Mount Hermon East

Upgrade to telephone mast at Old Woking Road


I have received a letter on behalf of Vodafone who have said that the mobile telephone mast on the highway land adjacent to the Old Woking Road is due for an upgrade. The station is necessary to provide 3G and 4G mobile coverage in the borough.


As this is an upgrade of an existing mobile phone mast base station, there has not been any requirement on Vodafone to consider or identify alternative sides, and the location complies with the council’s local plan policies as well as the planning requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. I am reassured that there are no health implications for residents, and that all Vodafone installations are compliant with guidelines set out by the appropriate regulatory bodies.


Bus route from Woking to Byfleet through Oriental Road


Arriva, the company which runs Surrey’s bus services, will be making some alterations to the route of service 437, which connects Woking town centre with Byfleet.


Instead of travelling along Oriental Road and Heathside Road, buses travelling towards Woking Station will be rerouted to run via Monument Road and Maybury Road to Broadway. The return schedule to Byfleet will continue to leave Woking by using the existing Heathside and Oriental Road route. The new route will come into effect from next Monday 15th December.


I am told that the change has been made to improve reliability although I fail to see how it will make any significant difference other than to pose an inconvenience to residents at the far end of Oriental Road who use the service to travel into the town centre. I have taken the matter up with the Joint Committee but I am afraid the prospect of securing any change is unlikely in the near term. In the meantime, I would encourage residents with mobility issue wishing to board the service to Woking town centre from Oriental Road to alight the bus on the way to Byfleet, which will then come back to the town centre on its return journey, as inconvenient and time consuming as this might be. Those wishing to complain can make their views known by calling Arriva on 0344 800 4411.


White Rose Lane Nature Reserve


This week I will be presenting a Notice of Motion to full council to try and secure a regular schedule of maintenance at the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve, which runs through the woodland beside the Hoe Stream and connects Woking Park to Hoe Bridge School.


The nature reserve is a site of interest to local walking and rambler groups and is home to a significant variety of wildlife including owls, bats, deer and various species of rare fungi and wild flowers. Over the last few years volunteers have been working to carry out scrub clearance and removal of the invasive Himalayan Baslam, which if left uncontrolled could spread across the site and overwhelm the native flowers and fauna.


My Notice of Motion calls on the council to recognise the potential of the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve to be an important amenity and local attraction in Woking. If the motion is approved, the council will identify options and allocate resources for landscaping and improvement so that the nature reserve can be enjoyed by both residens and visitors to the borough.


Access road to St Dunstan’s from Onslow Crescent


Earlier in the summer a number of residents expressed concern about an application for a fire road across the northern boundary playing field of St Dunstan’s school to provide emergency access from Onslow Crescent. It was felt that the proposed access road will take up an unacceptably large proportion of the main playing field, limiting future recreational activity.


Residents also sought reassurances that the school would limit this road to fire access only. Onslow Crescent is already congested at pick up and drop off times, and there were fears that the proposed new access route could be used as a relief road, further exacerbating the problem.


Following these representations my fellow Mount Hermon East ward councillor, Cllr David Bittleston, raised the matter with planning officers and was able to secure a condition which confirmed that the access road will only be used for fire or emergency access. A series of protective restrictions were also put in place, with the council being required to approve any pruning or removal of trees, to ensure taht there would be no loss of amenity for residents.


Roadworks at White Rose Lane


White Rose Lane will be closed for two weeks from today while Affinity Water replace some of the pipes underneath the road between Barrens Park and Wendella Close. Residents who live further along White Rose Lane towards Bylands and Rosewood will have to use an alternative route into town up Maybury Hill or Old Woking Road then along East Hill.


The disruption is inconvenient but necessary to allow Affinity Water to carry out these much needed repair works. I have been given reassurances that the work will be completed in good time. I will be monitoring reports of any noise or disruption to residents and will be happy to take up any complaints from residents directly with the company.


Resurfacing of Pembroke Road


Following representations from my colleague Cllr Liz Bowes, I am pleased to report that Surrey County Council will be resurfacing Pembroke Road in early July. There will be roadworks on the carriageway from Heathside Road to Maybury Hill while the work is ongoing, with temporary restrictions placed on the resurfaced area.


This vital route into Woking from the east of the borough has been in need of repair for some time and I am pleased the County Council has finally made it a priority.


Election Results


Thank you to everyone who turned out at the local elections in Mount Hermon East on Thursday and helped re-elect me as your councillor for a second term. I am grateful for the support that people gave me during the election and for all the kind messages I received both before and after polling day. I will do my best to continue to make sure that your views are well represented and to help resolve any problems whenever they occur.


