Central 6 report raised concerns over “smooth roll out” of master plan last March due to impact of pandemic

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A report last March highlighted concerns that the “smooth roll out” of Warrington Borough Council’s Central 6 master plan, which includes the controversial low traffic schemes in Orford and Westy, had been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report pointed out “obvious challenges of mass engagement”, especially with those not fully digitally engaged.

But despite claims by thousands of protesters that they knew nothing about the traffic schemes for Orford and Westy until recent weeks, the council remains confident that its public consultation and engagement has been robust – with further engagement on the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods planned later this month, July.

The report to the council’s Building Stronger Communities Policy Committee on March 30, 2022, reported that the “smooth rollout” of delivery of the central 6 master plan had been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdown imposed just two weeks after it had been adopted by cabinet. Despite this, a multiagency group was established and has met quarterly since July 2020.

The report went on to state:

“However, there have been, and remain, some challenges and risks. Some of these relate to the Covid 19 pandemic and the re­prioritisation of resource that this required, along with the obvious challenges of mass engagement approaches within communities who are not always fully digitally engaged. Some of these challenges include:
*Lack of community development resource, which would ideally be in place to support with local level engagement channelling community and linking people into the community forum run by local people.
*Marketing and communications challenge in terms of keeping the message and branding current, including in the context of a fast changing landscape, an environment with other communications messaging priorities, other schemes such as Town Deal, key staff in partner organisations being furloughed and lack of budget for physical branding and messaging – internally and externally
*Lack of internal officer capacity or any dedicated resource to co­ordinate and drive forward the programme.
*Ongoing competing priorities as regards resources, new initiatives for both WBC and partners – risk that Central 6 become “yesterday’s priority.” For a long term masterplan programme such as this one the turnover of officers over time meaning those who had been involved in the masterplan may no longer be in post, is a key risk factor.”

In response to the report and an open letter from Central 6 campaigners requesting to be involved in consultation moving forward a Warrington Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Central 6 Regeneration Masterplan is a wide-ranging vision aimed at improving life for residents in the central wards of Warrington. We carried out a significant amount of consultation with local people during the development of the master plan between 2018 and 2020, engaging more than 2,500 people about what changes they would like to see to improve the local environment. A key concern raised, as part of the extensive feedback we received, focused on high traffic levels, road safety, air pollution and the quality of streets within these areas.

“Whilst it has been previously recognised that ongoing engagement with communities on the wider, long-term masterplan presents some challenges, in particular in ensuring we connect with those residents who don’t routinely use digital channels, we remain confident that our engagement on specific elements and projects linked to the masterplan remain robust.

“Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – just one part of our ambitions, through the master plan to make the central wards of Warrington safer, cleaner and greener – are an example of this. We have carried out both digital and physical engagement with local residents over these plans – in addition to that done on the wider Regeneration Masterplan. This has included physical letter drops to households within the area and a number of in-person and online engagement events, alongside communication via digital channels, including the council website and local media.

“Further rounds of public engagement on the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods will be undertaken from July for both areas and more details on this will be provided in the near future. We will continue to listen to feedback and would encourage residents to visit the Central 6 Streets Plan webpage for more information on the LTNs: www.warrington.gov.uk/central-6-streets-plan

The next meeting of the Building Stronger Communities Policy Committee meets next Wednesday, July 6 – at 6pm – with no mention of the Central 6 Masterplan on the agenda.


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Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

4 Comments

  1. “We will continue to listen to feedback” well if that means the same as it has previously nothing is likely to change and is the fact that “The next meeting of the Building Stronger Communities Policy Committee meets next Wednesday, July 6 – at 6pm – with no mention of the Central 6 Masterplan on the agenda.” a sign of trying to slide it through without community engagement?

  2. Let’s be honest .. WBC have made a major mis-judgement here . They have serially failed to connect to the central 6 community and now refuse to recognize their errors . Leadership egos need to be left outside the door and an open dialogue with the community begun immediately . Will council hubris continue to defeat common-sense ?

    • Isn’t this a theme – malaise would be nearer the mark – which runs through this administration’s actions almost across the board. From its so called invest to save “strategy”, the various other purported public consultations (eg City Status) where the council leader insisted on pursuing his objective despite the evident groundswell of public opposition. And now this latest debacle which it claims to have been robustly implemented despite the obvious shortcomings, which it’s own report admits to. WBC over the years, and this administration in particular, has an abysmal record when it comes to listening to the people it is supposed to serve, given the leader when first taking office claimed to want to have an open honest debate, to regain contact with those they had lost touch with.

  3. Pingback: Central 6 campaigners launch petition of no confidence in council over low traffic street plans

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