My letter of objection to the closure of the Gulworthy Cut

Home page The Main Gulworthy Cut Story
                                        DOWN ROAD
                                        PL19 9AE

                                        TAVISTOCK (01822) 615085
                                        25 January 2004
Dear Mr Gash


Reference GML/A16857
I object to the proposed order on the following grounds.

1.	It is disproportionate. The justification claimed is 
that there have been 4 minor injury accidents in the last 3 
years at the eastern junction with the A390. That does not 
justify effectively closing a road as a first response. Use of 
the power to prohibit traffic should be sparing; in this case 
it is an arbitrary, excessive and unreasonable response.

2.	Measures other than excluding or discouraging use of 
the road ought to be implemented first. Recent measures have 
sought only to discourage use, not to address the safety for 
traffic using it. No measures have been taken to realign the 
eastern junction, where the accidents have occurred. It is 
claimed that it is cheaper to close the road. That is an 
excuse, not a justification: the order, if confirmed, would 
abuse the Highways Authority's power to close a road in order 
to avoid its duty to maintain it.

3.	The road is heavily used as an alternative to the main 
road eastward. Closing it will cause great inconvenience to the 
(mainly local) traffic accustomed to using it. The inconvenience 
caused will disproportionate to any perceived harm that may arise 
from not closing it.

4.	The length of road is 0.25 miles. The length of the 
alternative (A390) is 0.55 miles. The increased risk associated 
with the additional distance travelled and increased traffic 
density on the A390 has not been assessed and offset against 
the benefit claimed for the proposed closure, nor have the 
results of any relevant risk assessment been published. 
Furthermore, the environmental disbenefit of increased traffic 
mileage has not been assessed and disclosed.

5.	Further to this, no publicly disclosed criteria or 
policies have been published or reasons, based on criteria or 
policies, given in detail to show that the order is objectively 
justified, that the level of perceived risk in allowing the 
road to remain open to traffic is sufficient to warrant closure 
or that the cost of measures to address the alleged risk are 
disproportionate to the presumption that the Highways 
Authority's first duty is to keep open the Queen's Highway. 
This is contrary to public policy and the public interest in 
that full disclosure should be made of the published policies 
and the reasons relevant to those policies for decisions 
whenever a service is withdrawn from the public by an 
accountable authority to avoid the perception of arbitrary, 
excessive or unreasonable exercise of powers.

Roger Gash Esq
County Solicitor
Devon County Council
County Hall
Exeter EX2 4QD

[pg 2]

6.	The effect of the order would be to create a private 
drive maintained at public expense for the exclusive benefit of 
frontagers. This is or ought to be considered contrary to 
public policy. Anecdotal local belief is that pressure from one 
or more frontagers to remove passing traffic from their 
frontage(s) has contributed to this DCC's intention to do so. 
Whether or not true, this perception reflects badly on the 
County Council and leads to a further perception of abuse of 
power, contrary to the public interest.

7.	Highways Authorities' first duty is to provide and 
maintain public roads and footways. Only in extreme 
circumstances ought they to use their powers to remove them 
from use. No cogent evidence of a hazard sufficient to justify 
imposing such draconian inconvenience on road users has been 

Yours sincerely

Roger W Mathew
Home page The Main Gulworthy Cut Story
25 Jan 04