Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.

Improving Oxshott High Street

Of course, no “A” class road should pass through any town or village – other countries, like Denmark, have completely removed such through traffic.  In the longer term Oxshott needs a by-pass.

The Liberal Democrats believe that we can make our Oxshott village centre a pleasant place to be in despite the amount of traffic that flows through the town.  We can shorten travel time for motorists, increase trade for our shops, and make the roads safer for our children and the elderly.  Enable more people to cycle, which will itself also reduce congestion.  Allow people with disabilities and the infirm to navigate their way through the traffic and reduce their stress.

Conventional safety experts will tell you that we need traffic lights, roundabouts, tactile bubble paving and a vast array of signs but it is simply not true.

The following video shows what can be done with the will and the imagination.   If the main road is to be remodelled let us make sure that it is designed to the highest standards.  Don’t let the naysayers sell us short.

If Poynton can achieve these excellent results then surely Oxshott can do so too.  What are your views?

One of the advantages that Poynton had was that the highway authority and the planning authority were the same – Cheshire East Council.  Our planning authority – Elmbridge – and our highway authority – Surrey – are separate but that does not mean that they cannot work together to provide the outcomes we need.

The problems can occur when changes are proposed and there is no discussion between the relevant parties.

For other Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke items click here.

Potholes

Here is an answer to removing potholes from the highway.  Seven Hills Road could be done in one night.

Here is a version with a roller.

Here is a version that cuts and seals too.

Seven Hills Road potholes could be repaired in the early hours (2am to 4am)  – except one or two of the potholes are caused by fallen drain covers, they would have to be lifted first.

Ultimately, Surrey county needs to be in a position to return to a full highway maintenance programme.

Cinema

The Elmbridge Liberal Democrat/Residents’ coalition put forward a proposal for the conversion of the Weybridge Hall into a cinema with flats above.  This was agreed by the council on 19 April this last.

Since our last report the cinema operator has been agreed and a planning application has been made.

Arts cinema would be a great addition to the evening economy with people typically adding a meal or drinks to the occasion and ample parking is available directly opposite.

One of the key aspects of the design is to ensure that the acoustics are perfect not just for the cinema goers but for the residents above and the neighbours surrounding the development.

Another aspect is the parking.  Minorca Road is a small cul de sac in the town centre.  It has had controlled parking for a number of years.  However, recently Surrey county has introduced free parking for non-permit holders for up to one hour.  This has had a detrimental affect on residents’ parking.

When Surrey county ran its recent parking review in Weybridge I had recommended that Minorca Road along with Limes Road had its controlled parking extended into the evening up to 10pm. However, a compromise time of 8pm was offered and in the final round Surrey county withdrew the offer.  Although the Conservatives still run the county administration I hope that we can persuade county to make the change in the next review.

Financial crisis worsens at County Hall as Tories ask Surrey residents to pay more for less

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council (SCC) have criticised the Conservative-administration for budget proposals containing £54m of further cuts to services and a 6% council tax rise. The budget recommendations are due be approved by the County Council on Tuesday 6th February.

Liberal Democrats are concerned that a rise of nearly 6% is “unaffordable for many Surrey residents, particularly for those on fixed incomes”.

Why are they in such a mess?

Liberal Democrats claim that SCC is wasting money by not using or selling buildings it owns in Surrey. In just one financial year, 2016/17, £307,464 was spent on maintaining 20 vacant buildings.

They also point out that SCC is investing in property outside of the county – when it could be investing locally and contributing to the local economy.

Furthermore SCC is not using revenue raised from such investments to support the provision of essential services, despite repeatedly assuring residents that income from commercial property will be reinvested in services. It has even recently earmarked £3.8m of this income to be spent on purchasing more property.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said:

“This budget contains drastic cuts to services such as libraries, road maintenance, services for children and families as well as cuts to support for people with learning disabilities.

She notes it is a failure of the Conservative-administration to get to grips with the financial problems at County Hall, as well as a failure by central government to provide adequate funding to County Councils.

Liberal Democrat Councillors on Surrey are clear that the Conservative administration needs to take its share of the blame for the financial crisis at County Hall and cite the report by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy saying “the Council’s financial plans are not robust and it is at risk of becoming financially unsustainable” and that the council’s financial position was “extremely worrying”. Given the continuing financial mess at County Hall, it is clear the report was entirely correct in its analysis and its warnings have not been heeded.

Councillor Watson also cites the many empty council owned buildings across the county that the County Council has failed to utilise properly, instead letting them decay and incurring hundreds of thousands of pounds of costs keeping them empty, in some cases for over a decade. In just one financial year, 2016/17, £307,464 was spent on maintaining 20 vacant buildings. This is a straightforward waste of money and a missed opportunity to bring in capital receipts or rental income which would have improved the County Council’s financial position.

“Because of the financial crisis at County Hall, the Conservative-administration is now gambling about £200m of pounds of council tax payers’ money on purchasing commercial property, such as warehouses and office blocks, hundreds of miles away from Surrey. This is risky and will not promote economic growth within the county as so many of the properties are so far away.

“Every day, the County Council is acting more like a property investment company rather than a local authority. Even the Government, in a recent piece of guidance, had to remind councils like Surrey County Council that “local authorities need to remember that their prime duty is to deliver statutory services for local residents” – this is something that the Conservative-administration has clearly forgotten.

