Monday, 18 June 2018

The First HS2 Whistleblower Speaks and Project Delays

From The Sunday Times, 17th June 2018...



The HS2 high-speed rail project has pressed staff to falsify figures, mislead parliament and cover up “petrifying” overspends, according to a senior manager turned whistleblower.

In documents seen by The Sunday Times, Doug Thornton, HS2’s former head of property, said the organisation put him under “tremendous pressure to accede to an enormous deceit” that the official budget for buying land and buildings was accurate.

It is in fact wrong by billions of pounds, he said, was based on “rudimentary map-based analysis by interns” and contains errors in the tens of millions even on single properties.

One site officially valued by HS2 at £3,800 will end up costing taxpayers £40m — 10,000 times more. Initially assessed as agricultural land, Whittington Heath Golf Club, near Lichfield, must replace its Victorian clubhouse and five of its 18 holes.

At the Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre, in west London, which will need a new sailing lake, a payment initially estimated at £6.4m became a legal commitment to pay the owners up to £26.5m. Payments to Camden council for homes and property near Euston are £38m more than budgeted.

HS2 did not dispute the figures.

Thornton, a former director of property development and acquisitions at Tesco, is the first senior whistleblower to emerge from HS2. He was paid more than £200,000 a year and ranked two rungs below the chief executive.

In the documents, he said he was sacked after refusing to “at worst, severely mislead” HS2’s own board about the state of the programme. He described HS2 as “hostile and dysfunctional”.

A few months later, Thornton said, the head of planning and performance, Andrew Bruce, was also placed on leave of absence 30 minutes before he was due to “present major budget, programme and capability issues” to the board.

The two men left in 2016 as the bill to allow HS2’s phase one, from London to the West Midlands, reached a critical stage in parliament. HS2 told MPs and peers that buying the 11,000 properties and plots of land needed to build this section of the route would cost £2.8bn, a figure it maintains to this day.

However, Bruce had produced detailed calculations that the true cost of property in this phase alone would be £4.7bn. Thornton said HS2 may have “knowingly misled parliament”.

HS2 admitted last week that it had already spent £1.6bn on land and property, the vast majority of it for phase one, but had acquired only “around 30%” of what it needed for the first section. However, it stood by the £2.8bn figure. It said Thornton and Bruce had not been sacked for whistleblowing.

The new revelations are contained in letters and reports sent to the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors between 2016 and March this year.

They will place further pressure on the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, who insisted in April that phase one “remains within” the official budget of £24.3bn. The documents suggest one of Grayling’s senior officials, Thomas Barry, knew of Thornton’s and Bruce’s concerns.

In the documents, Thornton said the “scale of the land and property budget error is petrifying” with “a large proportion of properties . . . not budgeted for”.

Thornton and Bruce are understood to have given extensive oral and written evidence to the NAO, which confirmed last night that it was investigating HS2’s land and property budget as part of a report to be published next month.

Thornton’s documents were passed to Lord Berkeley, a Labour peer and chairman of the Rail Freight Group. He said: “HS2 has been covering up and Grayling knows that the budget is not deliverable.

“I am furious with the way they are trying to bat on with this, knowing it cannot be built for the price. The idea is to get it so far advanced that it’s too late to stop.”

Thornton and Bruce declined to comment. HS2 did not respond to requests for comment on its alleged misleading of its own board and parliament.

___________________________________

The original article, which is in the link below, also includes lots of fascinating readers' comments:
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hs2-covered-up-petrifying-overspends-mzxhr0nq3

___________________________________

Also in the media this morning (18th June)  is another article claiming that the timescale for some aspects of the project have been pushed back, precisely because of cost overruns incurred so far...


High Speed 2 (HS2) civils contractors have been given an extra eight months to adapt their designs to meet target costs, New Civil Engineer can reveal.

New Civil Engineer understands that HS2 bosses have pushed back the notice to proceed (NTP) deadline from November until June 2019.

The additional time has been given to allow the contractors to cut costs on the project, which New Civil Engineer reported last week were currently coming in around £1bn above the target cost.

Full article here:
https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/exclusive-hs2-civils-design-deadline-pushed-back-eight-months/10032032.article

___________________________________

And from 1st June...


Full article here:
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-5792655/We-blow-56bn-budget-warns-HS2-boss-critics-urging-pause.html

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Ovo Energy Women's Tour Passing Through Westwood Heath

These are some photos of the cycle race which passed along part of Cromwell Lane and Westwood Heath Road on Friday morning.

This stage of the race was for 151 km around Warwickshire commencing in Atherstone and finishing in Leamington Spa.





Here they come...










Some photos from the 2016 race are here
https://burtongreen.blogspot.com/2016/06/aviva-womens-tour-coming-through.html

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bugle - June 2018

The June 2018 edition of the Bugle has been published.

Just below are thumbnails of the page images. To enlarge any page image, click on the thumbnail below. Once you have the individual page, you may also need to click on the magnifying glass in your browser, where you can view the page at its original size...









The text of the Chair's Report has also been added to the Residents' Association page.

The archive of back issues of the Bugle is here: Bugle Archive.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Made in Burton Green 2018 Press Release


Don't miss Made in Burton Green 2018 which celebrates arts and crafts in the local community as part of a biennial arts project, in association with Warwickshire Open Studios. The village is hosting a weekend of events on 23 & 24 June to showcase the creative talents of residents, with the outdoor exhibits in situ between 16 June and 8 July.

