Maidenhead alleyway reopens after controversial closure

Shay Bottomley and James Bagley, Local Democracy Reporter

shayb@baylismedia.co.uk

A key alleyway which has been the subject of heated debate after a councillor’s property development forced its closure has reopened.

Valley Walk, as it has been renamed, was closed in April to accommodate works for a property development owned by Cllr Gurch Singh (Lib Dem, St Marys) on land to the rear of 129-131 Grenfell Road.

The closure of the alleyway, which connects Kings Grove to Grenfell Road, sparked a petition started by the former chair of Maidenhead Young Conservatives, Alex Cobb, which amassed 279 signatures.

In an interview with the Advertiser, Cllr Singh confirmed that the council had renamed the alleyway with signage to be installed.

“The alleyway was closed by the contractors on the site in consultation with the council,” said Cllr Singh.

“In order for the works to be done safely, part of the contractor’s plan was to close the alleyway for a period of time.

“An application was put in [to the council] for planning permission by the contracting company, who paid for it to be closed, which I have been billed for as I own the site.”

He added that he thought that, as a developer, resident and councillor, that the alleyway originally looked to be in poor condition.

Cllr Singh has denied any conflict of interest in relation to the property development.

There had been complaints from residents saying they had been ‘unaware’ of the closures, which had been featured in the Advertiser’s public notices, with some missing their trains and being late for work.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Gurpreet Bhangra (Con, Boyn Hill) said: “I totally understand the anger and frustration of residents over this issue and matter.

“Although due process was seemingly followed, a small advertisement in a local paper is not an acceptable process.

“I am dismayed the responsible party as a sitting councillor did not choose to consult widely. I remain angered myself and Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) were not informed, and the process clearly needs fundamental reform.

“To this end, I have been working with Cllr Gerry Clark [lead member for transport and infrastructure] to understand what can be changed and what we need to do to improve this clearly sub-optimal process.”

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