Thursday, April 12, 2007
Purnell 'prematurely' begins work on the bypass. Is he premature in other respects too we wonder?
But he can't quite manage a front page like last week's article on the Peak District National Park objecting to the bypass. Though I'm in danger of boring you all to death, here's his letter in full:
"Bypass is now the only answer"
I write in response to your front page story last week regarding the Peak District National Park Authority and the Mottram-Hollingworth-Tintwistle Bypass.
I must insist that the record is set straight on the issue of possible alternatives to the bypass. All alternatives - including an HGV ban and major public transport improvements - have already been carefully analysed and rejected as being inadequate.
The forecasts showed that an HGV ban would only reduce the traffic flow in Mottram by two per cent. It is no longer enough for those who oppose then bypass to offer empty rhetoric in place of a solution. My constituents need relief from the traffic coming past their homes, and the evidence is clear that only a bypass will solve this problem.
As you'd expect of a politician, Purnell is using the research selectively. A response by the Highways Agency (HA) (opens PDF) to a Freedom of Information request in April last year shows his 2% reduction in traffic figure applies to the Hyde Road A57. Mottram is said to be 'negligible' (no figure given), but Tintwistle (not in his constituency of course) showed an 18% drop.
What he's not telling you is that the model the HA used was for a HGV ban on the A628 from the summit of Woodhead between the A6204 and the A616 - i.e. not the entire route. Unsurprisingly, the model showed HGVs using other routes to avoid it. And at the end of the FoI response, the HA trumpet that they are conducting a study into an 'Area Wide' HGV restriction in the Peak District National Park of which "the conclusions are not yet known".
So where is this study, and will the HA have it ready in time for the Public Inquiry? Or will it be conveniently be buried? In the meantime, Purnell's 'smoking gun' is clearly only 'half-cocked'.