Divide and conquer

Local history dynamo David Hodgkinson has come up trumps again. As promised, David has kindly scanned a whole tranche of material about the protests against the BNRR – or M6 Toll as it's now known. Further, David has scanned this leaflet, which is the one I was after particularly, detailing route options for the road being considered.

I think the flyer dates from about 1983. I remember the campaign against the Orange Route fly posting around Stonnall circa 1984.

This is a masterstroke in manipulating the opposition. Note that only the first couple of options are really feasible, and none of them are exactly what was built. The final one – the Orange Route – was an utterly implausible suggestion. Running through Little Aston, up over Castle Hill, down through a working quarry and several marshes, it wasn't there as a valid proposal. It was there to split opposition, which it did very effectively. It was a masterstroke in public manipulation.

The campaign against the orange route was well funded and vociferous, and pushed for one of the northern options. Likewise, many from northern areas of the route pushed for the Orange option. Effectively, the protesters ended up fighting each other.

The technique was brilliant, and has been employed many times times since.

I thank David for finding the is wonderful bit of local ephemera, something that details a mostly forgotten piece of history. Cheers, old chap.

Not sure the exact date of this, but I can remember seeing a copy at school in 1983. Click for a larger version.

The Brown route (with the dashed option below Chasewater) is probably closest to what was actually built. Click for a larger version.

Great Wyrley would now be quite different had the Brown route been chosen. Click for a larger version.

The Violet route's dip throughgh Summerhill on the Lichfield Road was adopted, but the motorway went both of Shenstone. Click for a larger version.

The inclusion of the Orange route was a masterstroke. Never, ever likely to get built, it divided the southern and northern opposition. Click for a larger version.

The rejected options - including a couple that cut through what is euphemistically called 'The Catshill Gap' - Anchor Bridge. The discussion beneath is interesting, not least because it appears to reject the Orange route if it's analysed carefully. Click for a larger version.


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8 Responses to Divide and conquer

  1. Rose Burnell says:

    I distinctly remember going with my mum and dad one evening to look at route options at a meeting. I was definitely younger than 8 as we were still living in howdles lane at the time. I think the meeting was at the comp. This would have been sometime between 1986-8.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    At Planning School students learn about Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation. It has its flaws, as the article linked below explains to some degree, but it is a useful way of categorising the value “public consultation” or the involvement of ordinary people in real decision-making. I guess the masterstroke of which Bob speaks is the cynical attempt to appear at the top of the ladder, that is people get to choose the best route (even though they wanted neither), while keeping the real agenda very firmly at the bottom.

    http://lithgow-schmidt.dk/sherry-arnstein/ladder-of-citizen-participation.html#d0e42 – go to section 2.

  3. Rob says:

    My favourite memory of the pre-BNRR era was when Prescott failed to prevent the construction despite promising to do so when in opposition.

    He still succeeded in postponing the national road-building programme, in favour of his (dis)integrated transport system (where we were all going to travel by bus & train, except him and the rest of the politbureau of course) thus putting infrastructure development back about ten years.

    Divide and conquer indeed.

  4. Ian says:

    There were people in some of the posh villages (Shenstone for one) that voted Labour for the first and only time on the back of the Government-in-waiting’s pledge. Prescott let them all down – and the rest of us – like a lump.

    I clearly remember the then Chair of Walsall Chamber – David Frost – backing it “because Walsall needs it”. Yeah, like a hole in the head.

  5. Dave Fellows says:

    Living near the proposed route at the time, I never had any great objection (had far more noise off the A5), and had a great couple of holidays a few years later with the compo!…

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  8. Tim J Kitchen says:

    I remember someone coming to our door in Pelsall and wanting us to be horrified that Orange Route was coming through High Bridge Bridge as it is now known. We loved the look on his face when we said we had voted for the Orange Route (true) as the only thing that was really on the route was Big K and nobody would miss that.

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