I’m delighted to have been formally adopted to stand for re-election as the Conservative candidate for the combined ward of Mount Hermon at the Woking Borough Council elections to be held on Thursday 5th May. The election will be the first under the new boundaries, which have seen the separate seats of Mount Hermon East and Mount Hermon West abolished and replaced with a single three member ward. The boundary review was part of a plan by the Conservative administration to reduce the cost of local government and is expected to save taxpayers around £60,000 per year.
It’s been immensely rewarding to have represented Mount Hermon East for the last six years. Whether it’s been helping to secure better parking enforcement around the station, working with Surrey County Council to deliver traffic calming measures in areas like Park Road and Old Woking Road, working to protect the character of areas like White Rose Lane or the Hockering, or using my position as Chairman of the Licensing Committee to steer through a tougher stance on shops and licensed premises promoting anti-social behaviour, I feel I’ve made a positive impact during my time as a councillor. A particular highlight was successfully campaigning for Second World War veterans of the Arctic Convoys living in the borough to be presented with the prestigious Ushakov Medal in a special ceremony at the civic offices.
Looking ahead, there are a number of important decisions coming up and I would like to continue my good work ensuring that residents’ interests are well represented. I hope to be able to see through improvements and footpath access at the White Rose Lane Nature Reserve, an issue I have been campaigning on for some time. I have also pressed the council and Network Rail to smarten Victoria Arch and am pleased that after years of pressure there is now progress to report. There are further works in the pipeline to improve Woking town centre through the Victoria Square project, and a planned redesign of Woking station to facilitate more frequent commuter services in and out of London. There will also be contentious debates about the level of affordable housing we need in the borough, about how the new Hoe Valley School is to be funded, and whether to go ahead with the redevelopment of Sheerwater.
Under the Conservatives, Woking has been transformed, with new shops, restaurants, job opportunities and school provision. It would be an honour if Mount Hermon residents felt able to reward this record and my own hard work by allowing me the privilege of continuing to represent them on the council.
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’m pleased to report that County Councillor Liz Bowes and I have been successful in persuading Surrey County Council to introduce traffic calming measures in areas of Mount Hermon where residents have complained about problems with speeding.
After a number of accidents at the junction of Old Woking Road and Maybury Hill, the County Council agreed at a recent meeting of the Local Committee to introduce traffic islands on the approach to Maybury Hill to narrow the lanes and encourage drivers to reduce their speed. The pedestrian island on Maybury Hill will also be moved closer to Old Woking Road to make the junction more visible to traffic approaching from Old Woking and coming into the town through Byfleet. The County Council will also put down coloured anti-skid material to highlight the junction and make it easier for drivers to brake at short notice should the need arise.
The improvements at the junction have been on the County Council’s work programme for some time and the area was also independently highlighted as a collision cluster site at the most recent Road Safety Working Group, so I am pleased that the changes will be delivered before the end of the financial year.
Following representations from residents, the County Council has also agreed to introduce and fund a build-out feature on Park Road to encourage motorists to watch their speed. I went out with the local SpeedWatch patrol last year and saw for myself how bad the traffic is along this road, so it is good that the need for effective traffic calming measures at this location has finally been recognised.