Hazel Grove comment
November 14th 2018: A letter spotted in the Stockport Express today: “It is indeed ironic that the new airport relief road, that its proponents claimed was going to alleviate the traffic on the A6, is now the cause of even longer delays.The afternoon tailbacks through Hazel Grove are longer and slower moving than ever, as traffic has an extra set of traffic lights to pass through the A555/A6 junction.
The same has happened on the A523 Macclesfield Road where commuters from Poynton to Stockport now have another hold up at the (surely oversized?) A555 junction at Brookside causing bigger queues morning and evening.
Their plight will not be eased when/if the Poynton Relief Road is built. These local politicians including our MP, who are advocating the building of a new road across the Goyt Valley to the M60 claiming it will ease traffic, really need to get wise.
The lesson is simple. More roads equals more traffic.” From Grahame Buxton, Hazel Grove.
Cycle route issues
November 17th 2018: Some cyclists are having trouble following the off-road cycle path parallel with the A555 between the A34 and Wilmslow Road. This is leading to some cyclists using the main carriageway at this point, which could be risky for cyclists because of the speed of the traffic, particularly where slip roads leave or join. The speed limit is 50mph. Some cyclists have been using the main carriageways on other sections of the road. It’s possible that some of them are unaware that there is a shared cycle and pedestrian path.
When will they realise?
November 14th 2018: We went to the SMBC Cabinet meeting last Tuesday evening to tell them of worse traffic problems in Hazel Grove and High Lane, continuing disruption on the A34 and crashes around the new Macclesfield Road junction since the Airport Road opened.
The Cabinet replied: “It’s kind of expected that when it first opens certain things will happen. Like for instance people will be testing out new routes to see what works for them… We expect traffic patterns will change again before they settle down.”
Let’s hope they’re right, but we were also told that the Council will decide on the next round of SEMMMS (“the Refresh”) in the new year. There’ll be no time to take stock of the Airport Road. before the Council yet again considers extending the dual carriageway through the Goyt Valley to Bredbury (the A6-M60 Bypass). How much more has to happen before SMBC recognises that more road-building is destructive, hugely costly and won’t solve our transport problems?
Problems for drivers
November 11th 2018: There’s dismay among drivers about some immediate effects of the new Airport Road in peak hours. Soon after the road opened on October 15th, the SEMMMS website offered “reassurances”. One obvious problem was that work on the A34/A555 and A34/Stanley Road junctions is still unfinished (see picture) despite having to cope with extra traffic from the new road.
Green belt watch out!
November 11th 2018: Updates of SEMMMS Refresh (including A6-M60 Bypass proposals) and Greater Manchester’s strategy for new houses and industry should now appear early next year. The latest version of the houses/industry strategy – or “Spatial Framework” – was held up for three months after nationwide statistics showed that not so many extra homes would be needed as previously thought. This could have reduced pressure to build on the green belt. But now the Government has told Councils, including Greater Manchester, to stick to the old target and ignore the new lower forecasts.
Stockport councillors are unlikely to approve large-scale house-building on green belt after protests over the first draft, but other boroughs have cause to fear. In Stockport we need to stop proposals to extend Bredbury industrial estate into Woodley’s green belt.
Stockport Council has said the final version of its SEMMMS Refresh transport strategy will be published soon after the Framework.
Extra lanes needed?
November 6th 2018: If the A555 needs to be upgraded to three lanes x2, would the same apply to the proposed A6-M60 Bypass (from Hazel Grove to Bredbury)? Last May, the Council’s SEMMMS Refresh strategy document said that the A555 (the old bit of the new Airport Road) needs to be widened at some time in the future. This was surprising since: A. work on the Airport Road was still going on at the time; and B. the need for future widening had not been mentioned when the Airport Road was approved in 2014. The A555 has been predicted to become about as busy as the busiest half of the proposed A6-M60 Bypass, so it’s hard to avoid the question: could the current two lanes x2 design of the A6-M60 Bypass through the Goyt Valley turn into an even more monstrous three lanes x 2? SEMMMS didn’t give us the full picture in 2014, so it’s reasonable to question what SEMMMS says now. Our petition against the A6-M60 Bypass is at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad
Colours for all
November 4th 2018: Some woods are broad, dense and a challenge to visit . Not Vernon Road Woods. Its autumn colours are readily on display to anyone who happens to be walking the useful local paths along its 500-metre length. Near where the top picture was taken would be the portals of the A6-M60 Bypass’s tunnel through Lower Bredbury. The portals would be a large concrete structure projecting into the Goyt Valley, and probably covered with earth to look, err, natural.
Heading for the river
November 4th 2018: There is currently much work going on behind Bredbury Hall to take the cycle path/bridleway from Alan Newton Way to the new bridge over the Goyt and into Woodbank Park. Another arm of the extended path will come out near Pear Mill. See the plans below. The new path is unpopular with some residents of Annable Road and users of Woodbank Park (due to destruction of trees and because of safety issues for pedestrians on paths). Some walkers and cyclists will find it useful. A circular walk around the Goyt will become possible so long as Jim Fearnley Bridge remains. SMBC has said that Jim Fearnley Bridge may be closed on grounds of safety within the next few years – although it seems solid enough at present.
The second innings
November 1st 2018: A planning application for a cricket ground in the north-west corner of Stockport’s Goyt Valley has re-emerged (view looking south across ground above) . Bredbury St Marks Cricket Club has revised plans submitted last year (extract from plans, below).
Changes mainly concern safety on the bridleway around the entrance to the ground. There could be more cyclists and pedestrians on the bridleway because the Council is taking it around the other side of Bredbury Hall to a new river bridge. In the cricket club’s revised plans a new foot and cycle path comes down from Dark Lane road, crosses Vernon Road and makes an incursion into the field on the east side of Alan Newton Way, continuing where the field’s boundary hedge currently is.
The plans also include a clubhouse and a high perimeter fence. The application may stand or fall on whether it is considered appropriate development within the green belt. The club also needs to gain planning approval to sell its existing ground for housing.
There are some sharply differing opinions on the application. Some people see it as degradation of the valley landscape. Others see it as bringing more people into the valley who would to defend it against road plans. Documents can be seen at Stockport Council Planning webpage, reference DC/066644
New roads, new journeys
November 1st 2018: Putting a dual carriageway through Stockport’s Goyt Valley would destroy wonderful green space but also cause new traffic problems. Extra traffic created by big new roads is called “induced traffic”. SEMMMS and Stockport Council don’t believe in “induced traffic” but they should do: one of the best studies of it in the UK covers what happened just down the road with the completion of the M60. A before-and-after study found that the M60 induced 15%-17% new traffic journeys. With hindsight, it is not a surprise, and it’s getting worse. The study of the “Manchester Motorway Box” (by Rohr et al) comes up in the Government’s own survey of research into induced traffic, published this week. Our petition against the A6-M60 Bypass is at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad.
Stand by Stanleyhall
November 1st 2018: Beautiful Stanleyhall Wood stands next to the Peak Forest Canal above the River Goyt at Strines. It’s yet another wood threatened by SEMMMS road plans. The wood stands in the path of the Disley/High Lane Relief Road, which would feed into the proposed A6-M60 Bypass (Hazel Grove to Bredbury). Stanleyhall Wood is protected ancient woodland. The road wouldn’t be allowed through the middle but might take out one end. The Relief Road could only be built after the A6-M60 Bypass. SEMMMS does not have a real-time solution to Disley/High Lane’s congestion and pollution problems, which will be worsened by the new Airport Road.
What a ridiculous mess!
