Two stories appeared in juxtaposition in the Haslemere edition of last week’s paper, and together they illustrate an alarming disconnect between our elected representatives and those they claim to represent.
The main story concerned the recent flooding in the town and how local residents had to get ‘their hands dirty’ clearing blocked roadside drains themselves because the local authority has failed to do so.
It continues to report this is a regular occurrence for which residents and businesses attribute to council spending cutbacks, while our local councillors’ response is, though sympathetic, essentially: “There’s not much we can do about it.”
Directly adjacent to this story, there is a smaller article bearing the headline: New lower speed limit is backed.
This explains that our town councillors, the very same town councillors, have discussed and backed a new 20mph speed limit in Haslemere, in shopping and residential areas – ie, virtually all of it.
Furthermore, they have agreed to write to Surrey County Council for funding and assistance to implement this scheme “as a matter of urgency”.
Can our councillors not see the irony in this? Do they ever consider proper public consultation before embarking on such radical and controversial schemes? Has the ongoing ‘Haslemere Lido’ saga not taught them anything?
While floods and potholes continue to cost us, the town’s residents, damage, inconvenience, time and money, we remain obliged to pay punitive levels of council tax.
I wonder how much this new speed limit and its relevant signage, cameras and enforcement measures will add to that!
In support of this 20mph speed limit, ambiguous estimates of fewer casualties are cited (in my 63 years of living here, I have no memory of anyone being killed or injured in the town entirely due to speeding) and a vague reference to pipe emissions being reduced by 25 per cent.
This is nonsense; pipe emissions depend on what gear a vehicle is in – that is its engine speed, not its road speed.
The 30mph limit is what it says, a limit, not a target. In my experience it is impossible to exceed that or get anywhere near it on a normal working day in Haslemere.
There will always be people who speed, whatever the set limit, and get away with it, but the rest of us law-abiding motorists are certain to be heavily penalised if we inadvertently transgress this new speed limit by just a couple of miles per hour.
I have no political motive in this; indeed, I am a political agnostic, so I implore our councillors to think again, and conduct a proper survey that includes everyone in the town and immediate surrounding area.
Perhaps a well-advertised public meeting at the Haslemere Hall would be the best approach.
Businesses, particularly those that rely on tourism, need to have their say, as the town’s economic future will be affected. Remember, Haslemere can be very easily bypassed.
Councillors are elected to serve us, not police us, so to them I say, come on; engage with your electorate, otherwise it will appear there is no purpose in this scheme other than to raise funds from us, your already hard-pressed citizens.
By Mick Bradford
Peperham Road, Haslemere