I thought it was a simple question. Has the council been exploring the idea of siting a public transport interchange on part of Plot 6 at Temple Meads where all the infrastructure for a quality transport hub is already planned for the 'Digby Wyatt' shed? Or does it, or the landowners, want to nip the idea in the bud?
The other day, the LibDem's one-time transport supremo Dennis Brown certainly tried to undermine (here, 28 mins in) any commitment to any interchange anywhere near Temple Meads. Still, what else would you expect ? At the same meeting, he'd already reflected how much better it would have been to get to Regional Assembly meetings in Exeter in a Car Club vehicle instead of his own.
The two 'transport leads' who've followed Dennis seem reluctant to say anything much about Plot 6 - so I put the question in as a Freedom of Information request. It had to be rephrased of course:
"I wish to make an F.O.I request about the potential use of Plot 6 (the development site currently in use as a car park, immediately north of the station buildings) at Temple Meads as a public transport interchange, including buses.
Can I please have copies of communications (hard copy or electronic) and details of meetings (minuted or not) or transcripts of telephone calls, referring to such use of any part of Plot 6 as a public transport interchange, between officers, members or agents of the council, or between them and the Plot 6 landowners, their agents, and lessees (including First Group) since August 2008.
A week after the deadline for reply, I get a non-response. Maybe no-one read the question. They tell me:
"Officers from the City Council have been involved in discussions and in providing guidance to the landowners of the land known as Plot 6, Network Rail and the South West Regional Development Agency. If you are able to clarify your request and confirm exactly what "information" you require, I will be happy to assist. However I can confirm that it is
unlikely that all information can be disclosed at this stage as the process is at such an early phase.
This is nonsense. First, because it ignores the perfectly clear nature of the FoI request for information about the use of the site as a transport interchange. Second, because plans for Plot 6 and the rest of the Temple Meads area have been worked up in enormous detail (and no doubt at enormous public expense, the main players being Network Rail and SWRDA), with a speculative mix of offices, retail, and flats. They're NOT at such an early phase. And the council have been party to it.
So what's the real excuse for dodging the FoI question?
Watch this space. At least till they build a block of unsaleable 'buy to let' on it.