Agenda item


SCC Cabinet Member Matt Furniss to provide a verbal update on Highways, including rural rat runs.


Agenda item only


Presenter: Surrey County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Highways, Matt Furniss, gave a verbal update to the Local Committee on Surrey Highways.


Officer in attendance: Frank Apicella, Area Highway Manager (South West).


Petitions, Public Questions/Statements: One question during the Open Forum and one supplementary question during Item 6: Written Public Questions.  The Chairman took the questions during this item.


Summary of verbal update from Mr Furniss:


“Update on the progress of the increased investment in roads this year

  • We are in the second year of the Severe Weather Recovery Programme, having last year completed approximately 300 schemes comprising surfacing, large/small scale patching and surface dressing.
  • So far this year we have completed 23 surfacing and patching schemes, and 50 surface dressing schemes under this programme.
  • There are a further 33 surfacing and patching schemes programmed for the rest of the year.
  • There are a number of reserve schemes also on the programme, and we will be monitoring any further deterioration across the network over the Autumn and Winter period, prioritising these with the remaining funding.


Town centre agreements report going to Cabinet

  • A report is going to Cabinet in July that will build on our solid partnership working with the District & Borough Councils.
  • This will enable important highway maintenance works to be undertaken by those best placed to do so.
  • There is potential that through closer working there can be an improved level of maintenance, management and investment to our important and high profile town centre locations.


Surrey Infrastructure Academy launch

  • The launch event for the Surrey Infrastructure Academy took place on Wednesday 26 June 2019.
  • This is a collaborative project between Surrey County Council, the four major FE colleges in Surrey and the Infrastructure Industry.
  • The project has been led by Kier and developed as part of the Surrey Highways contract to help reverse the ticking time bomb in skills within the Highways, Utilities, Civil Engineering and Energy industries.
  • The doors are open for students to start in September 2019 with a range of new and existing courses, packaged as a tangible institution, supported by employers, appealing to students, parents and schools giving a viable entry to a career in the Infrastructure Sector.


Update on LED rollout

  • Officers continue to finalise the negotiation of the PFI contract change which is progressing well with conversion expected to commence in the Autumn as planned.
  • In December 2018, a small number of street lights near to the Highways Depot in Merrow were converted to LED and are working well.
  • In the spring, a traffic camera and radar counter was installed along with a temperature sensor and an air quality monitoring sensor to test their functionality and initial reports are being reviewed by officers to understand what the data shows.
  • The trial was extended to a number of roads in Merrow in late May with around 100 lights converted to LED which allowed Skanska to test and improve on the conversion process ahead of the work starting which will see up to 3000 lights converted per month.
  • The Deed of Variation to the contract is expected to be executed in the coming weeks and once completed, further information on the work including the programme and dates for each area will be shared with Members and the public.”


Member discussion key points:


Members requested that in addition to Waverley Council, town and parish councils are consulted on town centre re-generation.  Mr Furniss said that SCC would consult with them.


Regarding a query about using a higher quality material on highways, Mr Furniss replied that SCC uses tarmac.  If Boroughs, towns and parishes want to use a different material, SCC can pass on the budget that they would have spent.


Conservation areas need to be protected and what is agreed is not always what is actually implemented.  Design Statements have been worked on by residents over many years.  Mr Furniss offered to discuss individual cases outside of the meeting.


Trees are being cut down in county lanes – does SCC conduct any ecology studies beforehand, for example regarding nesting birds?  Mr Furniss replied that yes, SCC does do so.  He will discuss any issues outside of the meeting.


Farnham town centre modelling information was requested, so that it can be viewed before construction.  Mr Furniss said that the SCC Cabinet member responsible for infrastructure, Colin Kemp, may have details.  The Area Highway manager had tried to locate the information previously, but will ask again.  Mr Wyatt Ramsdale said that he may have a name of someone to follow up on.


Mr Furniss then discussed rural rat runs with members.  SCC is supporting boroughs and districts regarding infrastructure plans.  There are wider issues such as air quality – HGVs make up a proportion, but mainly it is cars (70-80%) effecting air quality.  Other methods of transport such as park and ride and new train routes are increasing, such as the new Farnham to Guildford direct train route.  It was pointed out that this has an impact on Farnham’s air quality as the level crossing now has much more down time.  Mr Furniss said that he was aware and would be raising this with Network Rail.


New traffic routes have to be carefully considered in the context of air quality management areas.  Regarding Mr Paul Osborne’s petition request from 22 March 2019 Local Committee, Mr Furniss said that a ‘road destination survey’ could be conducted to examine if a road is being used as a rat run.  Information can be provided to companies who control HGV sat navs that ‘A’ roads are preferable for use, but it is not possible to stop people using country lanes.


Mr Osborne was invited to speak.  He said that he wants to target HGVs to keep them off country lanes and he has observed an increase in HGVs from Dunsfold, Horsham and Cranleigh.


Members asked what was happening regarding an HGV study, as Cranleigh has also had issues regarding rat runs.  They believed that the study came to a halt as some villages did not want an increase of traffic on their roads.  Mr Furniss replied that the study is still being conducted but that there is no easy solution.  SCC does not have the financial ability to vastly improve some ‘A’ roads but more funding could be available to districts and boroughs if they apply to the Government.  Mr Furniss stated that Guildford had worked with SCC to access government funds and that he was happy to take ideas from Waverley and get them worked on.


Some members voiced support for Mr Osborne and suggested that a joint working group could look at all the issues.  The Chairman said that this could be discussed further at a future Local Committee Informal meeting.


The Chairman invited local resident Mr John Jeffrey MBE to speak.  Mr Jeffrey said that he found the public are willing to improve their local environment and thought that they should be appealed to and involved in the discussions.


Members would like SCC to consult more widely and would like to find out more about the work of SCC’s Transport Development Planning team.


The Chairman thanked the Cabinet member for attending the Local Committee.