Friday, 25 July 2008

Update on the roads

I've realised that I haven't blogged for a while - but its been a busy few weeks. I've been meeting local people across the East of England from Hatfield on the A1 to South Essex, Suffolk and deepest Norfolk. Many issues that come up some affect just a few - like the distressed farmer's wife discussing the incompetence of Defra over TB, and Dunstables by-pass issues. Other issues come up again and again. These are the economy, house prices, petrol and oil prices and our crumbling deathly road network.

Locally, in my area, our dreadful rural road has claimed 6 tragic lives this year. Including an horrific accident this weekend. Three teenagers have died this year. This is a tiny community and a tiny 10 mile stretch of road. At one local school there is a child in every year who has lost a parent, grandparent, sister or brother or been involved in a fatal accident themselves. If it was a motorway or an urban road I believe it would have been sorted out years ago. The East of England that has contributed so much to Britains growth in the past decade but our back routes are left to suffer. I'm trying to speak out about this at every single opportunity I can.

We have been promised improvements but in my mind and those of other campaigners these are not enough. In the meantime the government wants to drop another new town at the end of the road. We can not take any more.

Off the roads this evening I joined George Freeman, the parliamentary Candidate for Mid Norfolk on the river Cam at the Bumps. George was entertaining clients, friends and family and then dashed off to stroke an eight on the river. He's moving house up to Norfolk next month (where many of his family live), finding schools for the kids and making new friends as well as running his business supporting scientific innovators and planning his election campaign. I am so glad there are people like George ready to take up the mantle in the next general election. Boy do we need their energy.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Eco-Town or Eco-Con?

This week I joined protestors from across the country to lobby Westminster about proposed Eco-Towns. Whilst the protesters were not objecting to the need to building environmentally sustainable homes, it appears that many of the proposed Eco-towns will be far from that.

The nearest Eco-town proposed to me is Hanley Grange, to be constructed on a prime green field location. It is not "in my back yard" but the impact will be felt on our already overcrowded roads and infrastructure. The A1307 has already claimed 3 lives this year and, like many rural roads, simply can not take any more traffic. Developers claim that 40% of journeys from this Eco-town will not be by car - but that still means the majority will. This town has already been turned down twice purely because the location did not meet sustainability tests.

There is a need for affordable housing for local people, but 40% of the 42,500 homes already planned around Cambridge will be affordable. That is nearly three times the number of people currently waiting for housing.

All new homes should be built to higher environmental standards - but the sustainablity standards for Eco-town homes appear to be dropping below that expected of others. The government has back-tracked from its initial promise that the one town already approved (ie Northstowe) will be an Eco-town. The more I learn about this fast tracking through the planning process for Eco-towns the more I believe that this is being driven by political headline grabbing rather than a desire to go green. More Here