Mayor hits out at draft plan cost

PUBLISHED: 09:50 11 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 11 May 2010

ROYSTON S mayor has hit out at the £73,000 cost of a new Urban Transport Plan (UTP) for the town. Cllr Rod Kennedy obtained the costs of the Hertfordshire County Council draft plan under the freedom of information act. And in a letter to The Crow he said:

ROYSTON'S mayor has hit out at the £73,000 cost of a new Urban Transport Plan (UTP) for the town.

Cllr Rod Kennedy obtained the costs of the Hertfordshire County Council draft plan under the freedom of information act.

And in a letter to The Crow he said: "It would appear the Urban Transport Plan is not funded to find a solution to transport problems in Royston, but is for the purpose of justifying council employees' jobs and paying expensive external consultants.

"At least £73,000 of public money has been spent for a plan which seems to provide few new proposals."

According to the county council, the total budget for the plan was £60,600, while it is also thought to have cost an additional £13,000 in terms of time spent by council officers developing the scheme.

Of the overall budget £9,090 was spent on "consultancy related tasks."

Cllr Kennedy added the lack of provision for a weight limit in Melbourn Street, something which has regularly been requested in recent years by town and district councillors, represented a "glaring omission."

He said: "Both the consultant and council officer I spoke to at the public exhibition seemed totally unaware of this request [for a weight limit], which if there was proper communication within the county council should have been known to the people involved in the study at the outset.

"A visit to the town by the council's officers, and possibly a walk around with a group of councillors and residents would have done the job more cheaply and effectively.

"We might then have some practical proposals, which could be implemented with the £60,600 saved from not holding this expensive consultation."

The draft UTP was unveiled at public consultation exhibitions in January, and outlines a range of improvements to transport infrastructure in Royston.

The final plan will be established based on the feedback the county council received during consultation.

No budget has yet been agreed for implementing the plan, although central government funding worth £12,607 has been set aside for "integrated transport" in 2010/11, while £10,638 has been earmarked to fund maintenance schemes.

A spokesman for the county council said: "Local authorities are required to produce transport plans of this nature so that they are able to access funding for various schemes from central Government.

"The costs of producing the Royston transport plan were in keeping with the costs associated with similar exercises carried out elsewhere.

The plan was produced after a tendering process to ensure that we obtained the best value for money."

The spokesman added that the total budget covered the "whole job", including items such as workshops and meetings, data collection, advertising and printing, as well as administrative and other costs.

"The ideas is the plan reflect issues and priorities raised by local people through the consultation work," he said.

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