The Leader of Herefordshire Council misleads the citizens of the County
Contrary to what Councillor Johnson has said about transport requirements for a Hereford Relief Road, the Highways Agency has confirmed IT IS NOT SPECIFICALLY REQUIRING THE WESTERN RELIEF ROAD TO BE BUILT. The agency denies setting traffic movement limits on the A49 south of the City and denies conducting any transport modelling associated with the A49 to A465 link road.
Here for Hereford had contacted the Highways Agency to seek clarification of comments made by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Tony Johnson, on 11 February 2014, in an interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester. Cllr Johnson had stated that ‘…the Department of Transport set a limit to the number of traffic movements [on the A49] … we are approaching that limit … without [the Southern link road] the Department could very well say we can’t go into any more development at Rotherwas and the Enterprise Zone…’
The Leader’s comments are not supported by the Highways Agency which manages the road network on behalf of the Department of Transport. It is Herefordshire Council’s own Local Development Order that has set a limit on development within the Enterprise Zone, meaning that outside that limit formal planning application for additional usage will need to be made.
In a letter dated 7April 2014 (ref. HAIL 13601492) from the Highways Agency Network Delivery and Development Directorate, Patrick Thomas answered several of the questions raised by Here for Hereford:-
What about traffic flows on the A49 south of Hereford – by how much have they increased since 2009?
Answer: Traffic volumes have fallen by an average of 3.7% in the period between 2009 and 2013
What are these ‘traffic movement limits’?
Answer: The Highways Agency has not set any ‘traffic movement limits’ along the length of the A49
How will the new A49 to A465 link road reduce traffic movements on the A49 – please give the modelling data
Answer: The A49/A465 link road is a Herefordshire lead proposal. The Highways Agency has not conducted any modelling associated with this.
Why does the Highways Agency not include this road project on its website, and what contribution is the Highways Agency making to fund such a new road?
The Highways Agency is not specifically requiring the Western Relief road to be built and has made no contribution to the funding of the road. At this stage it is not within any of Highways Agency’s current or forward programme plans
On its website in a 22 March 2014 post: ‘More Misinformation about the Hereford Relief Road’, Here for Hereford reported that the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership was one of the unaccountable bodies supporting Herefordshire Council’s drive to build a Western relief road. In its draft Strategic Economic Plan the LEP extended its spurious justification for the road beyond its laudable efforts on behalf of the Hereford Enterprise Zone to the topic of strategic housing sites (#1.3, p. 84), saying:
‘As with the Enterprise Zone, delivery of these sites is dependent on meeting the Highways Agency requirement for the construction of a western relief road for Hereford and the complementary transport strategy for the city’
The Highways Agency specifically denies requiring that there should be a Western relief road. When is someone with authority in Herefordshire Council going to stand up and admit that the Highways Agency is not going to play ball and go along with spurious justifications for the Hereford Relief Road?