October 24th 2018: A large hole has appeared in the Council’s case for putting a Bypass through Stockport’s Goyt Valley. We have worked out that the correct estimated cost of extending the Airport Road to the M60 at Bredbury is an impossibly massive £602 million. It’s even more than the £477 million stated last year in the A6-M60 Bypass Business Case. This is important because the Council wants to keep asking the Government for money for the Bypass until it gets a Yes.
We calculated the £602 million figure using the same method that the Business Case used. Both calculations are partly worked out from the cost of building the Airport Road. The difference is that the Bypass Business Case thought the Airport Road would cost £230 million. In fact, the Airport Road has cost £290 million.
The Business Case explains its calculation of the Bypass’s cost on on PDF page 126 of http://www.semmms.info/wp-content/uploads/A6-M60-Relief_Road_Scheme_SOBC_Working_Draft_v10_Client-Review.pdf. Basically, the cost of both the Airport Road and the A6-M60 Bypass was estimated in 2007. But the estimate for the Bypass needed to be uprated for inflation to 2017. A “robust estimate” of the final cost of the Airport Road was used to work this out. This loopy method may have been chosen because it gave a good result – zero inflation – and an unrealistically low cost (£477 million!) for the A6-M60 Bypass. Or so they may have thought.
SEMMMS and the Council will be reluctant to admit the mess they are in. But the Government’s Department for Transport will see right through them. This is embarrassing for Stockport.
Please share our petition to end the Council’s support for the A6-M60 Bypass, at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad.
Pollution hot spots named
October 26th 2018: Greater Manchester Combined Authority has named 20 illegally polluted roads in Stockport. The Authority is considering whether and how to impose charges on the dirtiest vehicles at pollution hot spots throughout the region. The list only includes streets where Nitrogen Dioxide is over the limits, not sooty particles, which can also be deadly. Another big omission is the whole motorway network, which is outside the Authority’s control. Great Egerton Street (pictured) probably appears on the list because of pollution spread from the M60.
Action is long overdue. Stockport Council has for many years ignored the problem except as an argument for building bypasses. But the newly completed Airport Road will increase pollution on the already illegally polluted A34 and the A6 in High Lane. Hopefully it will cut emissions on some other parts of the A6.
The 20 Stockport roads are Chestergate, Corporation Street, Kingsway, Didsbury Road, Travis Brow, Ashton Road, Great Egerton Street, Knightsbridge, Stockport Road West, Buxton Road, London Road, Wellington Road North, Ashton Road, Hall Street, Spring Gardens, St Marys Way, Tiviot Way, Carrington Road, New Bridge Lane and Lancashire Hill. Sometimes only a short stretch of road breaks the limits. See the map at https://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-plan
A555 price shock
October 23rd 2018: The final cost of the Airport Road/A555 (pictured) is much more than planned. On October 15th, the SEMMMS website declared the new road open and described it as a “£290 million project”. Assuming this £290 million figure means what it says, the cost is way above the £232 million budget set in December 2014. The amount going to the builders appears to be 50% higher. All the £290 million allocated by the Government and Greater Manchester has been used up. Stockport Council narrowly avoided having to put in extra money which it doesn’t have. The road took 42 months to complete rather than the planned 30 months. We’ll be publishing a post soon about how the Airport Road’s final cost further undermines the road’s proposed extension to Bredbury (aka A6-M60 Bypass). Please support and share our petition against the extension, at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad
Don’t ‘refresh’ this wood
October 20th 2018: A kilometre on from the end of the Airport Road/A555 is peaceful Ochreley Brook Site of Biological Importance. Now that the road is open, SEMMMS’ focus will shift to trying to extend the tarmac up to Bredbury through green places like this. The Airport Road may stay relatively quiet for the first few months. SEMMMS will hope that this will help them to get their “Refresh” through the Council – including the proposed Airport Road extension (A6-M60 Bypass). It’s not a foregone conclusion. Coming soon, we have some strong information to deploy in support of our green spaces. Also our petition needs much more support at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad. Please help to spread and share it.
Dead and buried
October 19th 2018: Last Thursday we went to the full Council meeting to ask why the bronze-age site at Woodlford (up to FOUR THOUSAND years old) was tarmacced to make part of a TEMPORARY car park for Airport Road workers. Previously we’ve questioned SMBC’s Cabinet to little effect. Yet again we didn’t get a straight answer. SEMMMS and the councillor who reads out SEMMMS’ responses still aren’t ready to say in public that the site has been destroyed. The site was relatively small – the base of a funeral barrow with empty grave and ring gully revealed during land clearance (see picture). Last Thursday was our last throw of the dice, since the car park is now redundant. All we learned is that the car park and associated depot will be returned to farmland.
October 19th 2018: The dry summer has prepared a colourful autumn, and there’s no where better to see it than in our own Goyt Valley. How can anyone want to bulldoze a dual carriageway across the valley and the wonderful autumn woods along the route of the proposed A6-M60 Bypass? Please sign our petition to oppose extension of the A555 to Bredbury, at https://tinyurl.com/NoThroughRoad
Greetings to councillors
October 10th 2018: We have some postcards of Stockport’s wonderful Goyt Valley (see top picture). They are designed for people to send to their councillors before the Council votes again on whether it wants to destroy the Valley by putting the A6-M60 Bypass through it. Some councillors are moving our way. More of them need to know about Stockport’s Goyt Valley. If you would like some cards (everyone has three councillors), please message us. We can arrange delivery each way. It would be nice to have some Goyt Valley greetings cards to send to friends and relatives too, but we’re still working on that.
Schools too near
October 10th 2018: Would Council officials really dare to put a junction of the proposed A6-M60 Bypass right next to Dial Park Primary, Offerton? In fact, something similar has already happened. Queensgate Primary, Bramhall sits above the new Airport Road. The nearest school building is within 100 metres of the road. Parents were bamboozled into accepting this appalling situation. But Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee warned back in 2014 that schools should not be within 150 yards of major roads (which might be a lot less busy than the Airport Road). The MPs said that where schools were already next to busy roads, filtration units should be fitted in the classrooms.
Support at the open day
October 7th 2018: We received an encouraging response to our stall at the entrance to Sunday’s official open day for the Airport Road, next to Macclesfield Road (see picture). We spoke to many people about Stockport Council’s proposal to extend the new road to the M60 by destroying green belt and ruining the wonderful Lower Goyt Valley. We gave out leaflets and collected signatures for the petition. The open day was popular but those attending didn’t necessarily welcome the new tarmac or want any more loss of green space. Please sign our petition against the proposed extension (the A6-M60 Bypass), at https://www.change.org/p/stockport-council-remove-the-a6-m6…
It’s quiet for now
October 5th 2018: The most secluded part of the Poise Brook Valley Nature Reserve is where the A6-M60 Bypass would cross the Goyt (pictured). Last Tuesday evening’s SMBC Cabinet meeting reminded us that the Council remains serious in its pursuit of money for the Bypass – extending the Airport Road to Bredbury. This picture is taken from that point on the Goyt’s western bank where the ancient woodland of the Nature Reserve merges into the mature woodland belonging to Offerton Sand & Gravel. Supposedly it’s the mature woodland that would take the hit but the Bypass’s colossal impact would spread in all directions.
Airport Road opening October 15th
October 5th 2018: The opening date for the Airport Road will be Monday October 15th – just over a year late. But the Airport Road’s troubles may not be over. The extra vehicles it puts on the A34 could contribute to the introduction of a pollution charge on some drivers – an unprecedented situation. How can SEMMMS’ now be trusted over its proposed extension of the Airport Road to Bredbury (the A6-M60 Bypass)? We will be at the Airport Road events this Sunday (Oct 7th) with our petition to tell people about the threat to our green spaces from more road-building. Join us from 11pm at the Airport Road’s Macclesfield Road junction.
