Norwich councillors hit back at claims they are “killing off the city” as they wrangle over traffic control with county council
PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:53 14 February 2019
Archant Norfolk 2017
City councillors are asking Norfolk’s transport chiefs to rethink a decision over who looks after the roads of Norwich, dismissing a row between the two authorities as a “petty local squabble”.
Fixing pot-holes, making highway improvements and civil parking enforcement is currently carried out by Norwich City Council on behalf of Norfolk County Council as part of a series of agreements which have been in place since the 1970s.
But the county’s environment, development and transport committee (EDT) last month voted to terminate the existing agreement when it ends on March 31 next year and to carry out the work themselves.
Now city councillors are hitting back at claims they have been “killing off the city” and that footfall was falling due to pedestrianisation.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting at City Hall last night, Mike Stonard, cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said the EDT committee had a narrow focus which concentrated mainly on costs associated with the agency agreement and not the wider implications it would have on Norwich should it be scrapped.
“The loss of the very effective joint working also could put at risk the possibility of future government funding,” he added.
Mr Stonard said the EDT committee made statements which were unchallenged by county councillors and that were “misinformed or misleading, or just totally incorrect”.
“It was stated to the committee that the city council’s highways and transport policies are ‘killing off the city’ and that footfall is falling because of pedestrianisation of streets – all these statements are demonstrably untrue,” he claimed.
He said the EDT committee was “sold a false premise” if members believed there would be an opportunity to reverse the pedestrianisation of the city centre and remove bus lanes to reinstate traffic if the agency agreement was terminated.
He described the situation as a “petty local squabble” which would not impress central government.
Councillor Karen Davis, cabinet member for social inclusion, agreed with Mr Stonard’s comments and said she was concerned that the EDT committee report did not mention what would happen to officers who work as part of the agency agreement.
The cabinet voted unanimously in favour of recommendations to ask the county council to reconsider its decision and to renew the agreement or to develop alternative arrangements.