This year's event incorporates an exhibition, a scarecrow competition and a sculpture trail on the theme of 'Mischief in the Woods', and visitors can enjoy them all with a short circular walk taking in the Kenilworth Greenway and the National Grid Wood. Local community groups, Burton Green School and Berkswell Beavers and Cubs have all contributed to the project so come and see what we've been up to in the woods. This area of the village will be closed to the public in the future due to the construction of HS2, and the Greenway will be diverted until the completion of the railway. So do come along and help us celebrate our environment while we still can!

The exhibition at the Village Hall (CV8 1PH) will feature photography, painting, woodwork, ceramics, jewellery and textiles, with opportunities to purchase works and to talk to the artists. Opening times are 12pm to 5pm on Saturday 23rd and 10am to 5pm on Sunday 24th June. Refreshments, light lunches and home-baked cakes will be available, and the Village Choir will be performing at 3.30pm on Sunday 24th June.

The scarecrow competition will be held over the weekend, and visitors to the Made in Burton Green events will be encouraged to vote for their favourite scarecrow. The scarecrows will be exhibited along the Greenway at Burton Green and maps of their locations will be available for visitors. The more scarecrows the better - anyone can make their own and enter the competition - all that's needed is a little creativity and imagination. Scarecrow competition entries should be brought to the Village Hall on Friday 15th June from 3.30 to 7pm for registration and display. The winner will be announced at 4.30 pm on Sunday 24th at the village hall. Follow on #madeinburtongreen and find us on Facebook and Instagram.


Kenilworth Community Forum – June 2018

Kenilworth Community Forum – June 2018 – Policing Priority Vote

The next Kenilworth community forum will be held on Tuesday 26-JUN-2018, 6:30pm at the Kenilworth Senior Citizens Club, Abbey End Car Park, Kenilworth, CV8 1LA. Your local Safer Neighbourhood Team policing priorities will be agreed at the forum. Prior to the forum, members of the public can vote online re their top suggested priority.

One of the suggested priorities is for speed checks/monitoring on Cromwell Lane, Burton Green. For more information and to cast your vote online, please visit https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/article/48076

Kenilworth Safer Neighbourhood Team

Jubilee House Kenilworth CV8 1QG
Dial: 01926 684404
Email: kenilworth.snt@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk 
Website: http://www.warwickshire.police.uk
Twitter: @KenilworthCops

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

OVO Energy Bike Races

For the past two years the OVO Energy Women's Tour bike race has travelled along part of Cromwell Lane, between the station and Westwood Heath corner, and then down Westwood Heath Road.

This year two races will take place. The Women's bike race (as previously) will take place on 15th June.

Lead cars are expected to arrive at Westwood Heath Road at 10.39. The cyclists are expected to arrive between 10.50 and 10.58.



Then on 5th September, the OVO Energy Tour of Britain race (for men) will follow the same part of the route.



There will also be a charity ride along the same route, passing along Cromwell Lane and Westwood Heath Road, on 4th September.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Air Ambulance Clothing Bank





A clothing bank has been installed just outside the Village Hall.
The bank accepts clothing, sheets, towels, blankets, curtains, and paired shoes.


All proceeds from the sale of the fabrics go to the Air Ambulance.

Please ensure that items are placed inside the bin and not left in the car park.


The Air Ambulance in Hodgetts Lane

This is the air ambulance parked in a field in Hodgetts Lane (24th May 2018). We believe that this may have been evacuating a patient from one of the properties in Hodgetts Lane...




Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Burton Green Choir 5th Anniversary


Please join us on
Friday 18th May at 7:30
to celebrate our 
5th Birthday

Joined by our young guests in
A string Quartet

Music Director
Seb Farrall

At Burton Green Village Hall
CV8 1PH

Enjoy a medley of songs,
homemade puddings and desserts
plus 
a complimentary glass of Pimms
during the interval

BYO Drinks and Glasses
£10 adults, £5 students and small ones free

Monday, 14 May 2018

Draft Minutes of Residents' Association Committee May 8th 2018

Minutes of Burton Green Residents’ Association Committee Meeting
May 8th, 2018

Present:
Dianne Adams; Paddy Deeley; Andy Gibbs; Trish Hancock; Judi Hibberd; Janet Hickinbottom; Bron Putnam; Rona Taylor; Mary Webb,

In attendance: Cllr Caryll Green

1. Apologies and Minutes of the last meeting

Apologies had been received from Hilary Cox and Faith Ward.
Sincere thanks were given to Judi for accommodating the meeting at short notice because of double booking of the Green Room. Vic had sent an apology.

Summary of actions following the meetingResponsible
Research into GDPRJudi, Paddy and Dianne
Application to Forum Armistice Day FundMary
Check progress with restoration of Red Lane vergesRona
Monitor litter situationAll


Minutes of the last meeting and Matters Arising

The minutes of the March 13th meeting were approved.

Matters Arising from the previous minutes

  • Rona had contacted a resident to discuss community involvement
  • Collaborative approach to HS2’s community funding: there was to be a presentation by Groundwork at the next Parish Council meeting about the various strands of funding available
  • Contact Marlene Hills regarding Greenway Trust’s application to HS2’s community fund: the Trust had submitted an application, but no details were available.
  • Further investigations into implications of GDPR: this was an agenda item.

