On Thursday 7th March just over 40 residents attended a Village Meeting held at Knaphill School. The meeting was chaired by Rev Richard Sherlock of Knaphill Baptist Church.
County Councillor Diana Smith,
Woking Councillors Saj Hussain, Tina Liddington, Richard Sharp, Melanie Whithand
Geoff McManus – Head of Neighbourhood Services, Woking Borough Council
Sergeant Chris Lee – Surrey Police Services
Kate Palmer – Chair of Knaphill Lower and Knaphill Schools PTA.
Part way through the meeting Jonathan Lord MP and Councillor John Kingsbury joined the gathering.
The first group of questions were about anti-social behaviour especially in and around High Street, Knaphill. Sergeant Lee reported that since September 2012 there has been a decrease in the number of reported incident. The police have been proactive in trying to resolve the issues and were currently working with 20 young people and their families however in one case the courts has issued an ASBO order and there is a second ASBO case working through the system. The police have increased their patrols and are working with Woking Borough Council with the intention to introduce a Section 30 dispersal order. In response to a question Sergeant Lee explained that a Section 30 order would give the police powers to disperse any group of 6 individuals or more. Sergeant Lee concluded by adding that local shop keepers were also involved in drawing up a Section 30 Dispersal Order.
Sergeant Lee stated that they required the help of local residents and residents should report all incidents to Surrey Police via telephone number 101.
A resident from Victoria Road asked a question about Neighbourhood Watch schemes. Residents in Victoria Road want to establish a scheme but have been given to understand you need a minimum of 50% of residents to support the scheme and currently those trying to organize the scheme had failed to achieve that minimum support. Sergeant Lee confirmed that there was a requirement to get a minimum of 50% support from residents living in the area to be covered by the scheme. He added that he could not comment on the specific request from the residents of Victoria Road but took the question away to investigate.
Returning to anti-social behaviour there were a number of specific questions
Q. From their investigations have the police found that those causing problems are under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
A. Police confirmed that, in some cases, alcohol is involved and under the Section 30 procedure the Police would be looking at the various sources of alcohol sales in the immediate area.
Q. The word dispersal, what does it mean?
A. In the case of children under the age of 16 the police may take them back to their homes. In general terms it does not mean just clear the High Street, dispersal means to break up a group and make sure the group does not reform in another part of Knaphill.
Q. The individuals that the Police have spoken with, are the majority local or are they from other parts of the County?
A. The majority are from Knaphill but there have been individuals from Goldsworth Park, St. Johns and Old Woking.
Sergeant Lee told the meeting that to give young people more things to do in the village the group that run The Cabin on a Monday night are hoping to be able to open the centre for a second night, a Thursday. To open a second night the organisers need more volunteers. Geoff McManus added that WBC were supporting the plans for the Cabin and supported Sergeant Lee’s call for more volunteers.
Cllr. Sharp asked about speeding and drag racing in both The Broadway and Redding Way. In reply Sergeant Lee stated that speeding and drag racing are forms of anti-social behaviour. Figures gathered by the police do not match the antidote reports. If the problem is as bad as some people believe then those individuals should report incidents as soon as possible during or after the event. The police can impound a vehicle under Section 59.
CCTV, does it work in Knaphill?
Sergeant Lee stated that CCTV both those operated by WBC and those operated by private people or businesses are an advantage adding that CCTV had been used to identified at least one local offender. Geoff McManus added that information from CCTV’s was generally used after an event. Geoff McManus added that WBC owns a mobile CCTV unit which they use in connection with the police.
Dog poo, an on-going problem in Knaphill
Geoff McManus stated that this had been highlighted as a problem last year and WBC had run a high profile campaign. This campaign included visits to schools to explain the problem and inform pet owners that they should clear up after the dog had done its business.
A resident stated that the problem is that dog walkers are out either early morning or late at night and residents only see the mess. Geoff McManus agreed it can be difficult to actually witness the dog doing its business and watch the owner walk away without cleaning it up. Where there has been evidence then the Council will prosecute.
Geoff McManus pointed out that the Council had recently taken over responsibility for controlling on-street parking and enforcing any parking restrictions. He pointed out that it was illegal to park on double yellow lines at any time. He stated that the Council had stepped up the enforcement of the regulations.
A resident pointed out that when a traffic control officer recently visited Knaphill and parked on the pavement in Queens Road the car totally blocking the pavement.
Geoff McManus added that there is an annual review by Surrey County Council of parking restrictions and that the Council will be gathering data for the County over the next few weeks.
Turning specifically to parking in and around schools, Geoff McManus stated that an added problem is that on the majority of occasions where someone has illegally parked the driver remains with the car and when a Traffic Officer approaches the vehicle they drive off.
