Residents Report September 2020 – Cllr. Jeff Harris

Dear Residents

As I write this the Summer is having one last encore and showing what an ‘Indian summer’ looks and feels like. Unlike the weather we suffered just a few weeks ago….

Covid-19 is still gripping us all, and although some of the messages change, it’s the simple things that will limit the disease impact:

Wash your Hands, keep your distance, and where required, don’t argue – wear a mask/face-covering.

If we all do these we can defeat this horrendous disease or at least hold it at bay. There’s plenty of advice via the Surrey County Council website: If in any doubt ring 119 for advice and guidance.

Litter: But in many cases life goes on, and unfortunately one of those issues we all suffer from is litter along our beautiful highways and byways.

I must say a HUGE THANK YOU to the dozens of residents and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council for their support, throughout the national event in September to litter pick across my area. The results are so plain to see and all those involved should be rightly proud of their efforts and the impact its made on our communities. So WELL DONE all of you!

Road Safety: As many of you know I’m a great supporter of anything that can make our roads safer. There is a survey currently being conducted by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners about how we all feel our local force is responding to Roads Policing issues and the number of people killed and injured on our roads. Please take a couple of minutes and complete the survey.

A217 – My personal Bete Noir…..Many of you will have seen the closure of the A217 last month due to a number of sinkholes/voids (where the chalk underground has been washed away) appearing near the Shell Petrol Station. I did chase up the works constantly, but it’s fair to say it was a lot more complicated than just pouring a bit of concrete into the hole. But at least its done. I’ve a number of other sinkholes across my area that appeared over the last few weeks, and one by one they are being investigated, made safe and filled in. This is a worrying and growing problem across our area given the chalk underlying the thin clay surfaces in many places.

As many will know the A217 is closed southbound from the top of Reigate Hill for thee months for some vital safety work. I’ve made my feelings quite clear about how this and diversions have been managed, but I have to admit defeat and say what we have is the least worst option. Hopefully it will be completed well before December….We did succeed in getting some signs advising our local roads are not suitable for anything but cars….a small victory!

Flooding: The last report coincided with the ‘deluge’ and sadly, flooding of many properties and roads locally. Almost all were dealt with very quickly, as a result of prompt reporting by residents (thank you!), but some remain and enduring problem. I’ve asked for the gully and drain cleaning regime locally to be enhanced and this week (14th Sept on) should see a number of gullies and blocked drains cleared and sucked out. If you see one that needs clearing, please report it asap.

One of the factors in some roads flooding are the number of households who have concreted over their gardens and drives. Whilst fully understandable due to parking problem on our roads, it means there is s simply nowhere for the water to go. If you are thinking of concreting/tarmacking your garden/drive, please consider this as it can be disastrous in heavy rain.

Unitary Authorities – briefly, the Government is looking to reduce the bureaucracy involved in local government. Currently, in Surrey, we have Parish Councils, Town Councils, District and Borough Councils and the County Council, all providing services for residents. All of which add to cost to your Community Charge Tax. I think most people would admit they don’t know who does what, but also suggest it costs and possibly wastes, a lot of money. The argument is that there must be a simpler, more effective, efficient and economic way of doing this. Hence the move to Unitary Authorities, which are designed to remove this complicated structure which has gone on for decades. There are so many rumours abounding but nothing has actually been announced, so please take these rumours with a ‘pinch of salt’, as the saying goes, and wait until formal announcements are made. Some of course will rightly, have their own view on the status quo, but at the moment it appears some views are being voiced from a purely personal view, not necessarily representative of the communities they serve. However, I will ensure everyone is kept up to date in due course, and obviously there will be a period of consultation before any decisions are made in Surrey.

With grateful thanks for all the support and action in our communities.

Best wishes,

Jeff. Harris

County Councillor Tadworth, Walton on the Hill, Burgh Heath and Kingswood.

September 2020

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