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Councillors defend feasibility study into Bourne End to High Wycombe railway link

Cabinet members at Wycombe District Council (WDC) dismissed concerns from councillors about the cost of a £100,000 consultation into the feasibility of a Bourne End to High Wycombe railway link.

Last month cabinet approved a high level feasibility report into the reinstatement of the link, which has been closed since 1970.

The study will be funded with £50,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) cash in the next financial year and the same again the year after.

However several councillors were concerned about the use of the CIL fund, about WDC’s spending on consultants, and issues around planning before committing to spend the money.

Councillor Rafiq Raja (Lab, Bowerdean) began members’ questions at the meeting on Monday by expressing his concern at how much the council was spending on consultants, and wanted to know ‘how much had been spent in the last two years and how many such exercises cost more than £5,000?’.

Leader of the council, Katrina Wood (Con, Tylers Green and Loudwater) replied: “If we are to continue to consider the amount of successful projects that we do, it is necessary to seek external expertise that we do not employ.

“Whilst you may know what you mean by consultation and feasibility these terms are used broadly to include a lot of things.”

Councillor Raja later requested the details of all such spending be published on the council website in the interest of transparency.

Councillor Martin Clarke (Con, Ryemead) was concerned the council was committed to spending CIL money on the consultation before ensuring that appropriate authorities would be content with the reinstatement of level crossings across the A4155 Cores End Road and the A4155 Station Road.

The cabinet member for planning, councillor David Johncock (Con, Flackwell Heath and Little Marlow) said: “It would be very shortsighted of us to not explore this possibility once and for all.”

He added Network Rail, Great Western Railway, Bucks County Council and other partners were aware of the intention to undertake the study and had indicated support for engaging with it.

A spokeswoman for WDC confirmed that "officers will be developing a brief with other partners with consultants appointed by the summer."

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