Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Cambridge based campaigning group "Friends of the Cam" are declaring the rights of the River Cam on midsummer evening Monday 21st June at 6pm with a celebration for people of all ages from 4pm to 9pm. The group hopes this will highlight the urgent need to reverse over-abstraction and pollution of the river and the encroachment of massive levels of unsustainable building and infrastructure in our area and across the region.

To join the gathering, meet west of the footbridge on Jesus Green from 4pm for a celebration of the river with a picnic, drawing and painting for children, songs, music, poetry and an art display. There will also be an open mic where people can tell of their connection to the river.

At 6pm there will be a formal declaration of the rights of the river following the Universal Declaration of River Rights (see image) and the practice of indigenous peoples over thousands of years. Messages of support will be read from areas of the world where river rights are already recognised.

 Universal Rights of River Cam

 

The declaration of river rights will be adapted for the Cam, including:

  • the right to flow and be free from over-abstraction
  • the right to be free from pollution
  • the right to be fed by sustainable aquifers
  • the right to perform essential functions within the ecosystem
  • the right to native biodiversity
  • and the right to restoration.

In declaring the rights of the river participants will become its guardians, recognising that its rights have been breached in the past, and will oppose all new building and development which override the rights of the Cam and its feeder chalk streams.

Music for relaxing and dancing will continue up to around 9pm.

For more information about Friends of the Cam, see https://www.friendsofthecam.org/

PLANNING TO CONFUSE?

How many individuals comprise 8,500 responses?

The consultation by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning (GCSP) on the new Local Plan was carried out in January and February 2020, and referred to as the "First Conversation".

The website says that it received "over 8,500 comments and responses". Analysis by CPRE shows that GCSP counted each question answered as an individual response - but did not count the number of individual people responding.

And when suggestions for development sites (which are unlikely to be suggested by residents) are removed, the number of questions answered falls to 7,800.

! In the Opus 2 Consult system, the highest number of individuals replying to one of the 50 questions was 66; some questions received fewer than 20 responses from individuals. So, even if all the email responses (1,020) were from individuals, which is not the case, the maximum number of responses received from individuals would be 1,086. Not exactly 8,500!

! A number of responses have been counted twice.

! There are a significant number of responses from commercial interests, sometimes in a corporate name and sometimes in the name of an individual. GCSP stated: “Some respondents on Opus Consult were agents representing multiple clients. In many cases these respondents submitted an identical response multiple times on behalf of different clients. These are considered as separate representations as they were submitted on behalf of separate respondents. For the purposes of plan-making and responding to issues raised in the consultation, it is the content of representations, not the amount of them, that will be evaluated.” So multiple versions of responses will be counted to make up numbers.

! The area has a population of about 280,000. 66 people represent 0.0235 per cent, or 1 in 4,200 people. 1086 people would only represent 0.388 per cent of the population. Can that be a sound basis for long-term policy making?

 

THE FULL ANALYSIS

Introduction

In January and February 2020 Greater Cambridge Shared Planning, (GCSP), held the “First Conversation” styled as being “about what the new Local Plan should contain”.

Subsequently, the GCSP have claimed on their website to have received “..over 8,500 comments and responses to the consultation questions from a huge range of people, over 650 suggested sites for development and 21 sites for green spaces.” https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/greater-cambridge-local-plan/first-conversation-consultation-and-call-for-sites/

At first glance this appeared to be an exceptionally high level of response from the citizens of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire (current population c.280,000) for this type of consultation.

So, following conversations with local representatives, CPRE agreed to examine the claimed numbers in more detail. The steps taken and the outcome is as follows below.

Steps Taken

The following records published via the GCSP web site were read and examined.

First conversation results

Spreadsheet titled - gclp-first-conversation-website-comments-2020-09-15 Comments received via the GCSPS website

Spreadsheet titled - gclp-first-conversation-opus-2-consult-and-email-responses-2020-09-15 Comments received via the Opus 2 consult system and through email

Detailed review of comments registered and published on GCSPS web site Comments received via the Opus 2 consult system and through email

Results and Comments

1. The claim made on the web site of over 8,500 comments and responses appears to be misleading. Firstly, it does not make clear that this was not the number of individuals or organisations who made responses but the number of questions answered on a 50-item questionnaire plus some other responses.

