As a shining example of what can be done when community groups pull together and (more importantly) persevere against seemingly insurmountable odds, the Motorway Action Group for Enderby and Narborough is justifiably celebrating achieving its objectives. “We won our fight for a reasonable quality of life”.
Today, Secretary of the Action Group Mich Bingham gives an account of the Group’s story to Enderby EYE.
“In 1999, the Government realised that noise was becoming a problem particularly along major motorways so they commissioned a report which highlighted 120 areas where noise was a problem and where complaints had come from. This report formed the Hansard List.
“The then Labour Government pledged funding to address these areas with sound barriers over a 10 year period.
“As the Residents of the Cumberwell Drive Area had not complained, we were overlooked by the Government and so did not go onto the list.
“In February 2003, our first site visit and meeting with our M.P. together with the Highways Agency was held to demonstrate the excessively high noise levels and potential safety threats for the Residents of Cumberwell Drive, Enderby.
“As a result of this,meeting, The Motorway Action Group for Enderby and Narborough was formed
“Then we found out how badly affected we were by Air Pollution!
“For the next six years, despite proving our case over and over again, the Action Group was mainly dismissed by the Highways Agency.
“Out of pure frustration, in 2008, we took our case to the HA Ombudsman, unfortunately we were unsuccessful, but suddenly we were recognised.
“In January 2009, the then ‘Route Performance Manager for our area, Liz Davis, agreed to a site visit which took place on 5th May 2009. Accompanying her on the visit was Stephen Turner, Head of the DEFRA Noise Technical and Evidence team, and Yvette Bosworth, Head of Environmental Noise at DEFRA.
“Our standing within the EU Noise Directive Action Plans was explained and accelerated to an ‘Important Area’ containing ‘First Priority’ location. It didn’t mean a lot to us at that time, but it did to the Government.
“Liz continued to work with the Group until the latter part of 2009 when Len Murray took over.
“We received communication by means of an email in November 2009 to say that; ‘Len had confirmed that funding has been set aside to design an appropriate remedial scheme in the event that remedial measures were identified and recommended by DEFRA’.
“As with all helpful personnel, Len was moved and we had a succession of ‘Managers’ none of whom were interested or helpful.
“The funding which had been set aside also vanished and no one was able to identify or admit to where it had gone, or that it ever existed. We thought we were back to square one.
“In January 2014, the Rt. Hon. Andrew Robathan MP, advised that the Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill MP, was appointed in the autumn to the Department of Transport as Under Secretary of State, and was given responsibility for our issue. He had written to Andrew saying he was happy to come along and Andrew was liaising with his office directly.
“The site visit took place on 15th May 2014.
“Things were coming together; the complaint to the Ombudsman, the site visit by DEFRA and their intervention. Now, the Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill, ‘the people’s politician’. We were on the right path.
“We were not privy to a lot of the communications and it is only now that we realise that we did make an impact.
“Samantha Pinnock, Asset Manager, Network Delivery and Development, became our contact at Highways England and her guidance and help became invaluable.
“Samantha pushed to procure funding for the Environmental Barriers, and in August 2018 Samantha advised by email that work to erect the barriers would commence during October that year and would be finished by the middle of January 2019.
“After retiring to Norfolk in 2012, it was a little more difficult to retain the impetus, but when Samantha emailed just prior to Christmas 2018, that the barriers were complete, we popped the cork. What a wonderful Christmas gift this was.
Over the past 16 years, the help and support the Group have been given is heart-warming. Sadly, many supporters are no longer with us but many still are, and given the opportunity would pop a cork or two in celebration.
As an Action Group, this project has proven what team work can achieve, and the Motorway Action Group would like to acknowledge and thank the following people:
Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill MP for Scarborough and Whitby
Stephen Turner – DEFRA
Yvette Bosworth – DEFRA
Liz Davis – Highways England
Samantha Pinnock – Highways England
Len Murray – Highways England
Blaby District Council
Former Chief Executive: Sandra Whiles
Council Leader: Ernie White (sadly deceased).
Previous and present Councillors including Scrutiny Panel.
Special sincere thanks to:
- Jackie Dickinson, our former Parish, District and County Councillor, without whom none of this would have happened. She gave up much of her spare time to attend meetings and was present at all functions and meetings undertaken by the Group. Her professional expertise kept everyone on the straight and narrow!
- Jon Wells, Former Environmental Protection Group Manager: Jon’s technical expertise and support proved invaluable to the Group.
- The Councillors of Enderby Parish Council
Motorway Action Group for Enderby and Narborough
Chairman: Lee Sansome
Deputy Chairman: Rob Thomson
Secretary: Mich Bingham