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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Information request reveals more details of traffic study

A Llangollen resident is complaining that there were no wider consultations for a survey commissioned by Denbighshire County Council about parking and traffic management in the town.

The study was mentioned in a llanblogger story last month when it came under fire from local county councillor Stuart Davies.
He disagreed with a number of the suggestions it made about the traffic situation and also complained that neither county or town councillors were consulted during its preparation.

After reading the story, local resident Mike Edwards put in a Freedom of Information request for more details about the study.
He has now received a detailed reply from the county council.

In response to his question on which company had been employed to carry out the exercise and their qualifications and experience for the job, the county said: “Mott MacDonald. They are one of the top five engineering consultancies in the UK. The study was county wide and covered ten Denbighshire towns, including Llangollen.
 
“The aim of the study was to look at what parking and traffic management interventions could increase footfall for Denbighshire town centre retailers.

“The Mott MacDonald staff who worked on the study have 20-25 years’ experience in transport planning, traffic engineering and social research.”
 
Mr Edwards also asked what public consultations had the company carried out and which user groups and community groups and bodies were consulted.

The reply said: “20,000 residents across Denbighshire and surrounding areas were sent a questionnaire by post. 3,700 responses were received.
 
“An on-line business survey was also conducted where 300 businesses were invited to contribute and 80 responded. Three residents' focus groups were also held: one in Rhyl, one in Denbigh and one in Llangollen.

“All county councillors were also made aware of the study.”
 
Finally, Mr Edwards asked about the fees charged by the consultants for carrying out the study and received the reply that it was £37,000.

Mr Edwards said: “I am surprised this is the first time we've heard of the focus groups.
“I’d like to know who was invited and exactly where and when this took place?

“I would also like to know how many independent businesses from Llangollen were actually consulted and if the consultants examined the modern concept of shared space on Castle Street which Councillor Phil Thane is promoting.
 
“Another question is why has the consultant's report not been made available to the public to examine the data, arguments and proposals actually submitted bearing in mind the excessive cost of the exercise.

“Denbighshire County Council is in my view being arrogant in taking decisions on these issues without properly taking the community's views into consideration.
 
“Once again they are dictating what they think is good for our town.

“These types of issues were recently highlighted in the white paper on local government reorganisation and councils are failing in their responsibility to properly represent the views of their council taxpayers and electors.”
 
Mr Edwards added: “I've submitted a supplementary FoI request asking amongst other things why the Town Council and also the Chamber of Trade and Tourism were not consulted.”

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