A previous post showed SCC’s contractors starting work on the introduction of parking charge infrastructure.  The contractors were inserting wooden bollards – informally called “dragons’ teeth” into the Newlands Corner common roadside verge. 

At the end of it all, SCC has ‘planted’ 400 dragons’ teeth into the common (see photos).  It has also planted bollards at Whitmoor common on Saltbox Road and at Chobham common.  If anyone knows what has happened at Ockham common or Rodborough common, we would love to hear from you – pictures welcomed. 

There are three issues related to this:

  • The approx. 275 bollards by the roadside at Newlands Corner are dangerous. SCC has not complied with its own guidance, which says that wooden bollards should have reflectors on them.  There are no reflectors at Whitmoor and we are not aware of any at Chobham.  Newlands Corner does, as at last week, have 13 posts with reflectors on them.  12 of those are on a line of 48 posts.  The other 227 have to share 1 reflector.   In addition, SCC has failed to follow good practice by embedding the posts in granular or similar material which has ‘give’ in the event of an accident.  The posts at Newlands Corner have just been hammered into the earth. So, no reflectors, no ‘give’.  These posts are a fatal accident waiting to happen, particularly for motorbike riders.
  • The posts are an eyesore. Chobham has fought long and hard over the years to keep its common looking natural.  Now it is blighted by these dragons’ teeth.  Whitmoor has had a little parking area, which has existed for many years, blocked off for the sole purpose of pushing visitors into the pay-to-park areas (see photo).  This is illegal as bollards are meant to be for the purposes of protecting the common.  SCC has done this to maximise income.  With 400 posts at Newlands Corner, there can only be one verdict – urrgh!  As the ‘letter of the week’ in the Surrey Advertiser said this week – what is the Surrey Hills Board doing about this?  They are supposed to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of Newlands Corner.  Not a whimper, not a word.  Could it be because SCC Cllr Goodman, who is the person introducing these bollards, is also on the Surrey Hills Board?  Cllr Wright, Chairman of the Board should be ashamed as he lives very close to Newlands Corner and has benefited from its beauty for many years.
  • The technical bit. The posts are illegal.  Section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 requires all “restricted works” to have consent from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) in Bristol.  As ever, there are exceptions.  These are set out in the Works on Common Land (Exemptions) (England) Order 2007.  Paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Order says that you can install one row of bollards of no more than 200 metres in length without seeking PINS’s consent.  However, if you want to install another row of bollards of no more than 200 metres you either have to get rid of the first row first or you have to apply for consent.  If you want to put in a row, or extend a row to, over 200 metres, you need consent.  If you have old rows which did not have, and should have had, consent (i.e. they were illegal to start with) and you replace them or extend them, they need consent.  SCC has failed on all accounts at Newlands Corner, Whitmoor common and Chobham common.  I’m sure it is likely to be the same at the other two registered commons.  We have written to SCC asking for an explanation of its behaviour and for it to pull out the dragons’ teeth (unlikely) or ask for retrospective consent from PINS (even more unlikely).  What is also very unlikely is that we will receive a reply.  SCC has officially closed the door to the majority of correspondence on the issue of parking charges.  Failure to apply for consent means you are robbed of your democratic right to make representations about an application.  Even if you were to write to PINS anyway, it has no power to make SCC submit an application.  As Charles Dickens wrote “the law is a ass”, at times.

If you are as outraged as we are about these bollards, please write to your SCC councillor (https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1 ). 

Once again, SCC is showing that it cares not one jot about the environment, the law or what Surrey residents want.