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Plans for £750,000 cycle path divide Forest community

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: October 11, 2010

SUPPORT: Residents who want the new cycle path which would run through the Wye Valley.

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BATTLELINES have been drawn over the £750,000 plans to build a cycle path through the Wye Valley.

The plans were submitted in August by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, to Monmouthshire County Council and Forest of Dean District Council.

They are for a traffic-free path for families, walkers, cyclists, runners, mobility vehicles, wheelchair users and horse riders. It would follow the disused 19th Century Wye Valley Railway line, open up two former railway tunnels and see a new bridge being built over the Wye at Tintern.

However, the plans have been criticised in some corners with Tidenham Parish Council voting unanimously against it for a number of reasons including increased parking issues and maintenance costs.

Chairman John Powell said: "Sustrans are known for coming up with the cash to buy these things and then not looking after them.

"If this goes through and that is the case, which I expect it would be, then the parish council would be left with a maintenance bill of £40,000 per year to look after the path. The knock-on effect is that this would have to come out of council tax, meaning that people would find their council tax bill rising by 40 per cent just to afford this, it's crazy.

"I, and the rest of the council, sincerely hope this doesn't go through."

He said claims that the path will boost the economy are wide of the mark.

He said: "It is an absurd statement as we only have one pub and we don't have any cafes!"

A group has been set up in support of the cycle path called Wye Valley Communities for Safe Cycling.

Andy Littledale of the group said: "It will be a benign and well-loved asset to the community and not a magnet for anti-social behaviour and parking problems.

"Local kids could cycle to school, disabled people could access the Wye Valley without getting in their cars and the local businesses in the area would get a well-needed boost."

The railway path is one of 79 projects nationwide that will benefit from a share of £50 million of Big Lottery Fund money awarded to the Sustrans Connect2 project.

The deadline to register a view with Monmouthshire County Council is tomorrow.

Send an email to planning@mon mouthshire.gov.uk, quoting planning reference number DC/2010/00783.

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    Ashley, not Little England  |  October 14 2010, 1:26PM

    Oh the irony. A route that might have provided an alternative to using the car might be scrapped because of... the car. What a petty small minded selfish country England is.

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    Penny, Sedbury  |  October 12 2010, 10:38PM

    I had just found out about this and it makes my blood boil. Sedbury is desperate for facilities like this cycle path. How dare the Parish Council act like this. A 40% rise in council Tax! Come on, that is such rubbish. It's a cycle path not an extension to the M4. And besides Sustrans have said they will pay for the maintenance. This is the biggest issue the Parish Council have had to decide about in years and they seem to have done it without talking to anyone who lives here.

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    Paul Christie, Tintern  |  October 11 2010, 11:24PM

    John Powell's '40% council tax rise' claim is entirely without justification, wholly incorrect and, in light of his democratic responsibilities, represents a serious breach of conduct. My advice to Mr. Powell would be to stop, look around, take a deep breath and accept that his desperate and easily-disproved threats will ultimately not serve any personal agenda he may have. Tidenham parishioners, to whom Mr. Powell is accountable, should question whether it is in their interests to have decisions made on their behalf via a process of non-objectivity and fabricated justification. Paul Christie (WVCSC co-chair)

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    Jeremy Cowen, resident of Tidenham parish  |  October 11 2010, 6:20PM

    Your readership should be aware that Mr Powell's Council Tax comments represent outrageously dishonest and irresponsible scaremongering, which is rather concerning considering his position in public office. Firstly, Sustrans have undertaken to cover the cost of maintenance as they already do on 600km of paths nationwide, so no council tax rise will result. Secondly, Parish councils have no statutory responsibility to pay for the maintenance of roads and public rights of way - this falls to Gloucestershire County Council, and certainly not to a small parish council, whose statutory responsibilities for maintenance is limited to items such as allotments and graveyards! However, for the purposes of proper illustration, the actual effect if the estimated annual cost of path maintenance (£21876) were added to Gloucestershire County Council's current council tax income of £241,786,952 would be a rise of only 0.009%. To put this in context, this would represent an ANNUAL Tidenham Parish council tax increase of between 9p (Band A property) and 27p (Band H). To spread such ill-informed and poorly calculated figures, with an error fact of almost 5000, is highly irresponsible and manipulates the truth. As for the potential benefit to the local economy, Mr Powell demonstrates incredible naivety. There has already been expression of local interest in the provision of bike-hire facilities, whilst local shops in Chepstow, Sedbury and Tintern would inevitably gain from increased custom. No, Sedbury doesn't have a cafe! - but wouldn't the village benefit greatly if it did? and these plans would provide the justification for rare investment and enhancement into our local community at a time of sweeping public sector cuts. In summary, Tidenham Parish Council's statements are both misleading and dishonest, and grossly misrepresent the 200+ parishioners who have actively pledged their support for the Sustrans Wye Valley Railway path. To find out more about these Sustrans proposals, and express your support, visit www.wyevalleycycling.org.uk

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    geraint, gloucester  |  October 11 2010, 3:06PM

    How small minded - surely more visitors means more money coming into a local economy which would far outweigh any maintenance costs? If the anti-group's opinions held sway there would presumably be no tourism anywhere! Isn't the truth of the matter that these people just want to keep this beautiful corner of Gloucestershire to themselves?