Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Councillor says £320,000 “white elephant” was money down the drain
A NEW £320,000 cycle path linking Axminster and Kilmington has been condemned as a muddy waste of public money.
Town councillors heard last week that the when the nearby river Yarty floods the tunnel section under the main road becomes clogged with mud and straw – making it impossible to ride through.
Town councillor Paul Hayward said he was staggered to learn how much the 1km long route had cost after making a freedom on information request to obtain the figure.
Describing it as a “white elephant” he said it was a hazard to health when dry - because the tunnel was only 5ft 9inches high - and a hazard to health when wet, because when the river flooded it filled with mud and straw.
“You have to walk through two or three inches of mud,” he said.
“They say if it floods to use the alternative route so if there is an alternative route why did they have to build this in the first place?
“This is money thrown down the drain on some novelty project - it is not a practical route.”
Mayor Andrew moulding said the alternative route was, in fact, the main road and he felt Cllr Hayward was being “a little unfair”, although he agreed at present cyclists could not ride through the tunnel.
“I use it with my son, who is disabled, and it is brilliant for him,” he said.
“There is a potential solution to the flooding and we will learn more about that and it will be kept clear. It is well used and well appreciated.”
Cllr Sue Spiller said her husband also used it and thought it was brilliant even though there was a bit of a slurry problem.
“But if a solution is being looked at then it will be brilliant because it is so well used,” she said.
Planning committee chairman Chris Scott promised: “We will get it sorted.”
When it opened last year the cycle route was the latest section of the Stop Line Way – which will eventually link Seaton to Weston Super Mare.
It is being funded and built by a partnership of local authorities in the three counties, with the support of Sustrans. In Devon, the route stretches from Seaton Promenade to the county boundary and is a largely traffic-free footway and cycleway.
Speaking at last year’s opening of the Kilmington section, which runs alongside the river Yarty, to the B3261, Trafalgar Way, Devon county council’s transport spokesman Stuart Hughes said it was another important milestone in the cycle network.
“A lot of effort and planning has gone into this section to maintain the characteristics of the local environment and to provide an underpass under the dual carriageway,” he said.