You may have read "Road ‘blocked by Commuters’" in the 4th August edition of the Leatherhead Advertiser. It tells how on some weeks bin lorries have been unable to access the road because of the insistence of commuters on parking on both sides of this narrow road. This is clearly a health hazard and a failing by Mole Valley District Council to ensure regular refuse collections.
Because of this, one of the residents took it upon herself to produce a sign saying "ON WEDNESDAYS DUST CART UNABLE TO PROCEED. PLEASE DO NOT PARK THIS SIDE." For a few weeks this was largely successful; occasionally a lone car did ‘disobey’ but not so as to block the bin lorry. However, it was only a matter of time before commuters realized the notice had no legal status and disregarded it. This happened, in fact, on Wednesday, 3rd August, as you can see from the photograph taken that morning. Commuters have parked in full on both sides, despite the notice being out there from Tuesday evening onwards.
Once again the bin lorry was denied access and bins were not emptied.
When a resident, on the next day, asked cars not to park on one side he found most were sympathetic but one person said he was not prepared to look anywhere else, was not breaking the law and was not prepared to pay £4 to park in the Randalls Road car park. In other words, he could not care less whether bins were emptied or not, whether or not life was lost because ambulance and/or fire engine was denied access. How selfish can you get!
Some, who are as old as I, will remember the days when causing an obstruction was an offence – the days when police did issue warning notices and, if necessary, prosecute when people parked in such a way as to cause an obstruction. In those days of common sense double yellow lines were not needed (and, indeed, not invented). Now it seems police are loath to act unless those yellow lines are there! We have been let down by Surrey County Council and not so far helped by Mole Valley District Council*. Will the police help us? Will they, as a resident has asked, put comes up one side of the close on Wednesdays to allow refuse to be collected (that would not, of course, help in case of fire or other emergency)? Will they?
What are we to do?
Did you read what the Surrey County Council spokesman said? They had proposed a one hour restriction in the morning. Sure, that would get ride of the commuters. But what about those residents who did not have usable drives – who had to park on the road? What were they supposed to do?
When residents’ only parking was suggested, the reply was that this could not be considered until after the trial in Minchin Close. That just beggars belief! Are not Surrey County Council aware that residents’ only parking has been long established in many places for some time now? I am told that residents’ only parking even exists in some other parts of Surrey. Yet in Leatherhead, it seems, it cannot be done until it is seen if it works in Minchin Close. It seems to me that when SCC deals with Leatherhead all logic is abandoned.
The spokesman also mentions an "access only" proposal. He says, "this is not appropriate for this type of road", despite the fact that the original suggestion came from a SCC source. The spokesman also adds that the police informed the Council it was unenforceable. Why? From searches I’ve made on the Internet, it does appear that "access only" is not entirely clear cut and police do not seem to like it. But I discovered one Lib Dem Council had the courage to implement this on a trial basis for a road that, like ours, suffered parking problems. Why could not SCC at least have implemented this for a trial period? Why could not Oaks Close have been a trial in a similar way to Minchin Close?
At the very least, they should have restricted parking to one side only in the narrow part between the bend before numbers 1 & 2 and the turning circle half-way up the close. Their failure to do this is incomprehensible. Now, of course, the plea will be that there is no money. But, if as a result of this failure, life is lost because a fire engine or ambulance cannot access the top part of the close, we know the money would be found! Why must we wait for this? Why do residents have to continue to put up with uncollected refuse and the spread of flies and maggots?
What are we to do?
* I have, since first posting this, been told by Cllr Bridget Lewis-Carr, one of our MVDC councillors for North Leatherhead, she has had a promise that MVDC will ensure that the road is kept clear to allow bin lorries through on Wednesdays. I am very grateful to Cllr Lewis-Carr for her efforts and await to see how things work out next Wednesday.