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Still benchless it seems

April 3, 2011

PJ seated on bench. Get the idea?

It seems the meeting of the Neighbourhood Committee last Wednesday was more dramatic than most expected, at least if the report on the Comet website is to be believed. Could it be that someone has taken it into their heads to whip up fear of this simple and socially helpful proposition.

Whatever! In the interests of sanity and good neighbourliness we offer the following thoughts:-

  • The bench requested by EBRRA would replace an earlier bench removed some years ago because of its decrepitude and restore the amenity of the wayside garden to local residents.
  • Most such gardens in the Surbiton area have a bench facility, e.g. the one at the junction of Langley Avenue and Ashcombe Avenue.  It would also be consistent with the reprovision of other benches in the area at Victoria Road and Oakhill, which was carried out without fuss by the Neighbourhood Officer at the request of residents through the then Councillors for Surbiton Hill.
  • The allegations of ASB associated with this bench are unsubstantiated. The people who made them are unable to adduce a single shred of evidence that any such problem ever occurred in the past. The Report to the Committee states “The SNT has been consulted and advised the Council on 23rd February 2011 that there have been no reports of ASB over the last year. They have raised no objections to the provision of a bench at this location.”  This is born out by the testimony of former councillors who represented the area for the preceding 12 years. Yet the decision of the Committee was largely based on this flawed allegation.

It seems that the whole issue has now been referred to a special working party for further consideration. This is better than outright rejection but it means yet more delay – and this has taken since September 2009 already! As Cllr. Richard Hudson (Con) pointed out, ‘the community loses out again!’

Finally, may we give the ward councillors a piece of advice. Don’t get a reputation for setting one group of your constituents against others (eg. hospital site campaign). The ward you represent contains many different interest groups which we aimed to reconcile. We suggest you start following our example. Listen to them all, then tell them honestly what you think.

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