Guildford Dragon NEWS
By Julie Armstrong, local democracy reporter and Martin Giles It was approved by Surrey County Council’s cabinet at their Tuesday (January 26) meeting, along with GBP2.5 million to improve a road system “designed for horse and carriage”.
It is the first stage of a package of projects that aim to improve road safety and air quality in the Waverley town, including 20mph zones and the widening of pavements. Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver said: “Farnham is a delightful medieval town that’s been plagued by air pollution and congestion. “It was never designed to carry the volume of traffic through the town centre that it experiences.
“It does highlight the challenges in converting a road system that was designed for horse and carriages.” Lorries weighing 7.5 tonnes and over will be encouraged to stay on the A31 and bypass the town centre. Mr Oliver said he hoped this would be in place by late spring.
He added: “As always with HGV bans they’re difficult to enforce, but actually once they’re included in the sat-navs that automatically will redirect those that don’t necessarily know the area.” Edward Hawkins, a county councillor in Surrey Heath, responded: “As a frequent visitor to Farnham we often walk around saying, ‘I wish something would happen here’ and it’s great to see that this is now going forward, it’s excellent news. I’m looking forward to going to the market with the works having started.”
A board was set up last year to direct the infrastructure programme, with Farnham Town Council, Waverley Borough Council, Surrey County Council and South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt. Longer-term they are also looking at ways to improve Hickley’s Corner and remove HGVs from Wrecclesham village. The cost of the programme overall is around GBP235 million.
Cllr John Rigg
Cllr John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity), lead councillor for Major Projects, asked if Guildford faced with a similar situation, and whether similar measures to deter HGVs couldn’t be taken here, said: “The Farnham example is interesting and we will watch to see if lessons can be applied to Guildford. “We all want cleaner air and a less congested town but, unfortunately, there are real constraints we need to recognise. “We are trying to encourage people to walk, cycle or, when we return to normal, take public transport into our town centre.
This is a priority for us so we can reduce the amount of traffic, improve air quality and make the town safer. But many still do prefer to use their cars, so we might have to be more imaginative and persuasive. “Removing HGVs from the town completely is difficult because they are part of the retail logistical system and because the A281, which cannot be easily by-passed, goes through the centre of our town.
“There has been some progress.
The Guildford Joint Committee, a collaboration of borough and county councillors, has created 20mph speed limits for the town’s ‘College Link’ area, within an area between Stoke Road, Woodbridge Road and York Road, to support safer cycling and walking.
“We also have an air quality strategy action plan which includes working with the University of Surrey’s GCARE (Global Centre for Clean Air Research) on various projects and the council are encouraging the use of electric vehicles.”