Elmbridge Council – Special Overview and Scrutiny Meeting – 11th April at 19:15

Special Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 11th April, 2018 7.15 pm

SCROLL DOWN FOR POST MEETING UPDATE AND VIDEO REPLAY OF FINAL VOTE

You would all have seen from Surrey County Council that Seven Hills Road is closed this week for some much needed TLC and extensive repairing.

The state of Seven Hills has long been the topic du jour of anyone who has had the misfortune to use it regularly.

Reports of multiple cars parked up inspecting and replacing tyres have become commonplace on social media.

This has led to further analysis of the state of other roads in the county.

A few weeks ago, on the 14th of March, Elmbridge Borough Council failed to approve a bid from Surrey County Council for £455,000 from the Community Infrastructure Levy (currently unused Community Infrastructure Levy balance has reported to be in the region of £10 million) to contribute towards complete resurfacing of Seven Hills Road.

This week on Wednesday 11th of April at 19:15 the Elmbridge Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee are holding a special meeting to review this decision.

The publicly available agenda pack states that notice is given to the Head of Legal services that the decision of the strategic spending board be reviewed, the reason being stated as being:

“The Elmbridge Council (Residents Association and Liberal Democrat coalition) Cabinet did not give sufficient or appropriate consideration to the applications…”

Full details can be found here:

(Public Pack) Agenda Document for Overview and Scrutiny Committee

In accordance with the Council’s Call In Procedure, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee may either:

That the Overview & Scrutiny Committee review the Cabinet’s decision made on 14 March 2018, regarding ‘2018 Strategic Spending Board CIL allocations’ as set out below and in line with the Council’s Constitution either:

  • Decide that no further action be taken, in which case the decision of the Cabinet may be implemented without further consideration or delay; or
  • Request the Cabinet to reconsider the matter setting out in writing the nature of its concerns (in this connection, a representative of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be entitled to attend the Cabinet meeting to present their case); or
  • Refer the matter to full Council and recommend that Council ask the Cabinet to reconsider its decision.

As everyone saw with last summers tennis court debacle (http://thehershamhub.co.uk/locking-up-elmbridge-councils-tennis-courts/) this administration isn’t too keen on admitting and rectifying its mistakes so I very much doubt anything has changed in the interim.

Even with local Elmbridge Council elections in less than 4 weeks time.

True to form the Residents Associations used their majority on the Elmbridge Council Committee to vote in favour of taking NO ACTION on resurfacing Seven Hills Road.

You can view the whole meeting here just over an hour long:

Or you can view just the final vote here which is less than two minutes:

Where we note that Hersham Village Cllr Anne Hill, up for re-election in a few weeks time, finally found her voice at the end of the meeting to vote in favour of taking NO ACTION on resurfacing Seven Hills Road:

 

A bit of background…

But is this Elmbridge Council’s problem to solve?

Aren’t the roads supposed to be maintained by Surrey County Council?

And isn’t the CIL fund supposed to be used for schools and community projects?

That was pretty much my view until I dug a little deeper.

And as always there is a huge amount of bluster and little by the way of facts thrown around by the two local loudmouths.

Elmbridge Council directly receive millions and millions of pounds from developers as part of the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Almost £1.5 million in CIL from the Rydens development:

 

Anyone who lives on Felcott Road or Hersham Road will attest to the disproportionate amount of damage to roads that has been caused by heavy duty construction traffic thundering up and down their residential streets all day, every day. 

Almost £1.8 million for the Stompond Lane development:

As work has not started the impact from the Stompond Road development to local residents and the roads they live on has yet to be discovered.

The prevailing view is that our road infrastructure is being disproportionately damaged by heavy duty construction traffic in order to support private developments.

According to the Campaign for Better Transport:

“…lorries do cause far more damage to foundations and structures of roads than cars because the damaging power rises exponentially as weight increases.

This is called the Generalized Fourth Power Law

The Generalized Fourth Power Law is the most commonly agreed method to approximate the relative impact of vehicles on roads: the damage caused to the structure or foundations of a road is related the axle weight of the vehicle by a power of four. 

“This means that a six-axle, 44-tonne truck is over 138,000 times more damaging than a typical, small, 1 tonne car with two axles. “

1 heavy duty truck is 138,000 times more damaging than a normal car. 

Every singe heavy duty construction truck causes the same amount of damage as 138,000 normal cars.

