Did Camberley overlook a birthday?

We were in Evesham (in Worcestershire) last weekend, when the local council happened to be holding a fair to celebrate the third anniversary of the town plan.

We wondered why Surrey Heath hadn’t held a similar event to celebrate Camberley’s Town Plan, which, in final form, reached its third birthday last summer.  Was there insufficient interest – by residents or council?

Of course, it helps if your town has a long history.  Even the Evesham NatWest bank – at the back of our second photo – is a Grade 1 listed building…  (Mrs Eye – Grade 1, but not listed – is in the photo too!)

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Filling in the gap….

As Kai correctly told us the other day, the former job centre building at the top of Park Street is being turned into flats.  How on earth we’d missed this information until then we don’t know.  Adi has embarrassed us even more by telling us that the flats are now advertised on Rightmove.

Anyway, to fill a few details, the building is the subject of two approved changes of use:

“Change of use of first and second floor of building from  office use to residential use, and raising of roof to create additional floor to provide a total of 4 studio apartments, 8 one bed apartments and 2 two bed apartments with associated parking.”

“Change of use of part of the ground floor from financial and professional services to residential to form 3 x 1 bedroom flats and replacement of doors and windows.”

Main Square car park will be having a make-over

The borough council says that it’ll be resurfacing levels 1, 2 and 3 in Main Square car park this year.  But we trust that this drainage grating at the start of the ramp leading up to level 5 will be properly repaired as a priority.  (We took this photo in a hurry a few days ago, but we gather that the situation hasn’t improved.)

The plastic knife that we’ve just spotted lying in the gulley is a bit of a surprise!

We missed the boat well and truly this time!

We started to write this post a week or so ago.  But, as you’ll see from our second, more recent, photo, most of our text has been overtaken by events.  We’re not going to waste it, though!

The job centre building at the top of Park Street has been empty for quite a while.  But there have been some signs of life around it recently.  We’ve seen a van or two parked in the car park, someone going in and out of the building, and, now, we’ve noticed a heap of wood and internal doors that we don’t recall seeing before.  Is this council-owned asset at last going to earn a few pennies for the tax-payer?

Thursday Qs and As (- we hope it includes As)

We’re borrowing the logo of the Surrey Heath Conservative Association for this item.  Why?  Well, the Leader of the Borough Council is giving a live Facebook broadcast tomorrow evening, and today we’re showing the questions that we’ve submitted for the event.  We’ve worked on the basis that the occasion will focus on the Leader’s views and activities, and will not be just another opportunity to discuss parking, poo and potholes.

We would tell you the precise start time of the event (search for Moira Gibson’s Facebook Page to find out a bit more), but it’s either 6:30pm or 7:00pm depending on where you get the information!  Oops.

Anyway, here is what we’re submitting.  We could have added more:

“Congratulations on setting up a Facebook Page for residents, Moira.

“I’ve set out a number of questions below which relate largely to the role and perspective of the Leader, rather than to specific activities by the borough council.  I imagine that the latter will be discussed mainly within the #TalkSurreyHeath interactive live stream events?

——

“What does the role of Leader involve, over and above being a councillor?  The general meaning of the word ‘leader’ is obvious, but can you give us specific examples, please?

“To what extent does the Leader act in a way that reflects their own political affiliation rather than the perspective of the whole council?

“The Leader appoints the Executive.  The UK Government’s Cabinet can include non-MPs;  can (and should) the Executive include non-councillors, especially when the council is predominantly composed of councillors from the same party?

“The US twenty-second Amendment says a person can only be elected to be president twice, for a total of eight years .  Would it not be a good idea for council Leaders to be similarly restricted?

“How many marks out of ten would Surrey Heath residents give the borough council for its performance?

“How many marks out of ten would YOU give the borough council for its performance?  Is there anything that you would like to change?

“You have started a Facebook Page because “residents can sometimes get frustrated at not being able to get answers to seemingly simple questions.“ Why are current channels of communication not working?

“If there is a perceived weakness in the operation of the council staff, what measures are available to elected councillors to initiate corrective action?

“If a councillor, or group of councillors, is seen as being disruptive within the council, what measures can the Leader take to overcome this?  Would implementing them be counter to democracy?

“I understand that the borough’s councillors are paid a total of rather more than a quarter of a million pounds a year.  Is this too much or too little?”

Why do council personnel cross the road?

We don’t know the answer to the question that we’ve just posed, but we assume that council personnel DO use the Knoll Road pedestrian crossing near the council offices.  In which case, why does the crossing have the worst puddle in the road?  When we were there last week, two ‘mature ladies’ complained to us about the puddle and said it had been like that for the last five years.  They didn’t seem to be agile enough to leap over the water, so they simply plodded through it.

We know the borough council isn’t responsible for roads in the town.  But, surely, council personnel have their feet on the ground (not their heads in the clouds), and have seen the puddle?  In which case, in an effective joined-up government, the borough council should be working with the county council to get problems like this sorted out.

More through trains – if you don’t break your neck first

After the recent ‘excitement’ about through-trains from Camberley to London, we’d like to remind the powers-that-be of the reality.  It’s hardly news that our station is a disgrace; the fabric and the facilities are, let’s face it, awful.  But we can now add a new adjective to that – the station is dangerous…

The steps outside the building are disintegrating;  concrete slabs are loose and they’re an obvious hazard.  We know they’re not the responsibility of the borough council – but Camberley IS in Surrey Heath, so our council ought to be lobbying loudly and visibly for the station to be improved..  But is it?  We suspect not – we’re not aware of any truly-positive  actions that it’s taking.  Perhaps it could let us know?

Putting the cart before the horse?

Our picture is of 33 Upper Park Road.  It’s not a good photo, but it’s the best we could manage from the pavement in front of the site.  In spite of the poor quality, you can probably see that there’s not much left of the original building – just the facade supported by a steel structure.

Now the thing is, the site is part of the Upper Gordon Road to Church Hill conservation area.  This means that any proposed development comes under particular scrutiny.  As a result, the council announced in the local paper on 28th March that a planning application  had been submitted to build ten flats on the site.  Which initially seems odd, for our photo, which shows some pretty substantial changes to the existing building, had been taken a couple of weeks before then.  Indeed, we gather that work actually started on the site at the beginning of the year.  So wasn’t the council a bit late with its announcement?

In fact, we understand that this isn’t the case.  Permission was actually given to replace the original building with flats a couple of years ago.  But a condition was that the facade should be retained – which is what our photo shows.  However, the applicant in the current proposal says: “The proposal is very similar to the original approval 2106/0691 [that should be 2016/0691] but we are proposing to reconstruct the front façade for structural reasons.”

We’ve not looked into the final points of the current planning application.  But, in view of the apparent similarity with the existing approved application, and assuming that the council satisfies itself that reconstruction, rather than retention, of the facade is NECESSARY for structural reasons, we see no need for undue concern.