Sunday, 8 September 2013

You Might Want To Sit Down

Does this look right to you? I really didn’t feel like having another moan about the works going on around Central Road. Some things look really nice like the new flower beds. The new pedestrian crossings that aren’t actually pedestrian crossings look nice too (when they’re not undergoing their monthly stone replacement). They might even make then odd driver slow down and wonder whether they ought to have let that pedestrian cross there after all.

But really, should this seat be facing the wall? I don’t know and who am I to judge but it just looks a bit wrong to me. It’s not that people can’t sit with their backs to the road watching people walk up and down past the library wall. It’s just that I’d have thought it would be nicer to sit with their backs against the wall and watch the road, the shops and people in general. It’s just a nicer view. I’m willing to accept there might be a perfectly proper reason why it has been done this way, it’s just that I can’t think of it.

As blog reader Andy (also to be thanked for the photo) put it: “Liking most of the improvements, however have my suspicions that the contractors are making it up as they go along!”

Perhaps they are. Can anyone enlighten me?

Update (16th October)

Apparently there is a reason for the seat being like this... Our old friends Elf 'n' Safety dictate that the seat cannot be around the other way when it is this close to the road, in case someone stands up into the path of an oncoming car. Hmm yeah - ok, can sort of see that one.

The reason it can't be with its back to the library wall is a bit more 'interesting'. Apparently if the seat were with its back to the wall, it might encourage graffiti on the wall by people standing on the seat. So apparently to discourage such graffiti, the answer is not to put a seat there.

I was unaware of the concept of a 'graffiti zone', below which such rascals are less interested in daubing their scrawls. Well at least if it turns out to be wrong and they end up scrawling on the wall anyway, we will have a nice seat to look at it from...




29 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Jo Bloggs said...

not only that ... its 2 ft away from a road that gets constantly congested with traffic and accident etc ...
id say more of a safety issue than anything ...
Im guessing its been put their because of the hill the elderly have to climb from the bottom of the high-street... a little resting spot...
still... very bizarre and odd looking

Sitting comfortably said...

We actually saw this going in and my other half could not help but burst out laughing. I had to explain to the guys concreting it in place that she wasn't laughing at them - but the direction of the bench.



Apparently we weren't alone - several people had already commented - even before the bench was in - that it was clearly the wrong way around! However, the guys had been given specific instructions to position it that way. Apparently the idea of meditating in front of a brick wall came from Sutton's Outer London Fund, who previously thought up the idea of disintegrating wallpaper on Victoria House.



The guys thought it was crazy too - pointing out the numerous pedestrians passing and a number of prams and pushchairs using the route, so you couldn't stretch your legs out, without injuring yourself and/or whoever's walking past.

Amazing to reflect on the fact that in the same week that Sutton Council has announced reduced opening hours at 4 libraries - including Worcester Park's, on the basis of essential savings, money can be found to blow on a bench that is at best poorly located and at worst going to lead to accidents and injury claims. This is utterly crazy!

Lord Cynic said...

That's interesting. I hadn't seen this one, but saw a bigger, curved bench being installed at the top of Balmoral Road. My immediate thought..................................that doesn't look like it's been put in facing the right way!!!

guest D said...

Which ever planner at TFL or Sutton (I don't know who was tasked with doing the detail work by Boris' fund), should be made to sit on one of these benchs for an hour.


Benchs like this are mainly provided for elderly or otherwise disabled people and part of the psychology is that the users can sit there pretending that they are just watching the world go by, not unable to take another step. That is a little difficult to do when staring at a wall.


I suppose the next step, rather than admit they are wrong will be to commission a mural to be painted on the wall, so there is something to stare at. After all even for meditation you need something like a Zen garden to free the mind.

Moley said...

Surely it should have been positioned with the backrest against the library wall?!

Guest said...

I you want to see bizarre go to Tolworth Broadway ,that truly is weird like being on a different planet. Who are these people who dream up these ' dippy ' road schemes using public money. And as for the non indigenous floodlit trees by the roundabout (from Epsom) is there no accountability for this waste of money.
The inmates are running the asylum !!!!!!!

Just a thought said...

Instead of cutting the opening hours of the library to cut Council expenditure, how about Sutton Council simply sacking the doughnut who was tasked with the very simple job of siting this bench outside the library and somehow managed to completely screw it up?

And the Council can save even more money by sacking the doughnut who employed this one.

Simon Densley (Consv Activist) said...

We might find it requires an election to get rid of such doughnuts.

guest D said...

Firstly it is probable that the doughnut is employed directly or indirectly by TFL.


Secondly you clearly have never been in managment or you would know that hiring is expensive and firing usually more so. Therefore your plans would no doubt cost money.


To fire someone these days they usually have to have committed gross misconduct or have exceed the number of written warnings specified in their contract Siting a bench stupidly would not by any stretch of the imagination be gross misconduct and I would doubt would even bring about a written warning.


The work they are doing would have to be done by someone else so a new employee would have to be hired in.


So yout great idea of saving money would end costing a considerable amount.

guest D said...

Simon I appreciate what you are saying, but you know in reality elected Council officials have little say in the hiring and firing of permenent staff other than the Chief executive.


Yes if you become elected you will have some control over budgets and therefore staffing levels. But in our system of government that's it. Otherwise the classics graduates (aka civil servants) running the IT procurement programmes for the last 30 years, who have wasted billions of our money would have been out on their ear and replaced by specialists who would be wise to the tricks of the big 4.

Lord Cynic said...

All this talk of doughnuts is making me hungry. Mmmmmmm...........doughnuts !!!

Simon Densley (Consv Activist) said...

