Saturday, 28 April 2012

Council Accused Of Misleading Villagers Over Highway Safety


Cllr Kevin Wilkins
(LD, West Chesterton)

Cambridgeshire County Council has been accused of moving the goalposts over plans to give villagers funding for safety improvements.

Parish councils were told before Christmas that they could bid for funds to make improvements in their areas.

But problems started even before they had even submitted their bids; the county council delayed the submission date and then changed it twice.

Now villagers have been told by Cambridgeshire County Council that economic development is now its top priority and they must meet a whole range of new criteria before the money will be released.

“Parish councils feel they have been misled and badly let down,” said Hardwick Councillor, Fiona Whelan. “The county council led them to believe that they could get this money and then moved the goalposts at the last minute.  

“This is absolutely absurd. All nine parishes in my area have submitted good ideas for making local safety improvements; but they now feel they’ve been lied to.”

She said that before Comberton Parish Council submitted its bid, she asked officers how much information the parish council was expected to include in its submission.

Cllr Fiona Whelan was told only basic information was required and officers would refer back to the parish council if they needed more.

Now the parish council has been told it has to meet a whole range of criteria that it knew nothing about when submitting the bid; and Cllr Whelan said the same applies to all the other villages she represents.

“When the Leader of the Council talks about Cambridgeshire being ‘Open for Business’, it is clear that business does not mean addressing local safety issues,” she added.

Cllr Kevin Wilkins, County Council Shadow Cabinet Member for Highways, raised the problems at the council’s Cabinet meeting on 17 April but his concerns were dismissed.

“The Conservatives running the Council don’t seem to realise that they are saying one thing then doing another,” he said. “Some parishes have been treated really badly