A ‘waiting game’ for Bypass funding
October 3rd 2018: We went to SMBC Cabinet on Tuesday evening to ask them to lift the threat to our green belt from their Bypass proposals. The Council leaders always say that no final decision has been taken. This time they added disturbingly that getting funding for further work on the A6-M60 Bypass was “a waiting game”. We learnt that last summer’s consultation about SEMMMS Refresh, including the Bypass proposals, produced a high level of feedback, and a summary of the responses will appear later this year. We also received some new detail about current pollution monitoring. There was no answer on when (if ever) we will find out how much the Airport Road cost. Nor were we told what would happen to what’s left of the bronze-age site under the road builders’ car park. The meeting was told a date for opening the Airport Road might be revealed later this week.
Don’t extend the Airport Road!
October 2nd 2018: There still no exact date but the A6-Airport Road is about to finally open “in early October”. SEMMMS wants to extend the road into the Ox Hey woodland pictured – and through beautiful woods, fields and valleys to the M60. If the new 20-year SEMMMS Refresh plan is approved, Stockport Council will be able to keep on chasing funding to do this for another two decades – if it takes that long.
The A34 fiasco
October 2nd 2018: The opening of the Airport Road next week (?) could be followed by plans to introduce a pollution charge on the A34 (pictured under Airport Road A555). The law requires action to be taken on the A34, partly to deal with the extra traffic and pollution put there by the new road. How can SEMMMS get away with such a fiasco? When Stockport Council’s SEMMMS planned the Airport Road, they knew that the A34 was already illegally polluted, and the Airport Road would make it worse. Six years later pollution is treated more seriously in the UK. Yet SEMMMS and its supporters voice no regrets. Instead they want us now to trust them to put the A6-M60 Bypass through our beautiful valleys!
October 2nd 2018: Stockport Council officials are reluctant to tell the public how much the Airport Road is costing. The last known cost of £232 million has gone up, but by how much? We need to know because an out of date cost for the Airport Road was used to work out the cost of extending it to the M60. The proposed A6-M60 Bypass was priced at a massive £477 million. It should have been even more, but we don’t know how much more because we don’t know the true cost of the Airport Road.
Chaotic to the end
September 22nd 2018: Stockport Council leaders must sign off a deal with builders before the Airport Road can open in a fortnight – a year late. Builders Morgan Sindall were originally partnered with Carillion, who went bankrupt. In long-running haggling, the builders have been claiming payment for hundreds of extra bits of work, while the Council has blamed some of these on the builders. The headline causes of delay were unexpected great crested newts, ground conditions, rain and “an altered method of construction”. The Council will be left with huge piles of earth to find a home for. Next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting will discuss the builders’ terms in secret so we may never know the cost of mishaps and mismanagement. The total will be within the Government’s £290 million grant but it is public money and should be spent carefully.
Ready or not
September 22nd 2018: The traffic lights pictured are the front line of SEMMMS’ unconvincing efforts to hold back a surge of traffic through High Lane and Disley when the A6-Airport Road opens imminently. A 30% increase in traffic coming up the A6 has been predicted, bringing both more congestion and pollution. In response, SEMMMS promised “mitigation measures” to deter extra traffic and cut the increase to (only!) 15%. The original mitigation scheme centred on “shared space” (pedestrian/motorist equality) in the centre of Disley. This was scrapped when the penny dropped that it would itself exacerbate pollution by further slowing traffic. Instead lights have been installed at the A6-Redhouse Lane junction south of Disley centre and new parking bays have narrowed the road. Slowing traffic at this point, which is the start of an Air Quality (ie high pollution) Management Area, is questionable. At least local residents driving out of Redhouse Lane appreciate their new lights.
Airport Road opening soon
September 22nd 2018: The Airport Road may open on October 7th ‘or may be a few days later’, according to Stockport Council leader Alex Ganotis. He told Thursday’s Council meeting that people would be invited to walk, run or cycle along the carriageways on October 7th before the traffic starts flowing. These opportunities will be in a limited number of locations, not yet specifiede. The road from Hazel Grove to the M56 is expected to cut traffic on the A6 from Hazel Grove northwards but increase it south of Hazel Grove and on the A34. The picture shows the road being put through wooded Mill Hill Hollow last year. The Coucil’s SEMMMS Refresh wants to extend the road through more green belt to the M60 at Bredbury. Please sign the petition asking the Council to remove the Bypass from SEMMMS Refresh.
Save our woodland
August 27th 2018: The map above shows some of the damage that could result from SEMMMS resuscitating the A6-M60 Bypass plan. Eleven woods or wooded areas are directly in the Bypass’s path. Can we afford to lose so much? The woods are (from M60 southwards): 1 Crookilley Woods ancient woodland; 2 Vernon Road Woods; 3 Ryley Wood (below Werneth School); 4 woodland at Goyt Hall; 5 Poise Brook Valley ancient woodland; 6 Foggbrook woodland (Site of Biological Importance); 7 wooded area at Peregrine Park; 8 woodland at Poise Bridge Flushes (Site of Biological Importance); 9 Ochreley Brook woodland (Site of Biological Importance); 10 Threaphurst Clough (Site of Biological Importance; 11 Ox Hey woodland (Site of Biological Importance). Please sign the petition.
Heritage versus Bypass
August 27th 2018: Road-builders and SEMMMS officials cannot be trusted with our heritage – as shown by the shocking and needless tarmacing of a bronze-age site to make a car park for Airport Road workers (see recent post). The proposed A6-M60 Bypass route (which would join the Airport Road) has four potential ancient sites: a suspected iron-age settlement at Clapgate; a Roman road heading past Dial Park Primary; an unnaturally round hillock above Poise Brook near Braeside; and a Roman road crossing the gully next to Redhill Drive. Archaeologists might investigate before the bulldozers move in, but the sites would still be destroyed. Also, as we saw at the Airport Road car park, archaeologists in a hurry may not get it right.
Archaeology in a hurry
August 27th 2018: The destructive tarmacing of an ancient site near the Airport Road could show how Stockport’s heritage would fare if the A6-M60 Bypass were ever built. The site was discovered during construction of a portacabin and car park complex for the Airport Road’s builders – away from the line of the road. The builders Carillion Morgan Sindall were employing archaeologists to monitor their work, in line with normal practice. In 2015 the archaeologists hastily excavated the base of a supposed iron-age roundhouse (from before the Romans) in the future car park.
The site was handed back to the impatient builders in November 2015 and disappeared under tarmac (see car park picture). The discovery of the supposed iron-age site was announced in August 2016 after it had disappeared. We’re now told that the circle (pictured) was really the base of a bronze age barrow from hundreds of years earlier. An iron age roundhouse would be significant, but a 3,000-years-old bronze age site even more so. The car park should have been built around it, not over it. Stockport Council’s SEMMMS team leads the Airport Road work.
More damage and expense
August 24th 2018: If there’s to be a High Lane bypass, it seems that Stockport Council has to build a High Lane/Disley Bypass too to keep inside air quality law. Otherwise the A6 through High Lane and Disley would become even more illegally polluted, with traffic heading for the A6-M60 Bypass-to-be. So the recent SEMMMS Refresh Strategy document ties in a single carriageway High Lane/Disley Bypass with the dual carriageway A6-M60 Bypass. But no route is offered. So Goyt Valley SOS has devised three options to show the impact.
