Weybridge town meetings

In my May 2018 election literature I promised to run town meetings, if elected.

My ambition is to try and establish a kind of forum where residents and businesses in Weybridge can come together on a regular basis and talk about the kind of Weybridge we want for the future.

Why did I want to do this?

I am committed to trying to enable generative and creative conversations. Conversations which bring people in at the early stages of developing anything new in the town.

All we need is YOU!

We need your ideas, your input, your voice and your help.

  • Shape what happens to the town.
  • Influence and support ideas and plans.
  • Get support from the others and the council for for your own ideas and projects.

We will talk about:

  • The spaces we use.
  • How we get about.
  • How we support people and keep them safe.
  • Our local economy and business.

And we want to know from you:

  • What do we love that we want to protect?
  • What do we need to make better?
  • What would we rather do without?
  • What can you do and what help do you need from the council?

Let’s bring the community together and create a future for Weybridge that we all want.

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.

Weybridge Town Meeting

On Monday 2 July, about 60 people met in the Weybridge Centre for our first open town meeting.

The idea behind this meeting was to provide a space where issues, suggestions and improvements to the town could be discussed. And where the agenda was compiled by the participants and not by local politicians or interest groups.

And that’s what happened!

How did it work?

People suggested topics which were captured on a chart: 25 topics in under 5 minutes. Too many for a meeting but there were overlaps and obvious connections. We bundled together similar topics and we got down to six clusters.

What did we discuss?

People formed groups to tackle the topic they were most interested in and the meeting set off to have conversations about:

  • Traffic and parking
  • The High Street and development
  • The Weybridge allotments development proposal

What the groups came up with

Traffic and Parking

Participants described a range of interconnected traffic and parking issues, often differing from road to road:

  • residents disrupted by school run traffic and parking
  • residents not finding overnight parking in roads with limited capacity
  • dangerous rat run traffic through residential roads
  • insufficient daytime parking for workers and shoppers
  • intrusive town centre through traffic.

The group welcomed the Weybridge Society and WTBG research into worker parking needs. They agreed that it needs to be augmented with traffic flow research to inform conclusions. They felt that more off-street parking is needed, not necessarily multi-storey, and liked the idea of worker park and ride from Brooklands.

Participants agreed that a wider strategic review of parking and traffic is needed. The review must reflect the varying needs of residents in different roads.  It must also address the imperative of managing rat run traffic.

Other suggested initiatives included better safer cycle routes and footpaths; schools doing more to encourage children to walk and cycle to school; and creating more pedestrian-friendly areas around the town centre. The end of Baker Street could be pedestrianised, at least at weekends.

The High Street and development

  • Baker St pedestrianisation came up in this group and was viewed positively
  • the town’s conservation areas are treated inconsistently and Quadrant Green is neglected. Both could be used better and made more attractive.
  • the High St could be reshaped to allow for safer cycle passage and a general reduction in speed would enable better flow of pedestrians
  • there is a need for more seating in the High Street
  • opening up High Street to the park and allotments would link existing amenities and increase use.

The group noted that Weybridge benefits from having most of its public services located in the town centre.

The group also referred to two existing townscape projects. There is the Weybridge Society initiative on the town centre, which is being branded WRAP – Weybridge Rebuild and Advance Project. And there are plans for improvements to pavement and street scene at the east end of the High Street, from Elmgrove Road to Waitrose.

The Weybridge allotments development proposal

  • there was general agreement to resist the sale of any part of the allotments by the Weybridge Charity. “When they’re gone they’re gone!”
  • the Trustees’ plan for raising funds through sale and development seems to be poorly thought out and there are alternative options which should be considered.
  • the allotments need to be better publicised and integrated into town activities.

ACTION: Vicki Macleod to support groups to engage with the Trustees and find an alternative to the proposed sale

We didn’t get around to discussing Policing, residents’ safety, disabled access, or affordable housing as topics in their own right but they were all mentioned in the course of conversations. These will be put back on the table at a follow up meeting in September.

Getting to grips with parking – the basics

Residents’ concern

As a recently elected councillor, I find that parking is one of the top topics that people raise with me. Issues I have been dealing with both before the election and now are:

  • unreasonable and dangerous parking by parents around one particular school in my ward
  • lack of access for waste removal from homes due to inconsiderate parking in narrow residential streets
  • Monday to Friday parking restrictions (single yellow lines) applying to Bank Holidays, not just working Mondays
  • severe parking congestion in the evening in town centre streets – even those with a CPZ
  • absence of turning space at the end of cul de sacs

What to do?

