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Last night’s SNC

October 20, 2011

A quarter of the expected councillors were missing from last night’s Neighbourhood meeting. To be fair only Surbiton Hill was fully represented, which was just as well since the ward dominated the agenda.

The most controversial issue was the question of the relocation of the bus stop on Ewell Road by the hospital site. It currently fronts the Casa Viva restaurant and the Londis store, where the pavement is very narrow, and TfL want to move it 60m north to outside Mellish Court, where the pavement is much wider. The ‘bus cage’ also needs to be long enough to take two double deckers simultaneously, and it appears that TfL are working on possible bus lengths of up to 29 metres. Now that’s 9 metres longer than a cricket pitch, but I didn’t get the chance to query it and none of the elected members bothered to.

The residents of Mellish Court are, understandably, highly upset at this possibility and spoke very eloquently on it. They cite anti-social behaviour by bus users, such as dropping litter and human detritus over the wall into their garden as well as attendant noise from the myriad of buses stopping and starting. The number of buses is likely to increase with the impending diversion of the K4 to pass the site on its way into Kingston – I suspect this will impact on Ditton Road as well. All of this is part of the ‘green travel plan’ which is an essential part of the planning permission granted for the health centre and 461-pupil primary school being built on the hospital site. Residents were also concerned about overlooking into their lounges and bedrooms from the upper decks of buses. I will just say in passing that the shelters that accompany bus stops are frequently used as assembly points by young people hanging out with nothing much to do and nowhere to go – something Nick Kilby commented on in his post on the ‘Youth Matters’ page two years ago, and a problem we had ideas on addressing, had we been re-elected in 2010. As it is I wonder if the Mellish Court residents have taken up their problem with the Police.

Mellish Court residents want the bus stop to stay where it is, outside the businesses and closer to the hospital site entrance. It was alleged that this would make life easier for disabled people, especially wheelchair users. In fact it won’t. Wheelchair users (especially powered ones) are likely to need the wider pavement to be able to manoeuvre on and off a bus and make a 90 degree turn immediately after alighting or while in the act of boarding. The businesses want it moved, partly for the same reason the MC residents don’t want it moved. TfL stated categorically in late material that they couldn’t support leaving the stop where it is because of lack of space between crossovers and the narrowness of the pavement.

All sides had their facts and their facts were true. In the end I wasn’t altogether surprised that the decision went in favour of the MC residents and against TfL by 5 votes to 2 with one apparent abstention.

Speaking to one of the officers afterwards we both agreed that it was a very difficult decision to have to make. However there was one moment of comic relief when Elmbridge resident Cllr. Neil Houston suggested having two bus stops not one, with one extra one somewhere south of the present one, probably outside Shan Pharmacy! There was no support for this suggestion.

Other issues were quickly despatched. The scheme for a CPZ east of Ewell Road was not proceeded with, though some street corner treatments should be introduced for safety reasons (see references to Mayfair Close in this blog).

Arlington Road residents will remain in parking zone S and not transfer to zone T. So Jane Smith and I got something right 10 or so years ago when we worked with Arlington Road residents to bring this about.

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