The pink version connects with the A6-M60 Bypass at Offerton Road, as planned in the 1990s. Orange connects to the Airport Road somewhere unknown as suggested by Stockport Council’s A6 Corridor Study in 2014. The blue route is totally made up. Blue and orange invade Lyme Park; pink generally mashes the green belt.
Since Stockport Council can’t find £480 million for the A6-M60 Bypass, the cost of an extra bypass may not matter – but probably upwards of £60 million. A better idea would be for Stockport Council to stop wasting our time and money on its obsession with the A6-M60 Bypass.
Which is it to be?
August 20th 2018: Stockport Council (leader Alex Ganotis) this autumn aims to finalise its SEMMMS Refresh including building the A6-M60 Bypass through the Goyt Valley, building a High Lane/Disley Bypass and widening part of the unfinished Airport Road. But Greater Manchester’s green czar Alex Ganotis (!) has this month published a “Springboard to a Green region” plan which wants to work to REDUCE the need for car and vehicle trips and HALVE the proportion of freight going by road. Building the A6-M60 Bypass (cost £half a billion) would encourage vehicle trips – not reduce them! It would use up resources that should be spent on alternatives to cars and road freight. Which is it to be, Alex? (The report: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/…/springboard_to_ac…)
Hands off our Council funds!
August 16th 2018: Stockport councillors will be deciding this autumn whether to back “SEMMMS Refresh” – including the proposed A6-M60 Bypass through the Goyt Valley. For immediate Bypass preparations, the Council needs £500,000 – already twice refused by the Government. Previously the Council has said it cannot find the £500,000 itself because it is desperately cash-strapped. But now it has received a windfall £4 million left over from last year. The windfall will be spent on one-off items including unspecified “highways investment”. Spending £500,000 could be combined with asking Mayor Andy Burnham’s help to beg the rest of the Bypass costs from the Government (£500 million). The Council’s SEMMMS website says the Council will decide about funding following approval of SEMMMS Refresh. Don’t let them throw our money down the drain!
August 5th 2018: Ancient Mill Hill Hollow now has a dual carriageway built through it. The full impact will be experienced when the Airport Road opens in two months and is filled with traffic. In the autumn Stockport councillors will decide whether to make further attempts to build the A6-M60 Bypass. Don’t let the fate of Mill Hill Hollow be shared by the eleven woods along the proposed Bypass route.
August 5th 2018:The western end of Carr Wood has disappeared beneath the almost finished Airport Road near Hazel Grove . Some “acoustic” wood fencing (similar to a top-quality garden fence) is being erected to shield local housing a bit, but the remaining ancient woodland and the Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail don’t get this protection from traffic noise. In the autumn, Stockport councillors will be once again discussing extending the road from Hazel Grove up to Bredbury (the A6-M60 Bypass). When will they discuss preserving our green belt and woodland?
Emergency measures needed
July 30th 2018: The Council is facing a national deadline to tackle illegal air pollution. It says the only case in Stockport is on the A34 in Cheadle. But what about the A6 in High Lane? It was named in 2013 as having illegal pollution. Both the A6 in High Lane and the A34 in Cheadle are forecast to suffer increased traffic when the A6-Airport Road opens in a few months – making it close to impossible for the Council to achieve its legal obligations. “Mitigation” has already been introduced on the A6 further south to limit the increase in traffic after the Airport Road opens – but traffic is still forecast to grow by 15%. We are seeing the consequences of the Council and its SEMMMS team fudging the facts about air quality back in 2014 when the Airport Road was being approved.
Avoiding the question
July 22nd 2018: Stockport Council is still in a fog about how to reduce illegal air pollution on the A34 at Cheadle.. We asked last week’s Council Cabinet meeting how they could go ahead with opening the A6-Airport Road next month when it would make A34’s pollution even worse. The councillors would only say that they would monitor the effect of the new road.
Proposals to deal with existing pollution on the A34 are to be included in a regional plan hurriedly being put together at Greater Manchester level. Ideas mentioned last week would mainly be slow burners, such as a scrappage scheme for the most polluting vehicles and changes to the bus network. Charging zones for the worst polluters would be a last resort. If the plan isn’t written by the end of 2018 councils could face legal action.
July 11th 2018: This map shows the A6-M60 Bypass’s planned route of destruction through four Sites of Biological Importance for wildlife in Torkington (Hazel Grove). The sites coincide with the first four of our 11 woods at risk. The woods shown in light green are almost all “priority deciduous woodland”. The Council does not publish a map or complete list of its SIBs so the information in this map is not widely known.
SEMMMS pollution challenge
July 14th 2018: Stockport Council is facing a legal requirement to IMMEDIATELY reduce existing air pollution on the A34 at Cheadle/Gatley. But, shockingly, when the Council’s new Airport Road opens later this year it will put even more traffic and pollution on the A34. This impact on pollution was covered up when the Airport Road was approved. Amazingly, the new SEMMMS Refresh strategy even proposes widening part of the Airport Road/A555 to three lanes each way and widening the roundabout that puts traffic from the Airport Road/A555 on to the A34! It’s unbelievable that such a proposal is made at the same time that the Council leader is talking about diverting traffic off the A34 as a quick fix for pollution.
Would you chip in?
July 11th 2018: Stockport Council could waste our local money on preparations for the A6-M60 Bypass. The Council has put a statement on its SEMMMS website saying it will continue to try to get money from the Government and Transport for Greater Manchester to fund the next stage of “feasibility work” on the Bypass. If this doesn’t work, the Council says “we will need to consider funding following the outcome of the SEMMMS Refresh”. This seems to reopen the possibility that the Council will waste Stockport’s own money on doing “feasibility work” costing £500,000.
The Council is in denial
June 29th 2018: We told last Thursday’s Council meeting that the A6-M60 Bypass shouldn’t be built – and can’t be built, following the government’s refusal of funding. But the Council is in denial. We were told it will reapply for money for the A6-M60 Bypass and it won’t remove the Bypass from its new transport strategy. The public consultation about the new transport strategy is to be extended for two weeks, ending on 16th July. The Council leader said the Council would hold a debate in the Autumn about the SEMMMS Refresh transport strategy. Amazingly, he said the Council had not published the Government’s letter (refusing funding) in February because they did not understand its implications.The picture taken before the meeting includes Councillors Sheila Bailey, Richard Coaton and Dickie Davies.
Goyt Valley SOS! at the Travellers Call
June 19th 2018: The back room of the Travellers’ Call was full to more than bursting for the Goyt Valley SOS! meeting on Tuesday evening 19th June. The Travellers’ Call is right on the route of the Bypass.
Please lift the threat!
June 13th 2018: We asked four questions at the SMBC Cabinet meeting yesterday evening. The most important was regarding the rebuff from the Department for Transport to the Council’s Bypass funding request. Rachel asked: “Following this rebuff, please would you 1. Tell councillors and the public that you have received this rebuff; 2. Stop wasting resources on transport plans that include the Bypass; and 3. Lift the threat to the Goyt and Poise Brook Valleys?” We received no direct answer to this. The Council are apparently blaming the Government for reneging on promises and intend to press on with the dodgy consultation and with future funding requests when the chance arises.
Slicing Peregrine Park
June 5th 2018: Peregrine Park at the southern tip of Bosden Farm Estate would be sliced by the A6-M60 Bypass. The park has a belt of trees which makes it number five of the eleven woods at risk from the Bypass. See the map.
Save the Flushes!
June 5th 2018: Poise Bridge Flushes woodland is number four of our ELEVEN (or 12!) woods versus the A6-M60 bulldozers. There’s a footpath just before 58 Offerton Road that goes close to this meadow with dense bands of woodland along three sides. It’s where Poise Brook (northern arm) and Ochreley Brook meet and is a Site of Biological Importance. The Bypass would go through the top corner and the thickest area of woodland.
