Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pennine Reach: A scheme still alive and kicking despite media reports as to it's premature demise.

Whilst having a deferential opinion on the wider Pennine Reach scheme, my continued interest lies in seeing a new bus station in Accrington. A major part of the Pennine Reach scheme put forward by business leaders.

The death of Pennine Reach is much exaggerated. Its architects, the business community silent as Council officials scramble towards words of condolence on its apparent demise.

Earlier this month the Lancashire Telegraph revealed £1.5million had already been spent on the plans, which were given the go ahead by the previous Labour government.

However I took the time last week to write to minster to clarify the position and it is certainly not in the 'doubtful pile'. Nor is it the 'definitely not' pile. In fact it has just missed out on the 'definitely ye's pile. An amber light for a scheme requiring further dialogue. A scheme sat in the development pool awaiting funding and the go-ahead.

Here is what the minister said earlier this week (see full letter below)
I am writing to inform you that, following the Review, Pennine Reach is one of the schemes which will form a Development Pool, on which we will conduct some further analysis with the promoters and invite improved funding offers before deciding which of these schemes we will support. Final decisions will be made by the end of 2011.
None of this means that here in East Lancashire there will be willingness to pursue this matter. Arch critics, The Blackburn Labour Party took control of Blackburn Council in September diminishing chances of a further dialogue.

Hyndburn's administration of the scheme is through the passenger transport authority, Lancashire County Council. Of course without Blackburn Council's support a bus station in Accrington via Pennine Reach seems doomed.

It has been a disatrous scheme in many ways. Its incarnation an exercise in employing expensive bureaucrats in a quango without purpose, Lancashire Economic Partnership  which produced glossy expensive brochures on a two light rail schemes. A stand alone metro and light rail running off (and using) traditional rail lines. It fell foul of fantasy and morphed into a guided bus way with with hudnereds of miles of two foot high concrete kerbstones to guide buses. That lasted a year or so before business grabbed the issue and Pennine Reach, bus lanes and bus stations came into being.


Department for Transport
From the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1 P 4DR

Graham Jones MP
House of Commons, LONDON SW1AOAA

26 October 2010

Dear Graham
Pennine Reach Scheme
Following the Spending Review announced last week, the implications for the Department for Transport are now clear and we are now in a position to identify those major investments that can be supported.

As a result of the Review the government is proposing to invest in new local authority major schemes to the tune of £1.5 billion over the Spending Review period. This is a considerable investment, reflecting the importance such schemes can play in supporting economic growth, as well as contributing to the spatial rebalancing of the economy. It is also greater than the average annual OfT spend on local authority major schemes over the last 10 years. A copy of the Secretary of State's statement to the House which sets out more details is attached.

However despite our considerable investment the pipeline of schemes prioritised under the previous system of Regional Funding Allocations is not affordable in full and tough decisions will been necessary to get the best
value from public funding.

I am writing to inform you that, following the Review, Pennine Reach is one of the schemes which will form a Development Pool, on which we will conduct some further analysis with the promoters and invite improved funding offers before deciding which of these schemes we will support. Final decisions will be made by the end of 2011.

My officials will be writing to Blackburn with Darwen Council to explain our decision and the next steps involved.

Yours sincerely
NORMAN BAKER



Blackburn news from the Lancashire Telegraph
MAJOR PLAN: Pennine Reach will dwarf any current. 7:30pm Wednesday 27th October 2010. EAST Lancashire's multi-million pound bus lane has been snubbed by ...
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/blackburn/ -
1288429262

Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley - Lancashire Telegraph
MAJOR PLAN: Pennine Reach will dwarf any current. 7:30pm Wednesday 27th October 2010. EAST Lancashire's multi-million pound bus lane has been snubbed by ...
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/.../blackburndarwenhyndburnribble/ -
1288429262

East Lancs bus lane scheme is 'dead' (From Lancashire Telegraph)
27 Oct 2010 ... EAST Lancashire's multi-million pound bus lane has been snubbed by ... Pennine Reach was put forward by Blackburn with Darwen Council's ...
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/.../blackburn/8478648.East_Lancs_bus_lane_scheme_is__dead_/ -
1288429262

Darwen news from the Lancashire Telegraph
MAJOR PLAN: Pennine Reach will dwarf any current. 7:30pm Wednesday 27th October 2010. EAST Lancashire's multi-million pound bus lane has been snubbed by ...
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/darwen/ -
1288429262

East Lancs bus lane scheme is 'dead' (From This Is Lancashire)
27 Oct 2010 ... Pennine Reach was put forward by Blackburn with Darwen Council's ... Earlier this month the Lancashire Telegraph revealed £1.5million had ...
www.thisislancashire.co.uk/.../8478648.East_Lancs_bus_lane_scheme_is__dead_/?... -
1288429262

Precision Engineering
23 Oct 2010 ... Unit 5 Telegraph Hill Industrial Estate Laundry Road,Minster, .... Unit 2 Trans-Pennine Trading Estate,Gorrels Way, Rochdale, Lancs, OL11 2PX .... Unit B Florence Mill,Whalley New Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 9SR ...
www.businessmagnet.co.uk/product/precisionengineering.htm -
1288429262

Threatened East Lancashire bus lane has cost £1.5m (From ...
18 Oct 2010 ... Now the Lancashire Telegraph has learned councils have already spent ... Pennine Reach would see a bus lane linking Blackburn and Darwen on ...
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/.../blackburn/8459653.Threatened_East_Lancashire_bus_lane_has_cost___1_5m/?... -