Why doesn’t Wickford go the whole 50 yards?

IN response to Cliff Neale’s lengthy PR letter from the Wickford Development Company (Broadcast, July 8) I would like to pose a few questions to him.

IN response to Cliff Neale’s lengthy PR letter from the Wickford Development Company (Broadcast, July 8) I would like to pose a few questions to him.

You say that the bypass will be completed in “due time in accordance with your legal obligations”. As I understand it, that time is when the 651st house is built. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) obviously fumbled the ball a bit here when it came to back door clauses in the contract for the bypass completion seeing as it is already over 10 years since Woodlands residents started moving in; however, do you think 10 years is a reasonable time to make the existing residents wait for the completion of 50 yards of road? At the rate Wickford is building houses on Woodlands we have at least another 30 years to wait – do you regard that as reasonable?

Perhaps it would be useful for you to explain why the bypass was all but built except for the last 50 yards of connecting road? From a project management perspective it doesn’t make sense to stop 50 yards short, send the work teams and the JCB’s home and leave it uncompleted with a view to starting up again in 10 or more years time?

You blame the bank as the main reason that the bypass has not been completed as they will need more security. You offer no detail as to what you are talking about here, only implications that Wickford would not be able to meet that new financial obligation. Are costs and finances such an issue for Wickford? Is Wickford in such a poor state of financial affairs that it can not afford to complete 50 yards of road without the grave concern of its bank? Should potential buyers of Wickford houses be concerned about the liquidity of the firm – are they likely to go belly up and disappear with buyers deposits? Would the bank be upset by the amount of adverse publicity Wickford has been receiving of late?

Your letter sings Wickford’s praises considerably, but it avoids the simple fact that Wickford built a road, stopped 50 yards short and won’t complete it. In your own words “Wickford is under no obligation to build Woodlands Park at a given rate of sales per annum or complete it in a specified period”.

You made that statement in the context of a benefit to Dunmow town – I interpret it as a statement that it will be decades before you complete the last 50 yards of road.

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Positive spin and using topical issues about banks and financial liquidity to confuse issues is all well and good – but at the end of the day the issue is simple. Wickford has been building on Woodlands for over 10 years and built the road and then stopped 50 yards short on purpose.

In my mind they have not fulfilled their obligations to their customers who have bought homes already and they have not fulfilled their obligations to the Dunmow community, whether they are legally obliged to do so or not.

The only point in your letter that was credible is your last comment - that indeed the readers of the Broadcast and Dunmow residents do want the completion of the bypass. If we want it by sacrificing principles and green lighting new developments by Wickford to get it, then absolutely not. If we want it because you have made us wait 10 years already and it will provide a lot of benefit to the town, and because we don’t want to wait another 30 years for it, then yes.

If Wickford want the support of the Dunmow community and UDC for further developments, I would recommend that you demonstrate some goodwill to the people of Dunmow and fulfill your existing moral obligations to them. Completion of the bypass for the residents and for the town would go much further in showing Dunmow what type of company you claim to be, than a self-promoting letter in the newspaper.

Glen Stafford

Via email