Boston Bypass & Economic Growth Pressure Group
 
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Press Release - 05 February 2007

BBEG take Formal Complaint of Lincolnshire County Council to Stage 3

Mr Tony McArdle
Chief Executive
Lincolnshire County Council
County Offices
Newland
Lincoln
LN1 1YL

05 February 2007

Dear Sir

FORMAL COMPLAINT: MANIPULATION & MIS-USE OF THE TERMS 'BYPASS' & 'DISTRIBUTOR ROAD'
BY OFFICERS & THE EXECUTIVE GROUP AT LINCOLNSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

REF: 0000306600

We are writing in response to your letter dated 30 January 2007 from Richard Wills. (Click here to read the letter).

It is worth pointing out to you that Richard Wills is the very Officer who commented in July 2005 that, "The traffic lights are here to stay", and has refused over the last 2 years and 2 months of our campaign to even look into reducing the number of traffic lights in Boston. The Scrutiny Management Committee were informed earlier this month that nothing whatsoever has been done to look into addressing the traffic light problem for the people of Boston, who in November 2004 had requested this be looked at urgently. We therefore would expect him to totally agree with everything Lincolnshire County Council is saying. Mr Wills' remit seems to be both the creator of the problem and Lincolnshire County Council's appointed judge of it. This is both unacceptable to us and undemocratic. Which independent auditors and inspectors are monitoring the decisions made by Officers and the Executive Group at Lincolnshire County Council?

The letter fails to answer the questions asked, so we repeat the concerns raised once again as follows:

Our letter dated 26 December 2006 stated that Officers are reporting in their documentation, as well as announcing in the local media, that the public are confused about the terminology. We then explained how you are labelling the Lincoln Southern 'Bypass' a bypass, yet a distributor road would clearly be more appropriate in this instance - the questions asked by Members at the Highways PDG Meeting back up this comment (for example, how much money would be saved if Lincoln Southern 'Bypass' was downgraded to a distributor road?). You have not explained how you have justified a full blown 'bypass' is required for Lincoln. You have not commented about the lack of the terms 'through traffic' and 'congestion' in the presentation made about Lincoln Southern 'Bypass'.

We also asked who made the decision that it was not cost effective to build a bypass for Boston without any formal economic assessment being done. You have not answered that question, but instead commented that, "Without pre-judging any future economic assessment necessary to secure government funding for the delivery of such as scheme...". Where is the evidence of a current economic assessment for Boston upon which you base your comment that is was not cost effective to build a bypass? You have repeatedly excluded and ignored Boston and it's importance within the surrounding area network (ie. Grimsby, Skegness, etc.) with tankers having to make detours to avoid the congestion - how else can this be described other than "deliberate manipulation"?

Our letter also asked which independent auditors and inspectors are monitoring the decisions made by Officers and the Executive Group at Lincolnshire County Council? We are becoming increasingly concerned about the decisions being made - for example the siting of a set of traffic lights so close to a railway crossing in Boston (see photo).

Far from professional, quality advice, we believe the advice to be more and more questionable as time goes on and we asked in our previous letter, "Have Officers at Lincolnshire County Council ever ventured out of Lincolnshire and seen how real roads are built?" You have not answered that point either. What experience have Officers had outside of Lincolnshire?

We would like to now highlight a comment made by an Officer to the Scrutiny Management Committee on 25 January 2007, when they held the Call In about the Executive Decision to press ahead with the road widening scheme proposed for Boston in the short-term.

It was stated to the Committee that the level crossing in Boston would be widened as part of this scheme to allow 3 lanes of road traffic to go over it. When the safety and practicalities of this were questioned, the Officer stated that Lincoln had in fact got a railway crossing with 3 lanes. We believe this not to be the case (as shown by the photographs below) and that the Scrutiny Management Committee were mislead - in fact have been lied to by Officers.

Such a scheme to widen a level crossing to having three lanes of road traffic, we believe to be extremely hazardous - a former Network Rail engineer told us that bridges are preferred every time to railway crossings, due to the number of accidents there are every year at level crossings. He was not aware of any railway crossing in the UK with three lanes or more of road traffic. We are therefore going to alert the Health & Safety Executive and the Office of Rail Regulation about our concerns.

Boston's railway crossing with traffic queues on the railway line
Traffic lights have been installed right next to the level crossing in Boston on one side, a mini-roundabout right next to this level crossing on the other. Is it both safe and practical to now suggest widening this crossing to 3 lanes?


Doddington Road
Doddington Road, Lincoln: TWO LANES.
Skellingthorpe Road
Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln: TWO LANES.
   
Brayford Wharf East
Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln: TWO LANES.
High Street
High Street, Lincoln: TWO LANES.
 
Great Northern Terrace
Great Northern Terrace, Lincoln: TWO LANES.

The County Council has held public exhibitions and consultations with the public, yes, but what is the point of a public consultation, if the majority of the information given by the public is ignored and manipulated? What about the increase in pollution levels, which are already at high levels and subject to air quality management. Should these roads through the town centre be widened to 3 lanes? How is this conducive to promoting pedestrianisation? On the grounds of Health & Safety alone, we are extremely concerned about the direction the Officers of Lincolnshire County Council are taking with regard to the roads, and hence the economy of Boston.

Please therefore urgently take our Formal Complaint to Stage 3. We will once again alert the Local Government Ombudsman of our letter to you. If we do not receive a response to this letter by 19 February 2007, we will take the matter up with the Local Government Ombudsman.

Our request for information under the Freedom of Information Act has still not been provided, so we will be requesting the Information Commissioner investigates as a matter of urgency.

Yours faithfully



ROBERT FISHER
for and on behalf of the Boston Bypass & Economic Growth Pressure Group (BBEG)
www.bbeg.org.uk


cc: Lincolnshire County Council
Corporate Complaints
PO Box 841
Lincoln
LN1 1ZE

cc: Complaints Unit Manager
Audit Policy and Appointments
Audit Commission
Westward House, Lime Kiln Close
Stoke Gifford, Bristol, BS34

 

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