Bins don’t get emptied by magic…

Debbie sent us this recent photo of Watchmoor Nature Reserve.

Debbie asked ‘How many times a week do they [those responsible for maintaining the borough’s parks] go round to Watchmoor Nature Reserve Camberley?’ She added ‘The Reserve is becoming a very popular outdoor space now for families’ recreational use. Asking the visiting public to dispose of their rubbish is hard for them, when the bins provided are full to the top! Keep Britain Tidy.’

And so say all of us!

Why?

We’re generally against graffiti. But we do accept that just occasionally (note, just OCCASIONALLY!) we admire the effort, the wit and the artwork that goes into decorating what might otherwise be a boring surface.

However, we can see no wit, not much in the way of artwork, and no evidence of any great effort in this ‘decoration’ of the walls of the Crawley Hill underpass. So, why did anyone do it?

But we do have a question. Why is it that the paint so rarely trickles down the wall? Is it because the ‘work’ is done in haste, for a quick and guilty getaway?

Extended Isolation in Park Street

Isolation has become depressingly familiar in the last year or so. But we’re talking about something a little different here. To quote: “Isolation is the electrical or magnetic separation between two circuits and often used to separate two distinct sections of a power supply. The isolation provides a barrier across which dangerous voltages cannot pass in the event of a fault or component failure. This barrier ensures that the electrical equipment is safe by preventing electric shock and fire hazards.”

That explains why, before Christmas, yellow and black tape was wound round and round this damaged road sign. It’s the one by the Park Street/Southwell Park Road roundabout. Frustratingly, we’re sticking to the ‘stay at home’ rule, which means that we’re not able to check whether the sign has been repaired properly yet. But, even in normal circumstances, such damage usually isn’t repaired promptly. (It’s not an emergency, after all, and we tax-payers would have to foot the bill for faster service.) So, we guess that nothing has changed yet. Are we wrong?

(We do feel a bit sorry for any dog that does what dogs usually do next to lamp-posts. An unexpected thrill…)

The world’s longest-running soap opera

According to the BBC, The Archers is the world’s longest-running soap opera. But the Eye knows that the London Road Block development/regeneration in Camberley isn’t all that far behind.. To our knowledge, the council has been cogitating about it for twenty one years.

The thing is, if you take that long to plan something, the original target is likely to be out-of-date before it’s ever achieved. So, the council spent six years ‘chasing’ a potential anchor store for a new shopping centre that – let’s hope – will never be built now. We don’t need more normal shops!

Take the Local Plan. “The Local Plan will cover the period to 2032 and set out strategic policies on issues such as housing and employment, [and] allocation of sites for development….”

The latest ‘official’ timetable for the Plan is that there will be a consultation in mid 2019, with the Plan adopted in March 2020. Guess what, neither of these has happened. Of course, Covid-19 hasn’t helped, but the timescale had slipped before the pandemic hit the headlines. Housing, employment and development sites will just have to wait.

At other times, council plans are too late before they start. For example, at a council meeting tomorrow, the Performance and Scrutiny Committee will consider the draft Annual Plan. Part of this Plan addresses “A ‘Unique Selling Point’ for Camberley Town Centre”

So, having spent money revamping The Square, and having spent money revamping the High Street and Princess Way, the council is going to examine how to make Camberley different. Hasn’t it rather shot itself in the foot if it then concludes that pedestrianising the town, and encouraging street art, markets and pavement cafes is the way forward? Even creating an ambience that reflects Camberley’s history is going to be difficult with the contemporary pavements and street furniture that have now been installed (much as we like some of the things that have been done).

For years we’ve been arguing that action is needed to differentiate Camberley from other towns. It’s not easy to do – but it’s vital. We’ve argued that the council must be courageous, take a gamble and act fast. Analysis to paralysis is in no-one’s interest. But paralysis is what we’ve got. Plus obsolete analysis, of course.

Pavement parking

We’re not intending to start a heated discussion about the principle of pavement parking. Reasonable people know that, as long as it doesn’t create a problem for people with pushchairs or mobility scooters, it may sometimes be an acceptable compromise. But we do occasionally get annoyed. In this case, because we have to walk through slippery mud.

These two photos were taken in the same road, maybe a hundred yards apart. One shows how things should be, the other shows how they aren’t.

We may be doing some people a total injustice, but we suspect that some of the vehicles responsible for getting mud on the pavement are associated with residents of flats very close by. What’s more, those flats have plenty of space on which the residents could park. But, of course, it saves time just to bump up the kerb and park on the verge.

At the very least, whatever excuse they have, those responsible could keep the pavement clean. (Yes, we know that sometimes trades people park on the grass. But that doesn’t absolve those for whom they’re working from clearing up after them.)

There once was a cycle…

For some years there’s often been a cycle – or, rather, the remains of a cycle – locked to the cycle stand in Main Square car park. Months go by, and the vultures pick the bones clean.

We wonder what the rights of the borough council are. How long should they reasonably wait before they can remove the corpse?

We don’t know why, but the the abandoned bikes are usually left where they cause maximum inconvenience to cyclists who have to squeeze past them. So their prompt removal isn’t academic.

Are the residents the council’s top priority?

A News item on the borough council’s website a couple of days ago reminds us that: “In August 2020 Leaders of all 11 of Surrey’s district and borough councils launched their ‘Putting Residents First’ campaign”.

We have just one question. Why was a campaign needed to put residents first? (And, a supplementary: what were the higher priorities up until then?)

A major report from the campaign. Its theme is: ‘Reorganisation and Collaboration’. The six-page Executive Summary mentions ‘residents’ three times.

We’re not intending to be devious here. But if we put our question to our council, we doubt that we’d get a satisfactory answer.

The News item was published more or less verbatim by a number of Surrey local authorities. Epsom and Ewell council added the following:

“Work has started on proposals for a modern approach to local government, to be shared with central Government as part of the debate on its anticipated ‘Recovery and Devolution’ white paper due to be published this autumn. The white paper signals its desire to reform local government – an opportunity Surrey’s district and borough councils are eager and enthusiastic to embrace.

“Surrey’s Leaders are agreed that the proposals will centre around simplifying and improving local government. All viable options are on the table including the retention of a modified two-tier system as well as multi-unitary solutions.  Providing residents with easier and local access to all their council services, enabled by digital transformation, will be a key element of the work.”

So, it seems that ‘putting residents first’ will focus on ‘simplifying and improving local government’. We’ve no objection to the latter; indeed, it should be in the residents’ interests. But the provocative campaign title doesn’t really convey what it’s actually about. How silly! Or is to make a political point to HMG?

A slightly kinky building

A week or two ago we published a photo of the steelwork being erected in Portesbery Road near the junction with the High Street.  (The site is where Haywood House used to be).  The photo appeared to show one column being somewhat askew, rather than being vertical.

There was a little discussion subsequently about whether this mattered.

The subject brought to mind the building under construction on the site of the former Working Men’s Club in Obelisk Way.  So here’s a photo – taken eighteen months ago – of the back of the building.  If you look along the rear edge of the galvanised (‘silver’) steelwork, you’ll see that it has a distinct kink in it on both floors.  That’s probably because the steel frame of the main building has a kink in it too.

Many years ago, the Eye was intimately involved in the erection of steelwork – pipes rather than joists.  As a result, we’re somewhat blasé about a little mis-alignment…  With luck, there’s a sufficient margin of error in the design to cope with it.

No, we don’t know what this was all about

Late afternoon on Monday, on our way home from a dental appointment, we spotted a bit of activity on the A30 service road. A number of inspection covers had been lifted, and it seems that a cable of some sort was being pulled through an underground service duct. The only vehicle in attendance said ‘Road Maintenance’, which didn’t give us any further clue as to what exactly was happening.

We don’t imagine for a moment that we were looking at preparatory work for the London Road Block redevelopment. And it’s a bit too far from the Knoll Road/A30 junction to have any obvious connection with the new pedestrian crossing that’s going to be installed there. So, your guess is probably better than ours as to what was going on.