Milton Keynes Green Party statement on the East-West Expressway

12 March 2020

Milton Keynes Green Party (MKGP) welcomes the announcement, as part of the Budget, that the East West Expressway, proposed to pass through MK, is to be paused. MKGP were the first in MK to object to the Expressway when it was proposed about 5 years ago. But the party wants the Expressway to be scrapped.

 

Four years ago, MKGP, in response to a government consultation, said,

We do not support the proposal for an Expressway between Cambridge and Oxford. It would encourage more journeys by road within the corridor. This would create more traffic, not just on the Expressway, but on local roads that feed into it. This would be counter to government policies regarding sustainability. It would also create more congestion in the towns and villages in the corridor. This would mean more pollution and more CO2 emissions.

 

A new East-West road would have to pass through or to the north or south of a string of towns and villages including Aspley Guise, Woburn Sands, Bow Brickhill and Newton Longville. A new road there would do enormous damage to the environment. Going through the towns and villages would mean the demolition of many houses, again unacceptable.

 

An Expressway would undermine the business case for the railway. It would be much better and more cost effective to spend money on increasing the capacity of the railway than to spend it on a new road.

 

Then two years ago MK Council debated city expansion and the Expressway. The councilors unanimously supported both. In the debate the only speech against the Expressway came from MKGP’s Alan Francis.

 

Since then Alan Francis has repeatedly raised the issue of the Expressway at MK Council meetings, pointing out that the Expressway would be incompatible with the Climate Emergency motion that the council passed in January 2019. Gradually the council’s position has moved from one of full-throated support for the Expressway to one of conditional support, with some fairly onerous conditions, including electrification of the East West Rail line, which was suggested by Alan Francis.

 

MKGP does support the East West Rail link. It has been campaigning for the restoration of the rail link to Oxford for three decades.

 

Alan Francis said, “Planning permission has recently been granted for the rail line from Bletchley to Bicester to be rebuilt. We want to see that happen as soon as possible. We also suggest that some of the money saved by the cancellation of the Expressway should be used to electrify the rail line, increase its capacity and replace more level crossings with bridges. It will be much easier, cheaper and less disruptive to do the work now rather than waiting until the line is up and running and then going back to do the electrification.”

 

A motion criticizing the expressway plans will be put before the Milton Keynes Council next week. MKGP fully supports this motion- Please see item 3. 

 

In support of Alan’s comments Woburn Sands Town Councillor and former chair of MKGP, Peter Skelton said, “In the last 12 months the NO EXPRESSWAY GROUP (NEG), which has no party
political affiliation, has given talks and made presentations to villages across the Cambridge-MK-Oxford Arc, including several venues in the southern Milton Keynes area.  They have not found a single community in favour of the Arc proposals. The NEG believes that there is NO need for an Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, nor the excessive housing targets associated with it, and will actively campaign against it and support the many other organisations with the same objectives."

 






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