All other matters arising had been covered or were to be agenda items.

2. Treasurer's Report

A report had been circulated. Dianne explained the various items. The total funds stood at £2880.63.

Expenditure since the last meeting related to a £100 donation to the Village Choir (following an unsuccessful application to Kenilworth Forum); purchase of salt and pepper pots for use at the lunches; and £170 for the printing cost of the Spring edition of the Bugle.

Profits from the Residents’ lunches amounted to £60.18. Funds had also been received from Warwick District Community Forum and Burton Green Parish Council to cover the total cost of calibration of the Speedwatch gun.

3. Residents' views/concerns

  • One resident had complained about blocked drains in Cromwell Lane and Peter Hallam had spoken to her.
  • The circulation title for the Village email loop had been changed to Burton Green Community after some complaints that all emails had appeared to emanate from BGRA. Currently, 208 people were registered on the loop. Thanks were given to Paddy for continuing to manage this valuable resource.
  • The title of Retired and Friends of Burton Green lunches had now been adopted to accommodate those who wished to remain in attendance even if they had moved from the village. It was good to see that people wanted to remain in contact.

4. Update on and discussion of Residents' Association initiatives and issues

General Data Protection Regulations - our actions:
It was accepted that there was much confusion (generally, not just locally) about procedures to be followed. Several committee members had carried out research with differing conclusions.
It was agreed that Judi, Paddy and Dianne would meet to decide on necessary actions and report back to the committee.
Action: Judi, Paddy and Dianne

Lunch. For Retired of Burton Green - May 18th:
Mary had scheduled a meeting with Diane to discuss the details of the next lunch. Help would be needed at this event.

Jubilee Group feedback on plans:
An afternoon tea and entertainment event was scheduled for July 1st from 3-5p.m. Mr Twister had been booked at a cost of £250 and tickets would be charged at £10 for a family or £5 per individual. Again, support would be needed with the teas. It was hoped that the event would break even. It would be advertised in the June edition of the Bugle.

Paddy suggested she might send the Bugle round electronically and John Webb was always kind enough to highlight events on his Village website.

5. Village Hall

There was no Village Hall report. The Village Hall committee was still heavily involved with discussions about the new Hall. Paddy was concerned that the temporary Greenway was to be re-routed but that this was not reflected on the current Village Hall planning application. A presentation was to be made at the next Parish Council meeting.

6. Parish Councillor's Report

Cllr Caryll Green was attending for the last time having resigned from the Parish Council on reaching her 80th birthday. She reported that Cllr Vine had also resigned having reached the same milestone. Two new potential councillors had volunteered themselves and their positions should be ratified at the next Parish Council meeting.

The Burrows Hill planning application had been agreed with a number of provisos. Mains sewerage was discussed, and Andy said that pumped sewage constituted mains sewerage. 40% of Homes were to be “affordable.”

The Westwood Heath Road sites had been postponed because of the designation of an ancient monument. This was the result of research and work by a resident in Bockendon Road. Mary reported that she had heard of plans to preserve the ancient Bockendon Woods.

7. Any Other Business

  • Subscriptions would be collected soon, and Mary would issue envelopes etc. with the next Bugles.
  • Mary asked for permission to buy a black cartridge and this was approved. She also pointed out that the pads on the defibrillator were out of date and had sourced new ones at a cost of £91.80. Purchase of these was agreed.
  • Mary would apply for £250 from the Forum which had a special fund to mark Armistice Day 1918. She had begun preparations to develop soldier outlines to be placed around the village and with Deirdre was investigating the creation of poppies. Action: Mary
  • The restoration of the verges in Red Lane was discussed as some felt these had not been left in good order after the work on the pavements. However, it was felt the work had yet to be completed. Rona would check the situation with Peter Hallam. Action Rona
  • It was noted that the Red Lane telephone boxes had now been removed.
  • A discussion was held regarding litter in the village which was a persistent problem. BGRA committee organised regular clean ups but anyone wishing to carry out more regular litter picks, perhaps while dog walking, should contact Mary for grabbers and bags. Residents should take care to leave their recycling bins in such a way that litter would not spill out and blow around. The Southern Area Team had reminded collectors of recycling to pick up any rubbish dropped during collection. The committee agreed to monitor thesituation.

Rona reported that she had represented BGRA at a special assembly at the school to mark its transition to an Academy. The Bishop of Coventry had conducted a service.

8. Date, time and venue of Next Meeting

The next committee meeting was scheduled for July10th 2018

Future meetings were scheduled as follows:
September 11th
October 1st (AGM)
December11th

Friday, 11 May 2018

University of Warwick Development - Drop-In Consulation

There will be a public drop-in consultation to be held on 23rd May, 3pm-7pm, at the Arden Conference Centre, University of Warwick.

You can click on this image to enlarge it...

Thursday, 10 May 2018

HS2 Drop-In Session

The next HS2 Drop-In Session will be on Monday 14th May.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Made in Burton Green 2018 - Houses and Scarecrows

Clay House 27th Friday 10.30-1.30

Another session is being held again at Thea’s pottery studio, 293 Cromwell Lane for those that missed Sunday and for those who would like to complete their houses. Please bring your own refreshments.

