Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ministerial Visit

On Monday (27th January) Worcester Park received a distinguished visit from Theresa Villiers MP (The Rt Hon, Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland). I had a chance to ask her a few questions but perhaps the most interesting part of the morning was the discussion between her, Tracy from Cycle Power (Chair of the Worcester Park Traders Association), Brendan from Pets Place (previous Chair of the Worcester Park Traders Association) and Paul Scully (local Conservative Parliamentary candidate). They chatted away inside Cycle Power and I managed to get most of it on video.

I have edited this together with a few of my questions in there but for the most part I have just let the conversation roll on. I have not tried to make this a documentary or focus on sound bites. Rather, I mainly wanted to let people in on an interesting conversation about Worcester Park with a Cabinet Minister.

I'm sorry in advance that the sound quality is a bit rubbish in places (in front of Waitrose mainly). I hope you enjoy it nevertheless.

I started by asking why she had come to Worcester Park...



You can also read more about the Minister's visit in the Sutton Guardian here.


23 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Alex said...

It was very interesting to hear traders' suggesting that the lower part of Central Road could be a dual carriageway. Those that have been around KT4 for a few decades will recall that it WAS a dual carriageway and the (then, around 1990) newly elected Lib Dem Council converted it to single lane, pursuing a kamikaze-style anti-car policy.

At the time, (then) 'senior' residents threw up their hands in disbelief, stating that this would bring disaster, reverting to a dire 1950s problem (that they well recalled) and that the dual carriage way had done much to reduce.

Some farsighted residents and traders even suggested that the resulting gridlock would so badly affect trade in Central Road that many shops would cease to exist... 20 odd years later and 20 odd empty trading units later, here we are!

guest D said...

Barry,

You comments of WP in the fifties, reminded me of the road I lived in then. It was as wide as Central Road, so the local Jag garage used to park cars down each side and along the centre.

In the 68 election, due to the borough merging the Tories took control, they decided to widen the pavements using granite sets and paviers and add nosedowns where they planted trees. Very nice and it looked pretty but the road was now definitly down to one lane in each direction with 1970 cars and the bit beyond the square had to be made one way.

The locals said at the time it wouldn't work as there was a disabled school (special needs in modern PC speak), that with their rat run closures had to use that road as access.

Roll on 30 years and I drove down there to see a relative and though no changes had been made, the road seemed much narrower due to bigger cars and there was a jam caused by a school bus trying to pass illegally parked cars.

In summary any new council with its desire like mice to mark its territory can cause chaos, and the Tories, they just had four years before Labour regained control, but unfortunately they didn't put right the mess the Tories had made.

Guest said...

I was disturbed to hear you promoting the potential of opening the Cattle Arch under the railway to traffic. This has never been a through way for traffic having been built for the local farmers to use when the railway first opened, hence it's name! It's not wide or high enough for traffic. Just one accident that caused damage (easily done by a vehicle not understanding any height/width restrictions!) and the railway line would be shut down for months while the safety risk was assessed and resolved. Yes, traffic is a problem in the high street but encouraging inappropriate back street rat runs is not the answer.

Paul Scully said...

I'm not promoting it, just repeating a suggestion that I had with a local resident. I've been past it many times but not looked closely enough to see it as a road or cattle arch. There's no doubt that a long term solution for traffic in the area needs to be considered and implemented, but I don't think the Cattle Arch would be starter for the rat-running issue that you raise apart from the height and width. People already dash down either side of Central Road in Kingsdown Avenue and Browning Avenue so there's little point making residential roads worse to cure a problem in a main arterial road. There's certainly no easy solutions but I'd be really interested to hear your ideas.

Martin said...

Lots of old photos of Central Road in 1950's and 60's here:

http://www.francisfrith.com/worcester-park/photos/from-the-bridge-c1955_w455012/

Worcester Park Blogger said...

Thanks Martin, that's a great link!

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

I think the traffic situation is so bad in WP that all options at least during a review stage should be left on the table. Then to public consultation. There are no easy solutions guest but tackle it the conservatives will.

guest ab said...

This possible solution to getting some of the traffic off Central Road and the rat runs from North Cheam/Ewell, is an excellent one and should be investigated.
This has been mentioned several times over the years on the WP Blog.
It could be made one way from Lynwood Road with height /width restrictions to allow only cars/bikes through, to be constructed to ensure oversize vehicles got nowhere near the bridge. Its not rocket science and should seriously be looked at.
If CrossRail 2 ever gets off the ground, i am sure this bridge will have to be replaced anyway, maybe then making it wide enough for 2 way traffic?

cogarch said...

In the interests of historical accuracy and in the spirit of fairness to the Liberals, this picture seems to suggest that Central Road was no wider and the pavement no narrower in 1965...

guest D said...

That photo actually looks like it is of Malden, but in the reference provided by Martin, there is one of Central Road in '68 looking very much like it does today, except there almost no cars around.

Now this I find very strange, I was driving in '68 and it was difficult to find a parking place in Inner London. Has WP's traffic grown so much in 45 years?

guest D said...

I agree that all options should be considered. I would suggest that you add to the list replacing the cattle bridge with one that would take two lanes of traffic, it would be much cheaper to do it whilst it is not in use. However, I think this would be extremely unpopular with those living in the immediate area, particularly if they are thinking of selling.

Also you first need to decide what want to achieve, or you can't measure success / failure. Is it to increase the number of vehicles travelling along the A2043 or is it to increase the number of people and is it unidirectional flow or bidirectional. The first rather limits the options, the second may well result in the optimum solution being anti car.

cogarch said...