If just 10 of these heavy duty construction trucks make a single journey on Seven Hills Road each day they cause the same amount of damage to the roads as almost 1,500,000 normal cars.

https://www.bettertransport.org.uk/blog/better-transport/lorries-cause-more-damage-roads-cars

 

These private development projects make the development companies huge profits so why should public funds be used to repair the damage?

If its Surrey County Council funded this comes directly from your council tax.

This is an open question to every member of the Elmbridge Council Cabinet who failed to approve this CIL application:

Why should the council tax paid to Surrey County Council by every Elmbridge resident be used to repair the damage done to our local roads by the heavy duty construction traffic of major developments?

These very same developments earn millions and millions of pounds not just for the developers but to Elmbridge Council themselves through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Its clear that it shouldn’t.

This is exactly why the Community Infrastructure Levy exists.

1 heavy duty truck is 138,000 times more damaging than a normal car. 

Every singe heavy duty construction truck causes the same amount of damage as 138,000 normal cars.

If just 10 of these heavy duty construction trucks make a single journey on Seven Hills Road each day they cause the same amount of damage to the roads as almost 1,500,000 normal cars. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But what is this Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund and surely there are robust guidelines as to how this money should be used?

As with all things related to public expenditure this information is all available online and from the Elmbridge Council website we can see the sort of things the CIL fund exists to support:

“The regulations that govern how CIL is spent require that it be used to fund the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure to support the development of the charging authority’s area.

The definition of infrastructure is broad and includes”:

http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/planning/community-infrastructure-levy-cil-funding/

From the Public Agenda Pack (link above)

Seven Hills Road, Weybridge/Hersham Resurfacing and St. Georges Avenue, Weybridge Resurfacing

Mr. Healey presented both applications and provided Members with background information in respect of resurfacing sections of the Seven Hills Road between its junctions with the A245 Byfleet Road to the south and C152 Burwood Road to the north, and resurfacing St. George’s Avenue, Weybridge between junctions with B374  Brooklands Road to the southwest and Egerton Road.

Mr. Healey explained that development in the area of Seven Hills had contributed towards greater pressure on the local road network and traffic volumes had contributed to the deterioration of the road surface. Mr. Healey took the opportunity to inform Members that Seven Hills Road was a significant strategic route that was regularly used by residents of the Borough.

One Member commented that the applications did not provide any other options (for example filling potholes) other than re-surfacing the whole road. In this regard, Mr. Healey explained that filling in the potholes was a revenue activity whilst resurfacing the whole road was a capital expense, hence the reason for requesting CIL funding. He further explained that Surrey County Council would continue to discharge their legal duty by repairing safety defects on the roads.

Members commented that whilst reviewing the applications, they felt that more information would need to be provided to assist them in their decision-making capacity.

One Member questioned whether a consultation had taken place with Highways England to extend their project to include these roads as part of their M25 Junction 10 to A3 Wisley Interchange. Mr. Healey had engaged with Highways England and explained that they were quite strict on where the junction ended, and that these roads were not included.

One Member commented that whilst the Council had monies from CIL, it unfortunately did not have responsibility for the upkeep of roads in Surrey. He commented that SCC had a prioritisation list with regard to the roads in Surrey and the Seven Hills Road and St. George’s Avenue were not on the list. He further reiterated that a robust mechanism be established in respect of the criteria on what CIL funds should be used on.

In challenging and explaining why SCC is seeking EBC assistance with funding, here is some detail from a letter to Elmbridge Borough Council from Cllr Colin Kemp Cabinet Member for Highways SCC:

“When CIL was first launched in Elmbridge, and up until relatively recently, we were very much under the impression from Elmbridge Borough Council that CIL could only be used for improvement schemes, rather than maintenance schemes. So up until shortly before the bids were submitted, we didn’t even consider submitting bids for maintenance schemes at all.

We became aware through discussion with Elmbridge officers that the Borough were considering whether it would be possible to award CIL monies to maintenance scheme. We were informed that the Borough had made a positive decision in principle in this regard, and so in discussion with the Borough we suggested the two subject roads, informally, to establish whether bids for CIL funding would be welcomed.

It is only when we received reassurance from Elmbridge that the bids would be welcomed, that we secured approval from the Local Committee and then submitted the bids.”

Whatever your view don’t miss this special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commitee this Wednesday live via the Elmbridge Council webcast here:

https://elmbridge.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/346634

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