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Denbigh Cycle Route rejected in Municipal Mugging!

 Cllr Bartley, Chair of Denbighshire Planning Committee and Town Mayor elect 2015 –16, successfully proposed rejection of the application.

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 application. 
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.

Lanes deemed ‘dangerous’ in the debate, are popular with  ‘promenading’ walkers and cyclists

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 wayside properties http://www.denbighshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/166045   (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 the Ombudsman.

A section of the the route is already used by locals

14th April 2015