Stone 'madness' could end up costing £40k


A county council’s attempt to reach a sensible compromise over a large stone in the middle of a road has shown the impossibility - and possible £40k cost - of trying to please everyone all of the time.

As reported previously on Transport Network, a threat to move the 11,000 year-old stone in the road in the Buckinghamshire village of Soulbury prompted a backlash and a climbdown from the county council.

The stone with lines. Credit: Stephen Liddell

But, following an alleged one-in-eleven-thousand-year accident and faced with the knowledge that the stone represents ‘an obstruction in the public highway according to The Highways Act 1980’ that it was obliged to make safe, the council painted white chevrons around it (pictured).

The move provoked almost as big a debate as the original threat to move the stone.

One visitor to the Soulbury News Facebook page suggested placing the stone on a pedestal. He wrote ‘Beyond credibility that the authorities should disfigure the stone and the village in this way, and that residents should agree to it, if they did.. The stone seems to be an essential part of village identity, and to abuse it with these white lines, on the grounds of cost, or wharever, is to abuse the village.

'The answer is to raise the stone on a mini roundabout, and also to replace the antique street light that once stood over it. The stone and the street light above it will give proper presence to a unique signature feature which identifies Soulbury, and its residents. We are supposed to protect the environment, not to desecrate it....’

Another reaction was more succinct: ‘Its just a rock, get it out of the road and stick it in a field someplace. Much safer.’

Other Facebook users promised virtual solidarity with the people of Soulbury in their fight for common sense: ‘I have been following this matter with great interest and thought you should know that many of the people are with you in your fight against the crazy political correctness you are up against.’

A spokesperson for Buckinghamshire CC told Transport Network: 'White lining work around the Soulbury Stone was carried out by Transport for Buckinghamshire on Saturday 9 April. The cost for the work, funded by Buckinghamshire County Council was £469.'  

He added: 'The County Council has been in talks with Soulbury Parish Council, which now has to decide between two potential schemes that would put paving around the stone at a cost to the parish council of either £14k or £39k.'

As reported on Transport Network yesterday, the council has promised to leave no stone unturned as part of a ‘root and branch’ review of its transport services that aims to save £2.3m.


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