Crucial Decision Taken
I attended yesterday evening's crucial Operations & Place Shaping Board Scrutiny Meeting at which the Revised Hayling Island Transport Addendum was examined on the basis of Cllr. Clare Satchwell's 'call-in' before it could be accepted and included in HBC's Evidence Base (all on HBC's website) intended to support the submission of the Pre-Submission Local Plan to 2036 to the Inspector. After over 2 hours of discussion the final vote taken by the 7 Board members only, whose names obtainable from the link I last sent you, the decision was made by 4 votes to 3, to "Refer the decision back to the Decision Maker [named as Cllr. Tim Pike presenting in favour of the TA Addendum] for reconsideration" as per the Board's concerns which were agreed by the Board members at the end of the debate. These will be formally and correctly given in the Minutes of the Meeting in due course on HBC's website but for your information the main headings taken from my own notes on them yesterday (and these 3 'headings' checked today with the Chair), are as follows:
1. Funding viability concerns regarding the Addendum projects listed.
2. To re-assess the proposed use of the Billy Line for Emergency vehicles/use.
3. To make more in-depth research into the impact of flooding on the land proposed as mitigation.
During the debate, Cllr. Diane Lloyd, Chair, repeatedly questioned the substantial discrepancy between the funding available for the Island's Transport projects as stated in the Addendum and the moneys it also states are needed for the project but which are not yet available and whose source is currently uncertain.
Also concern was expressed that the Revised TA Addendum made no reference to any additional track/road route to the mainland for examples given i) for the Autonomous track line proposed in the Regeneration documents, ii) nor for cyclists iii) nor to relieve the known summer pressure on traffic to the beach that can deter would-be visitors from the mainland.
Also concern was expressed about known & existing flood risks that were neither raised nor dealt with in the Revised TA Addendum.
My own points:
- Procedure meant that Dave Parham and Professor Nick Hounsell, Expert Witness, had just 5 minutes between them to make the case for the unsatisfactory elements of the Revised TA Addendum. Furthermore, despite the Chair inviting attendees to ask questions of the deputees, no-one called on the Professor during the lengthy discussion to explain/clarify any technical road network elements.
- Cllr. Satchwell put many probing questions and was not afraid to express dissatisfaction when her questions were insufficiently answered. She was supported by Cllrs. Issy Scott, Joanne Thomas & Gary Robinson. Some Councillors on the Board itself had also made the effort to be briefed on Dave Parham & Prof. Hounsell's key concerns on behalf of the residents. I have written thanks to those 4 members who voted to refer the decision back, as well as to those Councillors who supported Cllr. Satchwell during the Meeting.
- In contrast those supporting the TA gave a Presentation and comprised 3 HBC Officers, the speaker for the Consultancy providing the overview of the project and Cllr. Tim Pike.
- I was impressed by the conduct of the Chair and those Councillors who had ensured they fully understood the nature of the issues at stake and the Addendum's implications so that they were prepared to ask the probing questions and to demand a higher standard of document for its inclusion in the 'Evidence Base' which will have such profound consequences for the future not only of Hayling but also for the wider Borough.
- It was a pity that the gallery was not full of people as this was a truly crucial decision point. Nevertheless those of us there did show our approval, when possible, of those articulating our real concerns.