The borough council misses its own deadline. Does it matter?

In 2014, the council wrote in the town centre Area Action Plan:  “Within the short term (Years 2012-2016) …a scheme for environmental improvements to the High Street will be agreed,”

Oh no it won’t.

High Streetb

In fact, it won’t be until the next executive meeting that the council will decide whether or not to convene a working group to “consider  and  make  recommendations  to the  Executive  on  future  improvements  to  the  High  Street in Camberley  Town  Centre  that  promote and  support  the role of  the  High  Street in any future  regeneration  proposals.” The first meeting of the working group wouldn’t be until January.  Deadline well and truly missed.

But it’s worse than that.  When should this working group complete its task?  The Eye doesn’t know.  Neither, apparently, will the executive when it is asked to approve the group. The proposal being put to the meeting doesn’t say.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter – the council has been talking about improving the High Street since the last century, so another decade without progress would be neither here nor there.

However, let’s look at the key objectives of the working group:

“1. To  review  proposals  for  initiatives  and  improvements  to  the  High  Street that  support  its  role  within the  town  centre  and  make recommendations  to  the  Executive  accordingly.

“2. To  review  other  opportunities  for  public  realm improvements  on  the High  Street.

“3. To  agree  a  strategy  for  events  and  publicity  promoting  the High  Street.”

The first question that has to be answered is ‘What IS the role of the High Street?’.  Thd council’s picture that we’re including in this article indicates that the road will be largely pedestrianised, so that people can stroll along it ‘window shopping’.  Further, to quote the council:  “The Council proposes that within the High Street environmental improvements to create a pedestrian friendly area will be provided.  Limited vehicle access will be maintained for that part of the High Street between Princess Way to Obelisk Way”

That seems clear.  But it conflicts with what we understand are the council leader’s views, and the wishes of some retailers who want on-street parking.  Until any such mismatch is resolved, radical solutions are probably out of reach.  However, radical solutions are needed to respond to radical changes in the way we shop.

Our second concern is that two of the three objectives for the group start:  “To review….”  This implies that the group won’t be producing any proposals or ideas itself, but will simply comment on schemes that are presented to it.  In practice, we imagine that the group will be intelligent enough to put forward its own suggestions, and not merely ‘review’, but this is not what the objectives say.

Finally, it seems reasonable that members of the group should be very familiar with the High Street and its activities throughout the year.  They have to understand the relative importance of weekday and weekend shopping, and the night economy, and trends over the years.  They have to know whether or not it is easy to park in the road on a busy Saturday afternoon.  They have to appreciate whether planting trees in the street would be an improvement or would cause unwanted obstacles.  Because of this, the council’s statement: “The Group will be politically balanced” may be politically wise, but it does not say that group members will be chosen based on their knowledge. (We’re not commenting on the members’ intrinsic abilities here, just on their experience.)  Still, we like organisations to be efficient, so perhaps we see things differently.

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11 thoughts on “The borough council misses its own deadline. Does it matter?

  1. Happy Christmas Bob and other Eye’s readers

    A concerned Camberley Town Centre resident
    Eye has made the point that over the last 3 decades our High Street “purpose” has been that of a “short term car park”. Little or no money spent on the road or pavements, and it shows. Has there been a deliberate SHBC strategy to devalue this key commercial space, and drive shoppers and retail into the Mall. The Strategy has worked.

    Question: Do we now have a severe conflict of interest with SHBC focusing on its investments [the Mall], and the High Street’s role will continue as the Mall Car Park. An orphan.

    There are notices along the High Street explaining the partial closure of the High Street at night, SCC do so without addressing the dangerous Rat Run through St. Georges Road/Obelisk Way and Northern High Street. SHBC also refuse to move the Obelisk TAXI rank to safer area.

    A Working Group to continue talk about the High Street is an insult.
    The Group “make-up”
    I notice that County Cllrs are not included. High Street is County SCC !
    Town Centre Residents need group representation as their voice missing and ignored.

    • Mike, you’re so right. There’s a straight conflict of interest. Financially, the borough council will now benefit far more if a tenant is found for an empty shop in the mall than if the empty shop is in the High Street. But, anyway, council working groups have a track record of achieving nothing. Back in April 2008, I noted: ““At a meeting of the council’s executive last month, members considered a report that recommended the funding of a feasibility study into options available to the council for the future use of the civic area east of Knoll Road, in addition to delivering a replacement for the Arena Leisure Centre.”” That was two years after I noted “2006 borough council Corporate Plan, key priority: “Develop a replacement strategy for the Arena within the Camberley area by April 2008”.”
      You might have registered that Arena still hasn’t been replaced. What a waste of effort and tax-payers’ money.
      Oh, and my article about the council missing a deadline should have stressed that this wasn’t any old deadline. It was a deadline for a Top Project; one which is part of a Top Priority objective. No wonder something more mundane, like maintenance of the car park stairs, is months behind the promised delivery date.

      • Am afraid we are all flogging a dead horse! Had a lovely day shopping in Guildford yesterday…..soooo love Guildford… even though it does not have a John Lewis .

  2. Shambles , as is the Ice Rink .Why do the council think they have any commercial ability to make plans,events,decisions? They are local government employees who know nothing else but rules and regulations ….and enjoy ringed fenced pensions for their efforts no matter how they perform.

    • I’m going to hold fire over condemning the ice rink. I know there have been hiccups, and I know what the local paper has said. But the rink is open for a month, and it’s premature to criticise it after just a few hours. At the moment, I’m keeping fingers crossed… A lot of people want to skate, so it could make a lot of people happy. (But no, my views about the borough council haven’t mellowed. It needs a good shake-up. And there should be a rule that councillors can only serve for a few years, otherwise they can get too remote from ordinary residents. It happens!)

      • Surely you could apply for one of the vacancies advertised internally a little acorn and all that ……

  3. The High street has been dying for years. Why waste time and effort. Park Street has space and atmosphere – let’s consider Park Street as Camberley’s High Street and leave the old High Street to dwindle.
    Having said that, sit in Poppins on any morning and watch the steady and frequent change of cars in the parking spaces. A lot of people park for a short period to visit local shops. It should stay like that or the few remaining shops in the High Street will also disappear.
    Whoever thought of using bricks for the pavement? Look at the north end of the street after rain!!

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