Fact and Fiction
Back in 2002, the developers were called Stannifer (it's still the same people), the development was called Wilburton, and they had a website which had a "Fact and Fiction" section. We've got hold of some of the information from that site - thanks to Google - and thought we'd looked at what the developer classed as "fact" and "fiction", and see how it holds out against their current proposals. Click on the Fiction link to see more details of each item.
FICTION: Wilburton is too far away from Cambridge.
FICTION: Wilburtons lack of a railway station makes it a bad choice.
FICTION: A new settlement at Wilburton would only add to congestion on the A10.
FICTION: The landscape around Wilburton is unsuitable for new housing.
The developers view of what is fact and what is fiction is a little limited, they only appear to propose 4 fictions, and their "facts" do not appear to be based on real, local experience. Perhaps they should have tried consulting the local population like they make claims to have done?
In 2005, when questioned about the disappearance of the guided bus system from their proposal compared to the 2002 proposal - the developers said that the guided bus will never happen.
When asked about the causes for congestion, David Tucker (who has good local knowledge having worked here for 20 years, according to his proof of evidence) claimed that the number of tractors and other such slow moving vehicles on the A10 resulted in congestion. No mention was made of the Milton junction.
When asked to prove the claims of increased capacity and reduced accidents, the transport experts we're unable to - just quoting "research". On being pressed on this at the Stretham public exhibition - they said that the research was unpublished. This limits the audience of people who will read and review the research, so it can never gain credibility. To date there have been very few people who have included this research in their literature - and only brief mention has been included where we can find it. Hardly a concrete base upon which to build your transport proposal? The literature review in the proof of evidence is very limited, and does not appear to include any roads of a similar nature to the A10 with many junctions and minor accesses. Reading around the information given shows that accidents are reduced on wider roads for everything else being equal. But the development will add thousands of cars, and thus not everything is equal. Does the increase in traffic outweigh the reduction in accidents claimed when comparing the A10 to WS2 roads? Does the effective increase in speed of the WS2 standard road change the severity of accidents, leading to more injury or fatal accidents?
When talking about the widening of the A10, and examples of such roads - David Tucker was happy to speak about the A326 Marchwood bypass widening - for which the same research was used as for the A10 proposal. This road was to be a 12-13m wide single carriageway as part of the Dibden Terminal expansion in Hampshire. During the public inquiry, this was thrown out on safety grounds, and David Tucker renegotiated with Hampshire County Council for this road to become a 16m wide dual carriageway - although he seemed loath to admit to it being a dual carriageway during questioning (the minutes from the public inquiry are available on the web). Surely that constitutes a recommendation that they aren't safe, if the proposer agrees to change the design on safety issues? The road was never built.
David Tucker is quoted in the Andover Advertiser as stating that:
"Government policy is not to over-provide.
If this is the case, then why are parts of the M25 now 4, 5 or even 6 lanes? There is plenty of public transport in and out of London. Alas it is often the case that there is no suitable alternative mode of transport.
"If roads are improved to cope with peak periods there is no incentive to people to transfer to other modes of transport."
After the 2005 public exhibitions, further information was requested via the developers website by one local resident. Their response was:
"your unwillingness to cooperate with the request for your address and the tone of your second email did not encourage us to release any further information at the time. For example, it is common practice that a register of enquiries should include address details."
The second email was asking why they hadn't responded to previous requests for information (which we are told they never did), and we have been informed that the tone was a lot more polite then David Tucker and Andrew Bennett had been to members of the local community during the public exhibitions. As for providing an address to obtain information - how childish is that? Their website did not include a privacy statement at the time - and therefore under the various Data Protection Acts they are not legally allowed to ask for such information. And the developers had met this local resident in person during the public exhibitions. It now appears that David Tucker is highlighting in his proof of evidence that he hasn't received information from the CCC to questions asked - funny how it's ok for him to complain, but the local community isn't allowed to ask the developer for information. Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself is our moto.
An example road used in the Stretham Public Exhibition showed pictures of an almost completely empty wide road, with a car overtaking a van. People pointed out that such low traffic levels were very rarely seen of the A10. On further investigation the road turned out to be a newly built bypass road, with the original road into the town still being heavily congested. The road was also cause for concern with safety issues - with safety camera being installed along some of it's route.
- When asked their opinion, the Cambridge Labour Party said:
"The wish to build more homes in the Cambridge sub-region is not specific to
Labour but is shared by most people of all political persuasions and none;
because there is a significant imbalance between jobs and homes which is
generally calculated as a labour shortage of approximately 50,000 people who
currently travel increasing distances into Cambridge because they cannot
find homes close to the city at prices they can afford.
But any development north of Cambridge would cause serious congestion on the
A10 unless it was accompanied by a major increase in rail capacity
sufficient to neutralise the growth of car use which it would otherwise
generate. We therefore share your view that Mereham is not an appropriate
site for development.
You are right to suggest that homes need to be brought as near to Cambridge
as can be accommodated within the space and infrastucture that can be made
available. Our judgement is that the additional 12,000 homes proposed for
Marshall's airport alone cannot be accommodated in this way, because of the
pressure this will place on infrastucture in the east of the city -
Newmarket Rd., Coldham's Lane, Brooks Rd, Mill Road and Cherry Hinton Rd.
We believe the congestion that will follow is likely to kill the economic
goose that currently lays the golden eggs of Cambridge prosperity. The
proposal is the subject of an Inquiry which will report in the late autumn
We believe that expansion at Waterbeach, accompanied by a new station and
anticipated rail improvements including the new station at East Chesterton
could probably achieve what is required better. We believe that the proposal
to develop at Mereham is a speculative bid which may be coming forward
because the Marshall site may come to grief in the Inquiry. You might want
to consider whether you would support our view that Waterbeach is in any
case a preferable site for development because of its preferable transport
We support the view held locally - of "where are all these people supposed to be coming from?". If you move people nearer Cambridge, surely that will leave empty house where they moved from - so do we need the extra millions of houses across the country that are claimed? Or is that an excuse to allow unsustainable developments to blight the British countryside.