Pro-Newbury Bypass Lobby grows
Squall 10, Summer 1995, pg. 24.
Since the Newbury bypass campaign was put on hold last December by Brian Mawhinny, a pro-bypass campaign has been launched and is growing increasingly powerful.
The pro-road group is attracting those local business people with vested interests in the financial potential such a road would bring. Two recruits to the pro-bypass group are the Lib Dem Newbury Council, who have donated £8,000 of public money to the pro-bypass group (see SQUALL 9), and the Earl of Carnarvon.
The Earl of Carnarvon told the House of Lords that the causes for the delay in building the road were “innocuous” and he cited all the benefits that a new road would bring; jobs, tourists, trade etc. What the Earl forgot to mention, apart from the increased traffic, pollution, asthma and lung complaints was the fact that he is a local landowner whose land would run adjacent to the new road.
Land next to a proposed road acquires a vastly over-inflated value. Blue Boar properties (who own and run many motorway service stations) recently paid over £1 million for five acres of land next to the proposed bypass. Since being put on hold, the value of that land has plummeted to just £5,000. Unfortunate for Blue Boar but rather handy for Lord Porchester who sold them the land and son of - you guessed it - the Earl of Carnarvon.
Meanwhile the rest of the pro-bypass lobby have taken to the streets of Newbury, pointing to the congestion and screaming their demands for the bypass to be re-implemented as soon as possible, it being the only possible solution to the traffic problems. Unfortunately, there is money behind the pro-lobby and their activities are beginning to be noticed. In the words of one local anti-bypass protester: “If you tell someone something often enough they will eventually believe you.”
And the pro-lobby have the resources, both financial and influential personnel. In Parliament, on the 24th April, Sir David Mitchell asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations he had received since Christmas in favour of the Newbury bypass and how many against the road. The answer was 440 letters, 2,770 pre-printed postcards and two petitions totalling 10,700 signatures for the road and 320 letters and 50 pre-printed postcards against the road.
Question - Is this a reflection of pro-road feeling in the area or a reflection of the resources and influence of the pro bypass group? If you tell someone something often enough and loud enough they will eventually believe you - how do adverts work?
Another factor discovered from the answer to Mitchell’s question was that the House of Commons heard (the only reason for asking the question in the House) that most of the pro-road letters and postcards were from the local Newbury area. Most of the anti-road letters were, apparently, from outside the area. The continual refusal of ministers, and the DoT in general, to refuse to recognise that new roads are of national, not local, significance is all-pervasive.
There is, therefore, a very real danger that the road may be re-instated. The power and resources of the pro-road contingent may give the Government sufficient excuse, and significant ammunition in terms of pointing to apparent local support, to go-ahead and build the road.
By December, the decision to go ahead with the road should have been made. If it does Newbury will lose three Sites of Special Scientific Interest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Badger, Kingfisher and Dormouse habitats, heathland, two civil war battle sites, at least two chalk rivers and associated floodplains not to mention the health of its children and all in the name of business, commerce and, of course, profit.
Contact: “The Third Battle of Newbury” 01635 253079 or 01488 608388
ROAD WARS (Squall 8) - Nationwide round-up of road protests including: Solsbury Hill, Stanworth Valley, Newbury, Pollock, and Cardiff Bay - Squall 8, Autumn 1994.
ROAD WARS (Squall 9) - 'Free State Of Pollok' against the M77 in Scotland, 'Sky Village' at Stanworth Valley, plus the spectre of more - Squall 9, Jan-Feb 1995
For a menu of many other Squall articles about the Anti-Roads Movement, including protest camps, Reclaim The Streets and more click here