SRCG Press Release: Response to assurances and draft agreement made by HS2 Ltd to Staffordshire County Council dated 8th May 2018
The Stone Railhead Crisis Group (SRCG) is very disappointed with the details of the draft agreement that has been reached between Staffordshire County Council (SCC) and HS2 Ltd, which led to County Council Highways officers not appearing before the House of Commons HS2 Select Committee on 8th May 2018, as scheduled. We are also concerned that the County Council’s Parliamentary Agent, who represented SCC on the day, failed to provide an accurate statement with regard to consultation with Parish Councils and community groups, and gave the impression that this had occurred and was ongoing, which is not the case.
The SRCG considers that the £10 million agreement fails to address most of the concerns that were raised by SCC in its original consultation response of September 2017, as well as in its petition to the Select Committee.
An SRCG spokesman said “The only tangible measure that relates to the proposed Stone Railhead, is the idea to install a set of traffic lights at Yarnfield Lane’s junction with the A34. However, this proposal may lead to the closure of the northbound access into Trent Road and adversely affect access to/from the Stone Golf Club, as well as just add to the congestion problem on the A34, which will cause major disruption and rat-running from the beginning of HS2 construction works in January 2021”.
The SRCG spokesman added that “The County Council also seems to believe that bringing forward the construction of HS2 Ltd’s proposed new M6 sliproads will help local people using Yarnfield Lane, but it will not. What it has failed to realise is that once these sliproads are open, the level of HGVs using the central section of Yarnfield Lane will increase even further, with an average of 569 HGVs/day (1 every 63 seconds) needing to use the existing, or realigned lane to gain access to the northbound carriageway of the motorway.”
Staffordshire County Council has also failed to take account of the weight of evidence given to the Select Committee by Gordon Wilkinson, the Council’s own former Head of Urban Transportation Projects, who appeared before the Select Committee on 25 April on behalf of Stone Town and Chebsey Parish Councils. Although Mr Wilkinson’s evidence was accepted without challenge from HS2 Ltd on the day, the company has still failed to address the far reaching safety concerns that he raised. HS2 Ltd is therefore still proposing wholly inadequate carriageway widths of 6 metres or less along the 2.1km section of Yarnfield Lane that will be used by its HGVs, including the 1.2km realigned central section it is proposing to build and use from July 2023. This is despite proposing to remove hundreds of metres of hedgerows and mature trees by the Wayfarer Public House and along the edge of the Stone Golf Course.
The SRCG spokesman also said that “The agreement between HS2 Ltd and the County Council would not solve the impending daily gridlock at J15 of the M6 and the neighbouring Hanchurch interchange and A519/Whitmore Road junction, which will be overwhelmed by HS2 construction traffic, and lead to severe knock on effects on all connecting roads in the area.”
The SRCG spokesman added that “Only the relocation of the Railhead and maintenance base to Aldersey’s Rough can deal with the multitude of problems that will be caused by HS2 in this area, and we remain confident that the Select Committee will agree with the evidence given by our Parish Councils and move the facility to this far more suitable location.”
The SRCG spokesman finished by saying that “Given that the HS2 Select Committee process is ongoing until July, and that there are many more witnesses still to give evidence, we believe that it is premature for the County Council to be entering into deals with HS2 Ltd that pre-empts the democratic decision making process. We therefore call on the County Council leadership not to ratify the draft agreement, and to meet with representatives of all of the Parish Councils before finalising any deals to ensure that the best interests of the people of Staffordshire are properly served.”
Stone Railhead Crisis Group
24th May 2018