Perhaps in regard to direct hiring and firing in the short term. However it’s not a case of policy set and forget. Councillors are the ones ultimately responsible for the outcomes of everything the council does and they have many mechanisms they can use to ensure things go the way they want. There are many committees which councillors sit on and chair that are responsible for various things including the Outer London Fund (OLF) committee which is responsible for these works (not TfL). In these committees elected representatives have the opportunity to steer projects and ask the necessary questions to ensure the work is done properly. Many of these committee meetings are public; in fact there next OLF meeting is tomorrow evening (Tuesday 10th Sept) at 6:00pm at the Elmcroft Centre (570 London Road, North Cheam SM3 9AB). Chairs and councillors will often have further meetings with council officers (staff) to go over plans in greater detail. Any aspect of the work can be questioned by councillors from why something costs what it does through to the policy on which way benches should face. It is of course also their job to set the aims, priorities and boundaries that should guide the council officers doing the work.

I would be interested to know why (according to another comment here) “the guys had been given specific instructions to position it that way”. This was somebody’s decision and was made for a reason. Where did that reason come from?

It is important to remember that things can be run well so it is not a matter of it can’t be fixed so don’t bother trying. Needless to say that it should be the Council’s priority to have the right people in the right positions to deliver excellent public services and to be getting value for money on behalf of the council tax payers. It might be difficult to achieve but many councils and businesses manage it and similar things so it can be done.

Jenjen said...

It's better sitting there than watching the idiots coming out the wrong way of the car park in stone place what is wrong with the drivers today at least sitting there you can bang your head on the wall in desperation

Jenjen said...

Talking of doughnuts greggs the bakers has designed a new one funny it's so close to the library

The one said...

Has no one noticed how dangerous the parking bays are or the entrance into waitrose. The parking bays no longer have dropped kerbs , the amount of cars I have seen use the pavement to get in a space is unbelievable . Have a seat on a bench and watch also the entrance to waitrose is very tight again with no kerbs . Accident waiting to happen I say

Dave said...

A letter writer in today's Telegraph (which I only soiled my hands with because it was free) asks :
"Why are Left-wing campaigners described as activists, while Right-wingers are extremists?"
Assuming Consv means Tory, perhaps you might want to consider a different label. Unless you are middle-of-the-road.

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

I am sure Simon would n't mind me saying that we are all mostly Centrists with right leaning economic tendencies

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

The bench should be turned round at the contractors expense it is clearly a mistake and could not have been purchased by the council like that. Cllr Eric Allen may be able to point this out to the contractor or the OLF committee.

guest D said...

Though it's clearly stupid, it may not be a mistake in these days of Health and Safety insanity, as someone joked above people could sit on the bench and bang their heads on the wall at the stupidty of the drivers. Well with its siting that's impossible.


If you do find out the underlying reason for this alignment, please report back so we can all have a good laugh / recoil in horror.

Just a thought said...

The mundane siting of such benches is routinely and successfully undertaken outside of Sutton - it is only failing inside Sutton. To anyone with an open mind and without an allegiance to Sutton Council, the source of such incompetence looks to be firmly located within Sutton - not TFL or any other London-wide body.

I don't doubt your hands-on familiarity with the deliberately lengthy and drawn out process of dealing with incompetence in Sutton Council. And I especially note a familiar willingness to pursue the easiest short-term option that requires the smallest application of effort - without considering the long-term costs of providing a job for life and a gold-plated pension for those who are unable to undertake their roles and responsibilities... Clearly the culture of Sutton Council has to change.


The audit report on Sutton Council's High Street meddling in 2010/2011 certainly revealed some memorable gross misconduct, resulting in Council staff and Councillors hiding behind each other. Looking at the more recent failures already reported on the WP blog, obviously that audit report did nothing to change the culture in Sutton. I hope the WP blog is able to upload the resulting audit report for North Cheam & Worcester Park's Outer London Fund, so we may be acquainted with its full range of failure... [That's assuming there will actually be an audit of the £2 million spent?].

Barry Cullum said...

Seems to me that these seats represent Sutton Council at its very best....... BACKWARD!

Stevie B said...

I also was blissfully unaware that it was a prerequisite to be standing on a bench when you add graffiti to a wall... You live and learn....

Barry Cullum said...

You're right... Tolworth Broadway is a real hoot!

Barry Cullum said...

Some people just don't keep up to date on the graffiti regulations....disgraceful!!!

Charlotte Gilhooly said...

Here's why the street bench in Worcester Park is in the wrong place: http://t.co/3ZjpFeHLSc

Worcester Park Blogger said...

Thanks Charlotte, that's a very interesting post.

Barry Cullum said...

Ok... so in your opinion, how many of those points apply to the position of the seating in question?

Alex said...

Charlotte's article definitely sheds light on the subject, and when you reflect on her psychological points, you realise, she's absolutely right! Reading the list of 7 aspects, I suspect this bench comes close to scoring a Eurovision-tastic "Nil Points". However, the bench is certainly near a library, so my guess is it should score 1 out of 7.

It's a shame, amongst the £2.2 million that this Outer London Fund is graffiti-ing, sculpturing and painting up the various walls of North Cheam and Worcester Park, that a little of it wasn't spent on hiring Charlotte's services to avoid at least some of the more obvious foul-ups.
Still, when it comes to the Outer London Fund, I don't think it matters to Sutton Council how many public and professional opinions say this bench is a textbook example of self-evident incompetence.

Barry Cullum said...

Close to nil points was my estimation as well. I can't see many people taking a book out of the library so they can go round the corner to read it.
You second & third paragraphs score 10 out of 10 with me... I couldn't have put it better myself...

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