Those aggrieved at the new Herefordshire Council administration’s decision to pause and review plans for the Hereford bypass are struggling to put forward a coherent evidence-based argument for their scheme.

Disinformation is generally on the increase, but that doesn’t make it acceptable, and I wonder why people who are currently or who have recently been public servants seem to think it is OK to bend the truth to get their own way on this critical and far-reaching decision.

For example, it is simply not true, as asserted at a recent council meeting, that “20 per cent of traffic on the A49 in Hereford is HGVs”. 

Department for Transport automatic traffic counts give the real figure at about a quarter of this.

Nor is it the case, as was asserted at a general scrutiny meeting, that “Hereford has some of the worst air quality in the country”.

If that were the case, then government would have included Hereford in the list of five cities it required in 2015 to introduce a Clean Air Zone.

We were told in a consultation from the previous administration that without the bypass, the new Hereford University could not succeed.

Yet it is going ahead and opens its doors to new students this month.

And, at council’s cabinet meeting in January 2018, the minutes report: “The cabinet member infrastructure responded that the eastern route for a bypass was not a viable alternative and that the enterprise zone was booming.

"The cabinet member economy and communications stated that unemployment in Herefordshire was at an historic low and that the enterprise zone had been highly successful.”

But according to the latest pro-bypass messaging, 18 months on from that meeting, the Hereford Enterprise Zone has gone from boom to bust and the delay in completing the Southern Link Road is to blame. 

I welcome the new cabinet’s decision to pause and review the plans.

The case for these roads has never been properly scrutinised by independent experts and no one has made a comprehensive assessment of its impacts on climate change, including the crucial question of the carbon emissions generated by the construction process.

These ‘embodied’ emissions are significant and must be considered.

The climate emergency means we can no longer afford to carry on with business as usual.

The new administration’s review is exactly what is needed.

I trust the bypass proponents will put aside political party differences and allow the review to be conducted openly without fear or favour, and will choose to engage in the process without feeling the need to exaggerate or misuse facts and data.

Robert Palgrave 
How Caple