Fringe Box



Letter: The Jury Is Still Out On The Ash Road Bridge Project

Published on: 13 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 13 Oct, 2023

From: John Ferns

In response to: Ash Road Bridge Has Majority Public Support, Council Believes

Two observations.

For GBC to say “the majority are in favour of the bridge” is disingenuous; certainly it cannot be substantiated as no written feedback was asked for.

And the statement “The council is hopeful that fears about future traffic problems will prove to be unfounded” is no great reassurance, especially when three big developments in proximity to the bridge have recently been allowed to exit onto the narrow Harpers Road (no thanks to Highways at SCC), when the original intention was that they should have been contained within the framework of the new housing developments and within the immediate bridge area.

Compare this to a current detailed response by the Conservative county councillor for Shalford division, Matt Furniss, in his letter: My Response to Niels Laub’s Letter on the London Road Scheme. Cllr Furniss happened to be the GBC deputy leader back in 2015/16, when the Ash Road Bridge (ARB) scheme was proposed.

I just wish as much thought and consideration had been demonstrated here in Ash. I recall the uncompromising attitude of the (soon to depart) GBC chief planning officer and the GBC deputy leader at a public presentation. Not forgetting our local Conservative ward councillors, pre-2018, with their “you will have the bridge whether you like it or not” attitudes.

And those closely involved, at the residents level, will all recall GBC’s subsequent totally unsatisfactory dealings with the two main residents’ groups in the affected area, ASHRA & AGRA.

The jury is still out on the bridge decision, and the main raison être; the planning for the footbridge has not yet started, nor the finances considered. So it is somewhat premature to herald “the majority are in favour”.

The second observation is rather more serious. Why was the R4GV/ Lib-Dem coalition left to pick up the pieces of the multi-million ARB, and the ‘Hotspots’ projects in 2018, when GBC has neither the mandate nor the resources or the expertise to manage major highways infrastructure projects?

Still, it is encouraging to read that something has been learned by SCC Highways, in Burpham about how to handle local highways issues and residents’ concerns.  And I don’t think that GBC is having to micromanage that relatively small project, as it is for the ARB.

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Responses to Letter: The Jury Is Still Out On The Ash Road Bridge Project

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 13, 2023 at 7:48 pm

    If I remember correctly, Cllr Potter had confirmed that £29 million of grant funding would be spent by the end of the year (I assume it was on that condition that Homes England gave that money).

    Although the contract has been awarded, it is not clear whether the programme of work is likely to spend that amount of money by the end of the year judging by the fact that this is the middle of October and winter season is not ideal for earthworks.

    Network Rail’s concern was with the safety issue of pedestrians apparently jumping level crossing lights (not the traffic) and yet nothing has progressed for much talked about footbridge.

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