SHBC not telling the whole story?

At tonight’s meeting of the borough council Executive, the council’s ‘Authority Monitoring Report 2017/18’ will be considered for public release.  Sadly, we find the document deficient in its coverage of Camberley.  Here is what it says about progress in relation to the ‘Allocated Sites’ in the Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP).

The first item – commencement of redevelopment of the London Road Block – is shown as Not Applicable.  Though, technically, this is true, in practice the redevelopment should have started the year before that covered by the report – and, to all intents and purposes it wasn’t.  Rather than N/A, more meaningfully the progress report should show this item in red – ‘target not achieved’.

Secondly, the final item shown – ‘Magistrates Court Site’ – is totally wrong.  The site is defined on the council’s ‘Local Plan 2011-2028 Map’, which makes it clear that it is the area of ‘scrub land’ NEXT to King’s Court.  Moreover, the AAP says “The site currently comprises the vacant land of the now demolished Magistrates Court.”  As this had not been developed in any way during 2017/2018, progress should be shown in red – ‘target not achieved’.  Reporting progress at Kings Court itself is irrelevant.

Finally, the Monitoring Report completely fails to mention one AAP Site – the Granary on the corner of Knoll Road*.  The AAP says “It is considered that this area could be redeveloped in the short term and provide up to 8 new dwellings, in the form of flats”  It also says “Commencement of development by 2016”.  So, not only should the Granary be added to the document, it should be shown in red – ‘target not achieved’.

Of course, the AAP includes many other objectives, including – of particular interest to the Eye – provision of rear service roads for the High Street.  However, as no timescale is given for this, it’s difficult for the Monitoring Report to say whether progress is on target or not.  So it says nothing.

Will the Executive be at all concerned by these limitations?  Watch this space….

(*Just in case… The main AAP document doesn’t actually use the wording ‘Allocated Sites’, other than in its glossary, where it explains that such Sites are shown on the “proposals map”.  The proposals map doesn’t use the terminology either.  So what is, and what isn’t, an allocated site is open to guesswork by lay people.)

Reem Jewellers is staying put!

A couple of months ago we wrote that there was some uncertainty about the future of Reem Jewellers in Obelisk Way.  We’d been told that a new lease for the premises had not been finalised.  Well, the good news is that, as we understand it, a lease has now been signed, and Reem is secure and staying open for business.  It’s satisfying to see an independent retailer thriving in the current commercial climate.

Two signs, two messages

We feature two photos today – both of signs in Princess Way.  (We’ve discussed them before.)  One – outside Santander/Specsavers – advises people to walk TOWARDS The Square if they want to catch a bus.  The other – outside the multi-storey car park – advises bus-catchers to walk AWAY from The Square.  Now, we know why the contradictory information (and we’ll be writing about the squalid walkway next to Ashwood House before too long), but what are visitors to our town supposed to think?  Will they Be Confused?

But, talking about those signs, they’re obviously purpose-made for that location and they’ll be disposed of when they’re not needed any longer.  Which means that they’re single use plastic (SUP) items.  Next Tuesday the borough council executive will be discussing the intention to: “End the sale and provision of SUP products in order to phase out their use across our estates and operations wherever possible”  Now, maybe ‘wherever possible’ means that we’ll continue to see plastic temporary signs.  But the spirit of the proposal means that the borough and county council should always remove signs when they’re finished with, and not let them degrade.  The Eye has had to do this on more than one occasion.  Place your bets!

(We can’t help but comment on the terminology ‘Single Use Plastic’.  We all know what it means, but it’s not an accurate description.  PVC window frames, electrical insulation, yellow underground gas pipes are all ‘single use’.  And they’re made of plastic.)

Less parking in the High Street

We all know that the borough council intends to restrict parking and traffic in the High Street in order to give priority to pedestrians.  Well, last month the details were discussed at the meeting of the Surrey Heath Local Committee.  As you can see from the diagram below, the intention is that there should be nine 30-minute parking spaces between Princess Way and Obelisk Way, plus a further five disabled bays.

Apparently, there has been a “full consultation with all user groups.. including shopkeepers [and] residents” and the changes shown in the diagram “agreed”.  No doubt you’ve seen the plan already.

Another wrong sign

There’s much about this sign at the top of Knoll Road that could be wrong – depending on how you interpret it.  But, as far as the public is concerned, we really don’t have a police station any longer – in an emergency it would be better not to imply that there is one.  More, even the council doesn’t refer to its ‘civic offices’ – look at the council’s website and you’ll find them called ‘council offices’.  And we reckon it would be better to show the museum as being on the right, rather than straight ahead.  It is on the right, after all.  The borough council moved it there!

(One day it’ll be accepted that the name ‘Main Square’ is history.  As far as we can tell, it’s now only used for ‘Main Square Car Park’ – but there’s no longer a Main Square’.  Have a look at https://www.thesqcamberley.co.uk/map/ and you’ll see what we mean.)

Now we know that the borough council isn’t responsible for road signs.  But it would be nice to think that there’s sufficient joined-up local government for the borough and councils to work together.  However, obviously not.  Even though, as we point out so often, a misleading sign is worse than no sign at all.

Borough council’s economical use of the truth

Pretty much every time we walk past this notice in Main Square car park we’re tempted to shout that misleading signs are worse than useless.  In particular, we’re rattled by the final sentence that there are ‘payment points’ on Level 1.  Not because this is wrong – it’s not.  But there’s also a payment point on Level 2.  What’s more, there’s a payment point on Level 3.  And, not to be outdone, there’s a payment point on Level 4.  We can only assume that the borough council wants visitors to clamber unnecessarily up and down the stairwell to enjoy its filthy neglect.