Over many years, and many times we have had occasion to write to the HT regarding Herefordshire Council’s persistent disregard of the views of Herefordians; but the most recent event proves beyond all doubt that our Council, in its own words, is determined that, whatever it decides, cannot be scrutinised fairly by the general public.  What we describe below is yet another illustration of the Council’s autocratic and undemocratic ‘we know best what is good for you’ approach.

Herefordshire Council appears determined to push through its environment-bashing western bypass by whatever means. Last year, we had the Council’s decision to adopt the ‘red’ route, preceded by a careful strategy to release a vast amount of information (500 pages) at the last possible moment, giving the public just one day to digest it all AND to formulate and submit questions and comments to the Scrutiny Committee. Important environmental matters were therefore not discussed, nor was any of the information submitted able to be challenged. The Council scrutinised itself with the obvious and carefully planned lack of impartiality. 

Now the Council has prepared a Strategic Outline Business Case for the bypass and has submitted it to Highways England, but has refused to release the document, even following a Freedom of Information request.  It says that releasing its Business Case ‘would hamper the decision-making process’ (hampered by a member of public asking to check that the Business Case was factually correct).  The Council says that this would be against the public interest.  They will only release its Business Case after it is too late for anyone to contribute to the discussion.  It also states that the rules allow it to withhold information if the process is on-going, but in the same letter they admit that the Strategic Outline Business Case has already been submitted to Highways England. 

Suppression of information and debate will NEVER achieve the right outcome. It is therefore reasonable to assume that our current Council has deliberately chosen to achieve the wrong outcome. Why?

Nikky and Phil Eyles