In his regular column for the Hereford Times, North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin continues to question Herefordshire Council's decision to buy Maylord Shopping Centre

WHEN Herefordshire Council met on July 17, I heard that a supposed lack of funds was hampering the re-opening of the Fownhope Road.

The coalition council decided that to approve funding for this vital project they will require an extraordinary general meeting.

This certainly leaves one questioning what has been going on to resolve this issue, which arose in February.

On May 14, the Department for Transport announced that Herefordshire will receive £20 million through the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund.

This is funding for local highways maintenance and integrated block funding grants.

Herefordshire Council say they need £4 million to fix the Fownhope road. Half a million less than they spent on the Maylord Shopping Centre.

The £20 million of taxpayers' money in the Transport Infrastructure Fund should more than cover the £4 million Fownhope road repair costs.

RELATED NEWS: MP slams council for spending on shopping centre rather than roads

Additionally, the Government is providing Herefordshire Council with a £9.6 million (6.3 per cent) increase in core spending power this financial year as well as, £11 million of non-ringfenced additional funding in response to Covid-19 pressures.

Residents of Fownhope and surrounding areas are desperate for the works to be completed, and the weather right now is perfect for works to commence.

No doubt we will soon be told why shopping centres are more important than road repairs.

Although I am critical of the council, their officers’ Covid outbreak response has been better.

In Mathon, Public Health England acted fast to locate the virus, test all those on site and form a ‘bubble’ at the farm.

This has been effective to combat and neutralise this mini-outbreak of Covid-19. Most infected staff are now, thankfully, recovered.

I was relieved when PHE in Worcestershire identified which shops the workers had been bussed to in Malvern and Worcester.

RELATED NEWS: Council to buy Maylord Shopping Centre for £4.5m

I have also agreed with the Health Secretary that we need to test other farms with large migrant worker populations.

We need to ensure all parts of our society feel safe and no opportunity for division can be found.

Following the Government Covid-19 health advice is clearly very important because any of us could get ill and nobody wants to pass it on.

Masks may be a real nuisance, but writing as somebody who has had this virus, you really don’t want it. Masks, distancing, handwashing and all the steps we can take to keep the most vulnerable in our society as safe as possible are so worth taking.

So please do all you can to keep safe until the vaccine is delivered.