Scarecrows Thursday 26th April 7.30-8.30

We would like to fill the section between Cromwell Lane and the National Grid wood with lots and lots of Scarecrows!

We are holding a chat and information session where we will have lots of advice and crib sheets to help you build your scarecrow. If you have a mobile device please bring it along to also do some online research too.

The outside space that we are using will be lost to HS2 forever so it would be great to make this year a special one.

Registration for scarecrows is 15th June 3.30-7 pm at Village Hall and they will remain along The Greenway until 8th July.


You can enlarge the following information sheets by clicking on them...




Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Housing Development at Westwood Heath

Please note that the discussion of the planning application for Westwood Heath has been withdrawn from the WDC Planning Committee meeting of 24th April. The reason for the withdrawal is "to enable further consultations to be undertaken in respect of a recently designated Scheduled Ancient Monument located near to the site".

___________________________


Archaeological Trenching at Westwood Heath
Some archaeological investigations were undertaken at the site in September, described in more detail here:

It is not known whether the Scheduled Ancient Monument referred to has any connection with those activities.


___________________________

A decision on the planning application to build up to 425 houses at Westwood Heath will be taken at the Warwick District Council Planning Committee meeting to be held on 24th April at Leamington Town Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The meeting commences at 6pm. Westwood Heath is the 7th item on the agenda.

The recommendation of the WDC Planning Department is that the application should be granted.

This is a list of the people who will be speaking...


The agenda for the entire meeting is here:
Planning Agenda 24 April 2018

A 23-page summary of the Westwood Heath application, including a summary of objections is here:
Item 07 - W17 2357 Land South of Westwood Heath Rd

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Women's Institute 9th April

HODGETTS  LANE 
WOMEN'S  INSTITUTE
                      
AT
BURTON GREEN VILLAGE HALL
                       
MON 9th APRIL 7.30pm
 
THE DUTCH FLOWER
AUCTIONS

and 
   
Flower Arrangement Demonstration   
by Julia Mitchell
 
All Visitors welcome

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Art Exhibition 8th April

Preview Night
7th April, Saturday evening 6.30 – 9.00pm
With Wine and Cheese
Tickets £6.50 adults
Children £3.00


Saturday, 24 March 2018

HS2 Community Engagement Plan

The HS2 Local Engagement Plan has been developed to provide information on HS2 engagement with communities and stakeholders and includes a six month look ahead of the works in the area. 

These plans will be updated periodically as the programme of works continues to be developed.

The complete document is here (PDF document):
Local Engagement Plan Burton Green and Kenilworth


Sample page:



Friday, 16 March 2018

Minutes of Residents' Association Committee March 13th 2018

Minutes of Burton Green Residents’ Association Committee Meeting
March 13th 2018

Present

Dianne Adams; Hilary Cox; Paddy Deeley; Andy Gibbs; Trish Hancock; Judi Hibberd; Janet Hickinbottom; Bron Putnam; Rona Taylor; Faith Ward; Mary Webb

1. Apologies

Apologies had been received from Cllr. Caryll Green.

Summary of actions following the meetingResponsible
Meet with resident to discuss community involvementRona
Collaborative approach to HS2’s community fundingRona
Contact Marlene Hills regarding Greenway Trust’s application to HS2’s community fundHilary
Further investigation into implications of GDPRPaddy


Minutes of the last meeting and Matters Arising

The minutes of the January 23rd meeting were approved.


Matters Arising from the previous minutes

  • Dementia article for Bugle: completed
  • HS2 article for Bugle: completed
  • Welcome Pack to be sent to Hilary: completed
  • Works needed in Red Lane: work begun
  • Charges for lunches: gone up to £8
  • September agenda item had been noted: completed

All other matters arising had been covered or were to be agenda items.


2. Treasurer's Report

A report had been circulated. Dianne explained the various items. The greatest expenditure since the last meeting had been that of the calibration of the Speed Gun.  50% of the cost was to be met by WDC Community Forum and the Parish Council was to be approached for the remainder.  In future the police would be paying for calibration.

A further £15 in subscriptions had been collected.

The total funds stood at £2881.56

Q. Could a new defibrillator box be purchased when this was moved to the new Village Hall?
A. The defibrillator costs were ring-fenced and this should be possible

3.  Residents' views/concerns

Traffic speed: there was new signage on Red Lane but little warning at the Kenilworth end and speeding was still a problem.

Some residents still had concerns about the siting of the new Village Hall entrance.

It had been reported that a crossing would take pedestrians across Red Lane when they were using the newly sited Greenway.  There were worries about the position and safety of this.

There had been a number of burglaries in the area although the police said crime levels had not increased.  Residents were asked to be vigilant. Concerns were expressed that the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme no longer appeared to be active.

There were problems with dog poo bags being left lying around or added to residents’ green bins instead of using the designated bin by the Greenway entrance on Cromwell Lane.

Rona had been contacted by a resident who wished to be more involved in the community.  Rona was to meet her and suggestions were made regarding involvement in Bugle distribution, the computer club and other activities.
Action: Rona


4. Update on and discussion of Residents' Association initiatives and issues

Retired of Burton Green lunch March 16th: This was going ahead with 45 bookings.  It was declared a good idea to put the menu in the Bugle. Balsall Common bingo sessions were to be publicized at the event.

Village Clean up Feb 11th: Thanks were extended to those who took part with over 30 bags of litter collected including a large number of empty vodka bottles. Beer cans had also been removed from the Greenway.

Report from Kenilworth Forum Feb 13th: Burton Green had again won the online voting for a police anti-speeding presence.

Pedestrian safety in Red Lane: Praise was given to the workmen in Red Lane who were renewing the pavements. Two marshalls had been employed to ensure pedestrian safety (and that of residents entering or leaving their driveways) while the work was being carried out. When the work reached the top of Red Lane the road would be closed as it was too narrow to accommodate traffic lights. Thanks were extended to Andrew Scott’s team


5. Village Hall

No-one was available to present a report.  Much work continued to be carried out regarding the new planned hall.  Planning notices had now been erected.

Andy reported that representatives of the Parish Council were to meet on the field where the new hall was to be sited in order to discuss their response to the planning application, which would be a supportive one.

HS2 mitigation planting was to take place on part of the site but there was still uncertainty about the remainder of the field not to be occupied by the hall.

Lesley Tacon had contacted the BGRA suggesting a collaborative approach by different organizations to HS2’s “community pot.” This was felt to be a sensible suggestion.
Action: Rona

It was believed the Greenway Trust had already submitted a bid. Hilary would get in touch with Marlene for further details.
 Action: Hilary

The Neighbourhood Plan group were fact finding ready to send out a survey to see what residents felt was needed in the village.


6. Parish Councillor's Report

Cllr Green had sent a report as she was unable to attend.

She said works had started on the Burrow Hill site, the PC’S objections having fallen on stony ground at the WDC planning meeting. 
The PC had hoped for a further village consultation, but it was not allowed.

Plans had also now come to light for the new village hall and these would be discussed at the next Parish Council meeting on the 19th March.

Work by the neighbourhood plan group under Ray Watkin were forging ahead. 
The group taking part in that was putting in a tremendous amount of time and effort.

Last–ditch attempts were being made to persuade HS2 to have a rethink on the length of the cut and cover tunnel. 

John Vine and Caryll Green would be retiring from the PC in May and there would be two vacancies (or more) to be filled for the one year until the four-yearly elections come around in May 2019.    The Clerk or any councillor would be very glad to hear of anyone interested.   Cllr. Green should be very glad to see herself replaced by another woman.

She exclaimed how lucky we are to have in Burton Green so many organisations all pulling together for the benefit of the village.

Andy added that the work by Michael Bing on the cut and cover tunnel (discussed in a previous meeting) was to be funded.


7.  Any Other Business

There were two Bugle delivery areas that had not been covered.  Dianne and Bron kindly agreed to do these.

GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]: it was felt important to find out more about the changes to data protection law as this would affect holding people’s details for the village loop as well as for the work of various village groups.
Action: Paddy

Happy birthday wishes were extended to our postman for March 16th.

Rona had written a letter of support for the choir’s application for funding to the community Forum.  Unfortunately the bid had been unsuccessful.  The committee agreed that because the choir contributed so much to the spirit of the village, £100 would be donated to the choir.  Judi and Janet, both choir members, thanked the committee for their generous gesture and explained what their funding was needed for.

8. Date, time and venue of Next Meeting

The next committee meeting was scheduled for May 8th 2018

Future meetings were scheduled as follows:
July 10th, September 11th, October 1st (AGM), December 11th.

Bugle - March 2018

The March 2018 edition of the Bugle has been published.

Just below are thumbnails of the page images. To enlarge any page image, click on the thumbnail below. Once you have the individual page, you may also need to click on the magnifying glass in your browser, where you can view the page at its original size...









The text of the Chair's Report has also been added to the Residents' Association page.

The archive of back issues of the Bugle is here: Bugle Archive.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The Scam Called High-Speed Rail


There's a crackpot scheme in California to build a railway connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles using technology very similar to HS2. The project had a similar timescale to UK HS2.

A new report claims that the California project will cost two or three times the original cost and will be at least 4 years late in delivery, if it happens.
"The price of the California bullet train project jumped sharply Friday when the state rail authority announced that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $77.3 billion and could rise as high as $98.1 billion — an uptick of at least $13 billion from estimates two years ago. 
The rail authority also said the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029 — four years later than the previous projection. The full system would not begin operating until 2033.
The new estimates will force California's leadership to double down on its political and financial commitments if it wants to see the system completed, against a backdrop of rising costs, years of delays, strident litigation and backlashes in communities where homes, businesses, farms and environmental preserves will have to give up land to the rail's right-of-way.
The initial reaction to the business plan was less than enthusiastic, even from Democrats who have long backed it as a way to revolutionize transportation in the state while reducing emissions.
"At first glance, the High Speed Rail project is still over budget and the funding to complete the program hasn't been identified," said Jim Frazier (Democrat-Discovery Bay), chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which will hold an oversight hearing on the plan on April 2. "We still have no realistic way to pay for the project."
Republicans were predictably harsher.
"Initially a rathole, now a sinkhole, soon it will be an abyss in which more and more tax dollars are forever lost. I speak of the never-ending scam called High Speed Rail," said Sen. Andy Vidak (Republican-Hanford).

Full report:
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-train-cost-increase-20180309-story.html

And there's another interesting article below.
"...continuing to spend billions on the bullet train is an exercise in futility, absurdity and malfeasance"
Report:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/sd-bullet-train-business-plan-20180309-story.html 


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

HS2 Planning Context

HS2 have produced a series of documents referred to as Planning Contexts outlining the planning approval timescales and including some additional detailed maps showing construction compounds etc.

