Council bosses grilled over 'shameful' handling of rickshaws saga
THE lengthy delay in deciding whether to allow rickshaws on Cheltenham streets has been criticised as 'local government at its worst.'
The borough council's Liberal Democrat cabinet decided last year to defer their decision on bringing the pedi-cabs to the town until the publication of a safety and guidance report by the Law Commission later this year.
But unhappy Conservatives on the authority have now told their counterparts to stop sitting on the fence.
James Meyer, pictured, is one of the people behind Rickshaw Revolution, the company hoping to run the scheme.
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He told members of the overview and scrutiny committee this week that he was appalled by the delay.
"This has been my first experience with local government and my view is that this is local government at its very worst," he said.
"It has been demoralising and an upsetting experience. I wanted to do something that would be good for Cheltenham and I have found there to be a great deal of downright obstructiveness.
"It has taken 10 months for the cabinet to defer its decision. How feeble is that? This has been shameful."
Concerns over safety and licensing problems caused by outdated and ill-fitting legislation have been cited as reasons for waiting for the new guidance.
Councillor Rob Garnham (C, Park) who was one of the members to call in the decision, said: "It could be another five years after the Law Commission's report comes out before anything becomes law and I don't think that is fair.
"Let's at least tell someone yes or no, rather than keep leaving it until the future."
The committee has now recommended that the cabinet should look at its decision again and give a more concrete answer.
Councillor Peter Jeffries (LD, Springbank), cabinet member for housing and safety, defended the cabinet's original decision.
He said evaluating the safety of the pedi-cabs was a judgement call.
"Is the desired outcome correct? I think it is. We have looked at this from the public safety aspect," he said.
Councillor Klara Sudbury (LD, College) said the way the overview and scrutiny committee meeting was handled as "an absolute shambles".
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