@JMD Thank you for your latest contribution. The Parish Council, at the January Parish Council Meeting, in the course of our door-to-door polling and subsequently at the Meeting of the Parish to discuss concerns and possible mitigations of the routes, has been been careful to explain how it intended to proceed in an very open and reasoned way. This is well documented here on the forum and in other documents on the website.
As individuals, all the Parish Councillors have made a decision on their favoured route preference on the basis of their own personal views and knowledge and responded to Highways England. However, the consistent failure of Highways England to provide supplementary information to clarify their claim that “there is little to choose between either route” means that it is a little difficult to have an informed debate. Don’t forget, it is not for the Parish Council, or individuals from within or outside the village to provide that information; that lies fairly and squarely with Highways England.
As all responses to the Highways England consultation are being logged by postcode, then the response of the village in numerical terms will be abundantly clear. Villagers expressed their concerns to us about being pigeon-holed into belonging to one camp, or another. We have respected those concerns. In any event, Highways England have stated, repeatedly and consistently, that route selection will not simply be a numbers game. The assessment of the responses will focus on the quality of the returns and the arguments employed.
We are aware that lobbyists have been active round the village. We are equally aware of the disquiet that this has caused in some quarters. However, it would be unreasonable of the Parish Council to rely on information produced by either camp in the debate without being aware of how the information offered was arrived at. After all. we’ve all seen the “accuracy” of opinion polls in recent months – in particularly how often they are spectacularly wrong.
So, the Parish Council’s response will centre around the consultation process itself, its failures and the concerns that the parishioners have raised – just as we have said all along. The Parish Council’s discursive response will be published here on the website, once it is formalised; it is not just a matter of ticking boxes. Indeed, our concern about the apparent abuse of process is so great that Highways England will be only one of a number of recipients of our response.
We are sure that the Public Consultation will be a matter for some lively debate at the Parish Meeting on 20th March.