Government Demands to Consider Congestion Charge on A127 could Delay Local Plan

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Joined up government – at the same time the government is spending 25 million on a study looking at a new alignment of the A127 north of Basildon?

In a Facebook Live video, the leader of Basildon Council has announced it will hold an emergency full council meeting next week to consider various options to cut pollution on the A127.

Gavin Callaghan revealed the Government has asked Basildon Council to consider:

  • Reducing the speed limit between the Fortune and War and Pound Lane from 70mph to 50mph,
  • Restrictions on Heavy Goods Vehicles at certain times,
  • A congestion charge.

Cllr Callaghan went on to say that the Basildon Borough Alliance is against a congestion charge on the A127, and has criticised the Government.

Any reduced speed limit would be between Fortune of War and Pound Lane.

The leader admitted that “we are limited in how much power we have” on this issue. He encouraged Essex County Council to “get a grip” with their contractor: Ringway Jacobs.

Cllr Callaghan admitted that this could result in a “short delay” to the Local Plan.

The Conservative group (opposition) has released a statement saying:

“We treat the issue of air quality in our borough – and the effect is has on the quality of life of our residents – with the utmost seriousness and we will support sensible, practical measures to address the current problems at the old Fortune of War. But, to be clear, we remain resolutely opposed to any tolling of the A127. This would be bad for Basildon, bad for businesses, bad for residents and we continue to believe it will do nothing to address the air quality problem in Laindon.

“We are working closely with colleagues at Essex County Council, John Baron MP and Defra to find a practicable solution, but we have been consistently robust in our stance. There can be no congestion charge on the A127.”

The emergency meeting will be held next Thursday 27th June, subject to approval by the Mayor.

The wording of the request for a full Council meeting is as follows:

Requisition to hold an Extraordinary Council Meeting as set out under Council Procedure Rule 3(iv) as requested by five Members of the Council (Councillors Callaghan, Brown, McGurran, Harrison, Smith ) to consider the following motion.

Following the Ministerial Direction that was issued to Essex County Council and Basildon Borough Council on 18 June 2019, as attached,

This Council;

– Believes the introduction of a charging zone would be incredibly detrimental to our businesses and local economy;

– Believes that the introduction of a charging zone would put incredible pressure on the Basildon stretch of the A13;

– Understands this may impact on the council’s ability for our Local Develop Plan to be examined in public; and

– Understands that a failure by Essex County Council to ensure their contractors now fully comply with the Ministerial direction will result in the Government imposing a charging zone on the A127.

Resolves;

1. That we take the issue of reducing NO2 as an absolute priority and we are committed to establishing a Clean Air Zone on the A127;

2. That this council supports the immediate implementation of a 50mph zone on the A127 as endorsed by the Urgent Decision and Staffing Matters Sub Committee at its meeting on 14 May 2019 (Minute No. 241/2019) following consideration of its Outline Business Case;

3. That the Leader of the Council write to Essex County Council’s contractor who is responsible for producing the evidence for the submission, Ringway Jacobs, to ascertain assurances from them that they will meet the government’s deadline of 31 July 2019;

4. To receive a report to the Policy & Resources Committee on 25 July on Essex County Council’s modelling of the variation of a charging access restriction, ahead of the 31st July deadline;

5. To receive a report to September’s Full Council meeting regarding the Full Business Case on the speed limit measure ahead of the government’s October 25th deadline;

6. To establish a single email address for businesses to use to send questions and comments about the Ministerial Direction so that the council can deal with queries effectively and efficiently;

7. That the Chairman of the Infrastructure and Inclusive Growth Committee and Chairman of the External Affairs and Partnerships Committee write to the Basildon Business Group informing them of the Ministerial Direction and the outcome of this meeting;

8. That the council continues to engage and support Businesses, in particular SME’s (Small and Medium size Enterprises), with their move to sustainable transport solutions for the future;

9. That the Leader of the Council and the Council’s representative on the A127 taskforce raises this at the next meeting of the taskforce on 28 June 2019;

10. That the Chairman of the Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee establish a time-limited working group to monitor the progress of Essex County Council and their contractor in complying with the Government’s deadlines;

11. That the Leader of the Council to write immediately to the Parliamentary-under-secretary of state for the Environment Dr Therese Coffey MP to inform her of the convening of an Extraordinary Council Meeting, the restrictions on Basildon Borough Council in being able to fully comply with the government’s deadlines due to the fact we are not the Highways Authority and inform the Minister of the outcome of our deliberations, and;

12. That the Leader of the Council to write to the Leader of Essex County Council to ascertain assurances from him that County’s contractors Ringway Jacobs will meet the government’s deadlines and for him to outline how he plans to proactively manage his contractor throughout this process.

13. Following Counsels advice on implications to our Local Development Plan (LDP) phasing, the Leader of the Council writes to the Planning Inspector to request a short adjournment to our examination in public for no later than December 2019.

14. That the Leader of the Council and the Chairman of the Infrastructure and Inclusive Growth Committee writes to the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to inform him of the impact of DEFRAs ministerial direction on our LDP timetable.

What might happen to South Oxfordshire Local Plan – The Inside Thame Information

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SODC councillors will be asked to choose from four options, which will eventually go to a council meeting in coming weeks.

Officers want them to make no changes to the plan and allow it to be decided by Government inspectors as had been expected before May’s local elections.

Or the councillors could allow the plan to be decided by inspectors but recommend possible changes.

Alternatively, it could pull the plan, change it and then resubmit the revised proposal after a public consultation.

At the most drastic, it could also withdraw the whole plan and then restart the process.

It is understood councillors have mooted entirely removing Chalgrove Airfield from the plan, where 3,000 homes could be built. That would be built by Government agency Homes England but has been dogged by concerns that funding for infrastructure would be insufficient.

When asked whether a collapse of the airfield project was likely, a Homes England spokesman said:

“This is something that you will have to ask South Oxfordshire District Council.”

It is also understood building at Culham – and on the Green Belt – might remain but potential numbers of homes would be cut from a planned 1,850.

While sources said up to 1,700 new homes off Grenoble Road could remain but only if unmet need for housing in Oxford could be clearly shown.

All Local Plans in Oxfordshire’s four districts have been based on demand in Oxford and possible overspill from the city into them.

But critics have said that is based on old figures from 2014 and demand is now much less.

They have said it could mean the agreed 28,500 homes for South Oxfordshire could be significantly cut, potentially by as much as 40 per cent.

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire said it supported a delay.

Its director Helen Marshall said:

“It is quite frankly nonsense that our other local authorities should be putting forward housing sites, especially in the Green Belt, to meet a level of need that is clearly questionable.”