Monday 10 July 2017

Arbury Road - correspondence with County Chief Exec

I phoned the Chief Execs office, explaned the situation re. Arbury Road Hedge, and Chief Execs PA asked me to email. I agreed if Chief Exec would then be willing to maybe talk to me about it, and sent this last week:

Dear Ms. Beasley,
I talked to your PA, in the hope I might meet with you to discuss the colossal cock-up that suffices as the hedging scheme on Arbury Road. Its a complex set of issues best discussed in person, but I've kept a log of events mostly summarised here:
As you can see, there are numerous links therein to each part of the process.
Since then, they've done two further (stupid) things:
I'm facing a total refusal from the City Deal when trying to get them to make good on any aspect of this.
I'd like to meet with you and discuss what can be done - I know that Kings Hedges hasn't got the pester power of, say, Milton Road, but I don't think that means that City Deal should be able to take us for mugs. Simple things - resolving to re-plant the under-story with appropriate native species, sourcing a simple wire fence (or even just cutting holes every 3 or 4m to allow hedgehogs through) would make a big difference.

The response was disappointing - I was told that someone who is a communications manager at City Deal would be in touch. Thats good isn't it? Rather than escalate my complaint the desire was to nudge me sideways to someone who, when I talked to her this morning, hadn't a clue what it could possibly have to do with her.

I sent further emails about this on Friday (anticipating said Comms officer would think this daft):

Sorry that's not acceptable and I will not be expecting that contact - I don't want to de-escalate this, I want to take it upwards.
Multiple County employees have done everything they can to dodge this already and the season is stretching on - unless amelioration is urgently planned then we'll have no hope of restoring any of the damage done. I don't want to move this laterally, I want to escalate this to the Chief Executive directly.
Please can I have that conversation with the chief executive, as soon a possible?


I would also like to repeat an FoI request (so far completely ignored by City Deal) to you.
I would like you to release all documents related to any and all ecological surveys of the he hedge on Arbury Road prior to the removal thereof in March, and those pertaining to selection of species to replant. I believe that scant consideration was given to the ecology of the site and would like to inspect said documents.
I have requested this from City Deal already, but they have not responded to my FoI request.

And then this one today...

Ms. (x) was perfectly nice when I called her, but was as baffled as I was as to why a communications manager ought to be talking about a hedge.
Please arrange a time for for us to discuss this, Me. Beasley. I've discussed it with multiple County Council officers including (x), (y) and (z). None of them are willing to do a single thing to ameliorate the ecological damage caused by the scheme which has incorporated the wrong plants, at the wrong time of year, mulched to exclude the possibility of the vast bulk of native species in undergrowth re-growing and protected by a hedgehog-barrier that further fragments the habitat of this increasingly threatened species. 
I don't believe any environmental assessment was conducted and I don't think that the ecology of the site or wider area was considered at all - the plants were bought while consultation on what to plant was on-going, any and all community engagement was a sham to make us think we were being listened to.
Officers have failed here, in every important environmental aspect. There is no purpose referring me back to the same people who have demonstrated so clearly they have no interest.
The only course here is escalation.
Can we meet and talk or discuss this on the phone. Ms. Beasley. I will not accept that sending someone out for a couple of hours with bolt-cutters to cut holes for hedgehogs, and then re-planting plugs of native plant species in Autumn, are beyond the capability or budget of City Deal or the County Council.

I've contacted two different wildlife charities and I'm waiting their responses.

It would be fair to say that in my opinion County officers have failed here, misreably and entirely. Huge opportunity for a very positive environmental outcome has been squandered. What a shame. What a crying shame.

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