Herefordshire Council has just finished consulting on their new Local Transport Plan covering the period 2016-2031 - they say the Plan has been drafted to reflect Herefordshire's newly adopted Core Strategy, which itself sets out plans for more housing and jobs and the infrastructure required for their delivery. The Local Transport Act 2008 requires local transport authorities to produce and review local transport plans and policies. The Plan sets out the Council's grand strategy for supporting economic growth, improving health and wellbeing and reducing the environmental impacts of transport.
Somewhat perversely, it proposes to do this by a massive programme of road building, including the Southern Relief Road and a two phase Western Relief Road, which will eventually join the A49 north of the City in 2027. In an attempt to complement, or offset, this, enhanced walking, cycling and bus measures are proposed but rail is barely mentioned and innovative ideas such as electric trams don’t get a look in.
The transport objectives are stated as
1. Enable economic growth.
2. Provide a good quality transport network for all users.
3. Promote healthy lifestyles.
4. Make journeys easier and safer.
5. Ensure access to services for those living in rural areas.
All manner of broad sweep diagrams prevail with lots (and lots) of equally sweeping statements such as ‘effective partnerships to deliver our strategy’. There is little or no detail to support these statements, and, more alarmingly, there is no mention at all of cost and how the myriad proposals are to be funded, either at the design stage or the construction stage. Further, timing of many proposals is vague or non-existent. There are sub-sections for High Town Package (itself currently out for consultation), City Centre Transport Package, South Wye Transport Package and so on, all filled with good intentions, but will they be delivered when, for example, the much needed ‘Transport Hub’ (at the railway station) is pushed back to 2019/20 when it should have been completed by now (as part of ESG)?
By its very nature, the Plan only looks forward, and it’s all very well having grand ideas and policies for a 15+ year period, but Governments and Councils will come and go in that period, and, as we have seen so often before with Herefordshire Council, they have no hesitation in sidestepping their own adopted policies when it suits them, or they simply lose the drive or the need to finish grand schemes - the ‘20 Year Vision’ for the abandoned ESG being a prime example.
Given the rapidly changing nature of society as a whole and modes of transport in particular, perhaps grand planning such as this is an outmoded way of thinking - many of the problems the Plan highlights, such as the ‘ageing’ traffic light software, have been known about, and complained about, for many years, and could easily, quickly and economically be addressed now* to make everyone’s life better which is, after all, the stated aim of the Plan. *although many HCS members believe that traffic lights are outdated and shared space is a far better deal, especially for cities like Hereford.
The Local Transport Plan home page, draft documents and evidence base are available at
2016 - 2031
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