Oops -- thanks for pointing that out: so much for historical accuracy! But as you say, other pictures of Central Road in the 1950s and the 1960s show startling resemblances with today -- except that in those days the roads were deserted, and now it is the shops!

Barry said...

LOL.. the historical accuracy bit.
But you're quite right, there are resemblances with today. I'm probably as guilty in my thinking as a lot of people. We expect miracles from the local authorities, whoever they may be, in the face of the onslaught of the increase in traffic over, as Guest D puts it, in the last 45 years.
I've blamed the Liberals, like a lot of people, for the mess of Central Road. But only because they happened to be in power. Would it really have been any different if there'd be a Labour or Conservative Council?.. Is there really such a thing as a Conservative, Labour, or a Liberal traffic scheme?.. I think not.
There IS an answer of course to the traffic problems of WP, and I suspect many people have mulled about it, but it's far too radical and expensive to contemplate at the present:
If I were to suggest a major widening of the road between North Cheam and the A3 roundabout at Malden?.... hardly a major vote winner, but if things go on as they have been, will there be any alternative?

Guest said...

Barry, If I may quote you directly, "I've blamed the Liberals, like a lot of people, for the mess of Central Road. But only because they happened to be in power. Would it really have been any different if there'd be a Labour or Conservative Council?.. Is there really such a thing as a Conservative, Labour, or a Liberal traffic scheme?.. I think not."

The link between the A24 and A3 is one of the most problematic, gridlocked areas in southwest London. So who is responsible for getting it so badly wrong?

Sutton Council? - Lib Dem for approx. 25 years
Kingston Council? Lib Dem for approx. 12 years
Sutton's MP? - Lib Dem for approx. 15 years
Kingston's MP? - Lib Dem for approx. 15 years

One particular party sort of stands out, doesn't it? I'm certainly not seeing a clear link with either the Tories or Labour!

Barry said...

Guest... You do make a very good point there, and I am aware that the Liberals have been in power for long time as you say.
For those who are affected, day in day out, with this increasing mayhem, it probably beggars belief that they stay in power and preside over such an issue. All I can say is that they must be doing a hell of a lot right in other areas, that they can afford to mess about with the A24/A3 link in the way they have.

The point I was trying to make was this: Would things really have been all that different if either the Conservatives or Labour were in control? With the increase in traffic over the years, it's a problem that would have crept up no matter who was in power. The fact is that the road just isn't big enough to contain all the traffic that needs to use it anymore.

My radical solution to the problem would be unthinkable for any of the three parties.... to create a Ewell bypass sized dual carriageway road between North Cheam and the A3.
Yes, I know that concept is a nightmare. It would rip the heart out of Worcester Park and Old Malden, so I wouldn't even pretend to be promoting it. But I really can't see any other way.....

Guest said...

You are naive if you believe creating a new rat run will solve the others you mention in North Cheam/Ewell. It will just encourage even more traffic off the main road onto those existing residential rat runs to get them to Lynwood Drive the back way!

Guest said...

I think you forget that this option is not in Sutton's control. The roads on the other side of the Cattle Arch are in Epsom. I doubt they will be willing to shift the traffic problem into their area to the detriment of Cuddington residents

guest D said...

To be fair to Stewart he is only listing the options not pushing for this option, and it is about the only option that will increase the capacity for car drivers.

I'm sure he realises that there would be huge opposition (on both sides) to it happening and probably from Network Rail as well. I would suspect that the cost versus increase in traffic flow would take it out of contention

Guest cc said...

Guest D, its got nothing to do with house prices. It's about not creating new rat runs and worrying about our kids getting run over!!! Just so you can get to work earlier......

guest D said...

Actually as I work mainly from home getting to work earlier means just getting up earlier.

I do take your point and agree that people not cars should be the priority. And the questions I was asking of Stewart were to try and understand whether his priorities are still car drivers or whether a more holistic approach would be taken.

The point I was making is that any proposal that saw this cattle arch turned to a through route would create planning blight in the vicinity and make it hard to sell due to the uncertainty created.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

Sorry all, have been a little busy. I am writing on the iPhone on a train so please excuse any errors.
My view on rat runs is simple. We have rat runs because arterial roads are failing and congested. Sort out that problem the other dies with it! Whether that be new roads? Or road widening I don't know that is what reviews are for.
Cars over people ... no. but I'm also not for people over cars ... We need a balance. We can't have so many zebra crossing pelican crossings along a2043 that stops traffic moving. A recent lib dem poll states that people that live in the WP are dissatisfied with traffic and parking the highest dissatisfaction rate of all the borough. .. Tough decisions need to be made. Someone somewhere will not like proposals put forward but sometimes that is the price for sorting out the wider community issue. I think as a community we cannot put these off any longer. Like I have said before I am pushing for traffic to be one of our election pledges I think I am making traction when they are published we will see. Incidently, I was reading yesterday election campaign material from lib dems in 2009 election lib even then stated traffic was their main concern and something they would sort out ...now this is a tough situation to sort but in five. years what have we got ? .

guest D said...

Stewart thanks for the reply. By people over cars I was not referring to aids to pedestrians in crossing roads, but to the majority of commuters who use public transport (51% in London according to the latest figures). I realise that if elected you won't have direct control over this, but you can exert influence and after all every car driver that switches to public transport eases the strain on the roads.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

I hear you Guest D. I am switching to public transport soon. and this might be the answer for some but for others this is not an option, trades people who carry tools or where routes are not well served and sometimes price is prohibitive. The reality is cars are here to stay, as is the traffic problems if nothing is done.

Post a Comment

The Worcester Park Blog welcomes your comments and opinions!