Sunday, 20 August 2017

Council ‘wasted’ money in road row

THE Deputy Mayor of Henley has criticised Oxfordshire County Council for spending £35,000 of public money in the row over

THE Deputy Mayor of Henley has criticised Oxfordshire County Council for spending £35,000 of public money in the row over parking in Bell Street.

Stefan Gawrysiak says the scale of spending could have been reduced had the road’s public highways status been confirmed sooner.

Marlow developer Chesterton Commercial wanted to create a new layout for nine private parking spaces outside nos 94-102 but it was rejected by a government inspector following an inquiry in August.

Last week, the Standard revealed that the county council had spent 431 hours of officer time on the dispute, amounting to £16,378, and a further £18,900 on legal advice. Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said the money could be “better spent in Henley on a whole range of projects”.

Councillor Gawrysiak agreed but said the county council should have taken responsibility for its actions earlier.

He said: “What Councillor Nimmo Smith failed to mention is that this cost is due totally to errors made by the county council. They stated wrongly for many years that this part of Bell Street was not highway.

“He also failed to state that it was the council’s wish to give away this piece of land to a developer for nothing. This would have maintained the dangerous situation so graphically described by the inspector.

“Henley Town Council opposed the giving away of the land and it has been asking for years for the county council to engage with stakeholders to resolve this issue. The county council failed to do this and it was only after the inspector’s decision that they started.”

The county council is halving the number of allocated parking spaces for residents after the inquiry found that the current layout poses safety risks. It will create four parallel parking spaces alongside the green triangle where at least eight cars can be parked currently.

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