Redhill

We must all listen to passing Lightship Greta’s message

Extinction Rebellion’s protests have not been as high profile in the news as last year. They took London – and everybody – by surprise at Easter in April 2019 when addressing the climate emergency.

One report even asked whether Extinction Rebellion was itself extinct. The report carried a picture of just a few activists outside Parliament on Monday, the first day of two weeks of planned action.

Anyone who tried to buy certain papers on Saturday might have found they couldn’t, because protesters disrupted their printing. Activists argued that the papers concerned failed to report on climate change properly, or at all. It is frustrating when reading coverage about the climate emergency that the reports are frequent when there is disruption and a supposed lack of police response, but not so frequent about the issue itself.

Read More »We must all listen to passing Lightship Greta’s message

How hard is it to declare a climate emergency?

Just how difficult is it to declare a climate emergency? What does it mean? And if you don’t, is having a strategy to address carbon emissions good enough? Do you have to declare one to be effective?

The first local authority to declare one was in Australia at the back of 2016 and now 1,400 authorities in 28 countries have done so. This includes the United Kingdom as a whole last year. It was one of Theresa May’s last acts as Prime Minister.

Yesterday, a beer company called Brewdog appeared on TV news. It announced it was setting new standards for the brewing industry by declaring that carbon neutrality is no longer enough. The company was going carbon negative (this includes its supply chains). 

Read More »How hard is it to declare a climate emergency?

Help put end to bad cycle signage via survey

Whether you are an experienced cyclist or new to “active travel”, it is worth taking part in the Surrey County Council Covid-19 transport map.

Plenty of people will have found – or rediscovered – cycling in particular since Covid-19 lockdown began. Some people will have done so for pleasure and leisure, others making a firmer commitment to reach work or schools via cycling, or walking more.

Anyone who now takes a bike out for shopping, with children, their family or just to travel from A to B should consider filling in the survey. It gives people the chance not only to put dots on a map with a suggestion for improvements, but to like, support, or disagree with other suggestions.

While it is Surrey wide, it is divided into boroughs. Would you like an extra crossing near a school on a busy road? Would you like better signage? More cycle lanes? What would make cycling or walking safer?

Read More »Help put end to bad cycle signage via survey
Aerosols are recycled in some boroughs, not all

A single Surrey authority could end recycling inconsistency

Devolved Government. It’s an interesting argument, all round. Should Scotland be allowed to have independence? How much authority or “independence” do they already have? Is the United Kingdom important and how does it function with separate regional countries making their own decisions?

It’s not possible to answer all those questions here, but a few news stories this week prompt a few questions. For example, how efficient are we as a nation – with national, regional, county or borough authorities – at making efficient or effective decisions? Don’t forget parish councils, either!


Read More »A single Surrey authority could end recycling inconsistency
An old building in Redhill has been repurposed for modern use

Cherish historic buildings: they can’t go in museums

Our heritage has been in the news recently in various ways. One of the Black Lives Matter protests resulted in the removal of statues celebrating people of the past whose money was made from slavery. The National Trust, and other organisations, have started reopening their historic homes and gardens.

These points are at different ends of the spectrum, but linked. History brings us lessons of evil as well as celebrations of good. It is important to learn about them, either way. Recent events have highlighted that more needs to be written in our school history books about certain characters and their flaws.

Our curriculums are packed with histories of World Wars One and Two. Many people will have learned of Henry VIII, Martin Luther King, or Ghandi. Did you learn of Martin Luther too? As a protestant revolutionary, he’s central to Henry VIII’s story.

Do the depths of those stories evade us or resonate? Few people in history were cleaner than clean, if we choose to stop and study them. Few modern heroes are, either. Many have some vice by modern standards.

Read More »Cherish historic buildings: they can’t go in museums

How lockdown has instilled a sense of localism

A favourite jacket’s zip broke. So did a one on a plastic, but reusable, cover on a small greenhouse. What should I do? What would you do?

One option was to throw them away, to buy afresh – online – and keep major clothing and gardening chains in business. Another option was to mend.

Neither needed fixing urgently. The jacket was for days that are colder than summer. The greenhouse has done its work this year, nurturing seedlings that are now planted out. It would seem shameful to discard not just its plastic but metal structure, just because the zip had failed.

So I waited, through lockdown, for a local mender to reopen. I took both items to them – the greenhouse request being an unusual one – and asked them to fit new zips.

Read More »How lockdown has instilled a sense of localism

The real Reigate solution: pedestrianise the High Street

When the community recycling centre at Earlswood reopened after lockdown and there were long traffic queues, was the solution to get rid of the recycling centre? No, of course not. After McDonalds’ drive through in Salfords reopened and there were long queues for that too, was the restaurant removed? Don’t be silly.

But when temporary cycle lanes were introduced in Reigate Town Centre last Saturday morning – and were instantly blamed for long traffic queues – were they removed? Or did the delayed drivers think about taking alternative routes instead, another time?

They didn’t get much thinking time. These cycle lanes were part of the Active Travel funding given by central government – the Department for Transport – to Surrey. This was intended to improve cycle access and walkways. In a nationwide scheme, councils were asked to bid for money to set up temporary improvements. But the three-week experiment was halted on Monday night, after three days. By which time there was very little traffic to be impeded.

Read More »The real Reigate solution: pedestrianise the High Street

Joining some cycling dots from Salfords to Redhill

The “race” to ensure Surrey receives its potential £8.5 million Government funding for extra cycle and walking routes has provoked much chatter on Twitter.

Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council cabinet member for highways, announced on June 6 that the county had sent active travel proposals to the Department for Transport. This was to try to gain the maximum £1.696 million available in the first tranche.

Proposals for Farnham and for Reigate town centre – to widen the area for cyclists and reduce the area used by cars – have been proposed and welcomed already.

There was no link to the full proposal on his tweets about the matter, but some thoughts occurred to me about extra cycle provision that could be made around Redhill, just as Jonathan Essex, a county council and Reigate & Banstead Borough councillor, published a 12-page document collating various views from individuals and campaign groups.

Read More »Joining some cycling dots from Salfords to Redhill

What will you vow to change on World Environment Day?

Today is World Environment Day, run by the United Nations. How will you react? Do you care enough to start making changes to how you go about your daily life? What changes will you promise to make? What challenges can you set yourself? Can you explore nature better, especially in lockdown?

Perhaps the first thing we can all do is vow not to repeat the creation of litter last weekend, when thousands of pieces of litter were left strewn about our parks. While we cannot yet enjoy the company of the groups and societies with whom we met pre-Covid-19, many people are enjoying open spaces, while the weather is fine.

Maybe you might decide, upon receiving a renewal notice for energy bills, to choose a company, or a tariff, that ensures that the energy powering your house is generated by renewable energy sources.

Read More »What will you vow to change on World Environment Day?