Boston Bypass & Economic Growth Pressure Group
 
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Press Release - 31 October 2006

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".

BBC Radio Lincolnshire
(1.42 MB)
Listen 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."

(2.89 MB)
Listen to Robert Fisher being interviewed by Rod Whiting on the Breakfast Show
Robert Fisher, BBEG: "Information we've got only goes up to October 2005, over a year ago now. We are very concerned."

(5.22 MB)
Listen 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

Dear Madam

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 the case?

(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.

Yours faithfully

ROBERT FISHER
Chair, Boston Bypass & Economic Growth Pressure Group (BBEG)
www.bbeg.org.uk

 

BBEG Meet MP
The BBEG have met with Mark Simmonds MP.
BBEG meet with Mark Simmonds MP
BBEG Chairman Robert Fisher states: "It was a very revealing meeting, and it also gave us the chance to reaffirm our group's stance that a bit-part solution will not be acceptable - we do not want to be passed off with another John Adams Way by widening existing roads - the only solution is the provision of a decent road infrastructure around the town."
29 September 2006
Read the full report...