BRENTWOOD Council have hit out at the previous Tory administration for allocating £1.6million on the Shenfield park and stride scheme despite an independent report advising against the idea.
The report, undertaken by JMP Consultants earlier this year and commissioned by the council, revealed that the park and stride scheme - which was planned for a site off Alexander Lane in the run up to Crossrail coming to town – would not be beneficial to the town.
The Accord administration claim the Tories would have known of the report’s findings before putting the money aside in the March budget The Conservative group have hit back though, saying the report was for a variety of parking options in Shenfield and it would have been irresponsible if they hadn’t put the money aside after commissioning the report.
The report, which cost £19,945, assessed various parking options in and around Shenfield station, including park and ride from Chelmsford Road and Mountnessing Roundabout.
Summing up the park and stride idea, the report said: “It is considered that the benefit to existing rail users arising from the provision of a Park and Stride facility would be low, and that there are a number of issues which cast doubt on the ultimate deliverability and financial viability of such a scheme.”
Lib Dem Councillor Graeme Clarke said: “There were two versions of the report available before the budget, but they still allocated the money for something that wasn’t viable.”
Brentwood First Councillor Russell Quirk called the report “a smoking gun”. He said: “It’s utterly irresponsible and poor way from previous council to spend public money. Did all the members know?”
Tory leader Ms McKinaly said she wanted to see the Accord come up with their own parking ideas.
She said: “The report is a breakdown of what could be in Shenfield, because Crossrail are saying there is no need for enhanced parking, but we know that from speaking to residents that that’s rubbish.
“We put a pot aside and were very clear that it was put there for these issues.
“If we hadn’t put any money aside people would have asked what are they playing at. It would have been absurd.
“If they are against the park and stride that’s their opinion but let’s see the alternative. I believe they have made some fanciful declarations in recent weeks but I haven’t seen one idea on how any of it is going to be funded.”