Walton Car Parks Refurbishment

Ashley Park and Dewitt’s Court car parks are now to be refurbished and works in Ashley Park has begun already..

After many years of neglect, the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration has decided to refurbish all the car parks in the borough – beginning with two of Walton’s car parks.

This multi-million pound project will take place over a number of years but the Liberal Democrats aspire to reach a higher standard for the borough rather than the patch and mend policies of previous administrations.

Ashley Park car park has been a poor state for decades with many complaints about the rough surface.  Rather than mend it, previous administrations simply offered a discount parking charge for a poor quality car park. The Liberal Democrats intend to bring the car park up to standard and, once that is done, bring the charges in line with other similar car parks.

Under previous administrations, car park charges have been set across the borough on a three year cycle.  The pattern of use of each car park is more often than not quite different from its neighbours and that pattern can change over time.  This has meant that some parks are beginning to overfill while others find their usage has declined.

All car parks are now reviewed on a frequent basis to check that the charging does not mean a car park is full  – who wants to turn up at a car park that does not have a parking spot?  The same review will look to reduce charges if the car park is hardly used.  At the moment the charge for parking is the same throughout the day – in future, as appropriate, the rates will vary to maximise the utility of each car park.

Automatic Payment Parking comes to Weybridge

Work begins in September for a ticketless payment system for Churchfields car park. There will be several options but most locals will probably choose to simply drive in – drive out and pay on account.

No longer will you have to guess you length of your stay.  If you bump into a friend whilst shopping you can can have a coffee or lunch without going to fill the meter.  No need for coins either.

Convenience

Unlike many car parks elsewhere you will not even have to pay on exit via a pay-station. You simply drive out.

Of course, non-locals will have to use a pay station – unless they choose to register their vehicle on account.

Costs

Although the new car park should be a great benefit to users it will cost the borough a loss in revenue of around £30,000 a year.  This is currently what is collected from parking fines.  With barriered pay on exit parking penalties will reduce almost to nothing.

Some might say that the borough should have increased the parking charges to cover the cost of the proposals.  However, the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration decided to recommend the full council agree this proposal without changing the charges in any way.

The main reason is that people might develop different parking habits from before and we felt it would be prudent to see what changes, if any, might be required.

Charge by the minute not the hour

So charges will remain at current levels.  After a few months we will be able to assess the new usage pattern and new, more flexible, charging arrangements could be introduced – possible pay only for the minutes used rather than the mainly current hourly system.  As ever, there will be consultations before any payment charge proposal are introduced.

We have reasonable confidence that once the barriers are installed the level of parking charge evasion will decrease to almost zero and therefore the revenue will increase by between 10% to 30%.  We’ll see.  As we get closer to the launch date we will be sending out more detailed information.

Maintaining your assets

The borough maintains 97 car parks across Elmbridge.  They ranging from our town centres through to our commons.

In becoming portfolio holder for transport in May 2016 Cllr Andrew Davis asked for a current valuation and maintenance programme for all the car parks.  Unfortunately, apart from Drewitt’s Court this had not been undertaken for many years.  Perhaps the previous Conservative administration thought the car parks could mend themselves.

A condition survey was undertaken in 2016 to identify the state of the borough’s car parks and the financial commitments for repairs over the next five years. The full cost to bring the car park up to standard is £13m.

The borough’s obligations relating to Drewitts Court in order to comply with the terms of the existing leases, require that a structural evaluation of the ramp be undertaken immediately and that the repairs be carried out as quickly as possible. It is likely that the full cost will be £1,500,000.

To catch up with the amount of maintenance required for the other car parks the borough plans to spend up to £6m over the next three years.

However, with the high need for social housing, the pressure to build over car parks is high. Not all car parks are suitable but those that are should not given comprehensive repairs until their housing status is known.

Naturally, the order of work and indeed what work will be done will be undertaken with full consultation with local councillors.  A full management programme will be produced for each car park for while they are being reconstructed.  Dewetts Court will take much longer so will have a special plan.  It is likely to begin in January so us not to clash with the Christmas season.

Grotto Pub Site

Grotto Pub Site webMany of you will know of the Grotto Pub Site.  It was my local when I moved here over thirty years ago.

On Monday next a planning application (2015/2042) will be presented for the demolition of the pub and the building of nine one-bedroom flats.

There will be no provision for cars on the site because the site is adjacent to the town centre and therefore it is considered to be in a sustainable location.  What do you think the likelihood is that none of the new 9 to 18 occupants of this development would have a car?   Where would they park?  A local told be recently that if a development was not expected to be occupied by car-owners then that should be written into the lease of the occupancy – as it is in London.  Interesting idea – what do you think?

The junction of Monument Hill and Baker Street is not, to say the least, optimal.  The sight lines are poor – the new wall might make it worse.  The curvature of the Baker Street entrance encourages speed.  The new development will reduce the width of the pavement – presently people walk over the front of the Grotto to pass each other.  These are not the fault of the proposal.

The flats are entirely north facing – so the occupants could not be in their flats and overlook Hillcrest.

I welcome your views on this prominent site.

Parking Charges Up over 25%

Elmbridge metersThe cost of parking in the borough’s car parks is set to rise from around 25% to 300% over the next three years.  On 8 July the Conservative cabinet decided to recommend that there would be increases across the board.  This evening the full council approved the cabinet’s recommendation using its Conservative majority.

I voted against.  My view is that car-park pricing should be developed using a clear and understandable logic that everyone could understand – even if they did not agree with some of the outcomes.  The current charging policy is not consistent across the borough nor it is based on clearly defined principles.  For more details click here.  As ever, your thoughts are very welcome.

Baker Street Car Park

Following requests for better access to the path behind Morrisons from Baker Street Car Park, I asked for the railing to be removed and a parking space to be set aside for pedestrians.

Railings
The administration does not want to remove the railings because it does not want to establish a right of way across the car park into the store.  The administration’s objective is to maximize the value of the land it owns and a right of way could considerably reduce that value.

Path access
The administration has accepted that the access to the path should be made easier and the borough’s parking services team are in the process of ‘packaging’ the proposal with a few other areas to try and ensure economy of scale and best value.  There is no specific timescale at the moment, but they expect it will take another few weeks to finalise these elements.

Morrisons

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallThank you for all your questions and comments.  These are the answers that Morrison gave me today at our meeting.

When will Monument Hill be opened?  This afternoon.

Will all of the street work be complete?  No there will be short closures from time to time.  The pedestrian crossing is still to be finished and the landscaping will be completed in November – apparently the best time to plants trees.

What about the illumined sign at the rear of the store?  Morrisons says it will look again at the sign facing Baker Street.

What about the contractor parking problem?  Morrisons says that it has made park and ride facilities available to all contractors so if anyone finds any problem parking then call Simon Whittingham on 07964 245 239.

When will the store be opened? The intended day for the opening of the store will be Monday, 24 November. Morrisons invite ideas for the opening – any thoughts?

How will the store manage traffic after opening?  Morrisons expects a larger than usual number of visitors in the first few weeks so it has laid on extra resources to ensure that the flows are well managed.

What is the employment situation?  All the twenty or so departmental managers have been recruited and Morrisons is in the final placement stage for the general staff of 200. Most of which are very local. Morrisons has worked with the job centre next door to recruit long term unemployed people and the apprenticeships will be in place soon. further recruitment will begin soon to fill in any gaps.

Where will the staff park?  Morrisons says that in off-peak times those staff members who need to park wills use the under-croft parking at the store.  At peak times Morrisons says it will provide off-street parking (not Elmbridge public car parks).

Will there be trolley tokens to stop trolleys being left all over the place?  No there will not nor will there be any trolley mechanism to stop the trolleys leaving the store. However, Morrisons beleives that the design of the store is such that people will not take trolleys out of the store. That will be one to watch.

Will Morrison seek further planning change in the future?  Given that the Weybridge store is the only one in the country that does not have deliveries on all of its opening days, I expect Morrisons to apply again at some point in the future to have some of the delivery restrictions set aside.  Said the that I thought it would be unwise to pursue such a course until its stock with the burghers was considerably higher than it is at present. It would need to demonstrate that the local fears regarding noise were unfounded – if that be possible.

The roundabout looks awful – will Morrisons change it?  The roundabout is Surrey’s idea as is the chevron design. This is a matter that I will be taking up in due course.

Parking responsibility  On-street parking management is perversely Surrey’s responsibility (I think it should be Elmbridge’s but thee you go).  I have no doubt that a review of all local streets will have to take place once Morrisons opens.  Surrey has already said that, in Elmbridge, it will look at Walton first – there is no guarantee that Weybridge would be next – unless we all kick up a fuss.

Baker Street Traffic. This problem should abate now that the road works are almost complete.  As part of the planning application Morrisons has agreed to contribute to the traffic carming of Baker Street.  It is for Surrey to take this project forward.  I have a more radical solution – restrict motorised traffic (apart from buses and taxis) from passing in front of Lloyds Bank. That would remove through traffic completed and civilise the town.

Have I missed anything? Then please tell me.