It’s exasperating to hear our councillors claim they did not know the town-centre roads plan they were advocating would actually lead to slower journey times for motorists.
Though the traffic modelling was kept very quiet, it was immediately obvious from last year’s public consultation which showed the extra traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and pavement widening that would be involved.
There could be no other outcome than slower car journeys and more rat-running outside the immediate town-centre area.
In any case, it’s widely recognised that building new roads or improving flows is a zero sum gain. New or ‘improved’ roads simply attract more traffic, as decades of traffic planning proves.
It may seem paradoxical but on existing roads, the only realistic plan to speed up car journeys is to reduce car use, as any transport planner will tell you.
So the only way to fix the traffic in Farnham is to concentrate on encouraging alternatives, such as walking, cycling and improving our public transport.
I had high hopes our newly-elected councillors would recognise this. But in the event, it was business as usual at the Farnham Infrastructure Board. Not only did they fail to endorse anything other than the most minimal improvements, but our councillors also supinely assented to a timetable for the walking and cycling plan that means we cannot expect any improvements to start for more than two years.
To be fair, Cllr Powell’s heroic efforts to allow the public to be involved in agreeing common-sense routes is very commendable. But otherwise we seem stuck in an immensely bureaucratic process which is being allowed to drag out interminably.
Prior to the elections, the Residents Party candidates feebly blamed Surrey County Council for the slow rate of progress on the town centre improvements.
But, presented with the opportunity to speak up for Farnham, they remained entirely mute. They did not utter a single word in defence of our air quality, our health or our sanity in this beautiful but car-besieged town.
Something has to change.
Stoke Hills, Farnham