Wye Ruin It?

Wye Ruin It?

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Last Chance: Hereford’s future is in your hands!

Respond to the Hereford Council Transport Package Consultation or Our City and Our County will be Blighted by Poor Infrastructure for Generations

https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/consultations/article/10062/hereford_transport_package_htp_-_hereford_bypass_consultation

Just in case you need a few more pointers, we have reviewed their inadequate consultation process.

IT IS A MISTAKE TO ALLOW LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE DECISIONS ON ISSUES OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE

The result of this devolution is that County Councils are now making decisions of National Importance without sufficient checks and balances. Take the latest Hereford Council Transport Package Consultation for example:

Government Guidance on Consultation Process consists of Seven Criteria as follows:

1.       When to consult

Formal consultation should take place at a stage when there is scope to influence the policy outcome.

Herefordshire Council Cabinet FAILED.

It has made it clear to the public in many meetings that the bypass will go ahead according to the Core Strategy indicating no scope to influence the outcome.

2.      Duration of consultation exercises

Consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks with consideration given to longer timescales where feasible and sensible.

Herefordshire Council Cabinet FAILED.

It has only allowed six weeks with very limited publicity in the City and Countywide and failed to answer simple questions satisfactorily.

 3.      Clarity of scope and impact

Consultation documents should be clear about the consultation process, what is being proposed, the scope to influence, and the expected costs and benefits of the proposals.

Herefordshire Council Cabinet FAILED.

The maps published are very misleading, using out of date information on properties and property boundaries. Key buildings of National Historical Importance (Belmont House) are misnamed, landscapes of National Historical Importance (painted by Brian Hatton) in the path of the proposed road are not identified, and Heritage Organic Orchard collections are unrecognised on maps or in public documents. Archeologically Important Sites (Wareham Medieval Settlement) are omitted from maps and tables, the National Importance of highly sensitive Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area Conservation (SAC) are understated in both maps and documents.

The risk analysis failed to highlight the potential loss of Belmont Abbey (Grade I listed) and all of its essential services to the community. This long standing religious centre of peaceful contemplation and architectural excellence is under threat of relocating if the access road is constructed.

Vital community walking and cycling routes that navigate through the valley are omitted. Even our Community Farm that provides essential services to the most vulnerable residents of Hereford is omitted from the maps and impact assessment.

The impact of road construction and subsequent heavy traffic pollution on Protected Species including the migratory fish, the otters, river valley bat colonies, peregrines, barn owls, great crested newts, not to mention numerous flora and fauna specific to the unique biodiversity of the area is completely absent from all documents and maps.

The proposed infrastructure is misrepresented in the documents as a bypass when in fact it is clearly an access road for housing estates with no semblance of any features that would serve an HGV bypass because it is not the shortest route to and from Hereford’s industrial development sites. Instead, it is an elongate sinuous curved road between and west of major proposed housing developments more than ten miles long compared to a direct route through town of less than five miles. The long term plan to divert motorway traffic onto this road is not mentioned at all. Photographic illustrations are of one bus and one lorry on a completely empty country road.

The expected development costs are clearly understated as they have barely changed in eight years This misleading estimate does not reflect the most likely cost of changes in scope from single to dual carriageways or any mitigation for the impact on the selected highly environmentally sensitive corridor. The development corridor not only includes an SAC river flood plain but also a protected commercially important aquifer and the construction of special drainage for more than a thousand houses on a flood plain over the aquifer.

All of these factors not only threaten our environment, but our current and future tourist industries and the two major industries in Hereford city.

 4.      Accessibility of consultation exercises

Consultation exercises should be designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at those people the exercise is intended to reach.

Herefordshire Council Cabinet FAILED.

The very short duration and limited displays provided in neighbouring towns of Ledbury and Ross-on Wye were not advertised in the local papers and very poorly attended poster shows. This miserable effort was compounded by the inability of the consultation staff to answer simple questions on access roads, traffic modelling and confusion over which buildings are under threat of demolition. On important times like the Saturdays, when people are in town (especially the younger generation, who will be most affected) the display was unstaffed. No one was available to answer key questions and there was no explanation of the misleading maps. Many of those who are directly affected by these proposals were not informed until opposition groups leafleted their area and held meetings.

5.      The burden of consultation

Keeping the burden of consultation to a minimum is essential if consultations are to be effective and if consultees’ buy-in to the process is to be obtained.

Herefordshire Council Cabinet FAILED.

No one believes that the proposal will reduce traffic and pollution. This consultation kept information to such a minimum that consultees could not make a valid judgement on its impact.

We wrote to our MP Bill Wiggin to Jesse Norman as Minister for Roads at the Department of Transport to point out the fatal flaws in Herefordshire Council Transport Package, and particularly in regards to the proposed Bypass.

We pointed out the fatal flaws in the strategy.

1.       The bypass will increase congestion and pollution.

2.       It is not cost-effective relative to sustainable mass transit.

3.       The transport benefit user analysis (TUBA) is fundamentally flawed.

4.       The capital expenditure estimates are understated. (A stab in the dark).

5.       The financial controls are inadequate for a major investment program.

6.       Capital costs will escalate over the project at the expense of the public purse.

This is their glib reply.

Most projects should be decided locally that is why we are investing £12bn through the local Growth Fund provided to Local Enterprise Partnerships to support their Strategic Economic Plans for growth.

 

Patricia Ronan