Minutes of Langley Neighbourhood Forum Meeting at East Berkshire College on Tuesday 19th June 2018
The AGM of Langley Neighbourhood Forum took place on 19th June 2018.
The Minutes of the previous AGM of 20th June 2017 were adopted and signed.
In her annual report the Chairman, Mrs. E Cryer, outlined the activities which the Forum Committee had undertaken in the past year the interest of members and residents of Langley. Forum meetings had taken place at which the respective speakers had been Slough’s new MP, Tan Dhesi; Simon Broad of Slough Borough Council Social Services and Roger Parkin the then Acting Chief Executive of Slough Borough Council. Since the last meeting issues on which the Committee had taken action included Langley Station car park and the introduction of the Elizabeth Line and the parking problems caused by commuters in the Barton Road area. The decision to build a depot in Langley for Heathrow Express had been dropped.
The Treasurer, Ms S Papali, outlined income and expenditure for the year. £170.40 had been paid out. There was now £499.82 in the Forum’s account.
The following were elected as Officers and Committee Members for the forthcoming year: Chair: Mrs E Cryer; Vice-Chair: Mrs E Jones; Secretary: Mr S Dhother; Treasurer: Mrs L Dobson; Committee Members: Mr W Birmingham; Ms S Papali; Mrs J Grayson and Ms P Daily.
Following completion of the AGM all present were invited to attend the Public Forum. The theme of the Forum was the implications of the construction and operation of the Western Rail Access to Heathrow (the “WRAtH”) and, in particular, the consequential closure of Chequers Bridge on the north south route between Langley and Iver via Market Lane, Hollow Hill Lane and Mansion Lane and the implications for traffic through the centre of Langley.
Cllr Ted Plenty outlined the policy of Slough Borough Council on the issue. The Council supported the WRAtH because of the benefits it would bring to Slough generally. However, the previous week he had proposed and Cllr Amarpreet Dhaliwal had seconded a motion which was adopted unanimously to oppose the closure of Chequers Bridge by either keeping it open or by establishing an alternative route. The Council was pressing for funding to keep it open. The Council was liaising with South Bucks District Council on traffic problems and pollution in the Langley and Iver area which closure would cause and the impact on High Street Langley, Station Road and Parlaunt Road where pollution levels were above legal limits. There was a need for a bypass to ensure that the pollution did not get worse. Slough Council was prepared to contribute a limited amount towards the cost and hoped South Bucks and/or Bucks County Council would do the same. However, NetworkRail, who would gain the benefit from the opening of the WRAtH, should meet the major cost of suitable provision.
Slough Borough Council could not stop the WRAtH going ahead as stated in the consultation. It had been approved by a Government body, the Planning Inspectorate. Local people who are aware of the issue should send in written objections by the deadline which was 22nd June. Account would not be taken of anecdotal comments, which is why it was essential to put objections in writing.
The meeting then was opened to the public. Among the points made were as follows:
- Langley residents were late in receiving details of the consultation meetings.
- Some Langley residents never received details of the consultation meetings
- Details of the consultation meetings sent to Langley residents provided details of meetings in Iver Heath Village Hall and vice versa.
- The meetings were supposed to be “consultation meetings”, but there was no consultation at them at which opinions could be sounded. Instead decisions had been made and those who attended were simply informed about what was planned to happen.
- There was a statutory requirement for consultation, but it was not a Slough Borough Council consultation.
- To send objections to Slough Borough Council to pass on to NetworkRail would mean that they would be unable to reach NetworkRail by the deadline.
- Cllr Swindlehurst, as Leader of the Council should be asked to seek an extension to NetworkRail’s deadline in view of the delay in issuing details of the consultation.
- NetworkRail should be asked to extend the deadline because of the delay in receiving flyers – this was recommended firstly to be two weeks, but then one month was proposed.
- NetworkRail had reported that only 8,000 vehicles passed under Chequers Bridge each week. This figure was a grossly underestimated figure in view of private counts that suggested that number passed under each day.
- Everyone had seen the impact on traffic in Langley during the temporary closure of the bridge in 2016.
- Objections should be sent or copied to Anna Holbrook at email@example.com as she is the project sponsor and is based in Swindon.
The Chairman of Iver Parish Council told the meeting that organisations in Iver were fully in agreement with Langley. They had produced 20 volumes of evidence. The traffic assessment was inadequate. Iver Parish Council had made strong objections to NetworkRail and had demanded adequate mitigation with a north/south relief road. They had the support of South Bucks District Council and Bucks County Council.
Slough Councillors present were invited to take next steps. Cllr Plenty said that Slough Borough Council policy was to negotiate with NetworkRail, with detailed representations on issues such as gravel extraction and flooding. He doubted whether it would be possible successfully to take legal proceedings on the issue. These would take possibly 2 or 3 years.
Sheila Papali proposed a motion, seconded by Liz Jones, that NetworkRail be required to extend the consultation period by 1 month due to their failure adequately to issue details of the consultation to Langley residents.