At a meeting of Woking’s Joint Committee, that is County Councillors and Woking Councillors, held on Wednesday 8th December the Councillors approved the highways capital work programme for 2017/18. One of the projects was the bollards at the Vyne. The item reads as follows:-
ITS Redding Way, Knaphill – removal of bus gate(rising bollards and prohibition) and possible new safety features. Feasibility, design and construction during 2017/18. Currently only ranked 43rd on the Woking schemes but a high profile issue that links in with A322 review.
Although there was a brief debate at the Joint Committee it would appear that the decision for this work on the bollards was taken at an earlier private, Councillors only, meeting. We know that officers from WBC have been working on a number of changes to our roads in an attempt to reduce the congestion on the A322, Bagshot Road, and the growing traffic problems on the High Street/ Anchor Hill. The KRA was expecting an announcement on the whole plan and were taken by surprise when the officers came forward with just the removal of the bollards.
Those who have been following this story know that the Council promised to consult residents before making a decision, well that appears to have been lost.
During the brief debate in public at the Joint Committee the reason given by a Councillor for bringing the bollards forward as a stand alone project was, and I quote, ‘to improve the safety for those crossing from the car park to the Vyne’.
Thamesway Housing and Woking Borough Council had completed the majority of the new memorial garden in time for our annual Armistice Day service and we must say thank you for creating such a space within the centre of the village, especially the dry stone wall and appropriate wording.
The service was led by leaders of our local churches with readings from children from St.Hugh’s of Lincoln and Knaphill schools. We also had a guard of honour from Pirbright Barracks.
Once the memorial garden is complete our local Councillors will organize an official opening and service of dedication.
Today as I drove past our ambulance station in Bagshot Road I noticed that what is the equivalent to a ‘For Sale’ notice has been erected. Also today I met Jonathan Lord, our MP, who informed me that the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) have failed to respond to the questions he has put to them. So it would appear that SECAmb are going ahead with the closure of our ambulance station without any consultation or explanation to those who will be affected or their elected representatives.
It is also clear, given the speed in which the land has been put up for sale, that the main reason for closing our ambulance station is cost and by selling the land SECAmb make money.
In recent weeks we have been critical of the emergency ambulance cover for our area and quoted from the CQC report. We feel we must point out that there was good news in the report under the heading ‘Compassionate care’:
‘During our inspection we heard numerous examples of compassionate care displayed by ambulance staff. This was supported by our observations of staff in their interaction with patients and carers. Ambulance staff were aware and sensitive to the dignity and respect of patients ensuring that they were transported with appropriate blanket coverage.’ CQC Report September 2016
The feedback we have received from residents has been that they find ambulance staff and paramedics are friendly and helpful.
However there is still a serious issue with the speed that ambulances are getting to the very urgent 999 calls. In the latest figures* SECAmb Trust received 1,347 Red 1 calls resulting in an emergency response arriving at the scene, but only 64.6% arrived on the scene within the 8 minute target. NHS England expect 75% of Red 1 calls to achieve a response within 8 minutes.
We at the KRA have put a number of key questions to our elected representatives, MP and County Councillor, and we await answers to these questions. The most basic question being; “How will the closure of the ambulance station in Knaphill help improve the response time to urgent 999 calls?”
*Taken from NHS England, covering the period August 2016. SECAmb = South East Coast Ambulance Foundation Trust which covers Surrey.
The Royal Oak, located at the bottom of Anchor Hill, is a 17th Century Inn, which welcomes everyone including families & dogs. It has a large beer garden, and parking at front at the pub, as well as 5 real ales and over 10 real ciders & perries. The pub is famous for its Bridge, Sunday Roast & Curry Nights.
This year the Royal Oak has won:
– Pub of the Season Award – by Surrey/Hants Branch for Pub of the Season 2016
– Gained entry into the Good Beer Guide 2017 by CAMRA National
– Woking Best in Bloom – Pub Beer Garden – The Royal Oak has come 2nd for 2016
If you’re a member of CAMRA you can get discount on all Real Ales & CIders/Perries.
When the KRA started to look at the ambulance service we concentrated on the proposed closure of the Knaphill ambulance station with staff and vehicles being transferred to Ottershaw. However the bigger picture is more worrying.
Our ambulance service is provided by South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) and this is an NHS foundation trust. SECAmb covers Kent, Surrey, Sussex and NE Hampshire, the first question is this too big to be efficient? On the 29September the Core Quality Commission published their inspection report and overall the quality of service provided by SECAmb was rated as inadequate for the second consecutive inspection and the service was put into special measures. When the CQC put an organisation into special measures it means that they have no confidence in the current management team bringing about sufficient change to improve the situation. I have now read the 29 page executive summary and it does not make pleasant reading.
One of the areas where the CQC is highly critical is the ambulance service’s response to serious 999 calls.
The first test is the speed the ambulance service answers 999 calls and according to the CQC SECAmb is benchmarked as the worst performing trust nationally for answering 999 calls within 5 seconds.
