Above: Recording of BES Executive 15-12-18 – David Bowe starts speaking at 37.00 minutes
Below: Our statement to the Harrogate Area Constituency Committee, Cairn Hotel, Thurs 8th Nov 2018:
The OAR Addendum is not fit for purpose
11 months ago, when this committee voted overwhelmingly to remove the relief road from any public consultation process – due to its potential environmental and social impact, and doubts about its effectiveness in tackling congestion – you were overruled, and as some councillors even suggested, ignored, by the BES Executive a week later.
In overruling you – our democratically elected representatives – at the BES Executive meeting on Dec 15th, David Bowe said that it was clear that more detail was needed before consulting the public on any congestion relief measures.
Faced with your opposition to the road and our petition, presented at the start of the meeting to Save Nidd Gorge and The Nidderdale Greenway and uphold your recommendations, David Bowe gave five clear instructions to his transport planners:
- Develop further the detail around the sustainable options.
- Give a much more refined location of where the road will be and identify the general impact it would have on Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway.
- Identify a BCR figure and remove the road if less than 2.
- Develop a wider engagement group.
- Present the above to the area committee.
In the intervening 11 months, in a time of great austerity and biting cuts to public services, North Yorkshire have spent tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds producing a 243 page addendum report that fails to mention Nidd Gorge or the Nidderdale Greenway once. London Greenway is mentioned twice, but not Nidderdale Greenway or the Gorge. That must have taken some doing. Not one mention of the two most prominent features to be impacted by the road. How did this happen given their remit?
Regarding the Engagement Group meetings, which we, as NGCA, were only invited to at the eleventh hour, at 5 o’ clock on the eve of the first meeting, making it impossible for us to attend: At the second meeting, on 26th June, I asked Rebecca Gibson (North Yorkshire Transport) and Andy Cairns (WSP) how their teams were progressing with work on a more detailed route and was told that work was currently underway and more information would be provided at the third Engagement Group meeting in September.
At the third meeting, when I asked if we would be provided with more a more refined route location, I was told that there must have been a misunderstanding, because it wasn’t part of their remit to provide more route detail at this stage.
This is not what we were promised by David Bowe.
..and just in case of another misunderstanding we have a recording of his comments…
They have spent 11 months trying to cost the uncostable for a Benefit/Cost Ratio which will mean absolutely nothing to the general public, but they can’t give the public any further information about the road and its impact on Nidd Gorge and the Greenway. How are the public supposed to make an informed decision based on this 243 page gobbledygook? Or do NYCC not want the public to make an informed decision? Do NYCC want a public, sick and tired of congestion, and A59 roadworks, to tick the box marked road?
Having prepared thoroughly for the second engagement group meeting I presented our questions and challenges to the NYCC team regarding the road, yet nowhere are they reflected in the report, because the second meeting was not minuted, allowing our challenges to be sidestepped and disappear from the public record.
I was given additional time to submit our questions, which I was grateful for, but it would give us greater faith in the democratic process if our concerns had been reflected in the report.
Particularly the unanswered question of induced east-west traffic and why it hasn’t been modelled and factored into the predicted traffic figures. When this road is built it will soon appear on SatNavs as the preferred route from Yorkshire to Lancashire. What effect will this have on overall traffic volumes coming through Hgte and Knares? On congestion? On our greenhouse gas emissions? On our air quality? Or on the holy grail of the BCR?
All these questions remain unanswered by this report. The public is yet again about to be consulted about a road it knows nothing more about than at this time last year; whilst you, as a committee, have had your wishes ignored, your authority downgraded, by being only able to provide comment, and your impact further diluted by the council giving equal weight to the comments of the Skipton and Ripon Area Committee – as well as this one.
Since your informed intervention last year, the NYCC Executive have given themselves all the power in this process, whilst at the same time claiming on their website, in their best doublespeak, that ‘the area constituency committees have been established as part of the council’s drive to devolve decision making.’ In their desire to drive their major east-west, development highway through our communities they are making a mockery of the democratic process.
North Yorkshire are not doing what it says on the tin.
Nidd Gorge Community Action