This topic contains 44 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Andy Shuttleworth 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #2025

    You might think from reading these forum pages that the village only had an interest in one route, the northern one, whereas the reality is very different. Back to that in a little while. It’s worth taking a moment though to step back a little and remember that whilst everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute here on the forum, not all choose to do so. They may prefer to operate in a very different way and that is their choice. It doesn’t make their views and preferences any less important than those who choose to contribute. That said, it’s better those views are aired in one way or another, so we can all walk a mile in each other shoes.

    Now anyone who thinks this village has a simple binary view of the choice we appear to be faced with is about as wrong as it is possible to be; and then some. Yes, we have folks who prefer the southern route and others who prefer the northern route. We have those who simply want a bypass and the route is very much a secondary issue and any will do. Some simply don’t care and others seem not to be interested in having a bypass at all. Others would settle for anything that wouldn’t make their perception of road noise any worse than it is now is. Some people are voting with their hearts and others with their heads, many have an internal conflict between the two and are struggling to rationalise what to do for the best. All of them have a viewpoint that needs to be aired and questions that need to be asked.

    So, having had a large dose of one of the polar extremes views, lets look at the other. There are some very compelling reasons why the southern route would be better for Winterbourne Stoke and these do need to be dragged into the open.

    At its most basic it comes down to one of impact. You might think those living on the northern edge of the village would be pleased simply to have a bypass a bit further north than is the current road. It would reduce noise and inconvenience and look better wouldn’t it? Maybe, maybe not. Although it would be further away, there are four lanes rather than two and vehicles travelling at 70 mph rather than the 40mph of the current limit. The road runs close to many of those properties north of the current A303 and there is a monstrous viaduct running over the River Till flood plain. Because the flood plain at this point is so wide and the viaduct much higher than the roadways in previous schemes, the noise propagation would be dreadful. On the northern route there would be few opportunities to mitigate the noise, as earth berms could not be used due to the Till being an SSI. Most of these problems would not occur with the southern scheme and in any event, noise mitigation measures could be much more effective there if Highways England were prepared to install earth barriers like those used at Steeple Langford on the A36. The sound proofing there is so effective that virtually no road noise is discernible from the school, which all but backs on to the A36. Similar measures applied to the southern route would also raise the horizon, meaning it could not be seen or heard from either Winterbourne Stoke or Berwick St James. This would require a lot of tunnel spoil and possibly much more than could be employed on the northern route.

    The southern route is particularly attractive as it moves the A303 from the centre of the parish to its southern border, thereby rejoining the two halves of the village as far as high speed traffic goes. It has the huge advantage of maintaining our links with the World Heritage Site and the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, links that would be severed by the northern route.

    The northern route has some highly negative impacts on farming and other land usage. The livery at Scotland Lodge Farm would be hindered from using its traditional rides to the north and Waves Training, who have brought so many new job opportunities to the village might not follow through with further development plans. Perhaps the biggest impact of the northern route would be on Manor Farm; this would be cut in two by the northern route. It wouldn’t just be the loss of land to the road itself, but all the additional land needed for cutting and embankments. Roads like this can also generate a lot of contaminated water from fuel, rubber and salt. This can’t be simply dumped into the River Till, so more land would be needed for soakaways and reed beds to provide natural waste treatment. Farming practises with respect to the breeding and raising of beef cattle have been developed over the years to use the land, buildings and tracks to maximum effect – moving cattle between fields as they develop. Easy and rapid access to buildings, field boundaries and track ways would be inhibited by the bypass. This alone could render the current beef operation non-viable. Previous planners for a northern bypass of the village have been reluctant to even consider ways of mitigating the impact of severance on the farm, and there is little confidence that the current planners would do so now. Consequently, the southern route is perceived as the best option to ensure current farming practises can continue. If beef farming proved to be non-viable, then the farm would be forced to diversify in ways that would be unpredictable and not necessarily in the long term interests of the village, or villagers.

    Finally, we have the relative cost of the two schemes. Buried in the HE bumpf, you can find that the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of the two schemes is different. The BCR is basically the pounds put back into the economy for every pound invested in the road. After all factors are taken into consideration, HE believe that the northern route would have a BCR of 1.7 to 1.8, or £1.70 to £1.80 returned to the economy for every pound spent. However, the southern route would have a BCR of 1.80 to 2.0. That doesn’t sound a huge difference, but on a spend of £1.385 billion the southern route could return an extra £0.4 billion.