June 5th 2018: Ochreley Brook Woods is the third of ELEVEN woods threatened by the A6-M60 Bypass, going south to north. This is information SEMMMS doesn’t want us to have. Ochreley Brook and its woods are a Site of Biological Importance, like Ox Hey and Threaphurst Clough (threatened woods 1 and 2). The trees lining Ochreley Brook are thin where the Bypass would hit but become denser just a few feet away. A bit further east the woods are designated as priority deciduous woodland habitat.
May 23rd 2018: Threatened wood number 2 going south to north along the A6-M60 route is Threaphurst Clough. This is woodland mainly north of the Chinley railway line around Threaphurst Brook. Like Ox Hey Wood, this is both priority deciduous woodland and a Site of Biological Importance. We know that some of this wood was here 200 years ago. Threaphurst Clough is separated by a field from the eastern-most residential streets of Torkington and Torkington Primary.
May 23rd 2018: There are seven or eight areas of official “priority deciduous woodland habitat” spread along the planned route of the A6-M60 Bypass. Going south to north, the first is where the road would start, at Ox Hey near Simpson’s Corner, Hazel Grove. The woodland here is around Ox Hey Brook, between the new A6 (which has already taken a chunk), the Chinley railway and the golf course. This is also an official SBI – Site of Biological Importance. So why’s it in danger of being bulldozed?
A pretty scene at risk
May 13th 2018: From Broadway in Lower Bredbury we can look down a pretty little valley between the houses. Right at the bottom, the valley is crossed at right angles by a narrow green corridor that’s reserved for the A6-M60 Bypass. In the picture, that’s where we can see the bluebells (top left). For several years, we thought that the section of the A6-M60 Bypass going between Vernon Road bridleway and the Travellers Call would be in a deep cutting with a roof to keep in the noise. But now we are told that the roof might have to come off in the middle ie where the bluebells are. Tunnel portals are noxious places where fumes and noise are concentrated – and there would be two portals here. All along the A6-M60 route we should keep the bluebells and ditch the Bypass plan!
On the front line
May 13th 2018: Bluebells grow freely in woods threatened by the A6-M60 Bypass scheme. Last Sunday’s Bluebell Walk along the route missed plenty. There are superb bluebells in Crookilley Woods, close to Crookilley Way and the M60. Crookilley Way would be widened to try to cope with the greatly increased traffic. As a result, new cuttings and embankments would push through the boundary of the wood above the area of bluebells pictured and arrowed. On this extract from the Bypass plans, I’ve highlighted the current boundary of Crookilley Wood in green, the proposed extent of the earthworks in red, and the present edge of Crookilley Way in light blue. The Bypass itself would come up through the eastern end of the wood. Construction work would inevitably spread further into the wood than the plans show.
Worth another 200 years
May 6th 2018: Vernon Road Woods is the strip of woodland going east from outside Bredbury Hall at the northern end of Stockport’s Goyt Valley. It was there 200 years ago, according to an old map (top) – and it has extended since. The second (Magic) map shows “Priority deciduous woodland” in green, as classified by the Government’s Natural England. It includes much of the local woodland, including even part of the area next to Forty Acre Drive which has been reserved while road planners work on various schemes to increase traffic congestion. The A6-M60 would ruin Vernon Road woods, flattening part of it and filling much of the rest with noise and pollution.
To be blocked, drowned, bulldozed
April 27th 2018: Wonderful Poise Brook Valley Nature Reserve needs our support. The map shows the destruction proposed at the Holiday Lane end. The A6-M60 Bypass plan includes two ponds for road run-off with a combined length of 320 metres right on top of the existing footpath. In the top half of the valley the Bypass would be very close by in the ex-gravel pit. The only way people would be able to walk the valley would be on a path along the edge of the Bypass. Neither the Jim Fearnley Bridge nor the little wooden bridge pictured (looking south) would exist. The annual Bluebell Walk through the threatened Goyt and Poise Brook valleys is on Sunday 6th May, starting at 2.15pm from outside Bredbury Hall, Dark Lane SK6 2DH.
Road drain lake
April 27th 2018: Bypass run-off released from drainage ponds would flow down Poise-Ochreley Brook into the quiet lake between Hazel Grove and Bosden Farm Estate (Offerton). Under current plans for the A6-M60 Bypass, Ochreley Brook also comes up against the road-builders at the back of Torkington Primary School. Ochreley Brook is an arm of Poise Brook and is officially named Poise Brook from Offerton Road westwards. Beyond the lake, it meets up with another arm of Poise Brook which comes through Torkington Park. If the Bypass is built, the lake (ex-mill pool) would be 80 metres from the carriageways and no longer peaceful. The drainage ponds next to the Bypass’s Offerton Road junction would use gravity and bullrushes to partially filter the run-off – on the basis that some of the bad stuff would drop to the bottom.
The case against destruction
April 27th 2018: Before the Council puts a bypass across Poise Brook Valley, here’s something they should read. The Valley and the woods along the Goyt are “some of the most important woodland in Greater Manchester,” says an information board put up in the woods by none other than STOCKPORT COUNCIL. The board has information about the “rich ground flora of ancient woodland species” as well details of wildlife such as kingfishers, dippers and otters. The scene pictured would be 140 metres from the Bypass cutting; the southern half and north-eastern tip would be obliterated.
Clogging up Offerton
April 22nd 2018: No one could complain that Offerton would be short of traffic lights! The traffic lights are on the carriageway of the Bypass as well as on connecting roads. The link road to the A6 at Sainsbury’s would have traffic lights at the side of the store on Mill Street (to enter and exit the car park) as well as the two sets of lights close together on the A6 as at present. The three junctions on the Bypass would make Offerton a traffic magnet. The numerous sets of associated traffic lights would cause multiple queues. There’s no way this can be in Offerton’s interests.
March 31st 2018: The western end of Crookilley Woods shows the scars of the construction of the M60. Crookilley Way (part of the M60 scheme) is at the back of the photo. The brook is blocked by a wall and sent down into a culvert which, judging by all the mud, may be partially blocked. The proposed culverting of Poise Brook, Offerton for the A6-M60 Bypass comes to mind. The Crookilley Brook culvert is short – just enough to stabilise the embankment on which Crookilley Way stands. The Bypass planners want to widen Crookilley Way. The embankment would be extended and secured by a 200-metre retaining wall. The houses of Elm Tree Road are not far away on the opposite side of the brook. Crookilley Brook continues for a few hundred metres to the Goyt. The Goyt’s Ox Bow bend nearby was chopped off when the M60 and Crookilley Way was built. Let’s insist that our beautiful river and brooks get some respect in future.
Briefing the Government
March 24th 2018: Another Goyt Valley SOS! Bypass Briefing is on its way to the Department for Transport. This picture of Stockport’s Goyt Valley was included. It is an attempt to counter claims that the damage caused by the A6-M60 Bypass would be repairable – or, as the Bypass Business Case would put it, “mitigatable”. The picture shows how the Bypass would slice across the northern part of the valley, reducing it in size and cutting it off from the valley further south (mainly not shown in picture above). Only the planned road, cuttings and embankments are indicated – not the larger area of ground that would be dug up during construction. The picture also cannot show the noise and pollution.
