I have had discussion with the Secretary of State for Transport to ensure that he is aware of the local issues and have also put these concerns in writing to him. I am of the firm opinion that the route should utilise existing roads wherever possible rather than carve a new path through Green Belt land or damage other areas of environmental interest. I do not agree with the idea that a southern route should be chosen to bring Aylesbury into the equation. Houses there would be a comuter belt for London rather than support the corridor.
I have also raised concerns about the transparency of the work on this project. A project of this magnitude should have ready access to as much information as possible in the public domain. I accept that some competitive data needs to remain private but feel that the lack of information is adding to speculation. I have asked the Secretary of State to intervene so that as much information as possible can be immediately put into the public domain with explanation as to what is being held back and why. I have also asked him to ensure that there is full public consultation before a route is decided and not just on the preferred option.
Iain Stewart MP has been appointed Government Champion for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (as it is known at present) and I am in regular contact with him to try to make sure that we keep abreast of developments. I have arranged for him to visit the constituency shortly to meet with Parish Councils.
I would also encourage people to make their views known to the Leader of the County Council, Ian Hudspeth (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire Local Economic Partnership (email@example.com). Although both of them have written to me to say they are not supporting a southern route, both organisations have influence on this through their work as part of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and it is believed that they favour a southern route. It is important that they are aware of the views of our local communities rather than simply passing the responsibility to Highways England.