    Hopefully, these ideas and others will be expanded on in the coming days and weeks.

    #2027

    JMD
    Participant

    I hope that Thursday’s village meeting to discuss both A303 bypass options encourages constructive debate, that everybody feels free to voice their opinions in a congenial manner and that we end the evening with some constructive action points that may lead to Highways England improving aspects of the proposed scheme, be it the northern or southern bypass route.

    I think it’s also important to remember, that irrespective of which bypass option is eventually chosen by the Government, that W-S residents will hopefully enjoy some tangible benefits from the bypass. Local traffic congestion should be eased, road safety improved, noise levels reduced for those living adjacent to the current A303, a significant number of residents will enjoy a boost to their property prices and “village life” will be improved. No more will you have to take your life in your hands when crossing the road!
    But there will also likely be some downsides to a northern or southern bypass route. The garage, which derives 90% of its turnover from passing traffic, will likely be forced to close. The same concerns face the Solstice Rest, which is unlikely to be able to survive in its current form solely on the basis of trade from the village. Nor is the selection of a northern or southern bypass likely to instantly enable Winterbourne Stoke to “ re-gain its heart” as the HE consultation booklet hopes or solve the continuing problem of a lack of any village hall or meeting place.

    Andy has raised some excellent points in his most recent comments. I would like to see Thursday’s meeting address a number of key issues about the northern and southern routes and reduce their potentially negative impact on the village. As far as the northern route is concerned, what measures can be taken by HE to ensure that the potential negative impact on local businesses (Manor Farm and Scotland Lodge in particular) are minimised? What measures can HE take to reduce the height of the proposed viaduct over the River Till? What measures can be taken to reduce the height of embankments on the northern route to lessen the visual impact of the dual carriageway on village properties. Finally, what measures can HE take to reduce the potential negative impact of noise and air pollution in the village? As far as the southern route is concerned, what measures can HE take to reduce the adverse impact on Druid’s Lodge and the Stonehenge campsite and mitigate its impact on the residents of Berwick St James and Winterbourne Stoke?

    I’d also like Thursday’s forum to not be driven purely by self-interest and , if possible,consider the impact of a southern or northern route on the wider community. As Andy points out, we are not faced with a purely binary choice. A southern route might benefit some residents of Winterbourne Stoke, but it is going to affect two villages (Winterbourne and Berwick) rather than one, and have as great or greater impact on local businesses, the landscape, public rights of way and people’s quality of life as a northern route.

    Andy has raised some good points in his comments about the northern route. It’s certainly far from perfect and there are a lot of areas where it could be improved. I also think it’s important to be clarify some of the facts about the merits of the northern vs the southern route:

    1. “On the northern route there would be few opportunities to mitigate the noise”. I think this is highly debateable. While it is unclear how traffic noise from a viaduct over the Till could be entirely eliminated, reducing the height of the viaduct from 12m, could have some positive impact. The Till viaduct is only a small section of the overall length of the bypass (6km) and there appear to be ample opportunities on the northern route for HE to mitigate noise by reducing the level of embankments, increasing the depth of cuttings and following the natural contours of the surrounding landscape including the fold in the land between Scotland Lodge and Manor Farm.

    2. “Most of the problems (noise pollution, visibility) would not occur on the southern route”. Again I think this is highly debateable. Both routes are the same distance (6km), and have similar lengths of raised viaduct above the flood plain of the River Till. Both routes have sections of raised embankments which is likely to increase traffic noise and the visibility of the dual carriageway from neighbouring properties.

    3. “The Southern (bypass) route is particularly attractive as it moves the A303 from the centre of the parish to its southern border, thereby re-joining the two halves of the village as far as high speed traffic goes”. The northern route would actually have exactly the same impact as the southern route in re-joining the two halves of the village, the only difference with the southern route being that with a northern route being that it would shift the A303 to the northern border! The main difference between the two routes in terms of local access, is that a southern route would sever the links with Berwick, cutting the footpaths which are used by a significant number of residents of both communities, destroying the historic links that have joined the two villages for hundreds of years and potentially leaving a legacy of mistrust and ill will between the two communities, as 100% of Berwick residents appear to oppose a southern route.

    4. “It (the northern route) has the huge advantage of maintaining our links with the WHS and the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, links that would be severed by the northern route”. In my view preserving the links with Berwick are far more important than preserving the village’s links to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Anyway what are the advantages of maintaining our links with the WHS? Winterbourne Stoke derives minimal benefit from the coach loads of tourists who are bussed in and out of the WHS apart from the benefit of passing traffic to the pub and garage. When was the last time a coach load of tourists stopped for lunch at the Solstice Rest? As far as I can see, a northern route would have zero impact on the village’s links with the WHS. You will still be able to drive to the visitor centre via Shrewton and you will still, if you want, be able to walk (albeit somewhat indirectly) to the Stonehenge Visitor centre by going up the footpath past Manor Farm on to Rollestone and along the A344. There is currently no direct footpath linking Winterbourne Stoke to the WHS/Stonehenge Visitor centre, so a northern route wouldn’t sever such a link!

    5. “The Northern route has some highly negative impacts on farming and other land usage”. I think this is undeniably true and we should examine all the ways that this damage can be mitigated so that Manor Farm and Scotland Lodge do not suffer any economic damage if a northern bypass route is chosen. However, it’s maybe also worth remembering that a southern route is arguably going to have an even greater negative impact on land usage and businesses in Berwick. Druid’s Lodge Farm would be severed, the cattle units beyond Oatlands Farm might have to be closed, there would be a significant negative impact on the shooting operations on the Druid’s Lodge which attracts significant business to the local community particularly the Boot pub and the Berwick farm shop. A southern route would also have a hugely negative impact on the Stonehenge Campsite, (the nearest campsite for visitors to Stonehenge), as it would only be around 200m away.

    6. “Consequently the southern route is perceived as the best option to ensure current farming practices can continue”. A southern route would clearly benefit farming practices in Winterbourne Stoke, but would have just as much if not more of a negative impact on farming practices in Berwick on Druid’s Head Farm. Access to the cattle units on Horse Down would be severed and the farm road which links the Hill Farm cottages to Druid’s Head Farm would be severed.

    7. Relative costs of a northern and southern route. The costs of both bypass routes are broadly similar at between £1.129b and £1.802bn and the benefit to cost ratios (1.4-1.6 v 1.3-1.5) are broadly similar. The vast majority of the cost of the Amesbury to Berwick Down A303 improvement scheme lies in the cost of excavating the Stonehenge Tunnel and redeploying the tunnel waste (which costs £140 a ton to remove offsite.) Highways England haven’t broken down the precise cost of each part of the scheme, so we don’t actually know how much a northern bypass route would cost compared to a southern route. What we can say, is that the difference in costs isn’t likely to be that material when set against the overall cost of the project and shouldn’t have a significant bearing on which bypass route is ultimately chosen. The good news is that Winterbourne Stoke isn’t picking up the tab for the entire project and the vast majority of villagers should enjoy a significant (10% according to an estate agent I have spoken to) increase in property values once the bypass is built.

    #2028

    Richard Watts
    Participant

    As a fellow Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council member, and in the interests of transparency, I felt it only right to offer my personal views on the Winterbourne Stoke bypass consultation. As a member of the council, I feel that it is useful to offer my opinion as a resident.

    First and foremost, I’m in favour of a bypass and am looking forward to it going ahead but, importantly, it has to be the right scheme for the village, and where there have to be compromises, (as invariably there will be), we work together as a community to achieve the best outcome for the village and the immediate area, whilst also pushing to mitigate, as best we can, those issues that will be thrown up by both / either scheme.

    However, as to which scheme I prefer, I have a bit of a dilemma. As mentioned in one of Andy’s recent posts, unfortunately, I’m one of those struggling with the rationalisation as to which scheme offers the best solution – even more so now having just completed a “door stepping” exercise where I heard very compelling points made for / against either scheme by some of the parishioners which were, in most cases, very passionate and well argued. Initially, I was favouring the Northern scheme in spite of living at the Northern end of the village. This was mainly due to my dislike for the envisaged detrimental impact of the Southern route on the landscape, wildlife, recreational usage and the physical segregation of the Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick communities.

    However, since then, having spoken with more people and read more information, (posted on this forum amongst other sources), I have to admit that I am now in a bit of a quandary as to which scheme I prefer?

    Also, it all depends on which “hat” I am wearing at the time – as a resident, (living at the North end of the village), for the village of Winterbourne Stoke as a whole, as a taxpayer and finally, as a user of the A303 itself. I for one am looking forward to the upcoming village meeting on the subject of the A303 where I will be keen to hear more balanced views and opinions from fellow parishioners that may help me come to my own conclusion as to my preferred route.

    That aside, like many people, my main concerns, irrespective of the chosen scheme, are many and relate to, (in no particular order), the potential detrimental impacts upon the ecology, wildlife, environment, noise, pollution, segregation of our communities and impacts to local businesses. I have questions for HE regarding the measures / mitigations they have considered / can offer including those for noise reducing surfaces, reducing the visual impact of any above ground works, (via ducts etc.), but I know that these are not readily forthcoming and this is where I believe we as a community can have an impact and influence on the scheme that we will eventually receive.

    #2031

    JMD
    Participant

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00gz42h For those in W-S who haven’t read Tom Fort’s book or viewed the BBC programme about the A303.

    #2057

    It was clear from the door-stepping activities and the meeting at St Peter’s Church that, whichever route you might prefer, there was a general feeling that Highways England were short-changing us when it came to the level of detail. Yesterday, JMD drew our attention to an earlier consultation on the Highways England website that was held last year to allow selection of the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing.

    It’s quite instructive to see the differences between this and the bypass scheme for Winterbourne Stoke. There is an awful lot of information on the scheme that can be found here. Even a cursory examination of the main documents show detailed drawings of road surfaces, mitigation measures, bridge design, etc.

    However the one that immediately grabbed our attention was the Pre-Consultation Scheme Assessment Report. In other words, this was produced before things went out to public consultation, so maybe at a stage even before the A303 Technical Appraisal Review that we have been shown.

    Take a look at Volume 6, the Environmental Appraisal and compare and contrast it with section 18 of the TAR. There’s no comparison.

    When it comes to noise, we get bland statements. The residents of Dartord got this for existing noise levels:

    Pre-Consultation_Scheme_Assessment_Report__Volume_6__-_Scheme_Assessment_Report_Volume_6_Environmental_Appraisal_pdf” alt=”Noise” />

    With this information and some basic modelling, Halcrow, the designers, were able to show how each of the 4 road schemes would either improve, or worsen noise perception. They also did something very similar for nitrogen dioxide levels.
    noxReport_Volume_6_Environmental_Appraisal_pdf” alt=”NOX” />

    #2146

    JMD
    Participant

    I am very concerned that as we approach the 5th of March deadline for the submission of responses to Highways England on the A303 Public Consultation that:

    1. The Parish Council has not communicated “in an open and reasoned way” to all village residents what its proposed response will be to the Highways England A303 public consultation document.

    2. The Parish Council has yet to explain how it plans to reflect and communicate the view of a majority of village residents favouring one or other of the proposed routes.

    3. If there has been any doubt about what the majority view of the village is on the scheme, there appears to have been little or no effort to ascertain this via a blind poll, so that this can then be communicated to Highways England/Wiltshire Council.

    Clearly the issue of a Winterbourne Stoke bypass is a highly divisive and emotive one. But, however imperfect the choices are, and however flawed the entire consultation process has been, the decision about which of the bypass routes is preferable still has to be made. Unfortunately, the Highways England questionnaire only provides 3 options for the Winterbourne Stoke bypass: north, south or no preference.

    I am therefore extremely concerned that there appears to be a very real possibility that, because there is not a 100% majority view in the village in favour of either route, that on the single most important issue facing Winterbourne Stoke over the last 50 years, the Parish Council will not express a clear preference about which of the two bypass routes for Winterbourne Stoke is preferable.

    In my view all local town and parish councils in the area that are impacted by the A303 improvement scheme have a responsibility not only to represent the interests of the whole community, but also to submit their response to the Highways England questionnaire by the 5th March and express a clear preference for one of the 2 bypass options, even if neither route is perfect, even if both require significant mitigation and even if insufficient data has been provided by Highways England to make a more informed choice. To sit on the fence and claim that the lack of unanimity in the village about which route is preferable warrants ticking the “no preference” box in the Highways England questionnaire, is in my view a dereliction of the primary responsibility of the Parish Council, which is to not only represent the interests of the whole community, but also, where opinion in the parish is divided, “make difficult decisions, in an open and reasoned way”. The key word is “decision”, not sitting on the fence and thereby failing to democratically reflect the majority view on the issue because it would be divisive.

    The responsibilities of a Parish Council.
    The job of your council is to represent the interests of the whole community. Understanding the needs of different groups in the community (such as young and elderly people) is an important part of your role as councillor. Occasionally there will be a conflict of interest requiring sensitive judgement; for example, dog owners, parents of young children and walkers might disagree about use of the village green. Making difficult decisions, in an open and reasoned way, is something that local councils need to do well. (The Good Councillor’s Guide 4th Edition)

    #2147

    @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.

    #2148

    John Summerhayes
    Participant

    I have had left on my doorstep a glossy brochure entitled “Campaign for the preservation of the Southern Till Valley”. Feb 2017.
    Whilst I have already written to the HE opting for the Northern By-pass I have some concerns about the information provided in the document. On page 8 it is stated “HE have admitted that the photo …..exaggerated and misleading”. It would be helpful if the date and reference of the HE letter confirming that had been included. There are many other similar statements which would be better if they were backed up with a dated reference.
    On page 13 figures are quoted for employed persons in BStJ and WS. What about those employed in the Pub and garage in WS? Is Stonehenge campsite in WS or BStJ parish?
    On page 15 reference is made to endangered birds on the Southern by-pass. Are there no birds on the northern route?
    On page 20 there is reference to footpaths being severed. Will they or will provision be made for their continued use by under-pass. As to St Peter’s Church closing, there is only 1 individual who regulary attends at St Peter’s from BStJ. His/her inability to attend will not cause the closure of St Peter’s the lack of persons from WS attending will be the closure of St. Peters.
    I am sorry but I do not feel the glossy brochure provides a balanced argument and I am sure HE will soon ask leading questions.

    #2167

    The Parish Council has just published its response to the A303 Scheme Public Consultation. Please see the News and Documents section of this website. If you wish to comment, please do so here on the Forum.

    #2174

    JMD
    Participant

    Kudos to Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council for doing everything in their earthly powers over the last 6 weeks to elicit more information from Highways England to enable everybody in the village to come to an “informed decision” about which bypass route to choose, based not purely on naked self-interest, but also to promote the interests of the village as a whole. Inform, educate, illuminate.
    Sadly it has all turned out to be a largely fruitless exercise that has resulted in very little incremental relevant information being made available. In many ways nobody is much wiser about key elements of the scheme than they were when the consultation process opened on the 12th January.
    Understandably therefore, the Parish Council has asked Highways England for a “stay of execution” and for the consultation period to be extended. It is a noble gesture, but I suspect, one that is bound to end in failure for two very simple reasons – time and money.
    A number of people (myself included) have, since the 12th January, repeatedly requested that the consultation period be extended. However, those requests have invariably fallen on deaf ears. Why? Probably because Highways England are under huge pressure to complete the entire project planning process 20% quicker than normal, in order for the project to be approved and funding obtained (£2bn) by the start of the next Parliament in 2020. Miss that deadline and Highways England potentially miss the project funding that has been “ring fenced.”
    In order to meet their tight deadlines, it was always extremely unlikely that Highways England would go the extra mile and provide anybody with any additional information on the scheme. After all why would they? If they could argue that they were following correct Government guidelines during the consultation process, why would they go to the time and expense of providing additional information at this stage of the planning process?
    The Parish Council’s response to the Highways England questionnaire appears to rest on 3 key assumptions:
    A) Highways England did not follow “best practice” and should have provided additional information, particularly on the subject of traffic noise.

    B) Any choice of route, that was not “informed” with this additional important information, was therefore invalidated and could not be made.

    C) This together with the fact that the choice of route was complicated (aka “non-binary”) excused the Parish Council from the responsibility of making an extremely difficult choice between a northern or a southern route, and also excused them from reflecting the majority view on the scheme within the village.
    For the record, and at the risk of being unpopular, I think all 3 assumptions are seriously flawed.
    1. Did Highways England follow “best practice” during the consultation process, particularly on the subject of the environmental and ecological impact of the scheme?

    Having spoken to the ecological survey team who were carrying out a detailed ecological survey on Manor Farm last week, they were clear that detailed surveys of the variety they were carrying out, were not usually carried out until AFTER the selection of a preferred route was made. They claimed that they were “ahead of the game”, by starting their survey before the Government’s announcement of a preferred route was made in the summer.

    As far as Environmental Impact surveys are concerned, the Highways England Technical Appraisal report makes it very clear that “ the appraisal using methods set out in the TAG Unit A3 guidance, can be carried out at any stage in the development of proposals. However, it should be noted that the guidance calls for a proportionate approach to be adopted with excessive detail avoided. At Project Control Framework 1 (PCF1), the level of details will not be as much as when a preferred route option has been selected and a full Environmental Impact Assessment is being undertaken.”

