Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Council won't pay towards repairs

BENSON Parish Council will not contribute £17,000 towards road repairs following protests from residents.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, asked the council to help fund the resurfacing of Castle Square, which will cost about £90,000.

But the parish council has now refused after villagers spoke against the idea.

Martyn Spence said the request made by Mark Gray, Benson’s representative on the county council, would be “the thin end of a very fat wedge”.

Ian Leppard, a former parish councillor, said: “Surfacing is a county council problem. They should take this up with whatever government is in power.

“What about the rest of the roads in the parish and throughout Oxfordshire? It looks a bit like a bribe.”

Michael Goss suggested the money could be loaned to the county council instead.

Dave Rushton, a former vice-chairman of the parish council, said making the payment would be contrary to the council’s grants policy.

Council vice-chairman Jon Fowler confirmed that a £17,000 contribution would exceed the limit set out in the policy.

He proposed not to make a contribution, saying councillors had to consider the public’s views and the strength of feeling against the proposal.

“I’m not aware of any members of the public supporting this,” he said. “I’m aware of a number objecting to it.”

Cllr Fowler said he had spoken to Councillor Gray who said Castle Square was “due to be done anyway”.

Councillor Rob Jordan said that by refusing to contribute, the council was sending a message to parishioners.

The council agreed unanimously not to make a contribution.

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