Press Release - 31 October
BBEG make headline
news on BBC Radio Lincolnshire's Breakfast Show:
"Boston deserves better ... a catalogue of errors and delays
BBEG chairman Robert Fisher featured in the BBC
Radio Lincolnshire's Breakfast Show news bulletin on 31 October
2006, calling for an investigation into Lincolnshire County
Council's handling of the Transport Study: "A catalogue
of errors and delays".
to the News Bulletin clip (7am)
Paul Coathup, LCC: "The Leader has said he will put up
up to £6 million
for short term remediation measures
if indeed the Transport Study shows that they will be helpful."
to Robert Fisher being interviewed by Rod Whiting on the Breakfast
Robert Fisher, BBEG: "Information we've got only goes up
to October 2005, over a year ago now. We are very concerned."
to Martin Hill's response
Martin Hill, Leader LCC: "A slight delay ... Mr Fisher
claims a catalogue of errors and delays, so he claims, if those
claims have any more substance than the other claims he made,
I don't think there's much to them at all. We
have committed £10 million to Boston,
which I publicly admitted on your programme and elsewhere, that
the County Council will give to the Boston area. I am very confident
that the Borough Council will be putting some money in to match
that up to deliver some transport improvements to the town.
[Question: Confusion - £8 million, £6 million, now
£10 million?] Well the £10
million was originally sometime ago, years ago,
when we were talking about the Southern Link which has now been
. . er ... which I think the Boston people felt wasn't going
to achieve a proper bypass situation. We've moved away from
that, but there's £10 million
in the pot, some of which has now been spent
on improvements to Marsh Lane and obviously doing the work to
look at how we can improve the situation. No
decisions have been made yet about these £6 million or
anything else, what we're actually saying is
we're looking at the moment at how we can sort out the situation
- the best scenario would be to have a full blown bypass somewhere
around Boston, which is why we're doing the Transport Study.
[Question: Are you concerned that they have written to the Ombudsman,
Audit Commission, David Cameron and John Prescott?] Perhaps
we'll go to Mars next! Obviously going to everybody ... Not
really no. If I was in Boston I would be slightly concerned
because if somebody does listen to them and in the likely event
they do, all they are doing is delaying yet again something
that could bring some benefit to Boston. So if they want to
go down that road, they're entitled to do so. I still haven't
heard what the real beef is."
The letter from Martin Hill referred to on the
radio: Read the letter...
BBEG have written
to Lincolnshire County Council (30 October 06) as follows:
To: Amy Hall
Information Compliance Officer
Lincolnshire County Council
cc: Audit Commission, Local Government Ombudsman, David Cameron
MP, John Prescott MP
Ref: Request Ref. No. 06510 - FOI
Request for Information - Boston Transport Study
As you may be aware, our group has just written to David Cameron
MP, the Leader of the Conservative Party, requesting an open
and honest investigation to occur at Lincolnshire County Council
into the events of the last few years with regards to decisions
made about Boston's road situation.
On Saturday 28 October 2006, a number of documents were received
from the Director for Development including Joint Officers Group
meeting Minutes, monthly meetings held from 20 April 2005 to
12 October 2005, which as you can appreciate, the latest one
of these is over 1 year old. We would therefore request subsequent
Minutes of these Joint Officer Group monthly meetings, as a
number of unanswered questions/issues arise from events documented
in the Minutes that we have been given. We also received Minutes
of two meetings with the BBPG, one of which I (Robert Fisher)
attended, and my colleague Michael Borrill attended both.
The Minutes show a catalogue of errors and delays, and not all
documents mentioned in them are included in the information
that we have been given. We therefore feel that an independent,
external investigation needs to now occur as soon as possible,
and we will seek support with this from David Cameron MP and
the Local Government Ombudsman, (the Ombudsman's office are
due to get back to us this week).
The specific documents that we would like copies/information
about are as follows:
(a) At a Joint Officer Group (JOG) meeting in May 2005, regarding
the issues of peak traffic, after a discussion it was decided
that the wording would be, "The issue of recreational traffic
is recognised and Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) data will be
used to quantify this". At the meeting with the BBPG in
July 2005, it is noted that Keith Barber handed out Automatic
Traffic Count (ATC) data for the A158 at Burgh le Marsh, with
a statement that the same exercise would be undertaken for Boston.
At the JOG meeting in August 2005, Keith Barber noticed two
errors with the surveys done:
1. On the North/South journey times, there was no survey done
on the A1137.
2. Also when the roadside interviews were carried out they didn't
put down any ATC's.
"Elaine Turner raised concerns over the lack of ATC's weakening
the scheme. Keith Barber is unsure that a model could be built
using the information we have. It was decided that the ATC's
will need doing and it is the Company's responsibility to do
this, in September. This will push the program back by 3 months."
Then in September 2005, the JOC minutes state the Company concerned
('Count on Us') agreed to do the ATC's in September and Keith
Barber was to draft a Technical Note to explain the compromise
reached with 'Count on Us', which he will forward on.
