Government backs new Oxford to Cambridge Pan Regional Partnership
CPRE Bedfordshire has major concerns about the recent announcement of proposals to establish a Pan Regional Partnership for the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.
Despite the partnership’s aspirations to deliver environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth, if past performance is anything to go by it is most unlikely to achieve either of these things. The Milton Keynes to Oxford Expressway has been scrapped due to its negative impact on sensitive areas of countryside in Oxfordshire, East West Rail is proving to be massively unpopular with local people because of the environmental damage and the demolition of many homes near Bedford station that will be involved, and the ambition to encourage the development of one million homes across the Arc has been denied after it resulted in a number of politicians losing their seats!
There has been a complete lack of a transparency and accountability in the way that Councils have worked with each other and with business interests on Ox-Cam. Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils joined the Central Area Growth Board, a joint committee of councils within the central area of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc, apparently in order to “maximise their influence on the economic and housing growth across the area.” The Board was formally constituted with meetings to be held in public and a secretariat function provided by Milton Keynes Council, but since the announcement of the Board’s formation over a year ago, every scheduled meeting has been cancelled and no business has been recorded.
Yet again it feels like Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils prefer to do their Ox-Cam business behind closed doors. This new partnership arrangement has all the hallmarks of the failed attempts by local authorities across the area of the Ox-Cam Arc to work together and take the public with them.
What we would like to know is; will it be meeting in public and reporting its activities to the council meetings and committees of constituent member authorities?