TWO BROMSGROVE councillors claim plans have been scrapped for improvement works to pathways and cycle lanes due to legal fees demanded by the owners of local schools, writes Lauren Tiller.
Coun Michael Thompson and Coun Chris Bloore claim BAM, the which owns South Bromsgrove High School, asked for £25,000 in legal fees from Worcestershire County Council to allow the council to carry out improvement works on Pig Alley, owned in part by the school.
As a result, they say, the much-needed project is in jeopardy.
Cash was granted earlier in the year by national Government to Worcestershire County Council to enable it to carry out upgrades to pathways and cycle routes.
One of the areas set for development was Pig Alley, the alleyway between Bromsgrove School and South Bromsgrove High, which was due to have new lighting installed and a wider pathway created for both pedestrians and cyclists to use.
However, a small part of this pathway is leased to South Bromsgrove High by owner BAM.
The councillors claim the owner would not allow the works to proceed without receiving £25,000 of the grant money provided to the county council.
The move has been much-contested by local residents and councillors.
Coun Thompson, said: “We were so excited about the money and potential improvements to the pathway.
“The £25k demand by BAM demonstrates the greedy nature of academies and PFI.
“It is an unrealistic price and this selfish act has now robbed our community of a much needed improvement.”
Coun Bloore added: “This is a real shame.
“The people would have much benefited from this path.
“The area is in need of investment and local residents are up in arms that it has been scuppered by this academy chain, who seem solely intent on making profit.”
A joint statement was released through Worcestershire County Council and BAM which said they were in early discussions about the proposals for Pig Alley.
“The proposals include installing new lighting and widening this well-used path for both cyclists and pedestrians which both schools are keen to see happen.
“As with any project relating to changes to boundaries over third party land, there will be certain costs involved including legal costs.
“These are not being imposed by BAM but by the process itself, and the county council and BAM are now entering into discussions over the project.”