After one of the longest debates in recent Stockport Council history the process possibly leading to building the new road from the A6 just south of Hazel Grove across to Bredbury and the M60 still continues.
The Road is the Second Phase of a Road from the Airport to Bredbury
The debate was only to put a recommendation to the the Council Cabinet later in December (19th) and voted strongly to recommend continuing the process. In a much closer run vote Cabinet decided to rubber stamp that recommendation and the Council will now bid for money to do a full business case study.
It has to be stressed, this is absolutely not a decision to build the road, it is still a very long way from that but the process has not been stopped yet.
In the full council meeting many councillors with a variety of views on the road were saying that they want more information and that is why they want the process to continue (including some councillors who want the information to finally, once and for all, to reject the road after decades of discussion). This vote was only a recommendation to the cabinet not a decision.
The Labour Cabinet then met on the 19th december and decided by a vote of 5-3 to continue the process.
The next stage is for the council to bid for government money to do a full business case for the road – approximate half a million pounds. If the business case was started it would include a full environmental study as well as a full business case study and a full public consultation. Only after the full business case was complete, if the bid was successful, would council then vote on whether to bid for the actual project money to build it – a much larger amount of money of hundreds of millions of pounds.
There are still a number of times that the new road might be rejected in the coming process.
It is hugely disappointing to know that Police resources are so stretched that speeding motorists get so little attention that some people seem to think that they can get away with incredible speeds and dangerous driving on our roads.
Recent announcements by the government that Police budgets are to be frozen this year (with a token gesture of extra money that will actually come out of our pockets if the mayor decides to raise the money) mean there is no likely prospect of things improving in the near future.
But we have not given up !
Today I have written to the Mayor of Greater Manchester asking that Greater Manchester Police should accept DashCam videos, of irresponsible driving, through the internet.
Dashboard Cameras out there allow you to automatically record what happens in front of your car (and some behind as well) for use in evidence if you have an accident or see dangerous driving. Greater Manchester police should make it as easy as possible for members of the public to report such incidents.
Slimline Connected DashCams
New devices are getting better all the time and I am looking to buy one particular camera that supports very easy uploading of video to the internet to come out – it is due soon ! I look forward to the day when i can easily report dangerous driving to the police and know that something will be done about it!
With the support of the police to make it easy and enough people reporting dangerous driving the small minority that make our roads so dangerous may start to think twice before they risk other people’s lives !
Finally, after months without a service, the council has provided a free shuttle bus service for residents on Buxton Road, Alma Road, Cherry Tree Road and Yew Tree Avenue ! The bus display a sign that read – “Hazel Grove Shuttle Service”.
Months of delays had left these residents without a bus service while the buses that used to travel on the A6 were diverted down the new A6 route until the bus bridge is complete.
As you can see, there is good news with the road to the new bridge now taking shape:
View from the Southtaken last week
Workmen at the site tell me the road surface is due to be tarmaced this Thursday (7th Dec) and then they will do the pavements. The official date of December to finally open will hopefully be right this time with the normal bus service resuming soon afterwards.
The A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road (A6MARR) is expected to reduce traffic flow and congestion a little on some local roads in the surrounding areas, including some roads through Hazel Grove.
To find out more about the proposals, discuss them with the Stockport Council team and provide your comments we invite you to attend our drop-in session at Hazel Grove Library, Beech Avenue, 4-7pm on Tuesday 21st November 2017.
It is normal for major road schemes like this to include mitigation measures for areas that will get busier and complementary measures where there will be reductions. Complementary Measures can be to encourage walking and cycling and support district and local centres. These measures will be paid for out of the A6MARR budget.
From 14th November to 5th December 2017 Stockport Council is consulting with affected parties on the draft package of complementary measures that have been developed for Hazel Grove.
Like the community, the minority ruling Labour Cabinet are split on the road from the A6 to Bredbury.
Strong feelings and arguments on both sides were clear at a recent Cabinet meeting that was supposed to decide whether to proceed with applications for funding for a full business case for the road.
A6 to Bredbury Proposed Route
In simple terms the main arguments for and against the road are…
Alleviation of current congestion especially in Hazel Grove, Bredbury and Stockport itself.
The coming additional journeys from new houses and businesses currently being built to the south of Stockport and proposed under GMSF
Need to support economic growth
Environmental damage, especially to sensitive and cherished areas of Stockport including the Goyt valley
Induced additional traffic from a new road; encouraging ever more journeys and leading to a back-to-square-one result in terms of congestion in a few short years
Lack of information on the long term impact of the road across the whole borough
The decision of whether to proceed with applications for funding to complete a full business case has been passed to the full council meeting of 63 councillors from across all areas of Stockport. That decision will not decide the final fate of this road but a decision not to proceed would at least halt plans for a significant number of years.
“The need to relieve congestion in Hazel Grove is without any doubt a major concern – we are being suffocated by fumes and strangled by the volume of traffic. It is only going to get worse as thousands of new homes are built in Stockport and to our south.
“But, the environmental argument that we cannot simply keep building new roads and completely filling them with even more cars is unquestionable too.
“We should only build this road if we have all the evidence and we make absolutely sure that it will play a strategic role in a truly sustainable multi modal (including trains, buses, taxis, cycling and walking) transport infrastructure across the whole of Greater Manchester that moves far more toward public transport and a shared vehicle basis,” said Cllr Jon Twigge.
