Lib Dem Councillor Forces New Scrutiny of County Council Decision To Sell Railfreight Land

16 May 2023

Lib Dem county councillor Sandy Walkington has successfully forced Hertfordshire County Council to refer its decision to agree terms for the sale of its land at the former Radlett aerodrome for the proposed giant freight terminal for further scrutiny by elected members of the county council.

"Frankly it was shocking that the deal was about to be done by officers with elected members expected to accept the decision as a fait accompli. As local campaigners have shown, there are a whole load of unanswered questions and the rush to sell the land stinks", Sandy said.

"The ruling administration at County Hall has always parroted that they are 'reluctant sellers'. The county council's legal advice says that the council can choose not to sell the land if there have been major changes in circumstances since the Secretary of State granted planning permission. Well since that decision in 2014 we have had Brexit with all its implications for railfreight and there has also been the entirely unforeseeable explosion in e-commerce with the consequent huge increase in white van traffic. Both of these are potentially hugely impactful on the need for the terminal and the kind of traffic and burden on the road network it will generate. So has the council sought independent analysis of the impact of these issues?

"The other issue is whether SEGRO are going to pay for all the required highway improvements, come what may, or whether there will be hidden future costs for the county council and council tax payers making the deal even less good in financial terms?

"Councillors should have the opportunity of probing these important concerns and making sure they have been taken into account in the proposed deal," Sandy said. "If we are not reassured by the answers, I hope the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be brave enough to refer the whole decision back for reconsideration. The people of St Albans and Hertfordshire deserve something better than a hole-in-the-corner decision by unelected officers."

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