MP slams East West Rail Alliance over 'dangerous' Aylesbury Vale road conditions

East West Rail says it takes the MP's concerns 'very seriously'

By James Lowson
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 12:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 1:16 pm

A local MP has slammed East West Rail over the deteriorating road conditions in Aylesbury Vale, labelling the surface 'dangerous'.

Buckingham MP Greg Smith has called the conditions on roads in Newton Longville, Steeple Claydon and Verney Junction 'hazardous'.

Of particular concern to the MP is the muddy surface deteriorating on Queen Catherine Road and Padbury Road in Steeple Claydon.

Padbury Road

Mr Smith said: "I am utterly disappointed and very concerned with the conduct of senior East West Rail Alliance leaders in the past few weeks and months.

"The Alliance has shown blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of my constituents and has refused to engage with the Local Authority on how to mitigate the project’s impact. I am calling on the Alliance and the Department for Transport to recognise in full the damage this project has caused and to make amends as a matter of urgency.

"The significant amount of disruption caused by the EWR’s earthworks is far-reaching and, at times, downright dangerous. The Alliance has demonstrated a severe lack of urgency when responding to excessive amounts of mud along the roads leading to/from their compounds, in effect leaving the highway in a hazardous state that threatens the safety of my constituents.

"Residents of Newton Longville, Steeple Claydon and Verney Junction, have been hit particularly hard - having already suffered through month after month and year after year of continuous disruption to their daily lives.

Queen Catherine Road

"Mud continues to cake the road surface; mile after mile of grass verges have been destroyed by EWR HGVs passing each other on narrow country lanes; several stretches of road are now considered dangerous due to the damage caused by EWR's construction traffic. This is unacceptable and cannot go on."

A spokesperson for East West Rail advised it has a community action plan to avoid traffic disruption and residential concerns arising.

The spokesperson told the Bucks Herald, the alliance is in daily contact with members of the Bucks community, to understand local concerns and quash potential issues.

An East West Rail spokesperson said: "We are aware of comments posted online recently by Greg Smith MP and we take any community concerns very seriously. The team at East West Rail Alliance holds weekly meetings with Mr Smith’s office and Bucks Council.

"These meetings have been incredibly helpful so far in helping us to understand and take action on the issues that matter to local people. We have been in touch with Mr Smith’s office about these recent comments."

Another aspect of the MP's annoyance was his feeling that inaction from the alliance forced council resources to be redeployed in the Steeple Claydon area.

Mr Smith was particularly frustrated as this means shifting resources away from the traffic measures and staff needed to control HS2 construction.

He added: "Despite what is clearly an urgent and alarming situation, the Alliance has been unwilling to step up the resources needed to deal with it. It has therefore fallen to the Local Authority and my office to clean up after the Alliance, a perpetual burden which is unwarranted, unnecessary, and unfair.

"Buckinghamshire Council has been forced to re-direct it’s own resources to dealing with the fallout of the Alliance’s poor conduct; those within the council who’ve been assigned to pick up the pieces have informed me of the toll it’s taken, with many already having experienced the overwhelming impact of HS2.

"To make matters worse, the Alliance has u-turned on its willingness to constructively engage with key local stakeholders, including the council. Representation at critical joint meetings has been patchy and there is a general expectation from the Alliance that we engage on their terms.

"This is NOT how a major infrastructure project should be managed; standards have slipped considerably and it is plain for everyone involved to see. The delivery of East West Rail should not and cannot be conditional on the daily misery suffered by stakeholders, which those overseeing the project have failed to remedy, resulting in blighted communities and an overburdened local authority. The Alliance must step up, engage with us constructively, and put in place measures to prevent any further risk to the safety and wellbeing of my constituents."