Preferred A120 route decision ‘not an X-Factor vote’ – but public will be listened to
PUBLISHED: 15:11 23 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:11 23 November 2017
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A senior councillor who will decide which preferred routes for a dualled A120 are recommended to Government has pledged to take people’s views on board – but warned them it will not be an “X-Factor public vote”.
Essex County Council’s cabinet today agreed to delegate the final decision to deputy leader Kevin Bentley, who is responsible for the project pushing for a new dual carriageway A120 between Braintree and the A12.
Highways officers have recommended that options B, C, D and E are presented to government, with only route A – which uses some of the existing route – being dropped from consideration.
A report to the meeting revealed officers preferred options D and E – both of which join the A12 between Rivenhall and Kelvedon – but said all four should be given to Highways England and the Department for Transport for the best chance of securing political support for funding for the overall scheme.
At today’s meeting Mr Bentley asked for the final recommendations to be made by him, so he could have “more time to go through the technical detail” of each route option.
He rejected calls for the decision to be brought back to cabinet, but promised the decision would be “open” and well-publicised.
Mr Bentley also said: “There will be no further consultation on this stage unless anything significant changes.
“This is not X-Factor, it’s not a public vote.
“While we are cognisant of the public feedback, there’s a lot of technical detail here as well.”
Mr Bentley reminded the meeting that the final decision on a new A120 route will be made by government, not the county council.
He also moved to reassure residents who voiced concerns at the meeting that the new A120 route was pre-determined to enable development of a garden community at West Tey.
• Developers reveal their preference for A120 route
“This was planned to be done some time ago. It just so happens to coincide with the garden community,” he said.
“I have been very clear this is a completely separate piece of work. Of course we are not blind to what is being done with the Local Plans, but regardless of those this work carries on.”
John Spence, chairman of the North Essex Garden Communities board and county council cabinet member, added that the A120 decision would “inform us” – rather than the other way around – and said there has been no formal or personal discussion of a preferred route for the garden community.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Bentley added: “Some may have expected one single route to emerge at this stage, but the consultation and our work around it has been clear. Four routes offer standout cases and it is only right that we keep these on the table for further consideration for funding by the Government.”
Technical studies will now continue throughout the winter and spring to help inform a favoured route option for the A120.