Wednesday, 11 December 2013

TRAC - report will be made public

Last night I gave a report to the town council about the failure of the TRAC project which was intended to construct a multi-use trail between Polson and Egloskerry via Newport.

Just for clarification, we have tended to use the name TRAC for the whole project. In fact, it was split into TRAC (to the west of Newport) and CYCLE (to the east of Newport). There were also works in Bude and on Caradon Hill within the TRAC project.

In short, it is now certain that the TRAC/CYCLE project in Launceston will fail to deliver any tangible benefits other than a small piece of work to upgrade the pathway between Newport Industrial Estate and Ridgegrove Hill.

The problems behind this are many and a full report is being prepared by council officers. I will ensure that this report is made public. There appear to have been mistakes at a number of levels over a considerable period of time. Not all of these mistakes were made by Cornwall Council, but the authority cannot escape a good deal of criticism.

I understand that, sometimes, well intentioned projects fail. What concerns me is that the failures in this case went on for so long and that the concerns raised by local councillors and the obvious red flags were neither heeded nor acted upon. Local councillors from across the political spectrum gave their full support to this project right from the start. But we also expressed our concerns when we felt that things were not going as they should have - concerns that were all too often ignored by the previous council.

While most of the people who might be blamed for the failure of this project no longer work for the council, the authority cannot simply pass the blame onto former staff members. I am glad that, in meeting with senior officers, it was clear that there is a willingness to try to understand all the reasons for failure and to learn from those. In particular, I think that there is stronger project management in place, clearer lines of accountability and a more robust 'gateway' process to ensure that only projects with a reasonable chance of success get the go ahead. Unfortunately, none of these are any good to the TRAC/CYCLE project now.

Once the final report has been put together, I have asked that there is a meeting in the town, perhaps under the auspices of the town council but also involving neighbouring parishes, with officers who can answer questions on the report. This is likely to be in the New Year.

I have also raised with officers the need for alternative remedies for some of the significant problems which were to be addressed (at least in part) by the TRAC/CYCLE project. In particular, the need for a safe walking route from Ridgegrove Estate to town.  This remains a very dangerous road for walkers and the problem cannot be allowed to fester for longer.

No comments: