Monday, 14 January 2019

Alarming

The South Downs National Park has begun the New Year stating a very clear position on the A27 East Of Lewes.

“We need Highways England to consider all the evidence from the start,” says Andy Beattie, Countryside and Policy Manager who has been leading on the National Park Authority’s response to the A27. “Previous experience has taught us that if the special qualities of the South Downs aren’t flagged up when schemes are first thought of it’s much harder to get them taken seriously at a later stage.

“There are some good ideas amongst the proposals – for example creating an off-road route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders – but the junction designs look more suitable for a suburb than villages in a National Park. Crossing from north to south to get to the downs from the weald could be made much harder if the road is widened. But it’s the three options for a southern bypass at Selmeston, eight miles east of Lewes, which are most alarming.”

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, 4 January 2019

No thanks

It's heartening to track the plans for the A27 west of Lewes as well. Just before Xmas, new proposals  around Chichester hit mud. Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, met Highways England to discuss the two schemes, from the Build a Better A27 group.

The two - a 'mitigated' northern route and an improvements to the current line of the road south of the city - were judged by Highways England to be neither 'affordable or workable'.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Horse crossing

Happy New Year to all readers.

It's quite good to know that the improvements to the A27 East of Lewes, at £75m (minus £3m nciked by Grayling to 'prove' case for a dual carriageway) are moving forward. The Minor Works' team have been talking to the British Horse Society about how best to provide a horse crossing in the Wilmington junction improvements, and we are promised opportunities to review the plans soon.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

New rules

The Institute for Government has a package of recommendations to improve accountability in modern goverment. They say "the conventions that shape the relationship between officials and ministers have evolved in a way that undermines accountability. They promote a tradition of secrecy, which results in a lack of clarity about the responsibilities of senior officials and ministers. These conventions also confine responsibilities to departmental silos, which denies reality."

The report's been endorsed by the Transport Select Committee, in the light of their criticism of Christopher Grayling for not getting a grip of the rail timetable shambles. Here's the Institute's number 1 change proposal.

1. Holding ministers to account for the feasibility of their projects

A pervasive culture of secrecy shields both ministers and senior civil servants from meaningful scrutiny when major projects underperform or fail. Stronger accountability is needed to counterbalance the ambiguity and unavoidable uncertainty of decision making. It is not enough to identify who is responsible for the decision once failure becomes apparent: we need proactive methods which offer assurance that the responsible individuals have properly considered the risks associated with major projects before they begin

To achieve this we propose that permanent secretaries, in their role as departmental accounting officers, should publish more details on the feasibility, potential risks and mitigation strategies in place for their department’s major projects after they have been agreed. This should be subject to external validation and provide the basis for future scrutiny of the project. Parliamentary select committees should recall ministers who have subsequently left post to answer questions about the decisions made during the inception of a project, especially where subsequent underperformance or failures have resulted in harm to the public.

These proposals would provide more clarity about the basis on which decisions were made. This would help to ensure that relevant issues are raised with ministers before a project starts. Moreover, it would provide Parliament with material to scrutinise these projects as they are implemented.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Keeping big builders happy

More chats with builders for Rupert Clubb, of East Sussex County Council and Transport for The South East.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Waiting games

Where are we with RIS2, currently in draft form, the second round of spending on the "Strategic Road Network" ? It's been allocated £23.5bn funding in the Budget, partially secured by ring-fencing Vehicle Excise Duty.

Highways England is required to produce a draft strategic business plan by 31 January 2019, with the Office of Rail and Road carrying out an Efficiency Review by 30 June 2019, ahead of the final RIS in ‘late 2019’.

That's when we might find out more about the plans for an offline dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate. Lewes MP Maria Caulfield told me she would publish the bid documents once they were all in. No sign.


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Cosy

Highways UK runs conferences and exhibitions. This year's Highways UK event at the NEC in Birmingham introduced the Highways UK Laureates Award scheme. The first winner was Ginny Clarke, CBE, recently retired from Highways England where she was Board Director of Strategy and Planning.

Among the judges, and enjoying the hospitality at the Laureate Dinner, Rupert Clubb, working with Highways England from his base at East Sussex County Council and Transport for the South East to deliver a new dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate.

Such fun !