Task group to help shape Oakham’s future

OK2WAY supporters march to Rutland Couty Council offices to hand in petition. Photo: Lee Hellwing
OK2WAY supporters march to Rutland Couty Council offices to hand in petition. Photo: Lee Hellwing
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Rutland County Council is to set up a group that will help shape the future of Oakham.

Last week, the county council pulled plans for a one-way system for the town centre from its forward plan and announced no more work would be done on it in 2018.

It followed criticism of how the scheme had been selected.

At Monday night’s packed full council meeting councillors unanimously voted in favour of acting leader Oliver Hemsley’s (Con) motion to set-up a ‘task and finish’ group, which will consider the future of Oakham and is expected to consist of representatives the community and businesses.

The group will be formed through the council’s growth, infrastructure and resources scrutiny panel.

Coun Edward Baines (Con) said before the motion was passed: “I think we all share the same aim in this room, we want to create a county town worthy of Rutland.

“I think we should make sure that whatever process we go down it has full support in the community arrived at by a democratic process and then we can have a county town we can all be proud of.”

The council pushed ahead with plans for the one-way system after it held a consultation which saw 53 per cent of people who took part - 501 people - back the idea.

But it was heavily criticised and in December, campaign group OK2WAY led a protest march through Oakham and then handed in a petition to the county council’s offices, which was signed by more than 3,000 people and asked the council to hold a referendum on the plans for a one-way scheme.

OK2WAY believed the consultation was unfair as it looked at only two options, the one-way scheme and keeping the current two-way flow on the High Street with improvements to pavements and roads.

Coun Hemsley confirmed at the meeting all options for the regeneration including the one-way scheme would be considered in future.

At the meeting, Gerry Robinson who came up with the idea for the petition gave a presentation on it to councillors.

He backed the idea of the task and finish group, but said a referendum should still be held on the idea of a one-way-system for the town centre once it had completed its work.

He told the meeting: “Everybody knows that referendums are not the solution for every decision, but for big decisions like Brexit and most importantly changes in Oakham in the long term - it is a good way to go.”

But in a debate following the presentation several councillors told Mr Robinson a referendum was not necessary as the task group would incorporate people’s 
views.

The scrutiny committee will discuss the formation of the group at its next meeting on Thursday, February 15.