Last week's article "A very interesting proposal from Surrey County Council!" certainly generated the degree of interest we anticipated. At the time of its publication and, given the tight time limits (see para 5 of the SCC email below), it was only possible to put it out there and steer readers to make their views known by email to SCC direct.
The sheer volume of emails received has prompted the Area Highway Manager to send the following reply to LOSRA:
"Thank you very much for your comments regarding the Emergency COVID 19 Active Travel Measures in Lower Sunbury. We have received a high level of feedback from the local community. The vast majority of feedback is from people who are opposed to the proposed scheme of tactical road closures and modal filters.
"We have reviewed the feedback with Cllr Tim Evans, and it has been decided that we will not implement the scheme as it currently stands. The feedback we have received has identified a number of specific transport issues that we may be able to address, and so we will continue to engage with local stakeholders. We are hoping that through continued engagement we may be able to develop new options to address these issues. This may result in a different scheme being proposed in due course.
"The background to this is that the Government has asked Highway Authorities to develop and deliver schemes to assist with social distancing, and to promote active travel (cycling and walking). The Government is expecting us to take road capacity away from motorists and reallocate this for other modes of transport. For example in Farnham town centre we have narrowed roads and widened pavements to provide more space for pedestrians to assist with social distancing and promote active travel. There is more information about this on our website here: www.ourroads.today/activetravel. The Government is encouraging Highway Authorities across the country to be radical, and we appreciate that this will cause concern for local communities.
"Nevertheless we would like to implement schemes that are supported by local communities wherever possible, and to listen to any feedback that we receive when developing and implementing these schemes. We have heard very clearly that the local community in Lower Sunbury does not want the proposed scheme to go ahead, so we are going back to the drawing board.
"A number of people have asked why we have not consulted the community in the way that we normally would. This is because the timetable set by the Government to deliver the first tranche of schemes was 8 weeks from the date when funding was announced. This did not give us time to undertake the kind of comprehensive consultation we would normally do. Instead we have tried to use local networks to let as many people as possible know what we were considering, and thereby give as many people as possible the opportunity to respond.
"We will now work with local stakeholders, including local schools, local councillors, and the Lower Sunbury Residents’ Association, to assess what alternative options might be available to alleviate transport issues in Lower Sunbuecond tranche of the Government’s active travel programme. The timescales for this second tranche have not yet been announced, but we are hoping there will be time for more extensive consultation. It is also possible that other priorities elsewhere in the County will take precedence depending on the level of funding we receive.
Area Highway Manager
Surrey County Council