Please would you supply a copy of the Technical Note and explain
what compromise was made with regard to this. Has 'Count on
Us' been used before by LCC? If so, for which surveys please?
Who suggested this Company be used please?
(b) In October 2005, the JOG Minutes record further errors with
postcode coding, resulting in the Matrix production coming to
a standstill due to these errors. 'Count on Us' did not do ATC's,
but have redone what they agreed. We assume this refers again
to the Technical Note compromise above - please confirm that
is the case and if not, please explain what this comment ("redone
what they agreed") relates to and forward a copy to us.
(c) In July 2005, it is noted that Richard Wills had still not
received any feedback from Mark Simmonds MP. Please confirm
if this feedback was received, when it was received and what
feedback was given please.
(d) Also in July 2005, there is a statement that there had been
a lot of correspondence between the BBPG, Richard Wills and
Cllr Richard Austin. A County solicitors letter has been sent
to Cllr Austin reminding him of his duties w.r.t. conflict of
interest. Elaine Turner was actioned to copy Steve Willis and
Phil Drury. We would like to ask why this features in the Minutes
of a Joint Officer Group meeting and what relevance it has to
the job in hand - a Transport Study with an aim to find a solution
to Boston's traffic congestion - and why it was felt that such
a letter needed to be sent please?
(e) Who is responsible for managing the budget for the Transport
Study please? We would like them to provide a full and comprehensive
statement, showing the itemised costs to date please. This we
feel needs to be gone through by independent, external investigators.
The Minutes contain many references to a few thousand here,
a few thousand there, which does not provide an accurate report
of the current expenditure to date. For example, £10,000
for Derek May to investigate capacity improvements at non-signalised
junctions, and on 12 October 2005 additional journey time surveys
costing £3,000. In August, it is documented that the Southern
Economic Corridor (SEC) budget be looked at for possible contribution
to traffic model, which was still being dealt with. No data
is available after this comment. Has any of the SEC budget been
used for the traffic model please?
(f) In September 2005, David Woods wondered if there was a way
of going back to 'Count on Us' to re-coup costs. It was decided
that advice should be sought from LCC's legal team. Please confirm
what advice was given and what exact details and costs were
being looked at here.
(g) In October 2005, Elaine Turner had spoken to Richard Wills
about extra funding for VISSIM. Richard Wills will think about
this when we know what options we may take forward and decide
when VISSIM is actually necessary. Decision postponed. Please
report what decision was made, and when.
(h) Also in October, ten rat runs had been identified, which
each one would carry a cost of £2250 to look at. Elaine
Turner asked if the JOG felt it necessary to look at these rat
runs. Steve Willis suggested it may be better to capture information
on one of the major rat runs and see if that is useful and then
progress from there. Elaine Turner agreed. Keith Barber is to
go away and look at what could be done for around £4000-£5000.
We would like to ask why the Joint Officer Group decided to
only look at one rat run please?
(i) At the Dock Link Road Inquiry, I (Robert Fisher) asked Elaine
Turner if she thought that public consultation delayed the process
and if she was in fact against consulting the public. She stated
firmly at the Inquiry that she did not hold that view. Yet,
in the Minutes of the first JOG meeting, it states that, "Normal
practice is to consult the public twice, once near the start
and once near the end. Following a discussion, it was agreed
to only consult the public once near the end." We would
like to ask the reasons why this decision was made please?
(j) In August 2005, Steve Willis stated that the "choice
of words was very important" with reference to the Stakeholder's
Reference Group event scheduled for September. We would ask
why this comment was documented and what was meant by it please?
(k) We note that due to budget restraints, important factors
have been omitted from the surveys, for example the Automatic
Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment will not be used as
part of the surveys as this would exceed the £45,000 budget
(June 2005), and inclusion of all the rat runs identified by
the pressure groups resulted in comments as far back as June
2005 such as "the volume of traffic is unlikely to be significant,
and it was agreed that traffic surveys to quantify the volume
would not represent good value for money". Surely spending
enough money to provide the town with the desired result - a
proper solution to the traffic congestion in Boston - would
be more than justifiable to the rate payers of Lincolnshire?
(l) We also note that Brian Thompson (LCC Divisional Highways
Manager, South Kesteven & Sleaford) attended the first JOG
meeting in April 2005 because a similar meeting would be required
for the Grantham Transport Study. This suggests Boston is ahead
of Grantham in the order of procedures required. Is this still
(m) We note too that at the very first JOG meeting in April
2005, it was agreed that the timescale for implementation of
any major scheme for Boston should be a 2021 horizon. Who decided
this and on what basis please?
(n) In April 2005, at this very first meeting, Keith Barber
stated that VISSIM models were normally used for an individual
junction or a small number of junctions, and were not therefore
appropriate to assess town-wide changes in traffic. Does he
still hold this view please?
Boston is a wonderful town and
deserves better from Lincolnshire County Council.
Chair, Boston Bypass & Economic Growth Pressure Group (BBEG)