Last Friday’s meeting of all Herefordshire councillors covered a wide range of topics affecting the county. Here are eight of the most important ones.

  • The planned new library and information centre in Hereford’s Maylord Orchards shopping centre could be a “bottomless pit” for council resources, Conservative councillor Nigel Shaw warned, as councillors voted to increase the council’s contribution to that project and to the redesign of the former library on Broad Street. More.
  • Herefordshire Council has appointed staff whom it should have “avoided like the plague”, and their shortcomings would have been apparent from a simple we search beforehand, Conservative councillor Carole Gandy said. More.
  • Herefordshire has many more children than the national average taken into care due to “fabricated or induced illness” (FII), a rare form of child abuse in which a parent or carer exaggerates or deliberately causes symptoms of illness in their child, Liberal Democrat councillors claimed. Council leader David Hitchiner said the claim was “just not right”. More.
  • Herefordshire will have spent “about a million pounds” on free weekend buses when the year-long scheme finishes at the end of this month. Coun Hitchiner said it had been “tremendous value for money” given the number of trips made. More.
  • The council passed a series of measures intended to address the ongoing problem of pollution in the river Wye, including asking the Government what further evidence it would require to reconsider its decision not to give the river Water Protection Zone status.
    Asked about progress in addressing pollution in the river Wye, Hitchiner said he had been told by Government ministers that “they are appointing a lot of people nationally to enforce Environment Agency conditions”.
    “We are looking at employing officers ourselves to ensure manure management plans and other planning conditions are being followed,” he said. “But that is another pressure on us.”
  • With the council’s first “integrated” wetland at Luston north of Leominster due to come into use shortly, and so alleviate the block on new housing in the catchment of the river Lugg, Coun Mike Jones asked how many further wetlands the council intended to build.
    Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport John Harrington said: “We were hoping to get eight, and we are actively looking at another three at the moment.” But he said the amount the council paid for the land was “privileged”.
  • Coun Gandy said she had raised “multiple times” the issue of the recently renovated yet “unsafe” bridge over the Teme at Buckton near Leintwardine, which has gaps through which a two-year-old child almost fell through to the river below, and was only saved by a the quick action of their grandfather.
    Coun Harrington said: “You raise an interesting point. At what point do we stop having to provide protection on everything that is the responsibility of parents taking their children on that road?
    “Balfour’s [the council’s public realm contractor Balfour Beatty] say the bridge is not a significant safety risk. However I have asked that we double-check that, so it is discounted or actioned.”
  • Non-aligned councillor Jim Kenyon said he was “ashamed” to hear from a “desperate” contractor who provides homelessness services for the council “hasn’t been paid for three months”, and another was also owed.
    He was told by the council’s chief financial officer Andrew Lovegrove: “That’s unacceptable, I apologise unreservedly, I will contact the companies and have started understanding where the blockage is.”

The council will not now meet again in full session until October 21.

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