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Shropshire Council referred to commissioner over councillor’s road resurfacing

By Andrew Morris | Oswestry | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Shropshire Council has been referred to the Information Commissioner after it failed to reveal full details of the cost and justification of relaying of a single track road leading to a top councillors’ home.

Where new road meets old road near Councillor Vince Hunt's home

The authority was asked to clarify how it came to relay the unclassified road leading to Councillor Vince Hunt’s home in a Freedom of Information Act request made at the beginning of April.

The one-mile lane was resurfaced just before Christmas last year, after Councillor Joyce Barrow sent an email to the council’s highways department entitled ‘Vince Hunt’s Road!’

But despite requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the council has failed to reveal how it reached the decision to resurface the road ahead of others – or how much the work cost.

Interactive map shows where the road is:

Now Shropshire Friends, a group led by private investigator Paul Wiseman, has referred the authority to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Councillor Barrow’s email to the council’s highways department said: “Vince has asked me to find out when the middle bit of the New Barns/Llansilin Road will be resurfaced as he was promised it would be done some time ago.”

The work lead to complaints from members of the public who said more important roads were in need of the work.

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The resurfaced country lane in Trefonen

And Sharon Clayton, clerk of Oswestry Rural Parish Council, has said the work was not on a list of concern.

She said: “As far as I am aware the condition of the lane has not been designated by the parish council as a concern for the community.

“As far as I am aware no representation by the parish council has been made to Shropshire Council to resurface the lane.

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“As far as I am aware there has been no communication concerning resurfacing of the lane between Shropshire Council and the parish council nor any other individuals.”

Expense

Mr Wiseman said: “I first asked for information regarding ‘Vince Hunt Road’ on April 3, 2019.

“This is a relatively simple process and according to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, should have been completed within 20 working days.

“We are now into the third week of October and Shropshire Council has ‘drip fed’, delayed and prevaricated since they received my original request.

“I have now lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office to force Shropshire Council to disclose all the information asked for at the beginning of April.

“The lane, in the middle of nowhere, and servicing only six properties, was resurfaced at taxpayers’ expense and without the knowledge of the local parish council.”

He added: “This matter is not over yet.”

Mr Wiseman’s Freedom of Information request asked: “What was the justification for the refurbishment of the lane that only services five dwellings? Was any representation made by Oswestry Rural Parish Council to refurbish the lane? What communications were there with regard to the refurbishment by Shropshire Council, Shropshire Council Highways Department, Oswestry Rural Parish Council or any other parties?”

Mr Wiseman is still awaiting a response to the question about what justification there is for the refurbishment of the lane – including the cost.

Shropshire Council has been asked to comment.

Councillors Hunt and Barrow have refused to comment on the story.

Andrew Morris

By Andrew Morris
Local Democracy Reporter - @AndyMorrisLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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