Revealed: How councillors voted during the Hereford bypass debate

TODAY the Hereford Times can reveal which way most councillors voted in the crucial Hereford bypass debate this month.

There are, though, some people who will have to remain in the dark… because their councillor either wouldn’t tell us how they voted, or did not respond to our enquiry.

There is also a discrepancy in the numbers, with more councillors telling us they voted to axe road schemes than they actually did on the day.

Herefordshire Council voted on February 2 to stop the progress of the southern link road and western bypass and remove their associated projects from the capital programme.

But there was controversy surrounding the vote itself as there was no way for the public to know which way each councillor voted.

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Because councillors did not call for a named vote, it effectively became a secret ballot.

Ordinarily, when a named vote is not called during a meeting, members of the public and press can still see how councillors vote as they raise their hands to do so.

But meetings are currently held online and broadcast via Youtube due to the coronavirus restrictions.

And the council says the computer software it uses to record votes does not log which way each individual councillor votes — it simply shows the total number of votes for, against or abstentions.

In the absence of a named vote, the Hereford Times asked all 52 councillors which way they voted on the motion.

On the day, a total of 27 councillors voted to axe the schemes, while 19 voted against and six abstained. However, a total of 30 councillors now tell us they voted to ditch the schemes, while 17 say they voted against.

Four councillors either declined to say or did not respond. And only one councillor said they abstained.

The Hereford Times also asked councillors how they voted on the amendment put forward by councillors Jim Kenyon and Bob Matthews to split the recommendation into different sections.

They put this forward to allow councillors a say on the South Wye Transport Package and the Hereford Transport Plan separately.

On that vote, 26 voted against the amendment, 22 for it and there were four abstentions.

However, when we asked, a total of 27 councillors said they voted against and 20 for it. Four councillors either refused to say or did not respond and one said they abstained.

Councillor Jenny Bartlett, who did respond, said she had no problem with people knowing how she voted but felt a story telling the public how councillors voted was “populist divisiveness” and a “disingenuous way of pretending to support democracy”.

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Hereford Times