    What this seems to imply is quite simply that while the entire consultation process may be deeply flawed, Highways England can claim, perfectly validly, that they have behaved perfectly reasonably and have just been following official Government guidelines. Indeed, that is the view that John Glen, has consistently taken.
    2. Unless you have all the information to hand, you can’t make a valid choice about which bypass route to select.
    This is a perfectly valid theoretical response if, for example, you are submitting a paper based on purely scientific data. However in the “real” (and imperfect) world, we all have to make choices either on the basis of imperfect (politically filtered) information (such as that provided by Highways England) or independent 3rd party research, or our own “best judgement”. Such is democracy.
    Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council hasn’t had the finances to commission independent reports on these issues, so they have had to rely on the information that has been provided by Highways England as well as their judgement about its accuracy. This is the same dilemma that, mutatis mutandis, everybody in the village has been faced with when filling out the Highways England questionnaire – how to choose between two imperfect options based on incomplete information.
    Faced with that dilemma, what Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council should in my opinion have done, was, rather than sitting on the fence, reflect the views of the majority (65-70%) of villagers who were in favour of a northern route, (albeit with significant modifications), as well as making recommendations as to how a northern bypass could be modified to ensure that it was in the best interests of the village as a whole.
    3. Because the choice of route was complicated (aka “non-binary”) it was not appropriate for the Parish Council to make a choice between a northern or a southern route, whatever the views of villagers on the subject might be.
    Unfortunately, many of the decisions that a parish council have to make are “non-binary” or complicated. One of the fundamental reasons that a parish council exists, is to exercise their best judgement and make difficult decisions having first taken a sounding board of local opinion. It’s called “democracy” rather than “autocracy”.
    At various stages over the last 6 weeks it has been suggested to the Parish Council that a formal vote or secret ballot should be taken in order to democratically determine what the majority view in the village was about which bypass route should be chosen. For whatever reason,(it would cost too much, take too long, would be based on imperfect information, the village couldn’t be trusted to make the right decision, it would be too divisive etc etc) the Parish Council decided that a vote should not be taken.
    The door stepping survey in the village that was undertaken by the Southern Till Valley Preservation Group in late February may not have been 100% accurate, but what was very clear from that survey, was that a clear majority (65-70%) of villagers supported a northern route. It may have been an inconvenient truth, but it was based on an honest response to an objective presentation about the known facts.
    For Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council not to reflect that majority view (however under informed it may have been), and instead decide unilaterally to abstain from choosing a preferred route that would, on the basis of available information, be in the “best interests of the village”, significantly increases the risk that a southern bypass will eventually emerge as the Government’s preferred route in the summer. If that comes to pass, I really wonder whether it will prove to be in the “best interests” of the village and whether people in years to come will ask why the Parish Council didn’t do more to support the “lesser of two evils” and come out in favour of a modified northern route, particularly when the “response of local communities” was known to be so critical in determining the eventual choice of bypass route. That is ultimately a question, I cannot answer.

    #2175

    JMD
    Participant

    In response to John’s questions about the “glossy brochure” I can hopefully provide some answers:
    .On page 8 it is stated “HE have admitted that the photo …..exaggerated and misleading”. It would be helpful if the date and reference of the HE letter confirming that had been included. There are many other similar statements which would be better if they were backed up with a dated reference. – A. This statement was made by 2 Highways England Officials (Andrew Alcorn + 1 other) at the HE presentation at Mere in late February. Olivia was also there when they made these statements so can verify them
    .
    On page 13 figures are quoted for employed persons in BStJ and WS. What about those employed in the Pub and garage in WS? A. The figures for those employed at the Pub and garage haven’t been included as they derive 95% of their trade from traffic on the A303 so, irrespective of which bypass route was selected, their business would suffer

    Is Stonehenge campsite in WS or BStJ parish? A. The Stonehenge campsite is technically in Winterbourne Stoke parish but their business would suffer from a southern route as it runs within 300m of the campsite If in doubt, please contact the owner direct!

    On page 15 reference is made to endangered birds on the Southern by-pass. Are there no birds on the northern route? A. This data comes from the Wiltshire Ornithological Trust/Pamela Stephenson. I am happy to give you her contact details if you want more info. There is no similar data available for the land north of the A303, either because there aren’t many birds to see or because access is restricted.

    On page 20 there is reference to footpaths being severed. Will they or will provision be made for their continued use by under-pass. A. The footpaths will be re-routed, but this is not the point. The existing foot paths will be severed and be replaced with a 4 lane dual carriageway. Not ideal if you are in search of peace and tranquillity.

