose Lane and the Hoe Stream to St John the Baptist School and Old Woking is in a bad state of repair, with trip hazards from overgrown branches and hedges and the poorly maintained fence. The route is difficult to navigate, particularly for elderly people, during the daytime and is unwelcoming in the dark.
My fellow ward councillor, Cllr David Bittleston, and I have taken this matter up with Serco and with the officer responsible for neighbourhood services to see if we can get some remedial action taken. We will update residents as soon as we have anything to report.