2. This is further clarified in paragraph 6.1 of the Report dated 16 October 2020 which states:

“We received responses and comments to the consultation through a number of channels:

 

Means of responding  Number of responses 
Responses using the Local Plan website comment forms  1020 
Responses using the Opus 2 Consult system or submitted via email (excluding Call for Sites and Call for Green Sites  6588 
Call for Sites (including late site submissions up to 16 October 2020)  675 
Call for Green Sites  21 
Feedback postcards from events  226 

We also received general notes and feedback from the meetings held during the consultation period, which are not counted as responses in the table above.

The total number of responses (each response being an answer to a single question, multiple answers may have been submitted by the same respondent to different questions), was 7,874, excluding Call for Sites and Call for Green Sites submissions.”

In other words, the total number of responses was 8,530 including Site and Green Site submissions. Therefore, the wording of the web site, “We received over 8,500 comments and responses to the consultation questions from a huge range of people, over 650 suggested sites for development and 21 sites for green spaces.” effectively double-counts the sites for development and the sites for green spaces because it appears additive.

3. CPRE next examined the 7,874 individual responses made using the two spreadsheets and the Opus 2 application on the website with the objective of determining how many individuals actually responded to the consultation.

4. In the spreadsheet titled “gclp-first-conversation-website-comments-2020-09-15.xlsx” it was found that the majority of the responses listed do not provide any information about whose comments and views are being expressed. Furthermore the number of lines of response on each sheet is not an indicator because some sheets include multiple choice questions, in others individuals have stated that they have answered more than once and throughout the number of responses to each question is very variable. Thus it is not possible to identify the number of individuals included in this group. However, it is clear from the wording and content of the responses that many are from individuals.

5. Using the spreadsheet titled “gclp-first-conversation-opus-2-consult-and-email-responses-2020-09-15” and the detailed review of comments registered and published on GCSPS web site, it was possible to draw some clear conclusions as follows:

  • The highest number of individuals to respond to any of the questions posed was 66,
  • A number of the questions received less than 20 responses from individuals,
  • In the spreadsheet responses from both individuals and groups have been counted twice. This occurs on the majority of the questions posed. For example:
    • In question 26, the response from Endurance Estates was cited twice,
    • In question 31, comments from Lolworth Development Ltd were cited twice when two individuals from the company responded both via the agent, Bidwells,
    • In question 31 the respondent James Manning, ID 49100, submitted comments with no agent cited, then a further response, ID number 49294, was submitted via his agent Carter Jonas.
    • In question 33, comments have been received from or on behalf of Endurance Estates five times, once submitted by a Miss Claire Shannon.
    • Comments have also been accepted from Miss Claire Shannon who appears as an individual, see Q1 ID52356. However, exactly the same comments to the same questions have also been received from the agents Cheffins ID 45502, 45419, 44998, 44940, Maarnford-Butler family ID 44597 and Mr Ben Pridgeon ID 44554.

There are numerous examples like this where agents have given the same answer several times on behalf of different clients and where individuals acting as agents have then answered the same question as an individual. Some have made clear how or why they have answered more than once, others have not.

To its credit, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning states in its document Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Conversation, Call for Sites and Call for Green Sites Data -Report updated 16 October 2020 on page 8 “Some respondents on Opus Consult were agents representing multiple clients. In many cases these respondents submitted an identical response multiple times on behalf of different clients. These are considered as separate representations as they were submitted on behalf of separate respondents. For the purposes of plan-making and responding to issues raised in the consultation, it is the content of representations, not the amount of them, that will be evaluated.”

However, no such clarification is highlighted on its website.

Conclusions

Given that the population of Greater Cambridge (2020) is c. 280,000 it is questionable how well the First Conversation Consultation does reflect the views of residents.

The majority of responses originate from organisations and/or their agents.

There are occurrences where responses could be construed as misrepresenting the nature of their origin and there are certainly many duplications (and more) of responses.

Is a maximum of 66 individuals responding to a question really representative of the views of local residents in a population of 280,000?

CPRE fully understands how difficult it is to conduct consultations, especially when the subjects are very complex. However, this Local Plan is likely to have a long-lasting and highly significant influence on the future character and setting of Cambridge and its surroundings. It is therefore imperative that local residents are properly and fully engaged in the decision-making process and not the victims of some overarching plan for ‘growth’ dreamt up by Whitehall.

