Mayor paying the price for secrecy on E/W Rail route – local democracy in crisis!

North Bedfordshire countryside to be destroyed with 2 New Towns.

At no time did the Mayor tell the people of Bedford Borough which route he was going to recommend to E/W Rail and this is very typical of the way in which he and the Chief Exec work.

There is a huge democratic deficit and he is paying the cost now when his own constituents in the mainly Lib Dem area of Brickhill and Woodlands Park clearly knew absolutely nothing about his plans for the new rail route or the 2 New Towns in the Bedfordshire countryside that go along with it. Of all people, these constituents of one of the largest Lib Dem areas should have been aware of and content with The Mayors plans this is clearly not the case.

Cllrs Royden and Rider are close allies of The Mayor who’ve been promoting the E/W Rail Northern route – Route E, but so secretively, they’ve obviously failed to inform their community in Brickhill that voted Lib Dem and now their residents are really upset just as ours are in North Bedfordshire.

It was only on 24th February that The Mayor said at the Full Council Meeting debating E/W Rail, that “everyone was aware of what the Council was proposing in terms of E/W Rail and Route E – it had been Council policy for years” – clearly they hadn’t told their own constituents who are now hopping mad and quite rightly so!

Hence this letter to E/W Rail Link

What rank hypocrisy by the Councillors – Route E is great provided it comes nowhere near us – send it closer to other communities ‘nearer to Twinwoods’ probably means nearer to Clapham and nearer to Ravensden or one of several other small settlements in the north Bedfordshire countryside.

They’ve suddenly got interested in freight and noise pollution as well after saying it wasn’t an issue at the Full Council debate on the petition -you couldn’t make it up!

We need to ask Councillors Royden and Rider –

How the residents of Queens Park and the rest of the west of Bedford town are going to move out of the way of the railway line and the freight it will carry!?

How the residents of the villages of North Bedfordshire will be able to avoid the impact of the huge New Towns they’re proposing near to the new rail line?

How our decimated countryside and wildlife will be able to recover from the massive New Town developments they are advocating due to their E/W Rail route choice?

Still today, The Mayor’s response to E/W Rail Route consultation has not been published on the Council’s website and it has not been sent to Town & Parish Councils – what is he trying to hide!

Here are the paragraphs of The Mayor’s response to E/W Rail that he doesn’t want the people of North Bedfordshire to see:

2.10 The Council recognises that one aim of the EWR Central section is to support new settlements in the Arc (and for new settlements to enhance the case for the railway).

2.11 During the preparation of its emerging Local Plan the Council recognised that it would be beneficial to allow the newly created and expanded communities to the south of Bedford to mature before introducing further change. This means that

Growth opportunities in Wootton, Shortstown, Wixams and Stewartby are limited for the duration of the Plan.

2.12 The Plan also considered the merits of four new settlement proposals, at Colworth, Twinwoods, Thurleigh and Wyboston. Whilst none of these has yet been allocated, it is likely that their promoters will submit them again to be considered for allocation in future plans.

2.13 The Council is committed to an immediate review of the current submitted Local Plan once it is adopted, so as to incorporate the new Standard Method of calculating housing need. Each of the potential new settlements, ranging in size from 4,500 to 10,000 dwellings, will be considered for inclusion in that Plan if submitted.

2.14 Each site is to the north of Bedford and would be better served by a northern route for EWR through Bedford Midland, as would much of the development potential between Bedford and Cambridge. In the Council’s view, therefore, there is little or no scope to count further development south of Bedford against the benefits of a southerly route for EWR.”

See full text here

As you can see, he recommends Route E through Bedford and across the countryside in order that 2 New Towns (one of them up to 2.5 times larger than the town of Ampthill) can be built in the North Bedfordshire Countryside destroying the environment at a time of Climate Emergency and the catastrophe of Biodiversity Loss.

For more details of the proposed New Towns see the maps on pages 8,9 and 10 of the CPRE Bedfordshire Newsletter here

KNBG supports Route B with a parkway station at Wixams linking E/W rail to the Thames-Link line, reducing traffic going through central Bedford to access the station, and then following the A421 transport corridor to a new station somewhere between St Neots and Sandy.

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