CAMPAIGNERS opposing Warrington Borough Council’s Controversial Central 6 street plan in the Orford and Westy areas of town have launched a petition of no confidence in the council.
The campaign group ‘Warrington Residents Opposition to the Central 6 Street plan’ was formed just over three weeks ago “out of sheer frustration” at the councils’ lack of information and public consultation on major road decisions that will and are affecting many residents in Warrington.
So far over 700 people have signed the online petition.
The group has already staged two peaceful protests, the second one outside Full Council at the Parr Hall, which was ironically impacted by traffic issues following an incident on Kingsway Bridge. The first protest at the town hall, which followed more than 5,300 people signing an online petition, resulted in the pausing of the Orford part of the scheme, after council leader, Cllr. Russ Bowden, accepted the petition.
Campaign spokesperson and petition organiser Rachael Harper, who wrote an open letter appealing for residents to be involved in future dialogue at each stage of the process, said: “Despite this, the council has pushed through the scheme in another area of Warrington and not asked for residents’ input into the revised street plans for Orford.
“It appears that they have made it clear that they are not willing to engage in each stage of the street plan, which was further highlighted in a report where they failed to be upfront about issues with engagement.
“We as a campaign group do not feel that it is too much to ask that our council engage with good communication, transparency, and a willingness to act on major concerns.
“Yet it is now apparent that they have not been honest with residents about the engagement consultation, trying to defend it at each opportunity. Therefore, we feel that we have no choice but to launch a public motion of no confidence in Warrington Borough Council, right across the Warrington area. Residents deserve to have a council that effectively engages with them and if they are not willing to do that then we no longer have faith in the controlling council and its leadership.
“Though this public vote of no confidence holds no legal precedent, it does allow us to make our feelings in the council perfectly clear and also allows them to potentially see what awaits them in the next local elections should they continue with their lack of engagement stanch.
“Democracy rightly belongs with the people and not to the council alone! Our plans for a public vote of no confidence will include several steps which we will make known over the course of the next few days. We are sad that we have to do this, but we cannot just allow this dismissal of democracy to stand in our town because we as residents have a duty to hold our council to account.
Rachael added: “As I’ve said from the start of this campaign, if the council thinks we are just going to sit back and let them push something through without substantial engagement then they were very much mistaken.
“We are in this for however long it takes this council to realise that we the people deserve better! If they’d have shown over the past few weeks that they were willing to listen, learn and maybe act on our concerns then would not be launching a public vote of no confidence today. However, their response to our open letter just shows how much disregard they have for transparency or indeed democracy in this town.”
“There are different stages to our public vote of no confidence and as part of the first stage, we have set up a petition, which can be accessed online and via paper format in various establishments in Warrington. We have had many businesses saying they want to get behind us on this and offered to have a paper copy of the petition for people to sign.
“We will also be doing another peaceful protest demo outside the next council meeting. This is to show the council we are not going anywhere and we will not allow them to be unaccountable for their actions.
“We are also planning a huge protest march from the Orford area to Westy/Latchford where we will be armed with our voices/ banners. This will not only help us to reach a wider amount of people on the vote of no confidence, but it will also highlight the strong opposition to the street plan itself.
“We will be working with the police on both events, because as we have always maintained, we are a peaceful campaign group. We don’t encourage or promote mob culture rule. We are merely accessing our democratic and legal right to protest when it comes to major issues that affect us.
“We will launch stage two of the campaign next Friday and further details including dates for events will be released then.”
In response to the open letter from Central 6 campaigners requesting to be involved in consultation moving forward a Warrington Borough Council spokesperson previously 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