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Gloucestershire Business News

#wallgate breaks out in Cotswold village

Shock over a long stretch of Cotswold stone wall being replaced at a cost of £200,000 by a wooden fence has led to an open letter to Shire Hall's highways department.

The letter, jointly written by Stroud councillor Steve Hynd (Green, The Stanleys) and Selsley West resident Marisa Godfrey, voices dismay over the work which, it is claimed, was carried out with no consultation – and left many locals feeling "shortchanged".

Villagers in and around Selsley were informed by GCC HIghways earlier this year that New Road, which adjoins Pooles Lane and Selsley Hill on the north edge of Selsley Common, would be subject to a three-month closure while repairs were made to "rebuild" a long stretch of unstable and cracked historic Cotswold stone wall.

But with the job finally complete, many have been asking why the work took so long – and how the price for the work was so high given that the final replacement to the entire visible section of wall is a stretch of concrete-set timber posts and rails.

Jeremy Warner, who lives close to the work in Middleyard, told "It was a bit of a shock. You could argue that the view across the fields is nicer, given that it is now just a fence, but three months of closure would seem excessive and the community expectation was that the wall was simply being reinstated. I can understand people feeling shortchanged, though drystone walling costs are not insignificant now."

Taking up local sentiment, Cllr Hynd and Ms Godfrey are now expecting some response from GCC Highways.

Their letter states: "The community we represent are dismayed at the recent work undertaken on the wall... This is hugely disappointing as not only has the historic dry-stone wall been taken down and not replaced; there has also been a complete lack of any consultation and communication with the community and its elected representatives before, during or after the work.

"As you are aware, having the wall rebuilt was a project that Cllr Hynd has been calling for over many years and it was welcomed by him and the community when it was announced that the wall was to be "rebuilt" over the summer.

"During this time, we noted the repeated use of the phrase 'rebuild wall' to describe the work being undertaken."

In the last few weeks, Cllr Hynd said he has received dozens of emails from alarmed residents as it has become clear that the work on the wall is finished and was not going to be "rebuilt" as advertised.

He added: "Only as the work on the wall was being finished did we receive any suggestion from Highways that, for financial reasons, the wall was not going to be rebuilt and that it was to be replaced by a wooden fence.

"As one local farmer quipped to us "imagine what would have happened if I had tried to do that on my land?". A strong feeling in the community has been reinforced by this action, that it is one rule for the county council and another for everybody else."

No comment was available from GCC.

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