Item 54 – North Wokingham Distributor Road
As shown by the background to this question supplied separately the Council have reneged on their promise to the residents to provide the route of their choice. In view of this I put it to the Leader of the Council that this shows that the Council had a missed placed confidence in their own abilities and authority, and did not take all the factors that could impact on the NDR’s alignment and delivery into consideration from the outset. Does he accept that in this respect it has unjustifiably raised the expectations of the residents of Emmbrook and has shown a lack of competence in the handling of this matter?
Unfortunately in your background data you have actually misrepresented the facts and therefore I do not agree with your comments. Again on no occasion did any cast iron guarantee be given by anyone that route B would be what was delivered. Yes it was the favoured route by residents but all communications clearly indicated that the final route was not set in stone.
As you have heard earlier at least three such caveats were made on 20 January 2014, 27 March 2014 and July 2014 that the route was not set in stone and there were many more repeat warnings in many e-mails between myself and others.
So let me give you a few variations that have come out, as an example of why you could not set it in stone, from the detailed technical evaluation. Initially we thought that the scrap yard owner would sell the corner of his yard as needed for options B and C. Unfortunately despite extensive negotiations with him, he was absolutely resolute that he would not sell. Since CPO regulations cannot force a land owner to sell if there is a viable alternative this cannot be used and would not get approval by the Secretary of State. So this forced it down the small link from route A and C.
But as I said before variations can actually bring great benefit to some residents. In the “pure” option B the net effect of the road swinging across the flood plain is that the total length of Old Forest Road would still be attractive for traffic going to Toutley Depot i.e. the residents would not have any benefit. With the adoption of the link from route C swinging over to the Arboretum means that the Old Forest Road from Reading Road to that point will effectively become a very difficult route to travel on if you are going to the Industrial Estate. The Old Forest residents along that lengthy stretch will be most pleased about the potential reduction of traffic outside their front doors. Now if we did what you and the previous questioner asked and stuck to a “pure” option B, then we wouldn’t be doing that. Also there have been no complaints about this particular change.
When in June last year the Council decided to abandon alternative B, as voted for by the residents, they published an open letter outlining their decision and reason for it. This letter stated that they would arrange a public meeting to which they would invite residents to come along to discuss this very important issue with them. Are they going to publish a similar letter and invitation to the current proposed changes to Toutley Road to use Toutley Road as part of the NWDR?
I am glad you raised that letter because it was one of the ones that gave you the caveat as you have quite rightly put in your background paper.
In terms of having a public meeting there will be a decision made on the route tonight and I do not see any advantage of having a public meeting when the decision has already been made.