    As to St Peter’s Church closing, there is only 1 individual who regulary attends at St Peter’s from BStJ. His/her inability to attend will not cause the closure of St Peter’s the lack of persons from WS attending will be the closure of St. Peters. A. Winterbourne Stoke is currently part of the Till Valley Benefice and has voted to become part of the unified Till Valley benefice (Berwick,Stapleford, South Newton, Wishford). This will involve parishioners attending services outside their parish.If there was a 4 lane dual carriageway bi-secting Winterbourne Stoke from Berwick St James, this would reduce the likelihood of WS being part of the proposed unified parish of the Lower Till Valley and increase the likelihood of it becoming part of Shrewton. This would in turn likely reduce regular congregation numbers to less than 5, increasing the risks that WS would close. For more info on the risks of WS closing if the A303 southern bypass materialised, please contact Rev Hugh Bonsey.

    Hope this helps.

    PS. With your imminent departure from WS, regular attendees at WS would likely be fewer than 5, maybe as low as 2-3. I suspect that such a low congregation level would ultimately lead to the closure of St Peter’s.

    #2176

    JMD
    Participant

    In response to John’s inquiry about the Highways England admission that the images in their consultation materials of viaduct heights were purely illustrative and subject to modification, depending on feedback from local communities. I append an e-mail I received from Highways England highlighting the opportunities for mitigation of the northern route profile as follows:

    Dear Mr Dutton,

    Thank you for your email of 31 January in which you ask a number of questions relating to our A303 Stonehenge proposals.

    1. As a very broad figure, and subject to tunnel details and method of boring that has yet to be determined, the volume of material excavated could be in the order of 1 million cubic metres.

    2. We cannot say yet what proportion of the excavated material from the tunnel will be used in embankment construction. That will be dependent on the vertical alignment for the scheme which has yet to be determined whether the route passes north or south of Winterbourne Stoke.

    3. The heights of embankments and viaducts are only illustrative for this stage of route selection – the optimum heights will be determined as part of the continuing development of the scheme following the choice of preferred route.

    4. The costs of disposing tunnel spoil will be explored in due course, in relation to a better understanding of how much material may have to be disposed of following the determination of an optimum vertical alignment in accompaniment with any ground shaping that may accompany the scheme to blend it into the landscape and provide noise screening.

    5. As mentioned above, we will be reviewing the Winterbourne Stoke bypass embankment and viaduct heights as part of the continuing development of the scheme following the choice of route.

    I realise that this does not provide precise answers to your questions, but we are not at the stage in the development of the scheme that enables us to give precise answers. That will come with the ongoing development and design following the choice of preferred route, which we expect later in 2017.

    For now we would like to understand any concerns and issues you have that you would like to be taken into consideration in the decision-making and would welcome your response to our consultation that expresses these. Feedback can be given via our online feedback form, which can be found at: http://www.highways.gov.uk/a303stonehenge/consultation.

    Feedback forms can be submitted up until 11.59pm on 5 March 2017, after which this consultation will be closed. We hope that this will give you plenty of time to consider our plans.

    Best regards

    Oli

    Oli Melzack

    A303 Stonehenge Correspondence Officer
    Complex Infrastructure Programme

    #2177

    JMD
    Participant

    Attached below an e-mail from Highways England, highlighting the fact that the images of the northern route in their consultation brochure was for illustrative purposes and subject to modification, depending on local feedback:

    Dear Mr Dutton,

    Thank you for your email of 31 January in which you ask a number of questions relating to our A303 Stonehenge proposals.

    1. As a very broad figure, and subject to tunnel details and method of boring that has yet to be determined, the volume of material excavated could be in the order of 1 million cubic metres.

    2. We cannot say yet what proportion of the excavated material from the tunnel will be used in embankment construction. That will be dependent on the vertical alignment for the scheme which has yet to be determined whether the route passes north or south of Winterbourne Stoke.

    3. The heights of embankments and viaducts are only illustrative for this stage of route selection – the optimum heights will be determined as part of the continuing development of the scheme following the choice of preferred route.

    4. The costs of disposing tunnel spoil will be explored in due course, in relation to a better understanding of how much material may have to be disposed of following the determination of an optimum vertical alignment in accompaniment with any ground shaping that may accompany the scheme to blend it into the landscape and provide noise screening.

    5. As mentioned above, we will be reviewing the Winterbourne Stoke bypass embankment and viaduct heights as part of the continuing development of the scheme following the choice of route.

    I realise that this does not provide precise answers to your questions, but we are not at the stage in the development of the scheme that enables us to give precise answers. That will come with the ongoing development and design following the choice of preferred route, which we expect later in 2017.

