Why is Bedford Square such a "Hot Issue"?
Cynics will say that Roger Mathew is playing the Bedford Square card for all he is worth to get re-elected. Well, if you want to think that, I can't stop you. The facts are these:
I have never asked for support from people who disagree with me. Nor have I concealed my views from you. If you don't agree with me, don't elect me. If a majority of you do agree with, and you re-elect me, you can be sure that I shall carry your voice persistently into the Council Chambers.
- I have consistently campaigned against unreasonably anti-motorist policies since 1987. Because I have been repeatedly elected, I reasonably assume that my stance has public support.
- If my stance does not have public support, I shall not be re-elected. What's wrong with that?
- I have worked hard over the years on the Town and Borough Councils to have changes made to the various traffic schemes proposed for Tavistock - West Street, Market Street, Brook Street and Duke Street. As a result, the schemes are significantly different from those originally proposed in 1986. For example, the awful "plug" at the end of Market Street was removed in 1987; Brook Street has not been closed; Duke Street has more on-street parking than had originally been intended; Elbow Lane has remained two-way; plans to close the whole of the town centre to shoppers' traffic have been shelved - for the present.
- Even the Bedford Square scheme is a little better - though not enough in my view - than the rejected 1997 scheme. At least we have a token dropping-off point. I shall try to make it bigger and more flexible on 19 April 1999, when the Partnership Committee meets to consider objections to the Traffic Orders needed to make it all legal.
- In 1997, you, the public, rejected the scheme. I believed you. West Devon Council (effectively LibDem controlled) did not. If they did, they were not prepared to accept that you knew better than they. So they mounted a re-consultation, with a very skewed consultation document, offering four choices instead of a straight yes or no, so as to split the "middle ground" between two options ("A" and "B") which were more-or-less the same, and then counted all the support for A and B as being support for "C" (the original scheme with a few bells and whistles). I say that that was a con. I say that that was wrong. I say that you were manipulated.
- There was nothing in the LibDem election literature in 1995, on which basis you elected them, to tell you that they were going to alter Bedford Square radically. I warned you about it, but they did not. I say, therefore, that they had no mandate from you to force the scheme through against your wishes.
- So I put my money where my mouth was and organised a private Referendum to give you a fair chance to say what you thought of it all. You told them. I didn't: YOU did - 73% of you said NO.
- What do you expect me to do now? Ignore the clearly-expressed wishes of a large majority? Pigs might fly.
For a synopsis of the Bedford Square story from 1998, click here. For the full story, click here.
Published as an Internet document by R W Mathew, Willowby, Down Road, Tavistock, Devon