We urgently need your help to secure a Deposit Return Scheme…

Sound familiar? Two years ago, you supported our calls for a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) with the potential to cut all forms of drinks container litter.

Yet, despite this resulting in the then environment secretary committing to bringing in a DRS, that message seems to have been forgotten.

The government has released another consultation delaying everything until the end of 2024 at the earliest, and suggesting a half-hearted design that would set the system up to fail.

We’re fed up. So we’re sending a message in a bottle, signed by thousands of us, directly to the Prime Minister.

We’re telling him to get a move on - will you add your name now?

Sign the message in a bottle

Our countryside is littered with discarded, single-use drinks bottles and cans. They harm wildlife, pollute our waterways and spoil the beauty of nature.

And it’s completely unnecessary.

We’ve already won this argument. Even big drinks producers like Coca-Cola agree that an all-in DRS is the answer to our litter problem.

But a handful of trade bodies are trying to confuse and distract the government on this. Together we can drown out their empty claims with a message straight to our decision-makers: don’t dilute or delay deposit return.

Will you join us for one last push?

Add my name

At the end of May, we’ll be taking our message in a bottle directly to the Prime Minister.

With enough of us taking part, we can finally put the wheels in motion for the solution we need to our litter crisis.

Thank you for your ongoing support,
Maddy, Sam, Pat and Mark
CPRE the countryside charity

Read our response to the government's delay

Friends of the River Cam invite you to hear Paul Powlesland, a barrister who campaigns for the legal recognition of the rights of nature. His online talk is entitled “Recognising Nature Rights” and will be held on Tuesday 18th May from 7 - 8.30 p.m.

Obtain your free tickets from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/recognising-nature-rights-tickets-153514386663

About Lawyers for Nature and Paul Powlesland

Paul founded Lawyers for Nature under the banner: ‘representing the natural world and all who are seeking to defend it’. Lawyers for Nature gives legal advice, proposes legislation, and provides free legal representation for environmental activists. He managed to stop the illegal arrests of activists in Sheffield standing under trees to protect them and those previously arrested received compensation. He has a particular love for rivers. He set up friends of the River Roding in Barking to revive a stretch of the river- bank and restore access for the local community. He has stated the need for urgent action to defend the natural world: ‘We stand at the most crucial juncture in the history of humanity. It’s a really weird time since we are at the “make-or-break” of our civilisation... No part of our civilisation will remain untouched if it collapses; not even our legal system and yet everyone is blithely carrying on as if this issue is not real.’

Background

The controversial Oxford-Cambridge Expressway was cancelled in March but the Government still aims to increase economic output of the Oxford-Cambridge region with one million jobs and one million houses, with Cambridgeshire’s share (271,000) increasing the entire housing stock of the county by 2050 by more than 80%.

Plans for mitigation imagine “doubling nature” in places by 2050, but this will only come at the cost of losing other areas to development, and as Dieter Helm, Chair of Defra Natural Capital Committee, admits ‘Net environmental gain has never been achieved at scale’.

The River Cam and its tributaries are in their death throes, sucked dry by water companies and polluted by sewage. How can pumping the rivers full of even more sewage be part of ‘doubling nature’ or ensuring a ‘lasting green legacy’? Following the recent Panorama programme on river degradation, a petition was launched on the Government Petitions website, asking the Government to ‘Ban Water Companies discharging raw sewage into water courses’ https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/582336. Local Plans and Local Transport Strategies take the Ox-Cam Arc ambitions for granted, about which the general public has been neither informed nor consulted.

At a recent Westminster Forum Paul Leinster, a former CEO of the Environment Agency and lead member on Natural Capital for the OxCam Arc, the incoming chair of Water Resources East, the brainchild of Anglian Water, admitted that what to do with the wastewater is one of the biggest issues for the OxCam Arc.

As the Guardian and others have highlighted, Anglian Water, the developer partner of Cambridge City Council, is a serial offender. Feargal Sharkey, the leading campaigner on rivers, who spoke at an earlier event hosted by Friends of the River Cam said in his evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: “Water companies have paid out over £60bn in dividends to shareholders while filling our rivers with sewage.” Watch at bit.ly/32vkGXg

Friday, 19 March 2021 17:27

Challenge the Arc

Written by Cambs Admin
Tuesday, 23 February 2021 13:38

OX-CAM ARC SCRAPPED: BUT THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL.

