County council accused of providing “misleading” information over Moulsham Quarters plan

Essex County Council has been accused of providing a “rather misleading” response to a Freedom of Information request regarding the controversial Moulsham Quarters plan.

In response to an FOI, Essex County Council (ECC) claims that “Chelmsford City Council has agreed to provide a contribution towards the Active Travel schemes in Chelmsford”. This is a statement that Chelmsford City Council’s Lib Dem deputy leader says is incorrect.

ECC is said to have told Councillor Marie Goldman – regarding the ‘active travel Essex consultation’ – that the costs for these plans are not yet known. However, the council is said to have confirmed that it was awarded £7.3 million from the Active Travel Fund Department for Transport funding to improve walking and cycling corridors and create liveable neighbourhoods.

ECC is also said to have suggested that Chelmsford City Council has agreed to provide a contribution towards the Active Travel schemes in Chelmsford. The final costs will be determined by the outcomes of the public consultation and final design work but the contribution will not exceed £440,000.

Cllr Goldman said: “I understand that the leader and chief executive of Chelmsford City Council had a meeting with officers and one member of the administration at ECC on June 7 to discuss the possibility of Chelmsford City Council contributing some funding towards the Active Travel schemes.

“I also understand that while Chelmsford City Council representatives expressed a desire to see active travel increase within the city, they did not – and indeed could not – commit any Chelmsford City Council funding to the currently proposed schemes.

“Apart from anything else, funds exceeding £100,000 must be decided by a public meeting of the council, which has not happened.

“Chelmsford City Council would also not be likely to commit funds to a scheme where the final details are not yet known, as is the case with these proposals.

“It is also unhelpful and rather misleading for the response to have put a figure on these supposed contributions as it suggests that would be the level of funding.  Again, this has not been agreed.

“I have written to ECC to ask for the response to be corrected immediately.”

A spokesperson for ECC said: “Essex County Council has responded to the Freedom of Information request.”

‘Liveable neighbourhoods’ within Old Moulsham are proposed within the active travel plans, which have been widely opposed.

The plans to split Moulsham into four quarters where vehicles will not be able to freely directly move between quarters have been branded as “unliveable” by some residents, who are calling for the authority to “re-think” its proposals.

Part of the plans include splitting the Moulsham area of Chelmsford, Essex, into quarters which would see motorists only able to enter and exit quarters through certain quarter gateways – aiming to stop through traffic travelling within the neighbourhood.

Pedestrians, cyclists and buses would remain able to travel between and within all of the quarters.

The Old Moulsham Against Quarters campaign group has hit out against the plans following the launch of the council’s consultation into the proposals.

The group argues that the ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ plan will actually make the area “unliveable” and want the consultation to be stopped “with immediate effect”.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter