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Letter: We Would Like to Help SCC Be Frank, Open and Honest

Published on: 22 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2023

From: Terence Newman

interim chair of the London Road Action Group

Six weeks ago on December 9, I accused Surrey County Council of making false claims about the historic accident rate involving cyclists along London Road in Burpham.

But despite the assertion that Surrey, as a county, has the worst cyclist accident rate in the country, one of the reasons given for the creation of an enhanced cycle environment between Burpham and Guildford town centre, there was no reaction from County Hall.

One week later, when SCC had opted to postpone the start of the construction of the cycle lanes, I wrote them an open letter advising them, among other things, to stop peddling inaccurate data that would only serve to further exasperate the general public and make them even more opposed to the scheme and its proposed method of implementation. Again there was no reaction.

On January 5, at the packed public meeting, council officers continued to spout inaccurate accident rate data, without there being an opportunity to question the validity of their statements.

The packed public meeting in Burpham.

Those present must have gone away believing that more than one cyclist a month (89 since 2016) was being hurt because of the current inadequacies of the route.

Again, I challenged this flagrant abuse of erroneous evidence, in a letter on January 9, along with several other examples of unsubstantiated claims about the anticipated effectiveness of the scheme. You’ve guessed it, no reaction from SCC.

“A little bird” told me to watch out for an update about the accuracy of their data.  But it’s too late.  Nobody will now believe any single claim made by SCC whether it is: consultation figures of support, people consulted, assessment of weight limits for safe diversion routes, congestion modelling during and after completion, pollution resulting from congestion and diversion, etc.

All of the Nolan principles for behaviour in public life have been undermined because nobody thought to double-check the veracity of data. People would have been up roused up many years ago if the accident rate was one a month, demanding improved facilities for cyclists urgently.

DfT’s Gear Change (click on image to link).

Someone needs to help SCC to stop digging. Instead, they need to try and get out of the hole they have created, by being frank, open and honest, as the government guidance document Gear Change, advised them to do in the first place.

London Road Action Group are offering that assistance. We would like to help the county council to reach out to every part of the local community through our vast network of contacts, businesses, schools, transport providers, residents’ associations, and the huge wealth of knowledge and local experience that exists within.

Failure to make proper use of that offer of support will only further create the impression that an autocracy is attempting to dominate public wishes.

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Responses to Letter: We Would Like to Help SCC Be Frank, Open and Honest

  1. Anthony Mallard Reply

    January 23, 2023 at 10:56 am

    An interesting and informative letter from Mr Newman. He, like many before him, has discovered that government, local and national, is never persuaded by facts, preferring dogma to support its customarily ill-thought-through and flawed plans.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    January 24, 2023 at 10:20 am

    Government in England being “frank, open and honest”. No chance!

    It gave up years ago. Civil Servants are employed because they dont ask any questions. Government operates as a PO Box. The Post Office post masters scandal proved that.

    The barrister for the post masters set out the issues in brilliant speech.
    Anyone with an interest in how things really work in this country should read it:
    https://www.postofficetrial.com/2021/06/marshall-spells-it-out-speech-to.html

    Convicting the innocent and acquitting the guilty is an everyday occurrence – not just in the courts.

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