Minister of State for Transport
14 February 2014
Grant of Pinch Point funding& FOI request
When I saw that the City of York was applying for Pinch Point funding to address the issue that the new, planned access road joined the A19 at a point where we have seen the road blocked by flooding several times in recent years, I wrote to your department to inform them of the legal disputes that were, and still are, in process. I also pointed out that the A19 lies adjacent to the recognised battlesite of Fulford, the first battle of 1066.
Sadly I received no response to the information I sent using the web form provided by your department. I was therefore disappointed to discover that funding was granted regardless of the information I had supplied.
Could you ask your officials to inquire into how information that is supplied by interested and informed members of the public is processed and considered. I seek reassurance your public consultation is a substantive process. Could they also explain why they did not feel that the errors and omissions to which I alerted them did not merit investigation since I am clear that the NPPF would require at the very least, a public inquiry before approving the destruction of a piece of what English Heritage have recognised as national heritage of the highest importance.
The public need to be confident that your officials are approving applications in accordance with the published criteria. So I want to discover why DfT Pinch Point Funding was granted when the application did not meet the published criteria. I provided information to point out that the applicant, the City of York council, had misinformed the DfT in its application form and had failed to meet the required criteria. I understand that Fulford Parish Council also made some critical observations about the accuracy of the data supplied by the applicants and received no reply.
Could you therefore deal with this as an FOI request since I need to know exactly how the decision was reached to grant £1.9million of public funds and if you take any account of errors that were reported to you.
It is a fact that roads built on a flood plain will be blocked from time to time. At these times, local motorists must go to one of the adjacent roads which were built on the glacial moraine, and stand above all known floods. The approved design of the proposed new housing has just one road which joins the A19, rated at 115% over-capacity in 2006, at a place that we knew very well was liable to flooding. I want to understand why money was granted to rescue a bad plan that ignored the known flood risk. The proposed remedy will massively disruptive the visual and noise environment and disturb the peace of York’s largest cemetery at Fulford as well as destroying a recognised heritage asset.
The obvious answer is not to spend more money to save a poor plan but to move the access road. A much better solution would be to construct access routes on the nearby higher moraine ground that could serve the expanded university, nearby high-tech industries and possibly new housing. The funding your department has granted only serves to cover-up what was a very poor planning decision that flooding of recent years has exposed. This is the wrong place for the access road. It should be built where there is no risk of flooding.
You may be sure that I will be monitoring the progress of this fresh application and will be demanding that a full archaeological assessment is undertaken since it is contiguous to the fording area where the evidence tells us that the battle took place.
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