Written by Cambs Admin

 

Ox-Cam Expressway CANCELLED, or is it?

 

Campaigners across the Ox-Cam corridor were relieved to hear the announcement on 18th March by the Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, that the controversial road known as the Ox-Cam Expressway linking Oxford and Cambridge “would not be cost-effective for the taxpayer” and had been scrapped.

 

For our colleagues in CPRE Oxfordshire, CPRE Buckinghamshire and CPRE Bedfordshire this is tremendous news, and we are really pleased by it.

 

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire said: “We are delighted the Government has listened to the concerns of campaigners and residents. Rest assured we shall be keeping an eye on any ‘targeted, localised road improvements’ planned for Oxfordshire!” CPRE Cambridgeshire will be supporting that approach.

 

Announcing the news on Twitter Grant Shapps wrote:

 

Today I’ve CANCELLED the OxCam Expressway project. We’re already delivering targeted plans for road investment to boost transport in the area and building East-West Rail with my recent £760m investment in this transformational project.https://twitter.com/grantshapps.

 

The project in Oxfordshire has been paused since March 2020 and it is encouraging that the new transport focus will be on East-West Rail. However, all is not quite what it seems.

 

A quick read of the Department for Transport (DfT) press release reveals that it does not state which sections of the Expressway are cancelled. Remember this is really a road between Felixstowe and Southampton. We requested clarification from the DfT on the Cambridge section from Caxton Gibbet to the Black Cat roundabout on the A1, and received this response:

 

We are not cancelling the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme. The Government remains committed to that important scheme which offers safety, connectivity, community and economic growth benefits.”

 

So we now have a situation where in Cambridgeshire £1.4bn will be spent on an “expressway”-standard road, instead of a local road improvement scheme, and £5.2bn will also be spent on a completely new track for East-West Rail through the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire countryside. It would be interesting to see the calculations that make this level of expenditure in our area cost effective for the taxpayer. We encourage all taxpayers to ask to see those calculations.

 

We also encourage them to keep us informed of any other ‘targeted, localised road improvements’ that might just lead to the completion of the Felixstowe to Southampton expressway under a different guise.

 

A copy of the full Department for Transport (DfT) press release is reproduced below.

 

 

 

 DfT

18 Mar 2021

Oxford to Cambridge expressway project cancelled as Transport Secretary looks to alternative plans for improving transport in the region

  • Oxford to Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway formally cancelled following pause last March
  • Extensive analysis and local engagement reveals the expressway would not be cost-effective for the taxpayer
  • Government will continue to work on alternative plans to boost transport connectivity in the Arc, alongside delivering the transformational East West Rail

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today (18th March) announced the cancellation of the ‘Ox-Cam expressway’, after analysis confirmed the proposed project was not cost-effective.

Highways England had been developing potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes. However, following close work with local partners since 2014, recent analysis shows that the benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by the costs associated with the project. 

Building on the insight already developed by Highways England, the Department for Transport will now investigate the need for more targeted road interventions in the area, recognising the vital role that transport investment has to support sustainable growth in the region, as noted by the National Infrastructure Commission. The Department will work closely with Highways England and England’s Economic Heartland, as the Sub-national Transport Body to develop a study on proposals which will also support the Spatial Framework.

The East West Rail scheme remains central to providing critical infrastructure within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, with it not only improving connectivity but also bringing new jobs and opportunities to people in the area. In January, the Government announced a £760 million funding commitment to deliver the next phase of East West Rail, which will create 1,500 skilled jobs, and reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is home to cutting-edge research, globally-renowned science and technology clusters, and some of the most productive places in the country – we want to make sure it has transport fit for such an important region.

“Our analysis shows the expressway cannot deliver such links in a way that provides value for money for the taxpayer, so I have taken the decision to cancel the project. But we remain committed to boosting transport links in the area, helping us to create jobs and build back better from Covid.

“We will continue to work on more targeted, localised road improvements to boost transport in the region, alongside the transformational East West Rail, in which we have invested £760m to deliver the next phase.”

Mayor Dave Hodgson, Chair, England’s Economic Heartland Strategic Transport Forum said:

“This is a welcome announcement which provides clarity to those planning for the region’s future between Oxford and Milton Keynes. As our Transport Strategy sets out, delivery of strategic schemes including East West Rail and Mass Transit systems such as those being developed in Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes, alongside harnessing smart technologies and targeted investment in the road network, are all essential if we are to ensure economic growth while achieving net-zero emissions.