Councillor Whitehand pointed out that she had requested some traffic cones so that these could be placed outside the entrance to the school in Chobham Road to stop illegal parking.
A resident highlighted a problem in Highclare Road, close to the Crown Public House. Motorists park on the pavement that is quite narrow, whilst they visit the take-away or other businesses in the immediate area.
Another resident pointed out that the car parks in Redding Way are heavily used by staff from Alpha Hospital and therefore it is frequently impossible for parents going to Knaphill School to legally park and then walk.
Councillor Hussain agreed that there was also a problem with local car parks being used by commuters.
A resident pointed out that in recent planning applications the developer had planned for a minimum of parking bays stating that the majority of staff or visitors will walk, cycle or use public transport, a joke.
Councillor Whitehand outlined how the Councillors on the Surrey County Council Local Committee had instructed SCC to carry out an in-depth study of the congestion on the Bagshot Road and adjoining roads. She felt that this was essential given that the development on Brookwood Farm had been given the go-ahead.
Councillor Smith stated that Surrey County Council could not keep expanding the road network, Cllr. Smith added that the County cannot build to accommodate an ever increasing number of cars. Councillor Smith concluded that there has to be greater use of sustainable transport and this includes residents walking or cycling for short journeys.
A resident reported on an increase in the amount of litter and fly tipping in the area. This as especially an issue around the Vyne and along the canal towpath. Geoff McManus stated that where there has been fly-tipping they do sift through the material to see if there is any identification of the origin of the rubbish. Sergeant Lee reported that there had been a problem with fly-tipping on Horsell Common and the police assisted in trying to identify the culprit.
A resident asked if SERCO were required to collect litter before they cut the grass in and around the village.
Geoff McManus stated that SERCO staff should collect any litter before starting to cut the grass. He added that on occasions the staff may not see the litter prior to cutting the grass and so it may be spread across the land.
A resident asked if there had been any increase in burglaries, especially from sheds.
Sergeant Lee reported that there had been an increase in thefts from sheds or other large objects left outside premises like cycles. He added that it was important that residents made sure that articles were not left in site of the pavement and that sheds were securely locked.
A resident asked how Brookwood Farm development was so easily accepted.
Councillor Hussain stated that he had argued against the plans but they were accepted by the Planning Committee. He pointed out that the majority of the money received by WBC from the sale of Brookwood farm would go to pay for the flood defences and other developments in the Hoe Valley.
A resident stated that the Council had permitted too many shops being converted into take-aways, Knaphill had become known as the ‘Take-away capital of Surrey’. Does WBC encourage a more rounded choice of goods available in local shops?
Councillor Sharp stated that the Council were currently developing supplementary planning rules that could limit the number of a particular type of business in a particular area like Knaphill.
Old Library site
A resident asked if there was any news on the use of this site?
Councillor Hussain stated that work was going ahead with the planning of a unit of apartments for use by older residents. He added that the Council were hoping to be able to gain access to the proposed new building from the rear, close the rear of the Co-op. Once access has been agreed then plans for the Remembrance Garden to be included in the project can go ahead. Councillor Hussain hoped that the Armistice Day service in 2014 can be held in the new Remembrance Garden.
In answer to a question of local schools Councillor Smith stated that there was great demand for school places in and around Woking and that the County was taking action to try and keep up with demand. There was an issue with standards and recently the Secretary of State had said that Surrey schools were coasting. Councillor Smith added that parents were looking for quality from the local schools and although a small number were in what is called special measures, all schools are heading in the right direct.
A resident asked about children having to cross the road where Hermitage Road meets Lower Guildford Road, she asked if a formal crossing could be fitted. Councillor Smith, in reply, stated that there had been two recent changes to the highways in that location, first the speed limit had been reduced to 30 miles per hour and the road at the roundabout had been narrowed to improve the junction for pedestrians crossing. Councillor Smith suggested that the new arrangements should be given time to settle down to see if it improves the situation for pedestrians. In reply a resident suggested that there was a requirement for signs making drivers aware of the fact that the speed limit had been changed.
At the end of the meeting Mr Lord MP stated that he had found the meeting interested. He congratulated the KRA for getting involved in planning issues. He was a strong believer in planning decisions being taken at a local level. Mr Lord informed the meeting that he had been informed that 600 troops would be relocated to Pirbright as part of the Government’s review of European troop bases.
In closing the meeting Rev Sherlock stated that there remained a number of outstanding questions and that these would be placed on the KRA web site. He thanked the members of the panel for answering the questions and residents for their attendance. Councillor Hussain thanked Rev. Sherlock for chairing the meeting.