It is all happening right now with transport issues here in Hazel Grove and across Greater Manchester.
As background there are a number of technological and social changes arriving for everyone in the coming years:
National ban on sales of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040
Increased charges for dirty vehicles in London now and more cities may follow in the future
Number of electric vehicle models due to expand rapidly in the next two years
Driverless cars possibly appearing in numbers by 2021 according to some predictions
Taxi, lift and car sharing services are quickly becoming more popular
Autonomous vehicle trial right here in Stockport in the new year (2018)
Elon Musk, of Tesla fame, today released the first picture of a trial tunnel under LA – he predicts that tunnels will one day allow high speed travel between cities like London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
With more houses, more jobs and more people meaning more and more journeys across the whole country things are beginning to change and it is important that we plan, prepare and actually do what is needed to keep people moving effectively.
Locally everything seems to be happening at once:
Stockport council is currently preparing its local plan – the blueprint for future direction in Stockport on most things that the Council is involved in.
The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is due to report back with updated proposals in June 2018 that take account of the huge feedback the initial proposals received.
The SEMMMS refresh – the multi modal (joined up journeys across all transport methods) transport strategy review has reported back recently. As before, the need for East West transport improvements still features heavily.
The A6 to Bredbury link (to continue the A6MARR to the airport) study has just reported back that the need for this road is even greater than ever before. The report will go through council scrutiny this week and be considered by the Council Cabinet after that. The Council leader says that the proposal will be judged on the evidence.
“The coming technology changes together with the demand for ever more journeys represent a perfect storm over the next few years. South Manchester’s roads and trains are already used heavily and are crowded and congested far too often. It is vital that Stockport Council plans for these big changes, supporting new services and routes that will allow people to share more journeys.
“If we get things right then it will gradually, over a number of years, become possible to use cheaper shared services and regular and rapid public transport to replace some of our private cars” said Cllr Jon Twigge.
If you have a strong opinion on the new A6 to Bredbury M60 road there are opposing petitions at change.org.
The Lib Dems have submitted our response to the first stage of Stockport’s Local Plan consultation.
“At the heart of the Lib Dem response is a two stage approach to house-building across the next 20 years – brownfield in the first years and green belt only later, if at all.
“Major changes in the UK due to Brexit and new transport technologies including driverless cars may mean we never need to release those Green Belt areas that the GMSF proposed to give away forever” said Cllr Jon Twigge.
“Everyone knows we need infrastructure to be in place for new homes, but often it does not happen. The A6 through Hazel Grove is already heavily congested and it can only get worse with a lot more housing before we get a bypass,” Jon added.
For a lot more detail and our reasoning behind the two stage planning you can see the Lib Dem response here.
This is the first of three consultations on the Local Plan. The next stage is for the Council to work up the details of what is being proposed where. That means that we’ll be seeing specific proposals for where homes should be built, along with all the other parts of the plan.
The huge delay of the new bus bridge along the old A6 that runs across the new A6MARR has been a disaster for some local residents who have faced a long walk down towards the police station to catch a bus.
Originally to be opened this summer, along with the whole of the project it has seen substantial delays, it is now finally due soon. It has not helped at all that a design “issue” (someone messed up!) with the pavement at the Police Station end has meant the pavement has been closed on one side of the A6 for weeks as well.
I still hesitate to say exactly when it open because I can’t get a definitive answer yet – some weeks ago council officers indicated mid October, local bus companies currently have it scheduled for December but the latest news suggests it might not be quite that long. Work is now progressing with the surface of the old A6 being cleared ready for the new surface in the last week.
Old A6 Surface Cleared Close To Simpson’s
An update from the A6MARR team indicates, on their works map, that the resurfacing is to happen in October and November:
A full presentation on progress so far will be held at the Civic Hall (London Road, Hazel Grove, SK7 4DF) on Monday 6th November. You can drop in anytime between 3:30 and 7:30 where there will be both A6MARR and council officers to answer questions.
As rail strikes continue in Greater Manchester the RMT, which represents many rail workers, claims that some unstaffed rail stations could become crime hotspots if plans to remove guards from some trains goes ahead.
The RMT press statement says there are 330 unstaffed stations around the country – around 30 in Greater Manchester. Is it right to intervene asking for guards to be retained or should the deal be left to the rail companies, in theory helping them to keep rail travel costs lower?
Hazel Grove Station
Hazel Grove Station is staffed with the ticket office open till early evening in the week:
The press statement continues:
Although these stations are currently unstaffed, protection and assistance for passengers and the train driver at stations is provided by the Guard who is on all trains.
Northern is planning for at least 50% of services to have no Guards with many lines and routes completely unstaffed. RMT is warning that removing the guard from trains which will then also travel through 330 unstaffed stations will result in a cocktail of dangers where passengers and the train driver are more exposed to crime and anti – social behaviour while disabled and older passengers will not be able to get on and off the train when they wish to.
“No staff on many routes and lines, no staff on the stations and no staff on the trains travelling through these stations means there will be a cocktail of dangers at the locations we have identified which will increasingly become no-go areas for vulnerable passengers and new crime hot spots. At the same time our isolated drivers will be on their own, increasingly exposed to anti-social and violent behaviour.
“As well as these dangers there will be also be disadvantages for disabled and older passengers who require assistance because there will be no one there to help them on and off the train or provide assistance during their journey.