As the Public Consultation on the A303 Stonehenge Scheme involving a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke has begun, it seemed sensible that I should put my personal views on which bypass route I preferred into the public domain; simply as a matter of transparency. I hope that the other members of the Parish Council will do the same. For what it’s worth, I would prefer the Northern route and you can find my reason for this here.
As a Parish Councillor, I’m not putting my personal views on display to try and influence you towards one solution or another, but so that everyone is aware when it comes to the Parish Council taking a view on the issue, that the Parish Council has taken an objective view of both options – despite our personal views. If it turns out that all the Parish Councillors share the same personal view, I would want to involve some of those who share an opposing view in a sub-committee to discuss and examine the evidence supporting both options to formulate a parish consensus.
The emphasis here is on the evidence. The Parish Council needs to take an evidence-based view of the impact of each of these routes on the village and villagers. Even if 100% of the village was behind a single route, and I’m certain that won’t be the case, we will need to present the evidence in a well-argued and bullet-proof case in our submission to Highways England. Simply saying “100% of the village prefer the X route”, whilst evidence of a sort, is hardly compelling – we need more.
We will also need to fairly represent substantive minority views. In doing so, we need to identify measures that would reduce the perceived negative impacts of our preferred scheme on the minority and represent those to Highway England and others.
Even with the preferred scheme, we have seen remarkably little detail so far and things like raised embankments and high flyovers are already ringing alarm bells and we need to identify what these are for both routes and draw up a series of “red lines” with which to confront Highways England.
So, this isn’t going to be a simple exercise of “We want the northern route”, or “We want the southern route”, we are going to need ALL the village to play its part. I also urge each and every one of you to put in a personal submission to Highways England – if you are old enough to respond, do so. This is the biggest decision you are ever going to be asked to get involved in with respect to the village, PLEASE get involved.