Ward Councillors Report, February 2021
I attended the full council’s extraordinary meeting on 2nd February, which was called to determine if we go ahead with the bypass and the southern link road.
We were all advised by the officer that the outcome of this meeting should not be predetermined, that we should listen to the arguments and then make a judgment before we vote.
However, after listening to members of the administration, it became clear that they had already made up their minds and in my opinion, were never serious about improving Hereford’s infrastructure. They have spent the last two years and four hundred and eight three thousand pounds of your money conducting pointless reviews trying to find a reason to cancel the bypass and the southern link road.
But their review states and I quote ( A + C + D = walking, Cycling and the Western Bypass).
“Economy: Creating a resilient transport system which allows reliable and efficient movement of people and goods and which supports sustainable development and a thriving local economy
- The package which includes the western bypass ( A + C + D) is forecast to provide the most significant congestion relief to the city and the most significant resilience for the transport network, with a new strategic link over the River Wye.”
This administration seems to have the notion that all road building is evil. It is blind to this county’s future financial requirements, has no coherent plan for Hereford’s economic revival, and is falling over itself to demonstrate its Green credentials.
They have turned away over 200 million pounds of investment in Hereford’s infrastructure and at the same time have wasted money on silly projects like buying a defunct shopping centre and obsessing about getting us all on electric buses and bicycles.
Mysteriously they want Hereford’s economy to grow without investing in the necessary infrastructure to enable this growth. So their strategy does nothing to ease the congestion in Hereford along the A49, continues the 46000 Daily Traffic Flows over Greyfriars Bridge with the polluted air residents breathe as they walk or ride their bikes around town.
Therefore, the bypass and the Southern Link roads are now dead. By the way, some councillors are still fixated on an Eastern river crossing which will inevitably cause massive traffic jams along the Roman road, in our parish, as heavy goods vehicles try to get back on the A49 after avoiding the city centre.
This administration has condemned Hereford to become an irrelevant backwater when other cities are eager for government monies to revive their economies after the COVID-19 Pandemic has passed.
This administration’s message to business outside the county is ‘Hereford is closed go away’. I recently had a long conversation with a foreign investor from the hospitality industry who wanted to bring millions of pounds of investment into Hereford. He told me that Hereford is currently in competition with Devon.
On another occasion, I spoke to an IT venture capitalist I’d worked for in the 1990s. After I sang the praises of Hereford as a place for IT startups, he said to me ‘why would I bring millions of pounds of investment into a city that is turning away infrastructure investment at a time when it’s needed most’, and he added that he hates driving to Hereford.
During the last council election, I said that Hereford was at a fork in the road; one way led to a thriving economy with high paid jobs for our children. The other led to decline with an ageing population, burdening the social services, and increasing debit.
In my view, even if the Conservatives win the next election, it will be too late to repair the damage done by this administration. There is likely to be an ever decreasing pot of money from central government. That money will be prioritized to dynamic, forward-thinking cities that will be able to pull their weight in the UK’s overall economy.