Having squandered £1 million repaving Queensmead in Farnborough (shoddy workmanship, cheap paving slabs, floods when it rains, detrimental impact on local businesses), the local council is now proposing to pour £4.5 million down the drain in Aldershot (repave Union Street and Wellington Street, narrow Grosvenor Road and widen the pavement, cosmetic changes to a multi-story car park).
Wellington Street and Union Street do not need repaving. There are areas where there has been bad patchwork repairs in the past, these areas do need repaving.
Any work repaving Wellington Street and Union Street is wasted when vehicles are allowed through, especially heavy lorries, as they are smashing up the surface, plus a nightmare for pedestrians. Both streets should be pedestrianised 24 hours, seven days a week, access only for emergency vehicles. Deliveries can be made by handcart from vehicles parked nearby (the norm in Europe).
Grosvenor Road was only resurfaced with new tarmac a few weeks ago. Now it is being proposed, dig it up, widen the pavements, narrow the road and turn into single lane. Grosvenor Road is already single lane, the pavements are not narrow, and there is very little footfall.
What is needed is a pedestrian crossing connecting Upper Union Street with Union Street where it crosses Grosvenor Road.
Cosmetic changes to a multi-story car park are not going to hide the fact that it is an ugly multi-story car park. There is no requirement for a bridge connecting to the car park.
Consultation, what consultation?
There has been no consultation with the local community, local businesses or the Thursday Street market (which will be adversely affected), in drawing up these plans.
During August, there is to be ‘consultation’. Telling people what the council has already decided is not consultation.
This ‘consultation’ consists of a display panel in the ugly shopping centre. There are no posters in the street, no publicity in the ghastly shopping centre. Such is the level of contempt by the council, they do not even have the courtesy of anyone manning the display.
A questionnaire for passers by to give their views. A box to tick to support the plans. No box to tick to say you do not support the plans. This leaves it wide open for corrupt council officials to tick the one and only box if left blank. A tiny space to leave comments.
The High Court takes a very dim view of these fake consultations. Lincolnshire County Council went through a similar exercice, minds already made up, to close two-third of the libraries in the county, leaving the remaining third with reduced hours, reduced service. The questionnaire had no box for people to tick to say they did not support. A Judicial Review was filed, two days in the High Court, the closure plans were quashed due to failure to carry out consultation.
The local council has laid themselves wide open to a successful High Court challenge, with councillors being surcharged to recover all the costs.
How much has this exercise in how to waste public money already cost the local taxpayer?
The views of local businesses, that of people on the street, that of the market traders, the negative comments on Rushmoor facebook page, shows there to be no support for these ill thought out plans. Everyone sees it for what it is, money down the drain, an appalling waste of public money. An appalling waste of public money that will do nothing to retain, let alone encourage people to visit Aldershot. Mentioning these plans in Godalming, people just laughed.
Aldershot has suffered decades of bad planning decisions, a council in the pocket of greedy developers and Big Business, wishes of local businesses, local community, ignored. Wastegate, now called Westegate Leisure Park, the latest example. Surely someone’s idea of a sick joke, a cinema complex (where bums on seats will half when cinema complex opens in Farnborough), tacky chain eateries (which are usually empty), and Morrions (which most of the time is almost empty).
The only beneficiaries, contractors who get the contract, councillors and their officials who get backhanders for placing the contracts.
If there is £5.5 million to spend, it could have been put to good use. A Compulsory Purchase Order served on The Tumbledown Dick, it then run by the local community as a community art and music venue. A Compulsory Purchase Order served on The Arcade, re-opened, units let at reasonable rents for local businesses.
Contrast with Guildford. A shop opened in the town centre to discuss the Local Plan, a banner across the High Street, flyers handed out outside Guildford Station. A very active and helpful Tourist Information Office in the High Street. Guildford Festival and Guildford Fringe. Guildford Book Festival, with the possibility of Fringe Book Festival. Guildford farmers market on the first Tuesday of the month. Experience Guildford launched, with already one successful project, Guildford Independent’s Day.