Some of these problems are matters of making information more widely available and better signposting: e.g. Mondays to Friday restrictions apply on Bank Holidays throughout Elmbridge. Or proactively letting diners know there is free evening parking available in Elmbridge car parks. These can be just 5 minutes away from their restaurant destination.

Taking it further

Some parking transgressions are due to lack of consideration or plain selfishness. The net result is that local people suffer at the hands of the inconsiderate!

When appeals for considerate behaviour fall on deaf ears, we need to explore what actions accountable authorities should take. And when this avenue is exhausted, we need to explore how the situation can be transformed.

Improvements in Weybridge

Over the following months your local Lib Dem councillors will be supporting local residents seeking improved CPZ timings in town centre streets. We will also be seeking to ensure that residents in narrow roads do receive bin collections, undisrupted by poor parking. And finally we will be exploring imaginative ways of securing clear pavements and safe parking around problem schools.

 

CIL Bids in Weybridge

When most new developments in Weybridge are built the developer has to pay a tax referred to as CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) to help fund any increased needs locally, as  a consequence of the building.

This infrastructure can be equipment for schools, health centres, community centres or safer or better designed streets.  CIL funds may only be used for new or enhanced facilities and not for staffing, repair or general maintenance of existing facilities.

Typically in Elmbridge, towns have an allocation and bids can be made by residents or groups in the town for funds for a project. See here your most frequently asked questions.

This year in Weybridge there are seven applications for CIL funding.

We are interested to hear your views on these. Do you support any of these projects? Or would you like to comment on them?  Click on each one for more details and click here for our survey.

We also include a scoring assessment of each project for applicability and desirability.  Some projects are uncosted, do not have permission of the landowner or do not necessarily enhance our infrastructure.  But what do you think?

These are the seven applications for CIL funding in Weybridge.

  1. Surrey county for improvements to footpath  linking Broadwater path to Walton Lane. CIL funding of £8,981 has been requested to create a wider all-weather route.
  2. St James School to refurbish the Lodge to create additional teaching and community space. CIL funding of £60,000 has been requested. A quotation has been provided that is consistent with the amount requested.
  3. The Weybridge Society for improvement to lighting around the war memorial and restoration of the surroundings. CIL funding of £32,500 has been requested for the works.
  4. PA Housing for bollards to prevent parking on adopted highways land in Brooklands Road. CIL funding of £3,500 has been requested for the works.
  5. Weybridge Cricket Club for roof replacement and addition of girl’s changing facilities. CIL funding of £50,000 is requested.
  6. Walton Firs Foundation for new accommodation pods to provide additional capacity. CIL funding of £24,560 is requested. Three quotations have been provided, the lowest of which is consistent with the amount requested.
  7. St Mary’s Church Oatlands to create additional office space. CIL funding of £20,000 is requested.

The general report is here.

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.

Parking and New Developments

Granting planning permissions to applications with insufficient parking has become a big issue in recent years.  The picture above shows office parking which could soon become gardens for four-bedroomed houses – leaving little space for parking cars.

Although I have campaigned on this since becoming a borough councillor, it has taken me a while to persuade my Conservative party colleagues that has the power to stop such developments if it chooses to do so.

The convention was that as Surrey county is the highway authority for Elmbridge if county decides that a planning application has no significant impact on transport and if that was the only reason for refusal then the borough would have to permit the development.

My contention is that Surrey county only considers two aspects: highway safety; and, impact on congestion.  The third aspect: parking is considered by county to be a borough concern.

Yet my committee often voted to permit planning applications that clearly had significant, if not severe, impact on the availability to park locally.

Recently two planning applications have come before the borough’s south area planning sub-committee (which serves Weybridge) which, if permitted, could create further demand for on-street parking in areas of particular parking stress.  The first application was for a reduction in off-street parking for the conversion offices into four proposed four-bedroomed houses in Thames Street; and the second was, again, the conversion of offices into flats in Baker Street.  In both cases I proposed that the applications be refused on parking grounds and fortunately my colleagues agreed.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 your length of your stay.  If you bump into a friend whilst shopping you 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.