Update from XR about Last Friday’s Council Meeting

Despite being scrutinised for nearly 3 hours on Friday by opposition councillors from It’s Our County! and The Green Party, Herefordshire Council is going ahead with its plan to spend another £3.65m over the next 12 months on developing plans and designs for the Hereford Bypass.

That’s £10,000 per day!

During the lengthy debate the main discussion centred on whether it was right to commit so much money to a project that will be reviewed after May’s election should the administration change, i.e. if the Conservatives no longer have a majority and don’t run the council.

Cllr Ellie Chowns reminded the meeting on at least two occasions that building the bypass is not compatible with the recent declaration of a climate emergency. The Conservative-dominated committee took little notice and using their majority voted out the proposals to put the spending decision on hold or to permit three months expenditure only.

One comment afterwards –  “It really makes me squirm the way some of the councillors can’t utter the words climate emergency……something to do with gases or pollution….or something!”

Council officers and consultants from Balfour Beatty attended the meeting and backed up claims by Cabinet member Philip Price that the design work has to proceed to schedule. You may wonder why a road building / consultancy firm who stand to get £3.65m worth of work are allowed to even make an appearance at such meetings, let alone speak in favour of awarding themselves more work…So do I!

After the votes, XR members made a symbolic silent protest. About twice as many of us as in the picture were present at the start. This was a really great turn out and will have reminded councillors that concerns about climate chaos are not going away.  Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to attend.

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