“Work on EEH’s Oxford-Milton Keynes connectivity study begins in March 2021. We will work with partners and government to explore the connectivity needs of this important corridor and to identify the solutions required to support sustainable growth for the long term.”

In February the Government launched the process for developing a long-term Oxford-Cambridge Arc Spatial Framework, including transport policy, for local and national planning and to inform investment decisions so that together, the Government, local authorities and communities can unlock the long-term potential of the area in a sustainable way, improving Arc as a place to live and work.

 

Contact Information

Fran Golinski:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Background to the Arc

Expressway cancelled

The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has announced that the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has been cancelled as analysis has shown that “the benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by its costs”. CPRE welcomes this decision which we and other campaigners have been pressing for ever since the project was 'paused' in March 2020. However, the decision appears to have been made on purely cost grounds and not environmental ones. We claimed that the environmental impacts would have been unacceptable, in terms of landscape, rural tranquillity, wildlife and loss of agricultural land as well as the climate change effects of increased road traffic. The Department, in its announcement, said “We will continue to work on more targeted, localised road improvements to boost transport in the region”. CPRE will be watching this very closely. The Milton Keynes to Black Cat section of the road already exists and the new section of the A428 from Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet will still be built across open countryside. 18th March 2021

Reaction to Policy Paper from Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson

Mayor Hodgson welcomed the Policy Paper’s publication but said:

“It is good that the Government acknowledges some of the issues we face locally, especially the need for more and better infrastructure; the need to protect our environment; and the need to deal with deprivation. Sadly the document does not fully explore how these issues should be resolved. It is crucial that infrastructure improvements need to be delivered in advance of any additional growth, as we already have an infrastructure deficit that this document does not address.” Bedford Independent 22nd Feb 2021

Government publishes Policy Paper on Spatial Framework

Central Government has published a Paper on how it intends to go about preparing a Spatial Framework for the Arc. This will comprise plans for new and expanded settlements, transport and other infrastructure, economic development and environmental enhancement. Consultations on options and Strategic Environmental Assessment are promised. Note that the Paper concentrates on how the Framework will be developed: it is not the Framework itself. Consequently, the Paper does not identify specific locations for new or expanded settlements, although previous announcements have suggested areas for development corporations (locations where planning constraints may be relaxed).

We fear:

  • Loss of ‘ordinary’ countryside and tranquillity; the impact on valued landscapes (not merely officially protected ones such as AONBs); and increase in light pollution
  • Loss of productive agricultural land, needed to increase sustainable, quality home-produced food
  • Likelihood of continued/ increased car dependency
  • Plans not coming forward from democratically-elected local authorities, who will be able to influence only the detail of implementation; instead we have a top-down approach
  • The Policy Paper talks much about ‘sustainable transport’ but does not give a commitment to widespread accessible and integrated public transport throughout the Arc
  • The proposals make it much harder, if not impossible, to meet our biodiversity and climate change commitments
  • The level of housing proposed is far in excess of what is needed to meet natural population growth, even allowing for economic expansion.
  • The sheer amount of housing is likely to attract commuters from further afield, especially London, increasing journey distances.

While ‘sustainable transport’ is frequently mentioned in the Policy Paper, it is clear there is no real commitment to public-transport-orientated development.

The proposal is not consistent with ‘levelling up’ the UK as continually quoted by the Government. It will largely serve to make an already prosperous area even more so. More priority should be given to investment in the urban areas of the northern and Midland regions which are desperate for regeneration and economic development. There appears to be no commitment to protect existing local rural communities which have their own identities from being overwhelmed (Milton Keynes is an example of this).

The indicative timetable is:

To develop a vision for the future of the Arc there will be a public consultation in the summer of 2021, following initial stakeholder engagement.

Options will be developed for turning the vision into policy, based on engagement and initial evidence gathering and analysis. MHCLG will publish these options for consultation in spring 2022.

MHCLG will consider responses to this consultation, and undertake spatial analysis, option testing, impact assessments and stakeholder engagement. The Government will publish a draft spatial framework for consultation in autumn 2022, with implementation of the final framework shortly afterwards.