At the Mayor’s Green Summit
March 24th 2018: We offered the many people going into the Mayor’s Green Summit last Wednesday a leaflet about the A6-M60 Bypass. The Mayor, Andy Burnham, grabbed one. It was good that our leaflets made it into the Summit because this otherwise wonderful event seemed weak on roads and green spaces. The main themes were about Greater Manchester becoming carbon neutral and getting a grip on plastic waste. But the chair of the national Environment Agency did urge the Summiteers to value and protect our green spaces as part of our “Natural capital”. Also the Government came up with some money for brownfield building sites (so less building on green land). And there will be money for cycling and walking paths etc. (The picture is a montage – the Mayor got his leaflet at the door.)
The value of otters
March 20th 2018: There’s some good news in the Bypass Business Case! It tells us that there are otters in the Lower Goyt. The context is calculations of the supposed cash value of the benefits from building the Bypass, minus the “disbenefits”. Biodiversity, including otters, is on the spreadsheet but not given a price. The Business Case reckons that the risk to otters from the Bypass plan is only “slight”. That’s despite the disturbance that would be caused by the construction of a major bridge over the river. In any case, we should be encouraging our depleted wildlife to return and recover, not further degrading their (and our) environment. [NOTE: Not everyone thinks otters would be useful members of the river community, because they can eat very large fish as well as creatures on the river bank.]
The risk of flooding
March 20th 2018: A copy of the Risk Register for the unfinished A6-Airport Road has come to light. It expresses quite well the danger of major road building upsetting natural drainage. An entry added just before construction began in 2015 said: “Local flooding problems exacerbated by the scheme or post construction disturbance of existing land drainage systems …. Probability 5%’. Only the probability rating turned out to be wrong. There was a clue of the flooding to come when, at the start of the project, workers had to remove unexpectedly large numbers of water-loving great crested newts from the site, including from Simpson’s Corner (pictured last year). What is the probability that drainage disturbance would happen in flood-prone areas along the route of the proposed A6-M60 Bypass?
Still not enough?
March 20th 2018: Cheshire East Council says it still lacks sufficient road space and there are gaps in public transport. It’s launching its version of the SEMMMS Refresh consultation that took place in Stockport last autumn. The Council wants to work with Stockport Council and Transport for Greater Manchester to extend the multi-modal strategy (SEMMMS) up to 2040. The main item of SEMMMS Refresh in Stockport is the A6-M60 Bypass (although many people taking part said they didn’t want it). If the Bypass were built it would be sure to generate extra traffic in Cheshire East wanting to use it. Despite supposedly being multi-modal, the emphasis of SEMMMS so far has been road-building such as the Airport Road (Cheshire bit pictured). The consultation is at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/consultations
This road is on shaky ground
March 12th 2018: Subsidence under the A555 (the original section of the Airport Road) is more serious than was first disclosed. The earth and sand filling holding up the A555 above Earl Road, Stanley Green (near the A34) has been sinking and leaching out of its retaining wall (see top picture and inset picture), made of thin slabs. A consulting engineer has reported the likelihood of a void under a lane of the A555. The stability of the bridge is in question. Repair works have now commenced, but the problem has been known about for a year or more. Was it safe to leave it for so long? The repair works are the responsibility of Stockport Council separately from government-funded work now going on to extend the A555 from the Airport to the A6. This shambolic road must NOT be further extended from Hazel Grove to Bredbury.
The A6 clog-up plan
March 12th 2018: The proposed A6-M60 Bypass is meant to divert some traffic away from the A6. But if that were to happen, wouldn’t more vehicles just come in and fill up the space? The Council seems to agree. It’s application for funding for the Bypass emphasises that there would be a plan for “locking in the benefits”. This means reducing the lanes on the A6 for general traffic. We know this because it was in the Airport Road scheme too, before motorists started complaining. But reducing the lanes of the A6 through Hazel Grove and Heaviley, would only deter new traffic if it recreated the congestion already on the A6. The difference would be that there would be one congested lane each way, rather than two. Cycle lanes and bus lanes would be important in a sensible transport policy. There’s nothing sensible about re-clogging up the A6 at a cost of HALF-A-BILLION pounds!
Linger at this fine roundabout for a while…
March 12th 2018: Below is the official A6-M60 Bypass roundabout plan at Junction 25 with our new captions. The complex roundabout controlled by multiple traffic lights (our 16 red lines) would struggle with thousands of vehicles daily. Although the Bypass is a two-lane dual carriageway, it becomes three lanes while crossing the centre of the roundabout. It’s an attempt to avoid gridlock. Once through the roundabout, the three lanes quickly go back to two while sailing over the motorway to join the northbound M60 carriageway. A Plan B has been mentioned: taking the Bypass underneath the roundabout. Fourteen years into the Bypass project (born 2003), there still isn’t an answer to a basic question: how to connect the Bypass and the M60. The simple solution: a red light for the whole Bypass!
Digging up the motorway twice
March 5th 2018: The M60 through Stockport would undergo major works TWICE in a few years if the A6-M60 Bypass is approved. The M60 will be worked over once to turn it into a so-called Smart motorway any way – and potentially a second time to move the line of the main carriageways on the bend at Bredbury for the Bypass. On Smart Motorways, the hard shoulder is turned into a fourth lane (difficult in the middle of Stockport) and variable speed limits are signalled on gantries. The Smart motorway work between Denton and Gatley is scheduled to start in 2020 or 2021 and to finish 2022 or 2023. Councillors were told last November that work on the Bypass could start in 2024 if the Government grants funding. Stockport Council acknowledged the clash of these two schemes when it wrote to the Government’s Transport Secretary on January 16th to ask for more Bypass money. The Government hasn’t announced its decision on the money yet.
Speaking for Hazel Grove?
March 5th 2018: Councillor Lewis-Booth wrote in the February 21st Stockport Express that he spoke for the people of Hazel Grove ‘village’ in wanting the A6-M60 Bypass to be built. Hazel Grove resident Tracey replies in the latest issue: ‘He doesn’t speak for me or many others.’ Tracey says that ‘new roads end up being full again very quickly so the greenery lost is all for no benefit…. We will end up with a full A6 and a full bypass.’
Keep traffic away from schools
March 5th 2018: Most parents know schools and polluting traffic should be kept apart. A new opinion study (for Client Earth campaigning lawyers) shows 60% of parents nationally support traffic being diverted away from school gates at the beginning and the end of the day. Here in Stockport, most councillors want the exact opposite: they are supporting the plan for the A6-M60 Bypass – including a dual carriageway and major junction to be built right next to Dial Park Primary School, Offerton (as pictured). We should be shouting about this shameful plan. It makes Stockport look like it is stuck in the 1970s when people thought pollution was healthy.
Late to tell us!
February 25th 2018: The official story about the unfinished A6-to-Airport Road is only half the truth. Last April Stockport Council admitted that the road would be finished late – this spring rather than last autumn, as originally planned. By July last year the Council’s road team knew the timetable was slipping further. A programme of work updated on 21st July last year EIGHT MONTHS AGO indicated the job would finish on 28th August this year, not this spring. Ideas of clawing back lost time got nowhere. Meanwhile the incorrect official message was unchanged: that the road would be finished this spring. Even the main funder, the Department for Transport, was told the same. Finally a week ago Stockport Council announced that completion would be “late summer 2018”. Can we trust the Council’s road-building team about either the unfinished Airport Road or the proposed A6-M60 Bypass? (Souce: Airport Road Programme Board minutes. Picture: Airport Road)
Complaints about flooding
February 25th 2018: Residents are complaining of flooding caused by the unfinished Airport Road at its Hazel Grove end. The latest Stockport Express says that houses as well as gardens have been under water. Stockport Council insists it’s all just a coincidence but the residents say that road building has changed the water table. This will add to concerns that something similar could happen if the A6-M60 Bypass is built through the Poise Brook flood plain around Bean Leach Road. The Council and its experts were surprised by waterlogging that has contributed to delays to work on the Airport Road. Can we trust any claims they make that the A6-M60 Bypass won’t escalate flooding?
