Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Patience is a Virtue
Tuesday 29th January
When I was elected to the Borough Council in 2007, it came as something of a culture shock. For years I had been a director of various small companies where a decision made in the morning could be put in place shortly after lunch. And while I had previously worked for larger companies, they were all within the private sector where it seemed the profit motive also rightly urged fast decisions and fast action.
At Surrey Heath Borough Council, this was patently not the case. Similarly at County Hall too when I was elected in 2009. Pretty quickly I had to change my expectations in terms of the massive inertia that stifles ideas and decision making in Local Government. It's a massive slog to get things done, even with the support of a fairly disparate set of colleagues.
And then, just as I'd come to terms with that, public money became very, very tight.
If you have taken the time to follow this blog from its inception in 2008, you'll know that David Ivison & I put the case to the SCC cabinet for a speed limit reduction on Red Road way back in 2009 after they had 'called in' our decision to change the limit to 40mph. You may also know how I lobbied the county council from before 2005; an effort which I like to think resulted in the existing warning signs. In 2009, a forthcoming change in policy was quoted for the procrastination, alongside considerable - nay, exhorbitant - costs and the fact that Surrey Police didn't in fact support the limit change. But we continued to press for money and action with the result that the limit was agreed to be decreased to 50mph through the Surrey Heath Local Area Committee late in 2011.
So, to the present.
The more eagle-eyed motorists among you may have noticed the signs to indicate the speed limit reduction are now being erected along the length of Red Road. Shortly to follow are the terminal signs and the new flashing sign on the Westward approach to the MacDonald Road junction. Once these works are completed, the limit will be in force and therefore enforceable.
Given the length of time its taken to achieve this, I'm fairly protective of the new limit. However, I do very much appreciate that it is only the continuation of measures that will reduce accidents in this notorious blackspot. What I would like to have seen on my watch is a 40mph limit through the dangerous bends, coupled with a pair of traffic islands (roundabouts to you & I), but it is a lamentable fact of Local Government inertia, lack of money and the fact that SHBC appear to be squandering the opportunity to raise funds through the Deepcut development, that 4 years of work have resulted in a mere drop of 10mph.
(Still, even that is better than County Councillor Denis Fuller's fate in respect of the A30 Bus Lane, where inter-council emnity has stalled his efforts to remove the heinous - and dangerous - bus lane. But best talk to Denis about that subject)
There will always be this inertia in Local Government, but I can't help thinking ultimately that Unitary Councils will streamline this process. These are what the residents need.
The work continues.