Your intrepid reporter visits Waterloo Station to experience the predicted chaos

You, dear readers, will know of my occasional reports on the progress of changes at Waterloo Station. You can read them HERE, in descending date order.

The predicted chaos was nowhere to be seen when I journeyed there last Friday 11th August. Everything was running smoothly. The new platforms in the old International Station were accessed by a new gently rising wide ramp from the main station concourse. You can see the entrance to the ramp to the right of photo 2 in the group below. Comparison with the photos in my May 18th report shows the amount of construction work completed between then and now.

In my previous report of May 18th this year, I said that the deadline for opening the new platforms would be tight. That’s how it turned out. I spoke with a station manager, whom I saw dispensing free bottles of water next to the new platforms [see photo], and asked him about their meeting the deadline date. I asked, “how close, in days?”. He replied “close”. I pressed, “a matter of hours?”, he replied, “close”, and smiled not wanting to be drawn any further. Here are my photos,


Chobham Society petition presented to Council

Surrey Heath Borough Council issued this press release on 1st August 2017, [NOTE: My photo of council chamber, not of this council meeting]

Surrey Heath Borough Council welcomed members of The Chobham Society and local residents to debate a petition presented to a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 26 July.

The petition, which collected enough signatures to trigger a debate at Full Council, was signed by 992 residents in the Borough, 605 of whom live in Chobham.

The petition asked SHBC not to promote or support housing development at Fairoaks Airport, a privately owned site in Chobham, but to retain it in the Greenbelt, including committing to not making a second bid for a Fairoaks Garden Village, and to encourage airport operations at Fairoaks with associated employment opportunities.

Mr Darren Rees of The Chobham Society made a presentation setting out reasons for objections to redevelopment of the site with reference to the Local Plan.

Councillor Moira Gibson, Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council, said: “With no planning application submitted for the Fairoaks site it is too early for Members to comment on future plans for the site, but the background information and concerns presented by The Chobham Society and local residents is an important part of the process.”

The petition had been accepted by the Council for a public debate as a valid petition in March 2017, and had run for three months.

SHBC Chief Executive Karen Whelan added: “Members of the public have a right to be heard on a host of topics which are important to them, which is why the petition process exists. When issues also affect decisions councillors might have to take in the future, it is naturally important for councillors to be made aware of local opinion, whilst keeping an open mind to any potential development proposals in the borough.”

Can’t resist checking on the quality of Virgin Media trenching

My ‘nerdish’ activity used to be monitoring potholes. My latest similar activity is monitoring the trenching work of Virgin Media’s contractors installing fibre optic cables.

Apart from the residents of Ullswater Close who suffered from shockingly poor work of the initial contractors before they were sacked by Virgin Media, the work has generally been to a reasonable standard. Road and pavement works cause dislocation, and that inevitably affects some people more than others.

I’m not sure why that some of the trenching is laudably narrow, and other times not. As we’re in a block paved cul-de-sac I’m always been concerned that utility contractors re-lay the block paving carefully, and that’s been the case with electricity, gas and water companies. [See extent of electricity works below]

Learning from a commenter on this blog of concerns on trenching through block paving I went on a circular tour to check on the work. In Blackthorn Drive trenching through block paving was replaced well. In Briar Avenue the trenching is neat and narrow and in Burdock Close I had to look hard to find where the block paving had been uplifted and relaid.

However, I also visited Alsford Close and found tarmac laid in place of block paving. I image it’s a temporary fix, well, I hope it is. Uplifting such a large area of block paving looks as though it might present a problem to re-lay. Perhaps not, but I think I’ll be a busybody and contact Virgin Media’s Community Liaison Officer –, to ensure that they use experienced paviours to re-lay the blocks.

Consultation on the closure of Swift Lane recycling centre in Bagshot

I imagine I’m not alone in thinking a public consultation on the closure of a facility, generally of any kind, is a mite pointless. When, as is the case with Bagshot’s Swift Lane recycling centre, closure is a proposed option, then that’s going to be the likely end result.

Better brains than mine might find persuasive arguments against closure, and would benefit us all if they added them into the consultation process.

Click on the image to link directly to the Surrey County Council consultation web page, or go HERE to fill in the online questionnaire.

Here’s my view. The service available at the Swift Lane recycling centre has steadily eroded over time. Access to it is dreadful. How many of us have found ourselves in a long queue to the centre, with almost no ability to turn round and go elsewhere. So, asking me to fight against its closure is a tough ask.

This consultation process is one designed to facilitate the County Council saving money. Laudable in itself, but not being part of a wider strategy to invest in recycling is a wasted opportunity. I would like to be better informed on the cost of recycling, and that charges should apply for those items that are difficult to unable to be recycled.

We recently delivered an old fridge to the Camberley recycling centre, at no cost. I would have happily paid something. Does recycling this fridge cost the County Council money, or do they make a profit from its recycling? I don’t know.

Highways England state the M3 ‘Smart’ motorway is now open. Well, not entirely

The BBC reports that the 13.4 mile stretch of ‘smart’ motorway on the M3 from junction 2 to 4a is now open. Good news. Local residents have survived years of dislocation.

The BBC’s report and Highways England report say that there remains some work to complete the managed motorway project, such as testing the signals, and construction of the Woodlands Lane Bridge.

Forgive me for being a cynic. When the BBC reports,

Pranav Devale, project manager for Highways England, said the upgrade to the motorway has been completed on time.

and then in the same article says,

The 50mph speed restriction will be lifted and all four lanes will operate at 70mph in normal conditions once testing is complete, a spokesman for Highways England said. The testing phase is expected to last for up to three weeks.

and then through looking at the Highways England status report of the project, HERE, reveals the project isn’t yet finished, with ongoing road, and lane closures. Here’s one part of the report.

M3 eastbound within J3 | Eastbound | Road Works
Location : The M3 eastbound between junctions J3 and J2 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1, 2 and 3 will be closed. Reason : Road repairs are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 05:30 from 3 July 2017 to 7 July 2017. Schedule : From 20:00 on 7 July 2017 to 07:00 on 8 July 2017. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 05:30 from 17 July 2017 to 20 July 2017. Schedule : From 20:00 on 20 July 2017 to 07:00 on 21 July 2017. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Note the final words, all lanes will be closed. I know the project won’t have overrun by much. Better to be honest and admit the slight overrun.

Virgin Media requests permission to lay fibre optic cable to our house. Answer is yes, yes, yes.

In the post this morning, a letter from Virgin Media. A couple of adjacent houses have a shared private driveway, hence the Virgin Media request for permission to lay fibre optic cable and a network access point.

Our house is in a cul-de-sac, where the road is block-paved. In the many digging’s up for electricity and gas the contractors have always replaced the block paving. We’ll make sure that the Virgin Media contractors do the same.

Update on Virgin Media ultrafast optical fibre broadband in Lightwater

At Lightwater’s recent Fayre in the Square I stopped by the Virgin Media tent. Staffed by their local Community Liaison Officer – – and Regional Manager. They answered my questions.

I learned that they fired their initial installation contractor for poor performance. It was the residents of Ullswater Close who suffered shoddy trench digging.

Their regional manager said available broadband speeds from Virgin Media will be up to 300mbps. That’s some improvement on our tardy BT service. Also, they’re planning to complete the fibre installation by October and begin supplying the service to homes in January 2018.

Can’t wait – though expect I’ll end up paying more.