Investigation into Norwich’s £5.7m pedalways scheme branded “a sham”
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
An investigation into what went wrong with the first phase of Norwich's multi-million pound Push The Pedalways scheme has been branded as 'a sham'.
Norwich City Council spent £5.7m, the bulk of which came from the Department for Transport, to make an eight-mile bicycle route through the heart of Norwich between Heartsease and Colney safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
But parts of the project, such as The Avenues where original plans had to be scrapped because of tree roots and changes to Tombland came in for criticism.
The controversy led City Hall's scrutiny committee to look into the issue at a meeting last month, which concluded with a string of recommendations to learn lessons when it comes to the next phase of the project.
But Green councillors have blasted the review as 'a sham' and said the council's scrutiny procedure is 'not fit for purpose'.
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Ash Haynes, leader of the Green group, said: 'It was an incredibly frustrating meeting. The role of scrutiny committee is to demand answers to difficult questions, so that the public can be sure that the council is spending money responsibly, acting transparently and, when mistakes have been made, learning from those mistakes.
'Having several members of the Labour group try to stop the committee doing its job by wasting time with deliberately easy questions makes a mockery of the scrutiny process. The whole thing was a sham.'
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The Greens also criticised that public comments which were sought in advance were not published in full, but presented as a one-page summary. They want to see them now published.
James Wright, Liberal Democrat chairman of scrutiny, said he would have no problem with anonymised responses being published, but took issue with the claim that the meeting was a sham.
He said: 'There were questions being asked by all sides for more than two hours and I don't agree that the meeting was a sham. My role as chairman is to make sure everyone has the equal opportunity to speak and from my notes, the questions were equally weighted from all sides.'
And Alan Waters, Labour leader of the council, said: 'I attended the meeting as an observer and I thought the meeting went really well. I thought it was a fairly frank discussion and the questions from all members were considered and good.
'A lot of work went into the meeting and it's a bit disappointing that some time after the event, some sort of penny seems to have dropped with the Greens'.
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