Cllr Paul has responded to our article below to reassure residents that Surrey County Council isn’t cutting services or outsourcing them. She has assured us that SCC will continue to respond to reported incidents as usual, and their core responsibilities will be carried out. Cllr Paul told us this is an established scheme of some years and is there to allow residents the opportunity to carry out additional maintenance if they so wish, and is not a replacement to SCC delivery of core responsibilities.
As always, please read the SCC webpage for more information (the link is below) and to coin a phrase from my mother, ‘the proof of the ‘pudding will be in the eating’ let’s hope SCC is using the right recipe.
Last year many residents and others raised questions and complaints regarding the cutting of our roadside verges and the central reservation on the A217. It now appears this maintenance will, in the future, be undertaken by Surrey County Council (Highways) and not Reigate and Banstead Council. Surrey County Council operates a policy that they call the ’Blue Campaign’ briefly; this policy reduces the frequency of cutting highway verges. In doing so, they suggest that it will allow native plant species to thrive, and in some areas, additional steps can be taken to prepare the ground, sow native wildflower seeds and more proactively encourage their growth. Whilst many of us support the idea of ‘wild flowering,’ it cannot be at the expense of safety on roads such as the A217. Another complaint was the debris left after cutting; this can add to the blocking of roadside drains, and when left on the footway, it can become slippery when wet. SCC now suggest that resident groups or volunteers could deal with it; this policy of outsourcing to volunteers is one SCC is expanding. I will address this later in this article. However, I don’t think, or at least hope, they are not suggesting this course of action for the A217 due to the personal risk associated with it. This change in responsibility leaves us in a state of limbo, with no alternative but to see what happens later this year. However, with complaints last year of the grass being too long and looking unsightly, I struggle to see how reducing the number of cuts will assist, but I am open to being convinced.
For further information, please see the relevant page on the Surrey County Council website. This can be accessed by clicking on the attached link.
As described above, the idea of residents collecting grass after cutting would appear to be part of a larger initiative of outsourcing Surrey Highway’s responsibilities to volunteers. SCC is now encouraging voluntary groups to carry out Surrey Highways’ responsibilities they say they can no longer resource. The type of suggested jobs are:
- Grass cutting
- Cutting back vegetation overhanging the road or footway
- Clearing footways of weeds/moss
- Removing vegetation from parapets or fences
- Signs, excluding street name plates (including reflector posts), for example, cleaning, minor repairs
- Drainage, for example, localised ditching, cleaning channels
- Storm debris and litter
The Lower Kingswood Resident Association intends to look into the scheme to assess if it is viable, as it places a large amount of responsibility on the voluntary groups. Whilst I think this is purely a cost-cutting exercise and slow mission creep to outsource services, it does raise the question of who will do it if the council refuses to carry out these responsibilities. I also wonder what will happen next.
As I have already stated, the LKRA will look at its feasibility, and I invite residents to contact us with their views via the contact page of this website.
Further information can be obtained from the SCC website. This can be accessed via the link below.