Calls for reversal of transport decision-making blunder

The Grapes Hill roundabout in Norwich. Roadworks will begin there later this month.

The Grapes Hill roundabout in Norwich. Roadworks will begin there later this month. - Credit: Archant © 2005

Councillors have demanded the power to make binding decisions on multi-million transport schemes.

A County Hall blunder meant that a committee made up of county, district and city councillors was not following the correct procedures, potentially leaving decisions open to legal challenge.

Now members of the Transport for Norwich joint committee have called for them to be given the decision-making powers they believed they had.

It was discovered in March that the committee did not have the power to make joint decisions. Instead, the power actually rested with the chairman of the committee, county council cabinet member, Martin Wilby.

Among a string of high-profile projects which were given the go-ahead on an invalid basis were the £6.1m revamp of St Stephens Streetthe £330,000 alterations to Grapes Hill roundabout and the controversial bus lane in Cromer Road in Hellesdon.

At a meeting on Thursday, Labour city and county councillors made a case for remedying the situation.

Steve Morphew, the leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said when the committee was set up everyone believed decisions would be made jointly.

He also argued this was also implied in bids for government cash.

Most Read

Mike Stonard, a Labour city councillor, also raised concerns that without sharing the powers, the cabinet member at the county council could reject the committee's decisions.  

He said: “What I would say, Martin, is it’s not you that I’m worried about, it's who might come after you. 

“The problem with having a gentleman’s agreement and trusting in the good chap who’s chairing the committee is its only as good as the person sitting in the chair at any one time.” 

A council officer said under the current system the committee would act as a consultative body, similar to going to the public.

The chair of the committee would then have to take that consultation into account and explain why they had made a decision.

The committee agreed to pursue getting decision-making powers. This will have to be agreed by the leader of Norfolk County Council, Andrew Proctor.