Turning to the time taken for an ambulance to reach the patient. Serious 999 calls are slit into Red1 and Red2. Red1 calls are those of life threatening nature and Red2 calls less urgent but including strokes and fits. For Red1 calls the target is for the response to be within 8 minutes and this should be achieved on at least 75% occasions to meet the national target. SECAmb only achieved 71%. For Red2 the national target for responding within 9 minutes is 75%, SECAmb only achieved 67.3%. The CQC state that the performance was significantly varied between different control centres within the trust. For one control centre the performance fell as low as 33% for Red1 calls and 55.8% for Red2 calls. The CQC do not name any ambulance station so we do not know how Knaphill or Ottershaw perform when compared to the national targets.
Returning to where we started, the future of the Knaphill ambulance station. The KRA has sent both Jonathan Lord MP and County Cllr. Saj Hussain a number of questions that we feel residents need answers to to measure the quality of service they received from the Surrey based ambulance stations and what the impact of the closure will have on response times.
There were good points in the CQC report. The CQC rated the service good for caring and the attitude from staff to their patients.
Green-fingered gardeners and growers from across the Borough were celebrating the fruits of their labour recently at the annual Woking in Bloom and Allotment Awards, held at H.G Wells Conference and Events Centre, with Knaphill once again figuring among the top prizewinners.
The cream of the gardening crop received their prizes at a special presentation evening, attended by the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Anne Murray. Prizes for the winners and runners-up included garden centre gift tokens and trophies.
Woking Borough Council would like to thank sponsors Squires Garden Centre, Serco and Lansbury Business Estate for their continued support of the Woking in Bloom competition.
Woking in Bloom results
Best large front garden – sponsored by Woking Borough Council
1st – Barry and Pam Gray, Knaphill
Best tub or container – sponsored by Serco
1st – Mr and Mrs Stevens, Knaphill
Best floral public house
2nd – The Royal Oak, Knaphill
3rd – The Anchor, Knaphill
Tunis Cup for best allotment site in Woking Borough
1st – Knaphill Allotment Association
Ashley Slocock Cup for best cultivated plot by a lady
1st – Mrs Linda Jaquenoud, Knaphill Allotments
3rd – Mrs Marie Williams, Knaphill Allotments
Benstead Scroll for best cultivated plot by someone over 70 years old
2nd – Mr Francis Maher, Knaphill Allotments
3rd – Mr Chris Kersley, Knaphill Allotments
Leam Challenge Shield for best newly cultivated plot
1st – Mrs Sarah de Mul, Horsell Allotment Society
2nd – Mrs Jo Haward, Knaphill Allotments
As stated earlier as things stand the ambulance station based in Knaphill is to close and the staff plus vehicles transferred to Ottershaw.
The body that made this decision, South East Coast Ambulance Service Foundation Trust, has been placed in special measures . The reason for this is that they have been rated inadequate by England’s chief inspector of hospitals.
Amongst the reasons given by the Inspector for the decision included bullying, delayed response times and putting patients at risk. The KRA have also been told that there is a shortage of staff.
Given grave state of affairs it is down to politicians at all levels, we have briefed our MP, to halt this move to close our ambulance station because once it closes it will not reopen.
South East Coast Ambulance Service is to close the ambulance station situated on Bagshot Road (A322) Knaphill. We understand that the closure could take place before the end of October.
The KRA were receiving reports from residents about the intended closure of the ambulance station and when we questioned Cllr. Hussain he stated that no one had consulted or informed the local Councillors of a possible closure.
Yesterday, 25 September I came across an article on the website of the Ambulance service. The article is headed ‘Chertsey Make Ready Centre to incorporate more ambulance crews.’ It was only on reading the full article that what this meant was that the crews and vehicles based at Knaphill were being transferred to Chertsey. The article was published on the 20 September.
The ambulance service tries to argue that one of the reasons for closing the Knaphill station is because, and I quote, ‘it is not in the right location for current patient demand.’ What it should have said is that a developer is interested in buying the land and the ambulance service needs the money.
Knaphill ambulance service covers Woking west of the town centre including Goldsworth Park, St. Johns, Knaphill and Brookwood plus parts of Surrey Heath including Bisley.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service is already failing to meet national targets on response times to 999 calls, how is increasing the journey time to our corner of Surrey going to help. We keep being told that in the case of a full emergency time counts and that is why the target is a response time of within 8 minutes to 999 call. How will an ambulance navigate the traffic at peak times from Chertsey or Ottershaw to Knaphill and be within the target time.
Another key question, who has made this decision. The ambulance service is an NHS foundation trust and as such has local politicians on its Board, who represents this part of Surrey on the Board? Were they not paying attention or sleeping on the job?
The KRA has written to both our MP, Jonathan Lord and our County Councillors, Saj Hussain asking for the closure of the Knaphill Ambulance Station to be put on hold until there has been a full, independent review of the decision including an examination, b traffic experts, of the travel times from Ottershaw to the area covered by Knaphill.
We await a response from both our MP and County Councillor.
The new footpath that goes from Brookwood Farm pavilion to the canal towpath has been reported to Woking Council following several complaints about the surface of the footpath. The current footpath surface is unsuitable both for cyclists and adults pushing baby buggies. WBC have agreed to investigate but added that as the path goes across what will be a country park they will have to consult Natural England who approve all footpath surfaces in Country Parks.