Sir – Can I suggest that county council leader Ian Hudspeth needs to seek better advice, rather than relying on the same council team that led to the Cogges Link Road fiasco?
He was quoted (Witney Gazette, December 27) in response to the prospect of having to repay the £5.9m of developer contributions as saying: “It would not be spent on a four-way junction on the A40 at Shores Green while the scheme required the compulsory purchase of land.”
Earlier reports indicated that he was being advised that the people of Witney would “understand” that the council was reluctant to pursue another compulsory purchase, given its recent failures.
Can I suggest that it is too early to tell whether an actual compulsory purchase will be required. I understand that one landowner of a small part of the land has not so far indicated a willingness to sell.
This is a standard tactic to seek to increase the value of the land as councils want to avoid legal costs and delays.
Councils often take a holistic view and offer the landowner a larger sum to convince them to sell early and thereby actually save money in the long term, while delivering schemes quickly. Presumably that would be a way to use the £5.9m.
Equally, if that were not an option, there are numerous other designed schemes around Witney which could be progressed using the payments, such as the Ducklington Lane/Station Road junction improvements.
If the council’s agreements with the developer do not permit such a use for the money, or if they haven’t progressed work on such schemes, then that would appear to be another fiasco in the making.
Stephen Harness, The Springs, Witney