The Policy Paper can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/planning-for-sustainable-growth-in-the-oxford-cambridge-arc-spatial-framework/planning-for-sustainable-growth-in-the-oxford-cambridge-arc-an-introduction-to-the-spatial-framework. 18th Feb 2021.

New settlements between Bedford and Cambridge

The housing ministry has revealed plans to ‘engage with communities’ in the spring and early summer of 2021 on the development of up to four new or expanded settlements between Bedford and Cambridge, reported Planning, 9th Feb 2021. This should not come as a total surprise, as the Government had already suggested in the March 2020 Budget that development corporations were likely to be established for Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots and Cambourne, giving a clue as to where some of the new or expanded settlements might be. What we do not yet know is whether the consultation will cover a number of options which will subsequently be narrowed down or whether the sites will already have been decided. Do not assume, however, that west of Milton Keynes will be let off the hook. Watch this space.

East-West Rail plans further delayed

Whilst East-West Rail has received confirmation of £760M funding from the Government, completion of construction work and the commencement of train services on the Bicester to Bletchley/Milton Keynes stretch has now been put back to 2025. No date has been set for the Aylesbury branch. Completion of work on the Bletchley to Bedford section now seems to be put back until 2028, on the grounds that a complete rebuilding of Bedford Midland station will be necessary. It is not explained why a limited interim service to Bedford using existing infrastructure cannot be implemented earlier. East-West Rail said: “While each section brings its own benefits to the communities it serves, East-West Rail’s full transformational potential will only be realised if [the project] is delivered in full”. Bearing in mind the need for decarbonisation, CPRE is disappointed that the route will not be electrified from the outset and that capacity for freight is uncertain. 25th Jan 2021

Milton Keynes Expansion Plans

Milton Keynes Council’s ‘MK Futures 50’ plans massive house expansion and population increase. MPs Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt support new housing to meet local demand; however they believe the plans will place too great a strain on local services and infrastructure, and will damage the environment. They also believe it will undermine the basic structure of the town. Milton Keynes Council have drawn up plans to expand the town beyond the Council’s boundaries to reach neighbouring towns. These include Buckingham, Leighton Buzzard and Northampton. The population is also set to reach 500,000 by 2050, doubling the population in 30 years.

The MPs have highlighted the need for affordable housing in Milton Keynes to be addressed before the city is expanded. Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, said: “Any plans for new housing must be thought through carefully and be made in conjunction with our neighbours as part of a wider Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor. We have over 20,000 unbuilt new houses already agreed. Why are we not concentrating on building those, and then taking time to think about what additional housing might be needed in the long-term? New homes should be built to support economic growth and not simply to meet an artificial number.” Alex Walker, Leader of MK Conservative Councillors, added: “The extent of MK Council's expansion plans are reckless and will destroy all we love about Milton Keynes.” MK FM radio, Jan 23rd 2021.

Connectivity Studies

England's Economic Heartland has announced that “In 2021 we will see the first two of our programme of connectivity studies getting underway. The studies will be focused on the area between Oxford and Milton Keynes, and the corridor between Peterborough, Northampton and Oxford.” Even assuming that these will be multi-modal studies (and better than the discredited multi-modal studies of the late 1990s), the prospect of the ghost of the Expressway may yet reappear. And given that there is no rail link between Peterborough, Northampton and Oxford, one wonders what might be recommended here. CPRE will be represented on the 'Influencers' Group' for these studies. 16th Dec 2020.

Buckinghamshire Council withdraws from Arc Leaders' Group

Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Cllr Martin Tett, said:

“Buckinghamshire Council, along with the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Buckingham, have withdrawn from the Oxford to Cambridge 'ARC Leaders' Group'. As a new unitary council, Buckinghamshire wishes to be in control of its own future economic development and housing decisions, rather than potentially have these imposed upon it by votes from other areas as far away as Corby and the Fenlands. We also wish to support our businesses develop opportunities wherever they occur, rather than be confined within an artificial geography such as the ARC. We wish the very best to those councils who wish to remain within the ARC Leaders Group, and we will continue to cooperate with them on a case by case basis." Oct 2020.

We support Buckinghamshire Council's decision and call upon other local authorities to follow suit in order to restore local democracy to this process. This does not mean to say, however, that Buckinghamshire will not have unwelcome development thrust upon it by Government central planners against its will.

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