“This budget is a bad deal for Surrey residents, who are being asked to pay more for less. The County Council’s own survey of residents revealed that only 37% of people believed that the County Council provided value for money. Surrey residents should not have to pick up the bill or lose essential services because of the failures of this Conservative-administration”

Calling time on recycling centres

As you may have heard, Surrey County Council is reducing the opening hours of many of our well-used Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) and you can no longer dispose of “non-household waste” for free.

Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have opposed these charges as we believe that fly-tipping will increase as a result and that instead the County Council should be doing everything possible to make it easier for residents to dispose of their waste responsibly.

There are now restrictions on which CRCs can be used by vans, trailers and pickups, as well as a reduction in opening hours across most sites.

You can find out more.

Grenside Road unsafe for children and residents

Grenside Road residents are concerned for safety in the area behind St George’s Junior School. Local resident Sarah Groves has written to her SCC councillor saying: “Since the Junior School’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ system was put in place there has been an increase in the volume of traffic on Grenside – parents are now approaching the School via Grenside from Grotto Road and from Thames Street via Convent Lane and then onto Grenside. This at peak times causes chaos especially when there is nowhere to turn safely as Grenside Road is effectively a cul-de-sac. The whole fabric of the road and pavements has deteriorated due to the high volume of traffic with vehicles turning and reversing onto pavements – churning the surface up with their SUVs.”

She adds: “There is no traffic management system in place i.e. parking restrictions, speed limit signs, nor in fact the triangular signs showing children crossing; and the rear entrance/exit of the school has no clear yellow zigzags, that are outside every other school where children enter and leave.”

Despite efforts of local Elmbridge councillors and strong lobbying by Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Davis to have Grenside Road included in the Surrey County Council (SCC) Strategic Review of parking in Weybridge, SCC refused to budge from their original view and Grenside was excluded from consideration.

16 January SCC conducted a Road Safety on Outside Schools Assessment.  We’ll report on its outcome.

Crisis in care

Our care system is broken. Austerity policies, reduced central grants to councils and an ageing population together have brought us near to crisis. This is a national problem, felt locally. It is made worse when local councils have mis-managed their budgets. In Surrey, Conservative Surrey County Council (SCC) kept rate increases lower than they needed to and made costly investment errors. As result SCC has to make serious cuts in services to our needy elderly and high-dependency younger adults.

There are now more people being refused help because their needs are “not great enough”; less support for voluntary services, and a greater dependence on regular input from family members to take care of basic needs – no good if you have no family locally, or if they are worn out by caring.

In 2011, the Liberal Democrats in government led a review of care. The resulting Dilnot report and legislation designed to fix funding of care have been ignored by Conservative governments. We need reform, and soon.

Blackspots in Weybridge

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ON OUR ROADS

Many Weybridge residents are acutely aware of the traffic dangers in their neighbourhoods and on the roads they use as they go about their lives. Five local ‘black spots’ have been brought to our attention recently: Grenside Road (behind Thames Street), the junction by the station (again), Mayfield Road, Princes Road and Pine Grove and now Minorca Road.  All for different reasons, but each an example of why we need action to make our roads safer for all users.  In all cases Surrey County Council have a role to play in bringing about improvements.  Do you know of other roads where the risk of an accident is greater than average?

To let us know – email vicki.macleod@elmbridgelibdems.org.uk

In this article, we are highlighting the problems for residents of Grenside Road.

In Grenside Road the problem has been caused by a ‘kiss and drop’ policy for pupils at St George’s Junior School. In its efforts to encourage safety on Thames Street, the school has opened a back entrance to the school.  This now means that parents drive in to Grenside Road and park on the pavements. This has not solved the safety problem, it has simply transferred it to Grenside, where it is felt acutely by the residents who are lobbying Surrey to improve safety. They have been supported in this by Portmore Park and District Residents Association and the Lib Dems.

The local Surrey councillor has referred the matter to SCC Highways, but nothing has happened yet, despite the safety issues.

Dangers include: risk of a collision when exiting garages in the morning due to poor visibility, risk to young children going in to and leaving the school who are hidden by the bonnets of parental SUVs; risk to local pedestrians – especially those in buggies or with prams –  who are prevented from using their pavements because they are blocked by parked parents dropping off their children. The parking here is so intense at school drop off and collect time that people have been known to park on the grass between pavement and gardens.

Despite efforts of local Elmbridge Councillors and strong lobbying by Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Davis to have Grenside Road included in SCC’s Strategic Review of parking in Weybridge, SCC refused to budge from their original view and Grenside was excluded from consideration.

Possible solutions

Local resident Sarah Groves has written to her SCC councillor saying; “Local residents feel that this road has been completely ignored . . .. Since the Junior School’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ system was put in place there has been an increase in the volume of traffic on Grenside – parents are now approaching the School via Grenside from Grotto Road and from Thames Street via Convent Lane and then onto Grenside, this at peak times causes chaos especially when there is nowhere to turn safely –  Grenside Road is effectively a cul-de-sac.  The whole fabric of the road and pavements has deteriorated due to the high volume of traffic with vehicles turning and reversing onto pavements – churning the surface up with their SUV’s.”

She adds: “There is no traffic management system in place i.e. parking restrictions, speed limit signs, nor in fact the triangular signs showing children crossing; and the rear entrance/exit of the school has no clear yellow zigzags, that are outside every other school where children enter and leave.”

Local Lib Dem Vicki Macleod says “We were stunned that Surrey did not include Grenside Road in the strategic review of parking: it is a prime example of where a small intervention could have a big and positive impact on safety. We will continue to suport local residents in their quest to make Grenside safe for children and residents.”