In an early test of the effectiveness of
the Wales Active Travel legislation*, the rejection by
Denbighshire County Council of its own Officers'
recommendation for Denbigh's first short section of
cycle routing raises many questions.
Not least of these is whether some
councillors are aware of the importance of such routes
in meeting many of today’s social problems, ranging from
environmental, public health, social inclusion, and
developing a cohesive inclusive society, not dependant
on whether we own, or do not own, a car.
Central to opposition to the route, which
follows the trajectory of the former Vale of Clwyd rail
line, is Cllr Ray Bartley. Chairman of the Planning
Committee, a previous Denbigh mayor on four occasions,
and now Mayor elect for the fifth time in 2015, he is
clearly a gentleman carrying political clout at town and
county levels, which perhaps explains why the town
council has kicked into touch various cycle routes on
several occasions – a leverage opportunity not missed by
other council members voting against the planning
Cllr Bartley is one of two ward members
most affected by the application (Lower Denbigh ward).
The other, Cllr Richard Davies, presented a carefully
prepared statement in support the application. In a
denunciation of the route, which is largely across open
land with two country lane crossings, Cllr Bartley
rejected the findings of an independent safety audit
which found low levels of traffic and that the highways
were within safety standards for a route of this kind.
Cllr Bartley complained that loss of
privacy by adjacent properties, noise, pollution, and
‘general environmental issues’ were inevitable, and
that, in preference, a route should be selected along
the town bypass as there were other examples of cycle
paths alongside main roads in the area.
‘dangerous’ in the debate, are popular with ‘promenading’ walkers
Has the council chamber been the scene of
an ideological battle between the visionary and the
reactionary? In one corner the visionaries who, for
good environmental reasons, want more of us to leave our
cars in the garage for local journeys. And in the other
corner, those for whom the sight of people walking or
cycling past their windows is good reason to reach for
the smelling salts.
Adequate width for the route. No loss of
privacy for these residents at the rear of the cemetery
Veteran of a number of disputes of this
kind over thirty years, CTC’s Cyclists’ Rights Rep’ Roy
Spilsbury says he could have written the protesters'
script for them. He‘s heard it all before, ranging
from the risible to the ridiculous. But what really
angers him is when he hears excuses being parroted by
council members who have no regard for the immense
benefits such routes bring to local communities, and
who also, by and large, misrepresent the lack of
negative impact on adjacent properties. He cites his
deep satisfaction with the very popular Dyserth-Prestatyn
cycle path, which he campaigned for from his home next
to a former rail line three decades ago.
On the Denbigh proposal, see the videoed
debate and judge for yourself whether proportionality
and reason prevailed. You will not be alone if you are
disturbed at the implication that cyclists and walkers
bring in their wake, noise, pollution, and a threat to
(Debate - 09.18mins to 1hr 11mins 24secs)
County Councillor, Gwyneth Kensler, not a
member of the planning committee, expressed the
frustration of many Denbigh residents – and of Sustrans
and CTC - at this perverse decision that runs counter to
the aims of the Active Travel Act.
In view of the county officers' decision not
to appeal the rejection of their recommendation -
despite the worrying precedent it sets in terms of
debate content and outcome - CTC is preparing a case for
A section of
the the route is already used by locals
14th April 2015