Extraordinary scenes at what should have been a perfectly normal HATOC (Highways and Traffic Orders Committee) meeting yesterday.
HATOC is a Devon County Council committee and includes three EDDC councillors. It’s normally a business-like, ‘let’s get it done’ kind of committee with nothing particularly contentious on the agenda.
Yesterday we had an update from South West Highways on potholes and top dressing of roads following the winter storms last year.
Then, an agenda item for traffic calming measures in West Hill was up for discussion. This has been on the cards for literally years and it is proposed to be funded by the Government’s Safer Routes to School scheme.
No, nothing contentious there then.
Except that the ward member is Independent Councillor, Claire Wright, PPC for East Devon in the forthcoming general election.
One by one, the Conservative members of the committee raised concerns about the type of traffic calming measures proposed. The officer, looking somewhat bemused, explained why these were the ideal measures for the location.
Cllr Wright explained that this was a much needed scheme, had gone through extensive consultation and there had been very little opposition.
But the Conservative councillors each argued one after the other that when you drove over these speed bumps it hurt your back, they would be invisible to cyclists at night, and they would cause a noise nuisance to residents nearby.
Supporting the proposal, Cllr Wragg (LibDem) pointed out that in that case, all speed bumps should be removed across the whole of Devon.
It was an extraordinary piece of theatre … or rather pantomime … all set up in advance to ensure that Cllr Wright could not add the installation of traffic-calming measures for the safety of children in West Hill to the long list of her many achievements.
It was a shameful exercise in pathetic party political bickering.
We are constantly told that the Conservatives do not operate under the Party Whip system, but antics such as those witnessed yesterday put a lie to that assertion.
So what was the result of this pantomime … these theatrical shenanigans of which a local amateur dramatic group would have been ashamed?
The bemused officer was despatched to do more research into speeding in West Hill and asked to bring a report to the next HATOC meeting in July … after the impending general election.
It’s time for change.