Paying for the overrun
February 25th 2018: Who will pay for the delays in finishing the A6-Airport Road shambles? Work will go on until the end of next August at least – a 33% overrun. Last December’s meeting of the Project Board was told that Stockport Council and the builders were discussing “pain share” – splitting the costs of the overrun on the road-builders’ contract. We’ll be paying – as either local or national taxpayers. We should be told what’s happening. (Picture of Airport Road last spring.) NOTE: This item has been re-edited. ‘Pain share’ is complicated as well as unpleasant.
Queen Elizabeth Way?!
February 25th 2018: Stockport Council officials want the flood-hit and troubled Airport Road to be titled “Queen Elizabeth Way”. That isn’t a good and respectful way of celebrating Her Majesty! It is a disturbing thought that the royal name might also be applied to the road’s proposed extension (as the A6-M60 Bypass) as it destroys the Lower Goyt Valley, ancient woodland and Offerton and Torkington’s green space. Manchester City Council and Cheshire East, who are partners in the Airport Road, have been slow to endorse the idea which would need approval from the Palace. (Source: Airport Road Programme Board minutes. )
Junction 25 design flaws
February 25th 2018: The A6-M60 Bypass plan breaches standards for sight and stopping distance at crazy Junction 25. The plan involves switching the current weird positions of the northbound M60 and slip road so that the slip road joins the M60 from the side rather than the middle. You can understand why the Bypass designers might want to do that, to cope with much more traffic on the slip road. But moving the slip road leaves drivers on the bend of the M60 having to look through the slip road to see the junction ahead. The slip road is apparently planned to descend from Crookilley Roundabout on piles of earth, as at present. On motorways approaching junctions there should be a sight and stopping distance of 295 metres (we’ve shown it in blue on the extract of the official plans below; we’ve also added captions). A design modification is possible but could create new problems, such as further sharpening the bend of the motorway.
A year behind!
February 14th 2018: The opening of the Airport Road has been delayed again – from spring to late summer (ie autumn). The news was disclosed on Stockport Council’s semmms.info site. The announcement airbrushes the truth by failing to say that the original date for completion was last autumn. Hence the road (full title A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road) has been delayed a year so far. When the previous delay was disclosed last year, rain and poor ground conditions were blamed. Now the collapse of the builders Carillion (partnered with Morgan Sindall) and the potential collapse of part of the existing A555 section are added to the list of calamities. Further rain this winter is also blamed. However, most seriously there is something close to an admission that inadequate investigation of the site prior to construction has played a part. Sloppy work, lack of transparency and delusional belief in road-building are also apparent in preparations for the A6-M60 Bypass. We must stop this fiasco being repeated across the beautiful valleys and green spaces threatened by the Bypass.
Consultation ‘later in the year’
February 14th 2018: The biased public consultation about the Bypass is now “scheduled to take place later in the year”, the Council has said in answer to a question. (Not in February, as originally planned.) The Council said it doesn’t know when the Government will respond to its request for money to pay for the consultation and other Bypass preparations. The Council has already said that the consultation will be about “the principles of the scheme”. So the consultation will ignore the damage the road will inflict on green spaces and local residents, such as people living on either side of the route in Offerton and Bosden Farm (pictured). Strangely, the answer from Stockport Council says nothing about the Major Road Network, which was the subject of the question and only a few weeks ago appeared to be the Council’s new target for getting money for the Bypass (see below).
The cunning plan to get half a million pounds
February 2nd 2018: Stockport Council has a cunning plan to get hold of some Bypass money. The Council’s current application for £500,000 is targeted at a brand new scheme called the Major Road Network. This Government scheme is due to start in the summer; under it the Government will provide money to local councils for important local roads, including new bypasses. The full cost of the A6-M60 Bypass (almost half a billion!) is so much that it needs a special decision by the Government, but £500,000 from the Major Road Network is a feasible first step – though a bit slower than the Council’s previously stated hopes of being given the money last month. Let’s do all we can to stop this waste of public money.
Application tries to bypass the facts
February 2nd 2018: We’ve seen Stockport Council’s application to the Government for £500,000 for the next bit of Bypass preparation. The A6-M60 Bypass is such an expensive waste of money that the application tries to tweak the facts : 1. No mention of the eventual cost of building the road – almost half a BILLION pounds. 2. The Bypass’s length is given as 10 kilometres of dual carriageway when, in fact, it would be 8.5 kilometres of dual carriageway plus 1.1 kilometres of the single-carriageway Stepping Hill Link. 3. The Council says the Bypass is still needed although non-road transport improvements have been carried out as proposed by the 2001 SEMMMS report. Have they really? Scrap the Bypass now!
Government considering funding request
January 28th 2018: The clock is now ticking. From London comes news that two weeks ago Stockport Council asked the Government for £500,000 to pay for the next stage of preparations for the A6-M60 Bypass. The Government’s Department for Transport says it is considering the request. We don’t know how long it will take for Ministers to make a decision or how we’ll find out the result. The next stage of Bypass preparations could end with a decision to build the Bypass. Sometime soon we may once again need to stand up for our wonderful green spaces.
A555 section to close for 17 weeks
January 27th 2018: The A6-Airport road has been beset by troubles. It’s running seven months late because of ‘poor ground conditions’. The builder Carillion has gone bust leaving its partner Morgan Sindall to pick up the pieces. And now the bit of the road completed back in the 1990s is crumbling. The westbound section between the A34 and Wilmslow Road is at risk of collapse because of drainage problems. Excavations five metres deep are required to fix the problem, so the section of road will be closed for 17 weeks. This may mean it’s open again just in time for completion of the whole road in June, if that isn’t delayed again. It’s amazing how the officials, consultants and politicians behind roads like the Airport Road and its proposed A6-M60 extension claim to know what they’re doing – and some people even believe them!
January 24th 2018: Our meeting yesterday decided we need to get ready for the Bypass “public consultation” whenever it comes. We will prepare new leaflets and plan how we can get the word out via the internet. Also we will be inviting people to walk the Bypass route together, as we did last spring (see picture). The Council’s transport officials had planned to stage the “public consultation” next month, but it has been postponed until some money comes through from the Government. Mid May could be the next target date. On past form, the consultation is likely to feature biased information in favour of the Bypass and ignore the case against it.
Council chasing £500,000
January 20th 2018: Thanks to all who supported our questions at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. We had a question for the full council meeting on Thursday too. Council officials are actively trying to get £500,000 out of the Government’s Department for Transport to continue their preparations for the A6-M60 Bypass. However, the Council’s proposed public consultation about the Bypass will not now be going ahead in early February, because the Government hasn’t had opportunity or time to grant any more money, yet. The Council’s default mode is to deny messing things up, so it refuses to accept that its timetable for getting funding was wrong or misleading. Let’s be happy that the Council’s plans to apply for money are behind schedule, but they are still trying to push ahead with the Bypass and threaten our green spaces.
Learn from Carillion’s collapse
January 15th 2018: Carillion, the firm building Stockport’s Airport Road, is to be liquidated. What this means for Carillion’s many projects, is as yet unclear. Carillion has been pulled under by expensive contract overruns which result from “optimism bias” and delusions associated with projects like the Airport Road (pictured above). Such delusions also characterise the A6-M60 Bypass project, even though it’s still on the drawing board.
The Airport Road (A6-M56) was due to open last autumn, but this was put back to June 2018 because of “poor ground conditions”. The ground conditions were caused by rain (so unexpected!) as well as other unspecified causes – likely to be the result of inadequate surveying or examination of the route before construction begun.
