Traffic management plan for FolkWeek 2014: correspondence with Devon County Council - Freedom of Information request.
Ever since the first disclosure of plans to move the Sidmouth FolkWeek campsite, traffic management and transport of attendees to and from the site were identified as crucial factors, and within the scope of 'ensuring public safety'. However, under EDDC licensing procedures, there was no requirement for a formal traffic management plan to be submitted, despite that public safety was a legitimate item for debate. This seems perverse.
On 10 Dec 2013, EDDC approved the licence application - merely noting that an 'approved' draft traffic management plan was available. My first request to DCC was on 23 December 2013. Various junior administrative staff became involved until 16 January when I was sent an email from Paul Wilson.
The interest of course is not whether the final traffic management plan is competent (and this may indeed be made public) but what had been submitted and assessed as 'competent' on or shortly before 10 December. The suspicion of many local residents is that EDDC approved the licensing application without DCC having properly considered all relevant public safety aspects related to traffic management.
In an ideal world, local councillors would be sufficiently competent to address these issues, but in Sidmouth and indeed within DCC, there are no such people. DCC councillors at various times have included Stuart 'lunatic' Hughes and Christine Channon - a convicted drink driver famous also for her suggestion that the pedestrian crossing along Sidmouth's Esplanade would in time 'settle down'. She was also appointed to a role in the SW Regional Assembly despite being the 'third' preferred candidate. She got the job just because she was a woman - and on the orders of Patricia Hewitt MP, then the Minister in charge. This was later challenged in the High Court. With these and similar people having almost a life tenure within the corridors of DCC and EDDC, it is unsurprising that inadequate procedures go unquestioned for decades.
It is interesting to review the historical material from ten years ago relating to the pedestrian crossing along Sidmouth's Esplanade. Many people warned DCC and councillors what would happen, and of course it did. It is to be hoped that competent analysis is applied to movement of people and traffic along Salcombe Hill and neighbouring roads, if indeed the FolkWeek campsite is moved to the proposed new location.
The following are two key emails from mid January 2014, the full set are now on a later webpage, the discussion with Devon County Council having dragged on until the end of March.
SIDMOUTH FOLK FESTIVAL Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2014
Dear Dr Wozniak,
SIDMOUTH FOLK FESTIVAL TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PLAN
I have just been forwarded your email messages regarding your request for a copy of the Traffic Management Plan for the proposed new location for the Sidmouth Folk Festival.
I gather you have spoken with Paul Downes in our Eastern Neighbourhood Office and he has explained the reason for the delay in responding to you.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for me to send you a copy of the Traffic Management Plan for this event as this document is copyright to JR Event Services Ltd and therefore all requests for copies should be directed to the organisers of the Folk Festival.
It would be totally inappropriate for me to send you a copy of a document which, as yet, is not in the public domain. I regret that I am unable to assist you with this request.
Senior Highway Event Adviser
Highway and Traffic Management
Devon County Council
Tel: 0845 155 1004
Thank you for your email.
I am documenting the local concern that has surrounded the proposed move. It has many advantages and some clear disadvantages as regards safety of attendees and residents and within the overall remit of public safety.
I have attempted to summarize these here: http://seered.co.uk/folk219.htm
I discussed with Mr Downes that I could ask for a copy of this document via FoI given that it is a material document to a licensing application that is in the public domain notwithstanding that DCC is not apparently a statutory consultee within the EDDC process. This I consider to be not in the public interest.
Therefore may I put forward a formal FoI request for a copy of this document AND copies of all correspondence between DCC and EDDC and between DCC and FolkWeek (JR Services) pertaining to the proposed new site. Please let me know if I need to direct this to anyone else of if you can do it via copy email to your colleagues.
Further discussion of the proposed move (from the perspective of folk festival attendees) is available on the internet. Additionally, an article from 3 January and follow up letter from the Sidmouth Herald (10 Jan) are here, if you wish to read them:
http://seered.co.uk/folk221.htm and the following page http://seered.co.uk/folk222.htm
Please let me know as soon as possible re the formal FoI requests and I will then write to the Information Commissioner as appropriate.
Please provide a list of the correspondence that is available, as detailed above, and which of these documents you refuse to release at the present time.
Dr S J Wozniak
16 January 2014.
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