A road junction that doesn’t exist was earmarked for an upgrade by the West of England Combined Authority (Weca), sparking alarm from councillors.
Scrutiny committee members said basic errors in the region’s walking and cycling blueprint for the next two decades had left them “annoyed” and doubting what they could trust in the 512 pages of reports that went to Weca committee last week.
The combined authority – which comprises Bristol City, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils – says it will tighten its procedures and involve ward members with local knowledge more before reports are published.
But Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze Conservative ward Cllr Geoff Gollop told scrutiny members on Wednesday, June 17, that it should have read Henleaze Road, not Henbury Road.
He said: “There’s a road junction in the report that doesn’t exist because the two roads are a mile apart.
“When I see a detailed report that doesn’t even get the name of the road right I find myself looking at the rest of the report thinking ‘what can I trust?’
“If I’ve found one page that I know something about that we’re meant to have scrutinised, that casts doubt in my mind of all the other pages.
“I don’t expect Weca officers to have detailed knowledge of the roads that make up each ward.
“It is clearly a Bristol problem because Bristol City Council prepared the report, but it reflects badly on Weca.”
He said the same page of the document also included plans to widen a pavement but that this was impossible because the road was too narrow.
“We need to make clear to the mayor and Weca officers that we expect them to demand quality assurance from the underlying unitary authorities, not any old desktop report knocked together and submitted without it being checked,’ Cllr Gollop said.
“That is how Bristol City Council has conducted it and it’s appalling.
“If out of 500-odd pages there is only one page I know specific details about and it’s flawed, I have no evidence to assure me that the other 499 pages are right.”
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Labour Cllr Brenda Massey, who represents neighbouring Southmead ward, said: “I found it quite annoying that my own ward was assumed into Westbury and Henleaze.
“There were four major roads in the report which are actually in Southmead.”
Bristol Lib Dem group leader Cllr Gary Hopkins told the remote meeting on Zoom: “Quality assurance is absolutely essential.
“Hearing a traffic junction doesn’t actually exist is quite ludicrous and I’m sure there are lots of other howlers contained in the papers.
“This is a severe deficiency of Weca that we do not have proper sub-committees to look at specific subjects.
“Every scrutiny meeting that I’ve been to has been making this point.
“We have yelled and shouted about it and nothing has happened.”
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Bristol Labour Cllr Mhairi Threlfall said Weca boards, including one for transport, had been set up but they needed bolstering.
“If we’re going to improve on transparency and accountability it’s really important that we look at those sub-groups and how we operate as a committee and strengthen those so we’re able to effectively scrutinise,” she said.
“We are getting so much information and so many papers that we’re not able to do our job properly.”
Weca director of legal services Shahzia Daya told the meeting: “We do have a process that includes all of the boards we’ve got with members of all of the authorities.
“We have a number of working groups with all of the authority officers involved.
“These papers go through mayors and leaders on a regular basis and we will make sure we tighten those processes.
“When we have those final drafts, we need to make sure that you (councillors) are involved in some way.
“We will absolutely make sure that what is in the papers is 100 per cent correct.
“The name of a street is clearly an absolutely important amendment that needs to be made.”
The report had been corrected by the time the main Weca committee agreed to adopt the walking and cycling strategy two days later.