NEWS | Bill Wiggin critical of Herefordshire Council’s plans for market towns

Bill Wiggin (MP for North Herefordshire) has voiced his growing concern over Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty’s implementation of the Emergency Active Travel Funds, recently made available by the Government.

Mr Wiggin has been contacted by many residents and business owners of North Herefordshire this week, frustrated and worried that their concerns are not being heard and that actions are being taken by the Council without full consultation.

New restrictions imposed on Kington will require those travelling from the direction of Lyonshall to make a five-mile detour and enter from the west in order to get into town. This extra road travel is hardly environmentally friendly and makes a mockery of the supposed ‘green’ agenda this Council proports to support.

To make matters worse Hereford and Worcester Fire Service have commented that the restrictions proposed in Kington could result in delay in response times which could lead to loss, injury or worst of all a fatality.

Jeopardising emergency response times for the sake of these restrictions defies belief.

Business owners in Ledbury are also feeling side-lined as plans for the town centre that were scrapped two years ago, have resurfaced under the guise of supposedly being a government directive. What nonsense and to suggest the Council plans are not their own rather undermines the purpose of going ahead.

Bill Wiggin MP is concerned that as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, Herefordshire Council risks hurting business owners, their staff and residents alike with these proposals.

Businesses must be promoted not sanctioned as we get North Herefordshire’s economy up and running again.

Commenting, Mr Wiggin said:

“The misinformation surrounding this directive is deeply worrying. The Emergency Active Travel Funds were recently made available primarily to discourage the use of public transport to get to work, where cycling could safely be done instead.

The funding amount was decided on census data based on how many residents in a Local Authority used public transport to get to work.

Given that the County as a whole is 95% rural, most people have no choice but to drive.

Hence, the first round of funding for these emergency works in Herefordshire is only £40,000.

There is an additional £160,000 in phase 2 for longer-term projects.

The proposals I have seen for market towns in North Herefordshire alone suggest that the Councils plans will cost a lot more than is to be made available.

Where will this additional money come from? Are the council even aware of how much they are due to receive?

The Council just purchased the Maylord Shopping centre for £4.5million.

They don’t yet appear to know what they want to do with it so perhaps no more council-tax payers money should be spent on unnecessary projects.

I urge all residents to contact their local County Councillor to have their opinions heard before plans are rushed through.”

Information on how to contact your local councillor can be found here 👉 https://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx