UPDATE: August 19th, 2019
Hello and welcome to our latest update.
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Problems registering as stakeholders with Highways England
Although we were told by Matt Stafford on 30th July that anyone or group can register as a stakeholder by emailing OxfordtoCambridgeExpressway@highwaysengland.co.uk, this approach seems to be working only for groups such as Parish Councils, and not for individuals, who are being re-directed to Highways England’s subscription opt-in where they are invited to sign up for traffic bulletins, road project alerts, and breaking news (incidents, weather).
The Ox-Cam Expressway is listed under the ‘East of England’ projects. This is simply not an acceptable way to engage with those who will be seriously affected by the expressway scheme. We are now perhaps only weeks away from the announcement of several route options for the expressway, and members of the public are not only still kept in the dark about all aspects of expressway planning, but are now brushed away when they try to engage as stakeholders for the expressway consultation ahead. NEG has sent an URGENT email to Matt Stafford to sort this out.
Freedom of Information request reveals current list of stakeholders, and stakeholder meetings
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Highways England reveals that by July 2019 there were 428 officially recognised Oxford-Cambridge Expressway stakeholders (up from 203 in December 2017). Gratifyingly, there are now many Parish Councils on the Stakeholder list, probably as a result of attending one of Highways England’s ‘Local Intelligence Events’ (i.e. road shows) in November 2018. We will put this list on our NEG website so that you can check if your Parish is represented.
Among NEG supporters, the following PCs are NOT yet registered: Arncott, Boarstall, Brill, Launton, Ludgershall, Marsh Gibbon, The Claydons, Waterperry, Worminghall and Wotton.
Highways England has held 65 meetings with one or more stakeholders since August 2018, the majority (17) with (usually) one or more Councils. Only one independent environmental organisation (BBOWT) features on this list; and it has had only two meetings. EEH, Strategic Stakeholders, LEPs and Businesses have had a total of nine meetings.
A further Freedom of Information request asked for copies of correspondence between Highways England and the Government that might throw some light on why work on the expressway continues when the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for it revealed such a low Benefit:Cost ratio (between 1.1:1 and 1.3:1) that it fell below the threshold set by the Government (1.5:1) for project referral and reconsideration. Highways England has requested extra time to deal with this FOI request ‘because the information requested is complex and voluminous’.
Prime Minister Johnson visits Oxford, doesn’t recognise the Leader of the County Council, and avoids being interviewed about the expressway
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Oxfordshire on Thursday 8th August, and Oxford Mail Reporter Nathan Briant tried his best to arrange a short interview with Mr Johnson, to raise the issue of the thousands of new homes to be built in the county by 2050, and the ‘shambolic saga of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway’. The intrepid reporter phoned the Downing Street Press Office and contacted fellow reporters in an attempt to meet up with the PM. Mr Johnson spent 45 minutes talking with Conservative Party activists in Abingdon, but couldn’t find even one minute to talk about the expressway and houses.
Read Nathan's opinion piece for the details >
At the Abingdon meeting, Councillor Ian Hudspeth (Conservative Leader of the County Council) asked whether the County will be allowed to keep its infrastructure funding. One insider reported that this question ‘sent panic through the Prime Minister’s team, who clearly had no idea who Mr Hudspeth was, the topic, or its ramifications’.
Read the full article in The Oxford Mail >
Whatever happened to a ‘safe pair of hands’?
NEG has begun a dialogue with other expressway groups to co-ordinate our responses to the expressway routes’ announcement. By combining forces we hope to send a co-ordinated, strong and clear message to cancel the expressway and the associated ‘expressway-unlocked’ housing that would double Oxfordshire’s housing stock by 2050 (and a c. 90% increase in Bucks’).
Signs for the times
We have now installed No Expressway Group roadside posters in Marsh Gibbon and Oakley. If your village doesn’t yet have any, please get in touch.
Expressway Article in Vale Life
Congratulations to Judith Longman, Tim Andrew and Dave Munson of Brill for getting an article ‘Valuing the Vale: Threat of the Expressway’ in the August-September issue of the Vale Life Magazine.
England’s Economic Heartland opens consultation and asks Government for £700 million infrastructure funding
England’s Economic Heartland’s (EEH) recently released ‘Outline Transport Strategy: Framework for Engagement’ is now open for consultation (until 31st October).
It is important for readers to realise that this is NOT the Highways England’s expressway consultation on routes that is due in ‘Autumn 2019’ (but is likely to be delayed for final Government approval). The EEH proposals cover a rather larger area than the Ox-Cam Arc and place a strong emphasis on public transport, in contrast to Highway’s England’s proposals of a more business-as-usual scenario involving private cars.
At more or less the same time EEH submitted to Govt. a request for £700 million of funding to improve several key areas of the road network in the region. The eleven projects suggested, each of which must be ‘buildable by 2025’, are mostly in the eastern half of EEH’s area, the most westerly ones being at Towcester and Aylesbury.
Read the EEH's report, England’s Economic Heartland: Major Road Network and Large Local Majors Programme of Investment >
Still awaiting HE’s response to our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests regarding a) which stakeholders have been sent NDAs and who has signed them and b) why the expressway plans continue to be developed despite the very low benefit:cost ratio.
Continue to update our noexpressway.org website, add news and drive traffic to NEG page on Facebook, and put up new signs as and when requested.
Fundraising: Please donate at https://www.noexpressway.org/no-expressway/donate!
Events see noexpressway.org events page for full details
We urgently need your help
Your donations are needed now, to help us run the campaign and pay for political consultants and other professional experts to bring this campaign to the attention of Westminster as well as local politicians.
No Expressway Group believes there is no need for an Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, nor the over-inflated housing targets associated with it, and we will actively campaign against it and support other organisations with the same objectives.
Our environment is a national asset which is critical for everyone’s health and well-being. We must not let it be destroyed.
Your donations help us to spread information about the Expressway, run and build support for the campaign:
£10 could pay for one roadside Correx poster
£15 could pay for one roadside poster on a wooden stake
£20 could pay for one A1 printed colour poster for our pagoda display
£35 could pay for 250 A5 printed leaflets for the campaign
£70 could pay for one pole and two panels for our travelling pagoda display
£150 could pay for one feather flag for our travelling pagoda
£180 could pay to run this website for one year
£300 could pay for a 3 minutes of an Expressway Story
£500 could pay for a 5 minutes of an Expressway Story
A greater or other amount could contribute to the cost of professional support for our campaign in general and in preparation for Planning Inspectorate hearings
The No Expressway Group has a group bank account to which the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer are signatories. The group will publish accounts on noexpressway.org each year which will be audited by an accountant from outside the NEG group.
If any funds are left at the end of the campaign, these will be donated equally between RSPB and BBOWT.