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Public Inquiry Findings Kept Private

Date Issued: Tuesday 30th August 2005


Guided bus objector groups 'outraged' by Government secrecy

An alliance of groups objecting to the proposed guided bus scheme has expressed its outrage with the Department for Transport, which refuses to release the Public Inquiry inspector's recommendations in advance of announcing its decision on the scheme despite a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ian Sanderson, chairman of RAGBUS (representing Histon residents), said, "We believe that a strong case was made at the Public Inquiry to expose the errors and problems in the county's proposals. We are anxious to know how the Inspector has balanced all the evidence put to him during the Inquiry. A rejection of the Council's Transport and Works Act application would give the Council (and their consultants) the opportunity to think again and to take on board the many insights brought by the objectors."

Simon Norton, co-ordinator of Cambs and West Suffolk Transport 2000 said, "We believe that the issue is of vital importance in relation to issues such as the A14 upgrade, Northstowe planning application and Cambridge Local Plan, yet the public have had to comment on these issues without having the benefit of the Inspector's findings."

Tim Phillips, chairman of CAST.IRON, expressed his grave concerns at the Council's spending of public money before the decision has been made public. "There is already heavy plant and machinery on the route between Over and Swavesey, yet apparently no one yet knows whether or not the scheme will be approved by Government. Who is authorising this, and which budget is paying for it? This is our money they are spending, on top of the 2.25 million on preparation work and the inquiry already spent an inquiry that completely failed to placate the vast majority of the 2,741 objectors. Is this really democracy at work?"

The Public Inquiry closed at the beginning of December 2004 and the public were promised a decision 'in the spring or summer of 2005'. After a technical problem, part of Inspector Dr Gossop's report was lost and although it was finally delivered to Government in late July, sources are now suggesting the DfT's decision will not be until at least October, and possibly as late as the New Year.

Phill Diver, who is the founder of 'Save our Station' in Histon, wrote to the DfT to ask for a copy of the Inspector's report but was refused. The reply he received has sparked an unprecedented level of cooperation between objector groups.

"The various groups may have different ideas about what's best for the future but it is clear that we represent the vast majority of Cambridgeshire taxpayers in rejecting the guided bus proposals out of hand", said Mr Phillips. "As principal objectors at the Inquiry, we feel we should be party to the Inspector's recommendations as soon as they are available, in the true spirit of open government".


Notes

This press release has been approved by the following groups:

RAGBUS - Residents Against the Guided Bus (Histon)
Transport 2000 - Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Branch
CAST.IRON - The Cambridge and St Ives Railway Organisation
Save our Station - Histon
Railfuture Network Development Committee
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