If data is unreliable then why use it?

As ever, the Observer continues to provide wide-ranging and thorough reporting upon the progress and impact of the Shopwyke lakes development. It was refreshing to see the Highways Agency has finally entered the debate in public.

However I became very confused by statements attributed to Mr Phillips, a representative from the agency. My confusion arose from reading that on the one hand he states: “We rely on the police for accident rates. These are a year behind and that’s why the application details appear to be out of date and why maybe there was a discrepancy on some of the dates.”

So, if the data Mr Phillips references is so suspect, how on earth could the developers place so much faith in their validity in the first place? Especially when the data shows three slight accidents with minor casualties (one just four days after the completion of the upgrade) since modification of the Oving lights to their ‘intelligent’ status in late 2009.

Mr Phillips goes on to state improvement after that modification was ‘not as substantial as some people appear to believe’ without any justification for this statement: again, very confusing. To further exasperate this comment, Mr Phillips then observes ‘any of those right turns generate a conflict and by removing that there’s a substantial saving to be made in the number of accidents’.

Now any accident is, of course, best avoided, but recognising the significant number of accidents along the rest of the A27 between Tesco’s and Sainsburys, as shown on www.crashmap.co.uk, surely Highways have other locations where they can bring about a substantial reduction, rather than the maniacal pursuit of closing the Oving lights, where very few accidents have been recorded since modification, with all right runs under the control of intelligent traffic lights.

One hopes the area development management committee (south) insists their request to look for another solution that does not involve closing the Oving crossroads is met in full, and they do not accept the developer pushing more massageable data into the process in a further attempt to justify this very unpopular closure proposal.

Ron Migliorini

Colworth