There has apparently been a “Consultation Process” on Damian’s Big Lorry Park. (For the story so far see here and here) The only problem is, that the Consultation wasn’t actually on anything even remotely related to the reality.
A picture tells a thousand words. In this case, it’s a map. Or rather, three of them. The first consultations on the Lorry Park were presented to local residents as a consultation on whether there should be a Lorry Park at “Stanford West” or “Stanford North”. Subsequently, Highway’s England representative Paul Harwood has claimed that the Consultation was on “All options” pertaining to Operation Stack. Which is kind of strange, because THIS is the map which was in that first consultation document:
Yup, that looks pretty much like a choice between a Lorry Park to the West or to the North of Stanford to me. “1” or “2” – the options are right there. The consultation documents at that stage made no specific mention or suggestion of any other significant alternative. No other alternative apart from a giant lorry park at one of the two sites was worked up into any significant proposal by Highway’s England or anyone else.
Highways England subsequently reported that the Consultation responses received had shown a preference for a Lorry Park at Stanford West.
Well, if you are given a choice between being shot, or poked in the eye and then shot, you’re probably going to “show a preference” for being just being shot, but it doesn’t prove very much. So, I guess it could be said that respondent’s showed a “preference” in a similar way. Surely it’s somewhat misleading to imply this was somehow any respondents’ “preferred” option when no other options were presented?
Notice the extremely vague nature of the two red blobs and how they fade out at the edges. Convenient, no?
A little later, on December 15th 2015, the follow map appeared on the website of Damian Collins MP with his enthusiastic approval:
Now we have some pretty firmly drawn red lines. Notice the red line which runs North/South on the eastern edge of the lorry park on the northern box (the part of the Lorry park north of the M20. Notice the location of the village of Stanford on a road running north/south at the east of the map. See the gap between the two?
It’s true that the southern portion seems to run a lot closer to Stanford, but this lies on the other side of the M20 which is significantly banked and bunded to protect the village.
Roll forward to August 2016, and the following Map appeared at the design consultation:
Umm, anyone want to play spot the difference!? Come on, it’s not hard.
On every dimension the Park has significantly grown. The respectful boundaries to populated areas on all sides disappear. To take just one example, note the massive new land grab at the eastern edge of the park. Below is just this new area highlighted in more detail:
The bright green zone above highlights the extra land taken in the latest proposed design. It’s approximately an extra 31 acres of land. A vast difference. Perhaps of most importance is that it takes the border of the Lorry park (which was previously supposed to be the line forming the western edge of the bright green area in the map above) half a kilometre further east. It brings the Lorry Park directly smack bang up to the very boundary of the beautiful village of Stanford, without even the sliver of greenbelt which the original plan seemed to suggest might remain. Moreover, it obliterates several dwellings which will now presumably be tarmaced over after being claimed, perhaps with compulsory purchase orders.
This is important because it casts the original consultation in a whole new light. The original “choice” between “Stanford West” and “Stanford North” may well have attracted a very different set of responses and comments had the truth about the extent of the eastern boundary of the site have been known. It does look very much like the original consultation was presented in such a way as to ensure the only possible outcome was “Stanford West”.
The entire process regarding the proposed Lorry Park has been grossly misleading. To such an extent, it’s not even really clear who is misleading whom at times. More examples will be forthcoming in future posts.
However, for now, if you ever wanted a definitive answer to how big a lie a politician can tell, we now have one: Thirty One Acres of Lies.