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'Another fine mess' from Highways England...

More shoddy communications from Highways England have caused confusion. Those of us who are signed up to receive news on Highways England’s road project recently received an email, directing us to an update on their project page.

If you haven’t already done this, we strongly recommend that you email them at this address and ask to be added to their distribution:

The first section, titled ‘Ground investigations surveys update’ belatedly advised us that borehole monitoring is taking place on Rimrose.

This was weeks too late, with workers in unmarked vans and no high-vis or other obvious means of identification having already been spotted and many of you reporting this to us on social media. At the time, we contacted Sefton Council, who confirmed it was activity relating to Highways England.

We have advised Highways England on a number of occasions that it is far better to give advanced notice of these works rather than letting members of the public work it out for themselves.

We believe this actually helps defuse tension, not create it, and yet Highways England claim that the safety of their workforce is a priority.

We are left wondering if they mean this, or whether they actually rely on the fact that this causes aggravation?

In refusing a number of our recent Freedom of Information requests, they have cited threats to workers as an issue. Why then, wouldn’t they take sensible steps to minimise the chances of this happening?

However, the more concerning and more confusing part of their update relates to the Covid-19 section.

This text was - and remains - out of date and relates to the position last September i.e. in 2020, but initially, there was no indication that this was the case. In particular, the text advises:

“It is uncertain how much longer the pandemic will continue to disrupt progress, but it is clear that we’ll be unable to hold our next consultation this year.”

Many people rightly interpreted this to mean that the consultation cannot now happen until 2022. Indeed, this was subsequently shared widely online and has also been reported in the online media:

To view the above article, click here.

To view the above article, click here.

We have flagged this to their project team, but the only action that has been taken so far is to add ‘September 2020’ to the Covid-19 section.

Surely, it is possible to update this text to describe the position as it stands today, not as it stood 6 months ago and to remove the misleading content?

All of this means that not only those who signed up to receive updates were given the wrong information, it has now been put out in the public domain by the media.

The reason this is so important (other than it being plain wrong) is that the consultation is the next, key milestone in the planning process.

When it happens, the clock starts ticking.

This is now more of a possibility this year, given the recent government announcement on the proposed loosening and removal of Covid-19 restrictions. For our part, we have asked that Highways England issue a formal correction to everyone who received this information, including the media, and made Sefton Council aware of this request.

However, it is yet another example of bad communication and misleading information from an organisation that expects us to believe that a dual carriageway through Rimrose Valley can actually ‘improve the quality of the green space in the park’.

And they wonder why we don’t trust them?

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