Azara Blog: Cambridgeshire gets hysterical about Hanley Grange proposal

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Date published: 2008/06/04

In an unusual move, the leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and (the quango) Cambridgeshire Horizons have sent out a mass mailing (presumably to pretty much all of the citizens of Cambridgeshire) complaining about the proposed new "eco-town" called Hanley Grange. This mass mailing is just a political diatribe against the central government for allowing this proposal to even be considered, and it encourages people to "have your say about this proposal" before the deadline on 30 June. If this kind of one-sided mass mailing (of unspecified expense) is not illegal, it ought to be.

So what are these people really upset about? Presumably the main issue is that central government is proposing something which is "against the wishes of local communities and local councils". Well, these bureaucrats and politicians, like all bureaucrats and politicians, don't care if anything is or is not allegedly "against the wishes of local communities" (just witness how the so-called Cambridge congestion charge is still being promoted in spite of the fact that most people, and overwhelmingly most drivers, oppose it). What they really care about is that it is "against the wishes" of the local councils, i.e. them.

They dress this up with eight reasons why Hanley Grange is "the wrong place". These really boil down to one real complaint, namely that there are already excellent transport links for Hanley Grange, since it is bounded on one side by the A11, on another by the A505, and that the M11 is nearby. Now normally excellent transport links would be considered to be a good reason to build somewhere. But of course the ruling elite hate cars, so the situation here is considered to be a negative, not a positive. The Hanley Grange site is also very close to Whittlesford and Great Chesterford train stations. But of course people might drive to the train station, how dreadful. (Well, if they put some cycle paths in one can imagine that many people would cycle to the stations, but ignore that fact.)

They contrast this with the other proposed "eco-town" near Cambridge called Northstowe. Well, Northstowe has not great road links. The only major road it is near is the A14, which is much more congested and in worse shape than the M11. And there are no decent train links anywhere near Northstowe (Cambridge and Waterbeach stations being the closest). But what Northstowe has that Hanley Grange does not is the so-called Guided Bus, which the county council is in the midst of blowing 100 million pounds plus on. Well, needless to say, Hanley Grange could be provided with bus routes as well, it's not as if Northstowe is the only town on the planet which is served by buses. Indeed the Guided Bus itself could continue past Addenbrookes out towards the Hanley Grange direction.

So Hanley Grange wins (or could easily win) on transport links.

Hanley Grange is south of Cambridge and Northstowe is north of Cambridge. The people who live south of Cambridge are relatively rich (being dominated by London commuters), the people who live north of Cambridge are relatively poor (being dominated by Cambridge commuters). This is perhaps why Hanley Grange has received far more negative attention than Northstowe. The middle class people who run Britain do not like their comfortable rural existence impinged upon by the peasants.

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