    For now we would like to understand any concerns and issues you have that you would like to be taken into consideration in the decision-making and would welcome your response to our consultation that expresses these. Feedback can be given via our online feedback form, which can be found at: http://www.highways.gov.uk/a303stonehenge/consultation.

    Feedback forms can be submitted up until 11.59pm on 5 March 2017, after which this consultation will be closed. We hope that this will give you plenty of time to consider our plans.

    Best regards

    Oli

    Oli Melzack

    A303 Stonehenge Correspondence Officer
    Complex Infrastructure Programme

    #2180

    I think a few corrections to errors of fact are in order in response to JMD’s earlier post.

    1. Non-binary – reflects the view of villagers when the Parish Council conducted its door-stepping exercise. Some distrusted the whole consultation process believing it to be a charade, some wanted north, some wanted south, some wanted one of the longer surface routes rejected by HE early in the process, many didn’t care whether it was north or south so long as we got a bypass, some didn’t want a bypass at all and nearly all expressed the view that they wanted much more information before they felt they could make a sensible choice. Their words, not ours.

    2. During that same exercise, we told residents we were to hold a meeting where they could express their concerns about the plans. We also told all those we managed to speak to, before the meeting, that whilst we were very interested in their route preferences and would record them if they were offered (but would not make them public), we would not formally ask them as we were already aware that emotions were running high. No member of the Parish questioned this approach at the Parish Council Meeting in January, or the subsequent meeting of the Parish in the Church. No formal approach has been made to the Parish Council.

    It is true that some residents may prefer the 2005 northern route to either of those offered in the consultation by HE – I know I would, but that isn’t (currently) on the table. What I’d really prefer is a far southern route that skirts Amesbury to the south and joins up to the A36 before rejoining the A303 – that isn’t on the table either.

    That the northern lobby group came up with a very different results is interesting, but not surprising – we’ve all seen in recent months how reliable polls of this sort can be. Here is the difference between the two approaches. The Parish Council wanted to understand how villagers felt, the lobby group wants people to support their cause – both understandable, both logical, and guaranteed to get different answers.

    Just for the record, a friend in the village has expressed 4 different views on routes in the last 6 months. Last August, I started to survey opinions on hypothetical bypass routes (north, south and straight through the middle of the village) to get an early feel for how villagers felt. Back then he was firmly pro south, in late January he was firmly for the status quo, in late February he tells me that he told the lobbyists he was pro North (allegedly so he could get them off the doorstep on a cold day) and in early March he didn’t care whether they went south or north or bulldozed the High Street. I wouldn’t claim he was typical, but I don’t believe he is the only one.

    3. Now, from the outset, I’ve made no secret of my route preference. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have attended meetings of the pro-northern route lobby as an individual, not as a Parish Councillor. I also made the rest of the Parish Council aware that I was doing so. Cllr West has also attended these same meetings. The lobby group raised the issue of holding secret ballots with me at a meeting of the lobby group back in early February and asked about calling a Parish Meeting to initiate a secret ballot. I pointed out that a Parish Meeting was already scheduled for 20th March – after the 5th March. I subsequently advised them that if they wished to call a further Parish Meeting they would need to formally ask for this to be done, that there was a notice period of 7 days before such a meeting could be held and if the meeting voted for a ballot, there was a statutory 25 day period before it could be held. Most importantly, this wasn’t going to happen before the 5th March. Oh yes, it would also cost the villagers of Winterbourne Stoke around £1,800 to £2,000 to run and this would have to be recovered from the COuncil Tax. No formal request was ever made to the Parish Council to hold such a meeting.

    4) JMD’s claim that either I, or the Parish Council, have said, or written, that: “the village couldn’t be trusted to make the right decision”, is both untrue and offensive. Whatever decision Parishioners have represented in their returns to Highways England is the right decision for the village.

    5) The one point on which we fully agree is that: “response of local communities”… is …known to be so critical in determining the eventual choice of bypass route”. True, not the response of the Parish Council, the community – the parishioners of Winterbourne Stoke.

    As for the rest of JMD’s points, it’s probably better to read what the Parish Council actually wrote rather than rely on a somewhat selective and probably partisan view of what someone thinks was written.

    Finally, yes we do live in a democracy and if villagers don’t like the way the Parish Council as a whole, or as individuals, have acted on this or, indeed, on any other issue, then please stand as a candidate in the forthcoming elections.

    #2289

    This thread is now closed.

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