The complete document covering Warwick District is here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/623070/warwick_district_planning_context_report.pdf

The document covering Solihull (which includes the Western edge of Burton Green) is here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/642659/hs2_planning_context_report_for_solihull.pdf

This is a description of the works as they affect Burton Green:
The final section of the route within Warwick District, between the Canley Brook viaduct and Burton Green, is approximately 2.9km continuing in a north-west direction. The route will alternate between embankment and cutting as it passes between Crackley Wood and Roughknowles Wood. Crackley Lane will be realigned to cross over the line on a new overbridge, along with the realignment of a section of Cryfield Grange Road. The Roughknowles Wood cutting will extend for 830m up to South Hurst Farm, followed by the Broadwells Wood embankment for a further 1.1km. In this area footpath W167 will be realigned to join footpath W168 and a new underpass underneath the route. 
The route will then proceed through the Bockendon cutting over distance of 440m, followed by the Black Waste Wood embankment before it reaches the south portal of the Burton Green green tunnel adjacent to the village. 
A balancing pond will be constructed to the south of the cutting, along with an ecological mitigation area. Where the route converges with the Kenilworth Greenway, just before the tunnel south portal, the Greenway and footpath W169 will be realigned to pass to the south-west of the tunnel portal, over the green tunnel and then climb up to Cromwell Lane in Burton Green, close to the boundary between Warwick District and Solihull Metropolitan Borough. A tunnel services area will be developed adjacent to the south portal, to include a building, emergency assembly area and an access road from Bockendon Road. 
The Burton Green green tunnel will be a 621m tunnel crossing the boundary between Warwick District and Solihull Metropolitan Borough as it follows the line of the Greenway. The tunnel will begin with a porous portal at the southern end. Cromwell Lane in Burton Green will be replaced on its current alignment over the green tunnel and footpath W182 will be reinstated to pass over the tunnel on completion. 
The Kenilworth Greenway will be realigned to pass along the top of the green tunnel and then along the south-west of the line of route, as it moves into Solihull Borough. New planting will be provided and the Greenway will cross underneath Cromwell Lane. 
The scheme will involve the demolition of Burton Green village hall on Hodgett’s Lane, which is within Warwick District. A new village hall will be constructed on a replacement site located to the south of the tunnel south portal on Red Lane. 
Construction activities will begin in 2017 and take place for approximately five years, after which several years of systems commissioning will take place up to and during 2025.
The buildings that will need to be demolished:
301 Cromwell Lane, Burton Green (outbuilding)303, 305 and 404 Cromwell Lane, Burton Green (4 structures) 

All of the following plans and maps can be enlarged by clicking on them:




Thursday, 22 February 2018

Burglaries - Cromwell Lane (5th, 15th and 19th February) - Updated 22nd Feb

There have been four daytime burglaries in Cromwell Lane and Westwood Heath in the past fortnight. Residents are urged to be vigilant and to report any suspicious visitors or vehicles.


19 February 2018

A property in Roughknowles Road is believed to have been burgled between 16:00 and 19:30 on Monday 19 February.

It is believed the burglars climbed up the side wall to enter the garden and then attempted to break through several doors and windows before getting into the lounge. They left by breaking open French doors from the lounge and then climbed the side wall or side gate again to leave.

The burglars ripped the internal alarm speaker off the wall; the outside alarm must have been sounding as it had been activated and people must have heard it.


15 February 2018

There was a daytime burglary in Cromwell Lane, on Thursday 15th February:
https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/44130



5 February 2018

A serious burglary occurred in Cromwell Lane on Monday 5th February. At approximately the same time an attempted burglary was reported in Whitefield Close, Westwood Heath.
On Monday evening, 5th Feb, at around 5.15pm, so just getting dark, someone  went up the front drive to a house. 
They tried to disable a  security light which covers the drive way and  managed to cause damage to the PIR sensor in the process but forced the light to face upwards. 
They then climbed over the entry gate at the side of the property and with an implement of some kind, they proceeded to force the pad locked gate bolts from their mountings on the inside of the gate. 
The owners were actually in the property at the time but in the rear kitchen, when they noticed that the security light was on continuously. It is thought at this point the offenders may have seen the occupants in the house and made good their escape. No one was seen at any point.  

This is the original report of the burglary in Cromwell Lane on Monday 5th February:



Wednesday, 21 February 2018

HS2 Ancient Woodlands

HS2 has produced a document detailing their mitigation strategy for the 36 Ancient Woodlands to be destroyed or otherwise affected by the proposed railway.

The complete original document is here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-one-ancient-woodland-strategy

Below is an extract of the details as they affect our local woodlands.

Broadwells Wood

This map can be enlarged by clicking on it...



Broadwells Wood (15.6ha) is identified on the ancient woodland inventory, and contains both areas of semi-natural ancient woodland and PAWS [Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site]. It is located between Crackley Wood and the village of Burton Green. It is a LWS [Local Wildlife Site] in Warwickshire, and supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance.

Broadwells Wood comprises mature standards of pedunculate oak, birch and ash, together with some conifers and sycamore, over an understorey of hazel coppice, holly and common hawthorn.

The woodland appears to have been felled during the Second World War, as indicated on aerial photographs from 1945. It is likely that the woodland was planted with stands of broadleaved trees and conifers after this period. An area of 1.5ha has been cleared recently and replanted with oak, ash and cherry along the north-western edge. There is evidence of pheasant rearing (old pheasant pens) and shooting (a high seat), the latter of which is likely to have been the reason for the removal of a certain amount of the understorey vegetation.

The woodland canopy is composed of pedunculate and ash standards. Planted Scots pine, Norway spruce, common larch (Larix decidua), sweet chestnut and sycamore are also present.

The main woodland community is W10a [W10a is a reference used in the National Vegetation Classification] Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, typical sub-community, which has bluebell, bracken and bramble dominant in the field layer (with a MATCH coefficient of 53%) [MATCH is an algorithm for comparing two plant communities]. Immediately adjacent to the streams, ponds and wetter depressions, the vegetation is influenced by moister and more base-rich conditions with abundant tufted hair-grass and lesser celandine, and occasional patches of wood anemone, opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage, enchanter’s nightshade, common marshbedstraw and cuckoo flower.

This woodland community is W8b Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland, Anemone nemorosa sub-community. The wood anemone sub-community (W8b) generally has a south-easterly distribution in Britain, common on heavy base-rich soils, but is less common and more scattered in distribution in Warwickshire, the Midlands and northwest Britain.

Valuation

Broadwells Wood has been assessed as having a conservation status significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

Changes to the scheme brought forward in the SES [Supplementary Environmental Statement] and AP2 ES, mean that an area of approximately 0.7ha of ancient woodland located within the Hybrid Bill limits will now be retained and not utilised or otherwise directly impacted during either construction or operation (see Figure EC-AWS-014) [the map reproduced above].

Impacts and associated effects

Loss of approximately 2.8ha of ancient semi-natural woodland and 0.4ha of replanted ancient woodland was reported in the main ES, a total of 3.2ha. However, recent updates to the scheme GIS [Geographic Information System; Ordnance Survey] database has increased the accuracy of the figures previously reported and the expected loss of ancient woodland at Broadwell Wood is now expected to be approximately 3.6ha (see Figure EC-AWS-014). The retained sections will be fragmented by the scheme.

While the area of woodland affected is slightly larger than that which was reported in the main ES [Environmental Statement] this remains a permanent adverse effect on the conservation status of ancient woodland which will be significant at a county/metropolitan level.


Black Waste Wood

This map, which also shows Little Poors Wood, can be enlarged by clicking on it...




Only part of Black Waste Wood was identified on the ancient woodland inventory as seminatural ancient woodland during the production of the main ES in 2012/2013. Following a review of historic mapping in 2014 the area recognised as ancient semi-natural woodland increased, with these areas added to the ancient woodland inventory in October 2015.

Black Waste Wood is located east of Burton Green and north of the Kenilworth Greenway. The main woodland site slopes gently towards the south-east, bounded by the gardens of houses in Burton Green to the west, and by arable fields and pasture along the northern and eastern perimeters. A small stream runs through the lower (southern) part of the site, and there are minor wood banks running along parts of the eastern boundary.

Black Waste Wood supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance. NVC [National Vegetation Classification] surveys were carried out in 2012 and 2013 (Main ES Volume 5 Appendix EC-001-003) due to different land parcels being accessible in different years. The surveys recorded the main body of Black Waste Wood has having a canopy of pedunculate oak, silver birch, downy birch and rowan, with an understorey of holly, common hawthorn, hazel and honeysuckle. The most abundant species are bramble, ivy, and native bluebell, the latter being very abundant. Yellow archangel is locally prominent, forming patches; and bracken is very abundant under the open birch canopy in the north of the compartment.

There appears to have been little recent management. Non-native invasive plant species are present within the woodland, including rhododendron. There were occasional signs of grazing, and muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) were seen. Areas adjacent to the housing have been disturbed and clearings made, and part of the site, adjacent to the north-west ownership boundary, has been replanted with pine. The part of the LWS within the land required for construction of the original scheme has been partially clear felled and used for horse grazing. Many of the open cleared areas are dominated by bracken.

This woodland community is primarily W10c Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Hedera helix sub-community (with a MATCH coefficient of similarity of 64%), which is present where there is a closed canopy. It is likely that this grades to W10d Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Holcus lanatus sub-community in the north of the compartment where it joins the greater part of Black Waste Wood. These sub-communities are variations of the typical sub-community, widespread on base-poor soils in the British lowlands, and relatively common where traditional woodland management is no longer undertaken.

Valuation

Part of Black Waste Wood was identified as being included on the ancient woodland inventory in the main ES.

The whole of Black Waste Wood, including a section along Red Lane, was identified as potential ancient woodland in the SES (Part 1 of the SES and AP2 ES) as a result of additional cultural heritage baseline information. As the whole of Black Waste Wood was collectively valued in the main ES as of county/metropolitan value, the valuation did not change within the SES.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

There were no specific measures taken to avoid or reduce the loss of ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood. To avoid impacting local residents in the Burton Green area, the Greenway was used for the alignment of the route. As such, the route of the railway is constrained in this location and it was not possible to implement measures to avoid or reduce impacts to Black Waste Wood.

Impacts and associated effects

The loss of woodland habitat was reported in the main ES although none of this loss was from woodland that was identified as ancient reported within the main ES.

