A LOCAL hotelier has questioned the expertise of Herefordshire Council’s infrastructure cabinet member in carrying out the western city bypass proposals.

Speaking at last month’s cabinet meeting, Peter Hands asked how the council could make major decisions without responses from government agencies.

The Speech House Hotel owner also asked Councillor Philip Price, who is a farmer, what qualifications he had to oversee a highways project which ‘will devastate the countryside of Herefordshire’.

He asked: “How can this council take major decisions on this bypass without waiting for the responses from Natural England, Highways England and the Woodland Trust?

“Surely, any unbiased democratic body would wait for the information to be assembled before taking a decision.

“May I ask what qualifications you have other than being a local farmer and a resident of the Golden Valley to oversee this project which will devastate the countryside of Herefordshire.”

Councillor Price replied that decision making at any council is done by officers and the administration which is made of elected councillors.

He said: “I am the elected member for Golden Valley North.

“I have been elected as the cabinet member for infrastructure and, as such, it is not whether I have a qualification, it is whether I am able to ensure the recommendations and the work by officers is done in a sensible evidence-based fashion.

“I do not have to be an engineer. I do not have to be a consultant in road building, I have the ability to talk to people to find the answers that are necessary to make a decision.”

Cabinet unanimously agreed that the red route was the best out of the seven options for the western road on July 27.

The proposed route would travel between Warham Farm and Warham House and cross the River Wye close to Dorchester Way in Belmont.

This decision will now allow for a third consultation stage and the council’s economy director can progress the route design to a maximum cost of £2.45m.