Overall the Conservatives increased their position on the council, with my colleague Rizwan Shah winning the traditionally Liberal Democrat seat of Goldsworth East, Debbie Harlow taking the third Knaphill seat, and Colin Kemp beating the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Horsell West. They are joined by the extremely talented Ayesha Azad, who takes over from Simon Bellord in Mayford & Sutton Green.


While it was a great night for the Conservatives in Woking, who again bucked the national trend to increase our vote share and representation on the council, it was sad to see Dorothy Farrant lose out by a small margin in Byfleet. Dorothy was an assiduous local champion and I have no doubt she will return to the council when the Byfleet seat comes up for election again next year. It was disappointing to lose in Maybury & Sheerwater, although elections in that community are always unpredictable. My friend Colin Scott also spent a lot of time and effort working in Mount Hermon West and would have been a fantastic councillor, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get him elected this time around.


Both the Woking Advertiser and the Woking News & Mail have written extensively about the elections and you can get a detailed summary of the results here and here.


Potholes on Ashwood Road


While canvasing for the local elections over the weekend I noticed some large potholes towards the bottom of Ashwood Road, particularly outside Wych Elm House.


I reported these to Surrey County Council this afternoon along with other potholes on Heathside Park Road and have asked whether it will be possible for both roads to be added to the list of streets to be resurfaced. The Government has recently announced a new £168m fund for highway maintenance; the county council managed to repair 18,500 potholes across Surrey in the first two months of the year, compared to 14,000 a year earlier.


If you come across any potholes which you think should be looked at you can report them to Surrey County Council online here.


Lion Retail Park


Last night I spoke at a meeting of Woking Borough Council’s Planning Committee on behalf of residents in Little Riding, Oriental Road and Maybury Hill who asked me to object to the application for increased opening hours by the Asda supermarket.


Asda had applied to extend its trading hours from 8am to 7am in the morning, and from 8pm to 11pm in the evening. However, residents are concerned that the location has suffered from traffic, noise, light and air pollution in recent years and believe that the scale of development at the retail park is overtaking the capacity of the local infrastructure to cope with the demand. Some 24 parking spaces have recently been lost owing to the construction of the new Costa Coffee unit.


The Lion Retail Park is an unusual site in that it is in a predominantly residential area with houses in very close proximity to the shops. While residents are not against additional trading and longer opening hours as a matter of principle, they understandably want to make sure that the expansion and development of the retail park is being done in a way that is consistent with its location in what is otherwise a quiet and peaceful part of Woking.


Following my representations, councillors on the Planning Committee voted to restrict opening hours from 8am to 10pm. During the meeting I also obtained reassurances that the council will not allow 24-opening hours at the retail park. I was pleased to be able to secure another victory for my residents and will continue to exercise vigilance to ensure that the quality of life for everyone living near the retail park is protected.


Boundary Review


On Thursday councillors will debate changes to the ward boundaries for local elections. The purpose of the boundary review is to make local elections more balanced by ensuring that all councillors represent a similar number of voters across the borough, and to reduce the number of councillors from 36 to 30, in line with recommendations set out by the Boundary Commission. The council undertook a public consultation on the proposed new wards earlier this year, with displays in the Peacock Centre and Mercia Walk. A total of 195 responses were received, the bulk of which were supportive of the changes.


During the consultation representations were received from Pyrford residents about the boundaries for the new Heath ward, which would have included Pyrford village, Mount Hermon East and parts of Maybury and Sheerwater. Residents were concerned that the new ward would split the historic community of Pyrford across two different seats. At a public meeting about the boundary review last month, some residents also expressed opposition to Pyrford being included in the same ward as Sheerwater – considered to be a very different community in terms of character and needs.


In response to these objections, a number of alternatives were considered which sought to ensure that Pyrford remained within one ward. The new ward will now contain the entire area within the current Pyrford division as well as the Maybury estate, but will exclude Sheerwater and Mount Hermon East. Mount Hermon East will instead merge with the bulk of what is currently Mount Hermon West to create a single Mount Hermon ward. The new seat will run from the Old Woking Road in the east, along White Rose Lane in the south and the railway line in the north, and will extend all the way along York Road and Mount Hermon Road.


I am glad that the new boundaries will retain Mount Hermon as a distinct community within Woking, as this would have been lost under the earlier proposals. The new wards will ensure we have the right number of councillors in the borough to represent residents’ interests. I look forward to supporting the changes when they are debated later this week.