Following review of historic mapping the SES and AP2 ES updated the assessment reported in the main ES, and identified that the scheme was expected to result in the loss of 1.4ha of ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood. This was assessed as an adverse effect significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Since publication of the SES and AP2 ES Black Waste Wood has been added to the ancient woodland inventory. However, based on further review of field data and aerial photography, the area identified in the inventory as ancient has been reduced to exclude areas of habitat along the north western boundary that show evidence of previous clearance. As a consequence, the loss of ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood is now expected to be 0.6ha, this is a 0.8ha reduction on that stated within the SES and AP2 ES (see Figure EC-AWS-015) [the map reproduced above]. This remains an adverse effect significant at the county/metropolitan level.

Translocation of ancient woodland soil

No translocation of ancient woodland soil is proposed for Black Waste Wood, as the quality of woodland being affected is too low to justify translocation, in particular due to a dense cover of rhodendron making the soil unsuitable for translocation.

Soil conditions

The soil conditions at Black Waste Wood are classified as ‘Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils’.

Woodland planting

Wood planting comprises a 0.2ha of woodland habitat creation adjacent to the retained part of Black Waste Wood (see Figure EC-AWS-015).

Enhancement of ancient woodland

An 8.3ha area of retained ancient woodland at Black Waste Wood will be subject to woodland management and enhancement (see Figure EC-AWS-015). This measure is provided as compensation for losses to several areas of woodlands in CFA18 that have been added to the ancient woodland inventory since the main ES (including Black Waste Wood itself). The management and enhancement will include measures such as the removal of invasive plant species such as rhododendron, and management of dead wood habitat and trees for the benefit of wildlife, particularly invertebrates and bats.


Little Poors Wood

Little Poors Wood was not included on the ancient woodland inventory in 2012. Little Poors Wood appears on the ancient woodland inventory in October 2015 as ancient semi-natural woodland. Little Poors Wood forms one half of Little Poors and Big Poors Wood LWS.

Little Poors Wood is a small deciduous woodland of 1.4ha located at Burton Green, Warwickshire. The woodland supports lowland mixed deciduous woodland, a Habitat of Principal Importance. NVC surveys carried out in 2013 (Main ES Volume 5 Appendix EC-001-003) recorded a canopy of mature pedunculate oak (up to 25m in height) with occasional silver birch. In the understorey, neglected hazel coppice is locally dominant with occasional rowan.

The shrub layer is well developed and consists of bramble, common hawthorn, Midland hawthorn, elder and occasional holly. There are some clearings dominated by bracken and replanted with young trees. The ground flora is well developed but limited to a few species indicative of acidic ground conditions including bracken, broad buckler-fern, creeping softgrass and bluebell.

A pond within the woodland is 90% shaded by trees and scrub. Floating sweet grass (Glyceria fluitans) is dominant within the pond and remote sedge (Carex remota) and mosses are found on the edges of the pond.

The woodland community is W10c Quercus robur-Pteridium aquilinum-Rubus fruticosus woodland, Hedera helix sub-community (with a MATCH coefficient of similarity of 57%), a subcommunity typical of unmanaged woodland, and widespread in the British lowlands.

Valuation

Little Poors Wood was not identified as ancient woodland in the main ES. The woodland habitat was valued at district/borough level.

As a result of additional cultural heritage baseline information Little Poors Wood was identified as ancient woodland within the SES (Part 1 of the SES and AP2 ES) although the value of the woodland did not change.

Measures taken to avoid or reduce impacts

There were no specific measures taken to avoid or reduce the loss of ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood. To avoid impacting local residents in the Burton Green area, the Greenway was used for the alignment of the route. As such, the route of the railway is constrained in this location and it was not possible to implement measures to avoid or reduce impacts to Little Poors Wood.

Impacts and associated effects

The scheme will result in the loss of a strip of land from Little Poors Wood that is required for the Burton Green Tunnel (approximately 0.2ha) (see Figure EC-AWS-015). This is expected to result in an adverse effect on the conservation status of the ancient woodland at Little Poors Wood that is significant at a district/borough level.

Translocation of ancient woodland soils

Given that a very small area of the poor quality woodland edge at Little Poors Wood will be lost, translocation of soils will be inappropriate, and is not proposed.

Woodland planting

No woodland planting is proposed in response to the losses of ancient woodland at Little Poors.

Enhancement of ancient woodland

The SES3 and AP4 ES introduced a number of changes to woodland compensation proposals in CFA18 (SES3 and AP4 ES Volume 5 AP4-018-004). Under the AP4 revised scheme 11ha of Black Waste Wood was included within the land required for management and enhancement of the woodland habitat to address the additional loss of ancient woodland in CFA18 (see Figure EC-AWS-015).

Mitigation to offset the loss of this woodland involves the management and enhancement of 8.3ha of Black Waste Wood. This measure is provided as compensation for losses to several areas of woodlands in CFA18 that have been added to the ancient woodland inventory since the main ES (including Little Poors). This will include measures such as the removal of invasive plant species, for example rhododendron, and management of deadwood habitat and trees for the benefit of wildlife, particularly invertebrates and bats (see Figure EC-AWS-015)).

Enhancement of non-ancient woodland

No enhancement of non-ancient woodland is required as compensation for works at Black Waste Wood.