Saturday, 23 January 2021

Councillors disagree over replacing £450 cycle barrier

A BARRIER designed to slow down cyclists as they enter a road in Sonning Common could be replaced.

Some parish councillors are concerned about the speed at which riders emerge by the woods at the top of Woodlands Road in case there’s a collision.

However, others believe the new barrier would be a waste of money and would discourage people from cycling. 

The old barrier was crushed by a fallen tree four years ago, according to  Sue Abbott who has owned the woods since 2007. It would cost £450 to replace.

Speaking at a council meeting, Councillor Vicky Boorman said: “Residents think that it’s spending money unnecessarily and it would be giving  the wrong impression to put the chicane in.”

Parish clerk Philip Collings responded: “It’s not a chicane, it’s just a quick turn at the entrance to slow people down. It’s a bend in the fence — there is no chicane or kissing gate.”

He said councillors were making too much of a “fuss” about the issue.

Councillor Dirk Jones reminded his colleagues that the clerk had the power to spend up to £2,000.

But Councillor Tom Fort said money should not be spent without a debate.

He said: “If Philip wants to spend money advertising the village hall as a night-time brothel could we then make a comment? Irrespective of the payment, we were going to make a decision.

“I think it’s a complete waste of money and I’ve never seen a single episode of a safety issue.” 

Councillor Brian Giles said: “Philip has explained his position and he always spends money wisely so we should stop this ‘argy-bargy’ and let it go.”

No vote was taken and the decision was left with Mr Collings.

Councillors were also reminded about a media policy which restricts them from openly speaking against a council decision once it has been made.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said: “I believe in the power of free speech — this policy wouldn’t be sensible for parliament or councils anywhere.” Cllr Fort agreed that members should be entitled to give their opinion if asked for it outside of a council meeting. 

But Councillor Douglas Kedge said: “You can debate in a meeting about something but once a decision is made that is the decision of the whole council and councillors shouldn’t go outside and start bickering about it.

“It was the position 15 years ago and it should certaintly be the position now.” 

Cllr Jones said that once a decision had been made only the clerk and chairman should comment.

Councillors agreed that deputy clerk Becky Jenkins should carry out some research and report back at next month’s meeting.

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