10:18AM, Thursday 29 April 2021
A councillor is facing criticism for campaigning to rename an alleyway next door to his own housing development.
Councillor Gurch Singh (Lib Dems, St Marys) is hoping to rebrand the pathway, which links Grenfell Road and Boyn Valley Road, and call it Valley Walk.
But he has now been questioned over his interest in the project and its links to his own ongoing construction of four eco-homes on land to the rear of 129-131 Grenfell Road.
The redevelopment of an old sheet metal factory on the site has also resulted in the temporary closure of the alleyway, which has led to anger on social media from users who were unaware of the change.
A nearby resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Surely if there was a real problem with the alleyway you’d look at CCTV and making it brighter.
“It just didn’t seem right and then a week later the alleyway was completely blocked off and nobody had any idea it was going to happen.”
The resident told the Advertiser the closure had caused people to miss their trains and be late for work.
They added: “What’s rankled me here is I feel he’s used his position as a councillor to say ‘here I am I’m Saint Singh I’m coming along to rename an alleyway which has been neglected’ when actually it’s all to do with him and his development.”
Councillor Singh denied any conflict of interest and said he had been ‘totally transparent’.
He added: “Normally developers name the street relating to a development site however in this situation it was felt as I have a ‘private’ interest as I own the site next door and ‘public’ interest as ward councillor to avoid any conflict of interest as measure of impartiality and transparency, officers researched and proposed a name themselves.”
He said it was ‘regrettable’ that the alleyway has been closed but added the alternative was closing one lane of Grenfell Road while construction work takes place.
A statement added: “I am working with the contractors to see if the build programme can be compressed safely in order to reduce disruption.
“Regarding the conversion of the redundant sheet metal factory and commercial units at the back of the site, these are currently being built out and converted into eco-homes, built to the latest standards, they will be truly affordable with rainwater harvesting, solar panels, low energy use and free electric bicycles.”
The candidates standing in the upcoming Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner election have outlined their priorities for policing in the region.