Is the LTC Community Impacts Consultation really about communities?
The LTC Community Impacts Consultation starts at 00:01 on Weds 14th July and runs for 8 weeks until 23:59 Weds 8th Sept, but before it launches people are already asking questions about whether it is really for and about communities.
As the Highways England leaflet about the consultation started hitting doormats yesterday (Thurs 8th July) first reactions have been quick and strong.
Putting the question of whether people feel it is safe for public information events to be held with COVID-19 cases rising fast aside. If Highways England are going to have public information events then certain areas that would most definitely be impacted by the proposed LTC have been missed.
For instance there are no public information events in the Stanford/Corringham area that would be impacted by the Stanford Detour due to the proposed LTC.
The proposed route would pass very close to Chadwell St Mary, yet no event is listed there.
People have commented on the distinct lack of events south of the A2 in Kent, which again is an area that would be impacted if the LTC goes ahead.
Another example is that the likes of Tilbury, Bulphan, North Ockendon all currently fall within the LTC development boundary, yet no public events listed.
The proposed LTC is supposed to be about solving the problems at the Dartford Crossing (despite the fact HE’s own figures showing that the current crossing would still be over capacity even if LTC goes ahead) yet no public events in Dartford, Purfleet, West Thurrock etc that all suffer when there are incidents.
Update 2 August 2021
Timing of events
Some of the public events such as the one at Brandon Groves, South Ockendon on Weds 1st Sept and Cascades Leisure Centre, Gravesend on Fri 3rd Sept are within a week of the end of the consultation on Weds 8th Sept. This gives very little time for those who attend those events to go away and compile their responses.
We also notice that the locations of HE events always form the same pattern. For instance South Ockendon events are always towards the end of the consultation, so they always get the least amount of time from when they attend events to get their responses in.
Also, the public events that were cancelled in the Supplementary Consultation in spring 2020, due to COVID-19 were the events towards the end of the consultation period. Those areas missed out on being able to attend public events that time around, and they are the same ones with the least amount of time to respond after events this time around.
1 week less if you’re not online
Highways England are publicising the consultation as 8 weeks, but it has also now been confirmed that printed copies of consultation materials will not be available until at least 1 week after consultation begins. Their leaflets state that printed consultation materials will not be available at the deposit and information locations until Weds 21st July.
We have also had confirmation from HE that even if people contact them to request copies of the printed materials be sent to them they will not receive them until at least Weds 21st July.
Consultation materials will be published on our website from 14 July and for environmental and cost reasons we are encouraging everyone to access these online.
We can send copies of the main consultation documents to people directly free of charge if they have limited or no access to the internet. The order window opens on the 14 July, and with print and distribution timescales they will arrive no earlier than the 21 July.
We believe that if Highways England are going to launch a consultation then they should have all consultation materials available for everyone from the start. People who need printed copies should not be penalised and given at least 1 week less than others, that is discrimination against those who are not online.
We also feel that everyone should be given adequate time to respond after they have attended the public events, not as it is in some cases with this consultation whereby if someone attended the event at Cascades after work on the 3rd (the event closes at 8pm) they then really only have 5 days to get their response in. That is really not long when there are so many issues and concerns that people want to have their say on.
Ultimately, this is supposed to be a Community Impacts Consultation, yet it seems that Highways England are yet again doing all they can to make it as difficult as possible for the community to be able to obtain info and take part in the consultation, whether it be due to lack of events in impacted areas, consultation materials not being available at the start of consultation, or the timing of the events. At a Community Impacts Consultation we would all hope and believe that everyone that would be impacted by the proposed LTC would and should have adequate opportunity to obtain information and have their say. And this is all before the consultation has even begun.
Have your say
Don’t forget to share your comments on these issues in your own consultation response. Remember it’s not just about what HE want to ask us, we have the right to have our say on any and all matters that concern us in regard to the proposed LTC and the consultation. This is supposed to be a Community Impacts Consultation so it’s important that we who make up the community have our say!
We have now managed to obtain a pdf copy of the consultation leafletLTC+community+impact+consultation+A5+leaflet+2021+June+V6f