This sorry tale ought to encourage a change of approach at Stockport Town Hall about the planned A6-M60 Bypass but will it? Wrong information has been given to councillors and awkward information has been kept out of sight.
Later news: Responsibility for completing the Airport Road will pass to Morgan Sindall building firm. They were in a joint venture with Carillion to build the road and are now “the last man standing”.
Getting ahead in Whitehall
January 5th 2018: The Government’s Department for Transport has received a briefing document from Goyt Valley SOS! We got in ahead of the Councill’s funding application for the next stage of developing the A6-M60 Bypass. Our message to the Government: don’t waste any more public money on this scheme which will destroy precious green belt to build a road that won’t work! (Picture: looking across the Goyt from the west.)
Restoring the bridleway
January 4th 2018: Work is under way to repair last summer’s failed resurfacing of the bridleway along Stockport’s Goyt Valley (see picture). So far a Council digger has removed the top two inches of mud and puddles from the section between Bredbury Hall and Barlow’s Farm. The digger driver is now starting on the worst section, between Barlow’s and Goyt Hall.
This operation may not solve the whole problem. Some of the damage to the surface approaching Goyt Hall goes deeper than two inches (inset). Also the lack of drainage on loose surfaces like this leads to pot holes, the beginnings of which can be seen in the repaired section.
The removal of the top two inches lowers the surface below the kerbs installed last summer. This may hinder run-off of rain water. Last summer’s new surface was above the kerbs, allowing the rain to drain off to the sides in theory, though not in reality.
However, the good news is that when the current work is completed, people will once again be able to enjoy the valley and see what would be lost if the A6-M60 Bypass is built.
‘New roads don’t reduce congestion’
December 23rd 2017: Stockport Express is continuing to provide good coverage of the case against the A6-M60 Bypass. In the Christmas edition, a letter from Deborah Hind gets star billing. She points out that there is “a wealth of evidence collected over many years throughout the world that new roads do not reduce congestion, but actually encourage more people to drive”. Deborah adds “The trouble is that some councillors are not sharing this with their constituents and instead allow them to beliwve that once the valleys have been destroyed and their green spaces are gone, they will be free of congestion.”
Cabinet votes 5–3 for next Bypass stage
December 20th 2017: The Council’s Cabinet voted by five to three on 19th December to ask the Government for £500,000 to fund the next stage of development of the A6-M60 Bypass. The vote confirmed the recommendation of last month’s full Council meeting. Councillor Sheila Bailey made an awesome speech against the recommendation, with Councillor David Sedgwick backing her up. If the Government grants the request for £500,000, a new business case will be thrown together to hit a June deadline. The new business case would be used to apply for most of the £500 million needed to build the Bypass. Earlier, there were five public questions from opponents of the Bypass. Despite the questions, we are none the wiser about the public consultation that will take place if the first tranche of money (£500,000) is granted. Before the meeting started, defenders of south-east Stockport’s green spaces gathered with banners outside Fred Perry House, where the meeting was held – see picture. We will be opposing this all the way!
An alternative route?
December 17th 2017: Something that looks strangely like an alternative route appears in the Bypass Business Case. On page 243 of Appendices 5 to 9 is a map showing screen lines for traffic forecasts. It incidentally shows the Bypass following an alternative route – avoiding Offerton by skirting Marple and going through Stockport Golf Club, as did a map of the Bypass on display at the SEMMMS Refresh events. Such a route would utterly destroy the Lower Goyt Valley and bring extra traffic into Stockport, so it is not an acceptable alternative. The Bypass should be scrapped. LATER NEWS: This item has been re-edited since publication. It remains unclear why the wrong route was featured in the map on page 243. The people responsible say it was “illustrative”, which presumably is a plea of carelessness.
Queuing to double with Bypass
December 17th 2017: Fifteen years after the opening of the A6-M60 Bypass, so-called “permanent queuing” will have doubled, according to the Business Case appendices. You say: “but I thought the Bypass was meant to cure Stockport’s congestion.” True. That’s probably why they’ve saved this forecast for page 240 of Appendices 5-9. Permanent queuing is a queue at traffic signals that takes more than one cycle of lights to clear. The forecast says permanent queuing would be somewhat worse if the bypass wasn’t built than if it was. However, the forecast ignores the extra traffic that would be generated by the Bypass itself, so it is could well be underestimating the amount of congestion if the Bypass was built! The Business Case’s traffic forecasting is flawed and unreliable, but one thing is clear: the greenbelt-destroying Bypass has no answer to congestion in Stockport. Another solution will have to be found. Please join us for questions to councillors at 5.30 next Tuesday (19th December) at Fred Perry House next to the Town Hall, Edward Street.
At the Town Hall, November
December 1st 2017: Thank you to all the many who came to support our green spaces yesterday evening at the Town Hall and cheer the presentation of our 7,061-signature petition. In the picture , Councillors Sheila Bailey and Philip Harding join us outside the Town Hall before the meeting started. It’s no good beating about the bush: the Council voted by 43 votes to 14 to move to the next pre-construction stage of developing the Bypass – a full outline business case. But, perhaps even more disturbing than the vote itself, is the fact that many of the councillors voting to move forward with the Bypass would deny having done so. They would, instead, say that they had merely voted for further investigation. This seems to be far from what they are going to get. Independent councillor Patrick McAuley shone some light on this by drawing on his time when he was on the Council Executive. In business cases and similar situations, he said, councillors were either being told what they wanted to hear or what officials and report-writers wanted them to hear. Councillor McAuley said he had moved from pro- to anti- the Bypass. Councillors Sheila Bailey, in particular, Richard Coaton and John Taylor were prominent among others speaking against moving forward with the Bypass. The decision now moves back to the Council Cabinet meeting on December 19th for confirmation. What happens next? The Council must apply to the Government for money to fund the “investigation”/business case. There is the consoling thought that the Government has already refused this funding application once, last year.
At the Town Hall, October
October 26th 2017: We attended the full Council meeting to show our opposition to the Bypass Business Case and to ask questions. The Council leader, Alex Ganotis, told us the Council’s Cabinet was still working through the Business Case in advance of their meeting on 14th November at which they will give their response. He mentioned the possibility of a public consultation on the Business Case. We also questioned Councillors Lisa Smart, Wendy Meikle and Kenny Blair. Councillor Meikle, who represents Offerton, said she was undecided about the Bypass while Councillors Smart (for Bredbury Green and Romiley) and Blair (Marple South and High Lane) reiterated their support for it. The councillors’ wards all include areas that would be badly impacted by the A6-M60 Bypass.
October 11th 2017: “Angry residents have held a meeting to discuss how to stop a major bypass potentially being built through countryside on their doorstep,” reported this week’s Stockport Express. The paper was catching up on the recent meeting hosted by Goyt Valley SOS! in Offerton Community Centre. Many local residents have been unaware that the A6-M60 Bypass would go near their homes in Offerton if it follows the current plan. If you’re concerned about the Bypass, you can email the Council Leader, Alex Ganotis, and other councillors (see https://www.stockport.gov.uk/councillors/group-leaders) and sign our petition at goo.gl/ApvKzX
Questions to the Cabinet
October 3rd 2017: Thanks to all who came to the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday October 3rd to show top councillors that people care about the devastation of our green spaces by the proposed A6-M60 Bypass. Ten-year-old Chloe surprised the councillors by asking a question about the threat to her school – Dial Park Primary. Our other questions protested that Offerton had been left in the dark and asked how people would be able to comment on the forthcoming Bypass Business Case.
Offerton needs to know